Monday, January 8, 2018

Expanding and extending...

Seemed like a good idea at the time.
Our Catan games have been played until the cards are in shreds.
I decided to get all new games for Marc for Christmas although I knew it would be expensive to replace not only the games themselves but also the EXTENSIONS.
I write that in capital letters because I have since learned through bitter experience that there's a big difference between EXPANSION and EXTENSION games.
The EXPANSIONs refer to any game that isn't the original basic starter game including Catan Seafarers, Catan Cities & Knights, Catan Traders and Barbarians, Pirates, etc., etc.
The EXTENSIONs make it possible to play the same games with 5-6 players rather than 4.
To mix them up is trouble.
See, I went off blissfully ordering one of each, I thought.
Since the EXTENSIONs are cheaper than than the basic EXPANSIONs, I had to shop around to find a good price on everything.
I ended up ordering part of what I needed from Walmart, part from Amazon and part from Barnes & Noble bookstore.
I probably spent about $400 by the time I saved myself shipping by buying extra stuff.
The packages began arriving about the week before Christmas.
One came in duplicate and didn't match the new set of games I was trying to assemble.
Another one said it was delivered and signed for by a lady in Lehi whom we have never heard of.
Two came as EXPANSIONS rather than EXTENSIONS.
So now I'm spending time chatting with nice people overseas who want to help me.
It's become quite the negotiation game.
First I have to explain the games and why I want them.
Then I have to make certain they understand the difference between EXPANSION and EXTENSION, not an easy task when you're working with people who barely speak English.
Then I get transferred to the marketplace seller because Walmart doesn't deal with these orders directly.
I'm burning up lots of phone and computer time trying to sort this out and in the meantime, I have a couple extra copies that I think I'll just give as gifts to people who don't even know they need one!
Anyone interested?

Wednesday, January 3, 2018

Not my fault for sure!

My cute little Nissan Leaf is back in the repair shop for the fourth time in three years.
But it's not my fault, again, for sure!
I wasn't even driving it when it was hit.
It was in the TRAX parking lot, safely, we thought, while we went in to downtown Salt Lake to see the Mannheim Steamroller Christmas concert.
We came back to find just two cars still in the lot and a tiny note tucked under the window wiper.
"I'm sorry I backed into your car," it said, followed by a name, a phone number and an insurance company's name. 
We looked around the car.
All we could see at that time of night was a dent and scratch on the driver's side door.
(It wasn't until we saw it in the morning light in the garage that we realized it was a significant dent involving most of the door.)
It kind of ruined the night for us.
We appreciated the note but couldn't really relax until several days later after we had made brief contact.
The lady who had been driving said she didn't see our car (which is Sky Blue and regular size).
She drove into it rather than backing which is odd since we were parked parallel well away from everyone.
She told me on the phone that since she is short and couldn't see over the steering wheel clearly.
I was pretty sure she was being sincere when she said she wanted to make things right.
Marc was worried about the fact that she wanted to keep the insurance companies out of it and that the driver was leaving town in a week.
Then matters were complicated by the repair shop which did not want anything but cash for the repairs which were quite a bit more than anyone expected.
We had to insist on a money order for the damages and meet to make the exchange.
Our car is now being repaired. (Surprisingly, they have the right color of paint on hand!)
I'm at home without wheels and amazed.
Not only did we get hit by an honest woman who left her information when she didn't have to but she and her husband coughed up the money.
We'll be made whole and for us, it's a Christmas miracle, for sure.

Wednesday, December 13, 2017

Warming, warming...

Absolutely impressive
I don't know who was more confused when we said we were in Kirtland, Ohio, for our anniversary; the people who live in the frozen state or Utahns who don't know why we didn't go to the beach.
But we didn't mind their blank stares.
We just enjoyed the snow (we couldn't find any this year in Utah) and the history and the beautiful creches at the Historic Kirtland Nativity Exhibit.
Marc had had Kirtland on his bucket list of church history sites for a while now and really wanted to visit.
He also (just coincidentally, of course) wanted to visit the Rock and Roll Hall of Fame where his close friend Bob Dylan has a little bit of space.
I had heard about the Historic Kirtland Nativity Exhibit and since I love nativities, I signed on right away.
We headed out armed with new gloves, boots, Harry Potter scarves and thermal underwear.
We flew out with no problem and landed in Kirtland safely.
The prophet sat at this table
The next day was a snow-crunching tour of Kirtland with a pair of really cold, earnest, sister missionaries who showed us the Newell K. Whitney store where Joseph Smith spent a lot of time in the upstairs room studying and the school of the prophets held class.
We stopped at the John Johnson farm where Joseph and Emma were when ruffians broke in and stole Joseph away for some tar-and-feathering.
We checked out the Kirtland Temple, literally built with faith and prayers, a place now owned by the Community of Christ church.
In the John Johnson gingerbread exhibit
We then headed to the visitors' center to see the 954 Nativity sets on display.
We were quickly overwhelmed with the detail, the creativity, the beauty and the many ways and means people use to portray that Christmas event.
(My favorite is a tiny nesting Nativity with a microscopic Baby Jesus!)
We then made a stop at the Rock and Roll Hall of Fame in Cleveland.
It is a brilliant collection with almost every song Marc and I knew from our high school days celebrated.
So, Bob, what's new?
Marc even had a heart-to-heart with Dylan.
I enjoyed the Elvis collection and would have come home with the gold outfit he never wore as a complete outfit if I could have got away with it. He only wore the jacket because it was too showy, he said.
For casual Fridays
Really? This from a guy who wore a diamond-encrusted pantsuit in most of his shows?
I think my mind is blown.
We found out later that the night after we visited Kirtland an ice storm shut down the hill we'd driven up and the day before we flew out of Atlanta 350 flights were cancelled due to bad weather.
We just skirted around all the trouble. I guess our guardian angels were on duty.
Want to travel with us?

The highlight in Cleveland

Monday, December 4, 2017

A rising star

I've enjoyed Nathan Pacheco since Yanni invited him to be a Voice on the first album that included words with Yanni's gorgeous music.
I thought at the time that he was a perfect choice since his voice had color, depth and range.
(Even though I think for a lot of us diehard Yanni fans found it difficult to welcome singers to the mix, Nathan was a natural. He respected Yanni's talent and augmented what was already beautiful music without harming the instrumental core.)
So sitting on the front row at his concert in Kingsbury Hall Saturday night was truly a gift. I was delighted.
Marc and I had to work to get there.
We had a full Saturday with a ward breakfast that required Santa and Mrs. Claus (We know them very well) to show up in costume with pockets full of candy canes, end-of-season yardwork, Christmas decorating and catching the TRAX train in time to chug up to the University of Utah.
Marc is still babying a toe that required a knuckle removal and stitches so, for him, scurrying along the sidewalk from the stadium to Will Call required stamina and sweat.
For me, it's a test for my complaining arthritic joints.
It was worth it, though.
Nathan has a charming personality and some of the song arrangements were so remarkable that I'm going online in a few minutes to buy them.
He sings in several languages with ease. He's comfortable with the patter.
He encourages sing-alongs so the audience feels a part of things and invests in the music.
He can dabble in a variety of styles.
It's a fun Christmas event and there are two more Utah concerts: Nov. 8 at UVU and Nov. 9 in Logan at the high school.

Sunday, October 29, 2017

Basic math

We are trying to get the bulk of our Christmas shopping done.
I know that to some of you this will seem way early but to anyone with 39 grandkids like we have, we're already pretty much out of time.
So we were at Toys R Us trying to buy a few things on the way home from dinner.
I had carefully read through the gift catalog and had several things marked for Marc to look at.
(He had a good sense of what little and bigger boys like as gifts.)
I had calculated that we could spend $100 and therefore earn a $25 gift card to use later.
We shopped all over the store trying to find the dinosaurs that come apart and have flashing eyes of three colors.
We found a Noah's Ark set with one prophet and 16 plastic animals and a boat with a drawbridge.
We added a Magnetic toy set that would help with Grandma's collection.
We headed to the checkstand after two guys had begrudgingly helped us find our stuff.
The boy checking us out was still our friend since he hadn't been asked to help us.
But he couldn't get the register to accept a gift card as part of the deal.
He called for help.
The girl who came to assist couldn't persuade the register to cooperate either.
She tried and tried.
She asked me if I had the catalog with the gift card offer. (The catalogs in the store didn't have that.)
I did. I went out to the car to fetch it.
I came back and the guy (and now the girl) tried again.
Next they threw away the card and got a new one.
This time it took and we started out to our car.
"Wow! That came to a lot!" I said, "$157?"
"That can't be right," Marc said and took the receipt to look it over.
He was right. The charge was wrong.
We went back in and showed our weary cashier the receipt. It listed a charge for $25 for the gift card.
The guy AND the girl shook their heads. "You're right. That's not right but you will have to go over to the service desk to get it fixed."
We walked over to the service desk and explained the problem. The service desk girl called for help.
The same girl who had sent us showed up to help.
She called another lady.
The new lady tried to tell us that it added up just fine. Four items at $30 each came to $157!
"No, no, no, no, no," said Marc, who usually doesn't get involved in such matters.
A half hour later, we ended up with a $25 refund, a $25 gift card and a slight sense of satisfaction but we're a little worried about Toys R Us.
Why would they be headed toward bankruptcy?

Wednesday, October 25, 2017

Up and down...

I jumped at the chance to be part of a video shoot with Nathan Pacheco.
I've been a fan since he appeared with Yanni in the Voices project.
At the time I even interviewed him on the phone. How did it feel to be chosen to work with Yanni?
What were his plans after Yanni? How did Yanni hear about him?
I pretty well assumed that once you had worked with Yanni, you'd sort of reached your peak.
I think I was wrong.
Nathan's career has steadily gone straight up.
He has several new albums out and has partnered with David Archuleta. He's a Disney Pearl artist.
He's toured the UK. He's coming to Utah in concert Dec. 2, 8 and 9th in Salt Lake, Orem and Logan.
So when a post appeared on Facebook inviting people to come to Rock Canyon Park to be an extra in his music video, I was intrigued.
I had two reasons to want to be involved.
I'm trying to negotiate another interview with Nathan since he has a concert in Salt Lake in December and I wanted to see how a video taping worked.
The instructions said to dress warmly and comfortably and be at the park at 5:30.
I showed up in plenty of time and looked for others dressed warmly and comfortably.
The equipment trucks arrived.
Nathan arrived.
Others arrived (mostly young and dressed like they shopped at Eddie Bauer).
We waited for our marching orders, assuming they would want to shoot this video before the sun set.
Eventually a guy came over who said he was the director. He told us to hold tight and we'd get started soon.
Time went by and Nathan started saying hello. He told us we would be providing background to "Oh, Come All Ye Faithful."
I got to shake his hand and explain who I was. He was very nice and tried to tell me he remembered meeting me. (Since we'd only talked on the phone, I didn't think that was true but he was nice to try.)
We waited around.
The light guys fussed with the lights.
The sound guys fussed with the sound equipment.
The fog guys released some fog.
Finally we started by climbing the hill, over and over.
"Reset!" became a familiar order.
The sun set. The moon came out. We kept climbing.
When the director was satisfied, we were all pretty tired and then he announced we were heading to Provo to shoot more footage.
"We'll find a road that's not too busy," he said.
I'm not sure movie work is for me.
(I'm in the middle, second row, smiling.)

Friday, October 20, 2017

Lunch in peace

We had trooped all over the "This is the Place Heritage Park" for several hours.
We had ridden the train, collected treats from about a dozen old buildings including the Fairbanks Home, the Gardiner Cabin, the Telegraph Office, the Blacksmith Shop.
We petted two lizards, three snakes, several turtles and gasped at a tarantula.
The three grandkids and I had panned for gold and collected quite a good assortment of shiny, tiny rocks.
All three had mock tattoos on their hands and a little piggy notepad they stuck together in the Deseret Hospital craft house.
We were taking part in the "Little Haunts" event which basically transformed this great historic town into a Halloween fun spot.
But now we were ready for lunch even though everybody had a hefty bag of Trick-or-Treats.
I had taken note on the way of a Wendy's on Foothill Boulevard.
I can never find real food at the park and even if I could, I'm fairly sure it would be more than I wanted to pay for food the kids might not eat.
Since Wendy's is a favorite we drove back and turned into the parking area.
Curiously, there was no parking except for the gas pumps out in front.
Apparently this was a drive-in only kind of establishment.
I was unprepared to suddenly make fast-food decisions but I followed the arrows into a single lane road that wrapped around the store.
A huge garbage truck seemed to block my way.
That's when I noticed a sign that said "Sharp left!"
I made my sharp left hoping the garbage truck backed off a little.
We placed our order with no time to think about it, three kids meals with chocolate Frosties and a $5 special for me with a small Sprite.
There was a long silence.
"What did you want?" the machine finally asked.
I repeated the order with one small change. One child now wanted a vanilla Frostie or maybe apple Fanta.
We came up to the window and paid $21.
We got a huge Sprite, six Frosties (chocolate and vanilla), three fruit drinks and lots of ketchup and our chicken and tons of fries — more than we could eat in the car.
I could see green grass a road or so over.
"Let's go eat in that park! I suggested.
"Yeah! said the kiddos.
We drove over, parked the car, dashed across the road and spread a blanket.
That's when we noticed flowers placed here and there on the lawn. There were also concrete blocks every so often.
I looked around. Hmm. Where had we landed?
I passed out the food and everyone started in, delighted to have choices.
"What are those flowers and balloons for?" asked Hannah. "Yeah," said Mia, "This doesn't look like a regular park?"
"I think maybe it's not. I think this might be a cemetery," I said, trying to act nonchalant about it.
"You mean this is a GRAVEYARD!" exclaimed Mia, looking around in alarm. "We are eating lunch in a GRAVEYARD!"
"Are there ombies?" asked Cael (who loves zombies, by the way).
"No," I assured the girls. "No. There are no zombies and it's OK. No one will care."
Nevertheless, we finished our food in good order and cleared out.
Even if it's Halloween, eating chicken nuggets and having a shake in the cemetery is a little creepy.