Tuesday, January 10, 2017

Hopping along with Frog and Toad

Just one cookie more!

If you're looking for something to do that'll break up the winter doldrums, consider buying a ticket to see "Frog and Toad" at the SCERA Center for the Arts.
It's playing now until January 21 and is perfect for kids and families, especially fans of the Arnold Lobel books.
I took three grandchildren, ages 8-11, and they loved it.
So did I.
Shawn Mortensen plays a great Frog, trying to break out of hibernation and bring Toad along with him to swim, picnic and try new things.
Eric Smith is Toad with wide eyes and a chin that juts out when he's making a point.
Toad is certain that nothing will go quite right.
He's worried about it all. He, for instance, assumes he's dead when he falls out of the sled at the bottom of the hill. He's quite amazed when his kite actually flies. (It's a neat special effect.)
He is waiting patiently for a letter for the whole year and the whole show.
Frog and Toad go throughout that year, sharing adventures that are simple but challenging: sledding, raking leaves, celebrating Christmas, eating cookies! (Thank goodness, the SCERA offers five cookies for $2 at intermission.)
The show is a delight.
It's clever, funny and when the snail finally delivers the mail at the end of the story, it's so rewarding.
(Actually, every time the snail (played by Andrew Walsh) comes on stage, it's sweet.)
The great and terrible meany toad is just menacing enough to be a little scary but obviously just a giant balloon so children don't have to worry.
The thunder and lightning storm is actually kind of fun to watch.
The birds and squirrels who wreak a little havoc with Frog and Toad's yards are harmless.
Mortensen and Smith clearly have fun playing their parts and bringing these two friends to life.
The colors are bright. The set is cute; a couple of little houses with comfortable beds, a broken clock, chairs, presents and an oven for baking cookies.
The songs are easy to enjoy, easy to remember. My grandchildren are still singing the snail's mail song!
I recommend this.

My flight got cancelled

Once we figured out that Marc's son was in Ft. Lauderdale/Hollywood airport at the time of the shooting, we started to become concerned.
Was he all right?
Was he in the baggage claim area when the guy who hauled off and started randomly shooting people opened fire?
Was he traumatized?
Did he fear for his life?
We were expecting him and his girlfriend at our house for a family party Saturday. They were late so Marc tried to call him.
He didn't pick up but he texted.
"I'm in Ft. Lauderdale for work and my flight got cancelled," he wrote.
No more than that.
Later on, he said he thought he would have to try and get to Jacksonville to catch a flight out. He ended up driving more than five hours to get there and flew all night to reach Salt Lake.
He was so very understated.
After he finally got to our house, the story came out in bits.
He HAD been in the airport at the very time when bullets started flying.
He HAD been checking his luggage when he heard noise, commotion and shots.
He HAD taken cover with fellow travelers who hid out in the bathrooms, behind counters and under desks.
He HAD been delayed for seven hours until he and all the other passengers in the airport could be interviewed and cleared to leave.
"It was no big deal," he said. "What could I do about it? Why talk about it?"
Oh, I don't know.
Just because he's safe and sound and alive to tell the tale?

Friday, January 6, 2017

That ties it...

So Marc and I are standing in line for my chance to get a picture of me busting through the wall at 9 3/4 station in London.
A flying...
It wasn't hard to find the line. We came into King's Cross station and almost immediately found the crowd bunched around the wall on the side.
There apparently was no charge for standing by the wall even though someone had gone to a bit of trouble to put half of a trolley right into the bricks.
It was great!
We could snap a picture and take home a photograph that had real opposed to the ones of natural landmarks like Stonehenge and Lincoln Castle.
We would just have to wait a little and the line was similar to a line in Disneyland. It looked much shorter than it actually was.
We stepped into place and watched while Harry Potter fan after Harry Potter fan walked up to the wall and the trolley, flipped his or her scarf and became digital history.
It was interesting, especially since everybody involved was really into character.
But it wasn't long before I noticed a couple of things.
I was the only grandma in line.
Mostly there were punk kids and young people with tattoos and nose rings and really short skirts.
The next thing I noticed were the scarves involved.
The kid in charge had four scarves on the iron fence holding in the line of people: you could pick your colors, HufflePuff, Gryffindor, Slytherin, and RavenClaw.
The teenage boy at the station gate picked out the one you indicated and tossed it over your shoulders and neck. Then on the count of 3, he'd flip it up — out of the line of sight — and the camera man took the shot.
It made for an effective look. The scarf seemed to be floating behind you as you hit the wall.,
I gulped as I watched stranger after stranger ask for the Gryffindor scarf and this kid laid the same scarf on the hair of dozens.
I looked at Marc who picked right up on my dismay.
"I'll go get you your own!" he offered, indicating the gift shop so conveniently located right next to the picture-taking area.
So 18 pounds or the equivalent of $22 later, I approached the magic spot near the wall.
I jumped when the camera man said to jump.
I tried not to look as odd as I felt, pretending to leap into a solid wall of bricks with abandon.
It made for a good picture.
And now I have my own Harry Potter scarf.
Mine. All mine.

Friday, December 23, 2016

Christmas lights in the nights

This year has been the season for seeing the lights in a variety of venues.
In addition to the traditional lights on Temple Square — which are always gloriously beautiful and really, really cold — we've seen the lights at the Utah Lake State Park, the Luminaria at Thanksgiving Point and the lights off the freeway coming home from Logan.
We made a journey up to the Alpine Living Nativity and to Midway to the International Creche Exhibit.
For those who've never seen these or who want to see these, I've put together a little primer:
+ The lights at Temple Square are free and full of beautiful lighted trees plus a life-size ceramic Nativity scene. It's always well attended (translation: crowded!) and it can be freezing. The Visitor's Center is open though and warm. And you can take the Trax up, park your car in any of the lots on the route, from the end of the line in Draper to 13th South and avoid the traffic. It's free to ride the Trax in the downtown area.
+ Christmas in Color is a new drive-through lighted display event in Provo at the Utah Lake State Park. It costs around $25 a car and you drive on a marked path with headlights off to see the lights.
The displays include a couple of car tunnels, singing snowmen, dancing lights and music that is synchronized to the light show.
+Luminaria at Thanksgiving Point in the Ashton Gardens is new and involves strolling along the garden paths to see 25 different lighted areas. The trees are just one part of this offering. There are lighted bushes, overhead canopies and a stream. It's inventive and clever. The center display with several thousand luminaries is a tapestry of colors and patterns. Small children will like it for a few minutes. Older ones and adults could easily spend a couple of hours in awe at the creativity and colors. A bit pricey: Adult tickets are $20 each. Children are $17.
+There are also the lights in Spanish Fork and a display off the freeway on the way back from Cache County. They are cheaper, about $5 a car.
+The Alpine Living Nativity is an interesting and aromatic event held outside and in the barns at the farm owned by mayor Don Watkins.
It only costs about $5 in donation and includes a free hot chocolate at the end. There are live camels and sheep and a burro. (Hence the natural aromas.) It replicates a visit to Bethlehem with Mary and Joseph and the Baby Jesus.
+The Interfaith

Creche Exhibit in Midway is stunning and free. The collection of Holly Zenger is displayed in  the Midway Town Hall in a series of rooms set up all around the meeting hall. On the stage is a breathtaking display of Fontanini nativity figures. Outside, there's ice skating and the opportunity to buy something warm from a food truck. It's over for this year (usually on the first weekend of December) but it's an annual Christmas treat so you can go next year


Wednesday, December 21, 2016

Every once in a while, I am offered complimentary tickets to a traveling show that's stopping in Salt Lake City.
Usually these are last-minute deals that involve me re-arranging my schedule and dragging my happy husband along to something we hadn't planned to see.
This time it came with a chance to see the new Eccles Theater up close, something I've wanted to do since it opened.
I knew it would be helpful somewhere in the future when "Wicked" comes to town or "Hamilton." I'd know the way to the bathrooms, for instance and be able to guess how long it would take to ride the TRAX in from Utah County.
So I agreed to come up and see "Hedwig and the Angry Inch" even though I knew the material in the show probably wouldn't be LDS-approved.
I asked Marc about going and he said, "Why not? It'd be educational."
Well, it was and it is.
I did a little advance research so I knew something about the plotline.
I knew it would be edgy and probably outrageous.
But I'm a grown-up person who has reviewed all kinds of productions over the past 40 years.
I figured I could handle this.
Hmmm. Not really.
It was a little more than I figured on. Way more.
The lead character, Hedwig, is a transgender superstar with some issues. The actor who plays him/her does a remarkable job as far as acting in concerned. The costuming and staging is dramatic and creative.
Hedwig is trying to engage the audience — much like a lounge singer — while churning about how he/she and others in similar circumstances are being treated.
It's bold and, in some cases, shocking.
Then there's the volume level and the strobe lights.
I was having to hold my hands over my eyes to keep my brain from delivering a migraine.
The CO2 smoke was disturbing me as well.
By the end of the show, I was nauseous and dizzy.
I couldn't wait for it to stop.
Now that it's over and I'm back home safe and sound, I'm haunted, and not so much by the physical stress as the emotional reaction to the story.
Why is there such anger, so much emotion? Why bring Jesus into the conversation? (There are several references to accepting Christ as a Savior and Redeemer that mock Him outright.)
And why did I think a 65-year-old uptight grandma could cope with this?

Sunday, December 11, 2016

I know the way home!

When my son was around two or three, he thought he was pretty self-sufficient.
He'd go all over the neighborhood visiting his friends and seeking adventure. It was a friendly neighborhood with lots of little kids so usually I didn't stress too much.
But one particular day, he'd been out for a longer time than usual and I had been searching for him for quite a while.
When I caught up with him, I started to scold him and remind him that he was a small child and it could be dangerous to just go off with no supervision or permission.
I was right at the part where I was explaining, "Dana, I didn't know where you were! That scared me."
He responded with vigor, "But mommy, I knew where I was!"
I don't know if that incident played in his mind the other day when his youngest daughter didn't get off the bus at the stop by their home.
Seems Erica had become confused about the instructions and when the buses all took off, she figured if she was going to get home, she had to walk — kind of a long walk considering she lives in east Highland near the other side of the Cedar Hills Golf Course and she goes to school at Highland Elementary.
I happened to be going by the elementary school when my son called me.
He was fairly frantic and told me to stay close and look around in case she was still in the neighborhood.
Then he proceeded to back track Erica's steps.
Since her older sister had stayed home with a cold, Erica didn't know for sure if she was to get on the bus or wait where her mom sometimes picked her up. So nobody noticed when she didn't get on the usual bus.
Once the buses all left, she simply decided she had to walk which was all right with her since she knew the way.
Never mind that it's a really long ways for a 5-year-old and very cold outside.
She's pretty independent.
She actually made it a good distance, crossing busy roads and trudging along in the correct direction when a lady noticed this 5-year-old child, alone, walking east into the storm.
She stopped to check the situation out.
"My name is Erica! You can call my dad!" Erica declared, being careful not to share too much detail and backing up so she couldn't be put in the car.
Dana was most relieved to hear from her.
We called off an Amber Alert, reassured the school officials that we'd found her and got her safely home.
We thanked Heaven.
So now that all is well, I can't help but think that the child has inherited her father's attitude.
"I know where I am so there's not a problem!"

Monday, December 5, 2016

Men are from Mars, Woman want to talk

The invitation was welcome.
Marc and I have read "Men are from Mars, Woman are from Venus" by Dr. John Gray and believe pretty much in his philosophy: men and women are wired differently.
Thus we don't always connect properly or at all.
Men tend to want to fix whatever problem arises and be done with it.
We women want to talk about it, analyze it and figure out how to resolve it, usually through deep conversation.
When this happens in our life, my husband tends to think I simply want to fight.
I think he wants to avoid.
The Men are from Mars thinking is that women are a LOT more emotional in their reactions because there are more emotional parts to their brains.
Venutians can't rest until they dissect the situation and understand it.
Martians just want to rest. They really, REALLY don't like conflict.
When we were invited to the show at the Jeanne Wagner Theatre in Salt Lake Saturday night, we leapt to go.
We made a dinner reservation and checked the TRAX schedule and off we went despite the cold and the fact that we have something to do almost every night and day in December.
Stand-up comic Josh Hyman essentially does an energetic, somewhat outrageous monologue using the material in Dr. Gray's books. He walks the audience through his relationship with his wife and brings the audience along for the ride.
He's funny and real and, in some instances, pretty R-rated as he talks about relating to the ones we love.
He doesn't mince any words and when he talks about the husband "tending her garden" when it comes to his wife, it's kind of hard not to blush.
He's got it right.
And it's refreshing to hear topics generally kept fairly hush-hush in public settings discussed with candor.
I'm not sure everyone would appreciate this offering.
But if it's approached with a sense of humor, it's great.
I liked what he said about how women keep points, giving men one point for anything large and small that they do and say.  (They give themselves a point for every step in what they are doing so we women are almost always ahead in points.)
He talked about how valuable men are to women and vice versa.
In the end he said all men really want is Trust and Acceptance while women want Affection and Understanding, pure gold (AU).
He said he was heading home to mend a rift with his wife before it reached unfixable levels.
We laughed.
We learned.
On the way home, Marc was reflective and unusually quiet.
I wanted to talk about it.
I wanted to know what he was thinking, why he wasn't saying anything.