Tuesday, October 11, 2016

About that tattoo on your back?

As both of us "celebrated" turning 65 this year, Marc and I are trying to take responsible steps regarding our financial future.
We've been in to talk over our investments with our broker and we're looking into the whole Medicare thing, trying to learn to speak and understand government lingo.
We are mapping out the budget to see if we will be able to live on what we've saved and what will be coming in from various sources.
We sat down one night and opened accounts so we can sign up for Social Security.
Has anybody else found that a challenging exercise?
Talk about driving home the feeling that our government has been tracking us all since birth, this does it.
To set up an account you choose from multiple answers to questions like: What kind of car did you finance in 1989? Who held the loan?
What credit card were you approved for in 2013? 
What is the name of your current mortgage company and do you owe X or Y?
It's nothing like the security questions you answer to maintain privacy on your bank account and those are hard enough: what was the name of your first pet or what was the name of your first-grade teacher?
I find those questions sufficiently difficult. I have to go write them down somewhere if I want to get them right the next time I need them. (Is Mrs. Rumsberg with an "e" or a "u?")
Did I put down my pet's name as "Taffy?" or his whole name: "Taffy Woofy Waffle Hancock?"
The government obviously had records of every financial transaction ever made and can check to see if you get it right.
There's no bluffing your way through this which I suppose is good.
No one else will know where I bought my first car or how much I paid for it.
Nobody else can guess what the mortgage payment was on my first home, not even me.
The problem I see here is that by the time you reach the age to be drawing Social Security, your brain barely works that well anymore.
Things are a bit fuzzy.
How can we aged folks pass the test?

Thursday, October 6, 2016

An Apple a day...

My husband has a few things he really loves: me, his children, grandchildren, his iPad and TV.
So when his iPad quit taking a charge, I felt his pain.
He's only had this one for a little less than a year and he relies on it for just about everything but meals. Want to know what time it is in London? He'll grab the iPad. Want to know the name of the guy rocking out on stage with the Beach Boys' Brian Wilson? The iPad can give him the answer.
In addition, we use it a lot for games when we're waiting for a movie to start or if we're in a long line or have 15 minutes before we have to be anywhere.
It's his friend.
And we'll need it in Europe when we go. Games on the iPad makes a long flight go much faster.
So I was willing to help him out when the guys at the Apple store told him he would need to trade it in for a model with a working charge port.
We'd ridden into Salt Lake to visit the computer store (that I think is unlike any other store on the planet. There are no clothes, toys or chocolates. Yet there are long lines of people handing over a lot of money for virtual needs).
We had talked with the people there and they said the iPad was flawed and — good news — they were more than happy to replace it with a new one.
It's under warranty and it's not his fault that it's broken and the planets were in alignment.
The only problem was they didn't have one.
We'd have to go to the Fashion Place store for the swap.
Well, it was late, we had a concert to get to and Marc had to work the next day so I offered to drive up and get it.
I just had one proviso. He had to be available for the inevitable questions I figured I would be asked to answer.
I didn't want to have to suffer for my good deed.
"Sure thing," he said. "I can do that."
I drove up the freeway, found the Apple store and found the line...a long line of people waiting for their iPhone 7s.
When the attendant realized I just had to make an exchange, she waved me in.
There I found another line for an available clerk who sent me to wait some more at a nearby table.
Once I had a guy on the task and proved who I was with my driver's license, I figured I was good to go.
But no.
He whipped out the iPad and showed it to me.
"Does your husband want a backup?"
"Uh, I dunno."
"Do you know his Apple ID?"
"Do you want to enter a password for him?"
"Uh, just a sec."
I started trying to call Marc.
He didn't pick up.
I tried again, still no answer.
The sales guy was getting a little antsy. There were other people, lots of other people more clued in than I who were waiting for his attention.
There were people who wanted therapy and help with their new, expensive toys, people with money to spend.
I couldn't get Marc on his iPhone so I just told the guy it was fine and I'd just take it as is.
He looked dubious but let me go.
So here I am now, home and feeling dumb.
What do you think?
Should I know any of this stuff?
Is that in the wife's manual?

Monday, September 19, 2016

Ransom of Red Chief

Cael showing his sword to the Chick-Fil-A cow earlier

I can see where it certainly looked like a kidnapping.
You had Marc, a grey-haired old man manhandling this fiesty little kid all the way down the sidewalk and into the backseat of an SUV.
The child was screaming and kicking and hollering for moma.
Marc was just trying to keep hold of him and avoid the flailing feet.
We were leaving the annual Renaissance Academy fund-raiser carnival where there were hundreds of loose children.
Cael was tired and hungry and thirsty. He'd been bouncing in the bounce houses and trailing the Chick-Fil-A cow for hours.
And he really wanted his mother who had to stay another hour to man the booth for Adell's fifth-grade class.
We were headed to Pizza Pie Cafe for something to eat, one of our good deeds for the afternoon.
But Cael just knew we were leaving without his mom.
I didn't have any water with me.
We were treated out.
I couldn't explain to him that it would all be fine.
And I couldn't hold onto this whirling dervish once he got going.
I handed him off to Marc who's a lot better at hanging onto children having meltdowns.
I went ahead with the three older sisters and got into my car while Marc headed to our other car with Cael.
I watched as Marc tried to buckle Cael in. All I could see were flying feet. All I could hear was yelling.
That's when I noticed this concerned-looking lady walking over to see what the fuss was all about.
She approached slowly and carefully.
She had her phone out.
I think she was ready to dial 911.
That's when I pulled up to the side of Marc to offer support, and, if necessary, to corroborate his story. Adell got out to help.
The lady looked relieved to see us.
"I'm sorry. I thought he was being kidnapped," she said to Marc. "He's so upset."
"It's Ok," I told her. "He's our grandson. He's all right."
She smiled and walked away still looking uneasy.
I guess it's good that well-meaning people get involved, huh?

Thursday, September 15, 2016

The Harry Potter lottery

Marc and I aren't big gamblers.
If and when we find ourselves in Vegas, we only rarely lose a few quarters in the slot machines.
We don't do Blackjack or Texas Hold'em or the roulette wheel.
Neither of us is particularly lucky with dice or cards and we don't like to throw money away so we just don't bet on anything but death and taxes.
Except where Harry Potter is concerned.
Our interest in this wizard and his world is a little over the top.
We're going to throw in for a pair of tickets to the newest J.K. Rowling release, "Harry Potter and the Cursed Child," that's going to be on stage when we're in England next.
The play is already sold out months in advance so the only chance we have of getting tickets is to be online the week prior and hope we are lucky enough to win the opportunity to buy some of the 40 tickets they'll release that day.
The tickets are 40 pounds each and will give us seats for two sittings, either two on the same day or one each night for two consecutive nights.
We're watching the countdown clock already (at:
We are going to be in London for four nights of our "Traditions of Christ in Ancient Britain" tour and figure we have nothing to lose by trying.
We just have to be online at exactly the right time, get chosen and get options for the days we will actually be in the city.
It can't hurt to hope, right?
I've already bought and read the script for this new "book" which is actually not a bound book.
It's a script with stage notes and it comes with an admonition from Rowling to keep the secrets.
So I can't tell you the plotline or reveal any of the surprises.
But it does have Harry and Ron and Hermione and Snape and Dumbledore and Draco in it.
It made for a quick read and I, for one, don't mind making Rowling a bit richer by paying for her book and hopefully paying for tickets to the play.
Especially when I had resigned myself to nevermore any Pottermore.
This is a welcome story.
It has a nice amount of magic and it's interesting. Rowling has a gift for creating a world that looks fun and dangerous to live in.
I would love to see the actual play.
I'll just cross my fingers, rub my lucky rabbit's foot and click my heels together.

Monday, September 5, 2016

Wave that wand!

Ollivander checks through the many boxes for the right wand
We knew we would be happy in the Wizarding World of Harry Potter in Hollywood at Universal Studios.
We've been to the opening of the Wizarding World in Orlando and traveled by floo powder to England to the Harry Potter studios where you get to see all the props, costumes, wigs and paraphernalia used in the movies.
We've enjoyed each of them.
We are all Harry Potter fans. We've read all of the books, seen all of the movies. I own a Hedwig and my husband owns a nice wand.
A sweet visit
Grandpa and his girl
Now my granddaughter has a wand too — because she and her mom finished the Harry Potter series and she turned 11 at just the right time, she got a golden ticket to Hollywood with us — and her wand actually least in the park it does. She can make treats twirl on their plates, trunks full of bludgers open and close, chocolate frogs croak and a party dress rise up and down. There are magic spots all over the park where something happens if you wave your wand just right.
Adell can do that.
She can drink Butter Beer and Pumpkin Juice and share a chocolate cauldron.
$million-dollar home
We bought Pgymy Puffs, All-flavor Beans, a chocolate frog, a T-shirt with a Phoenix on the front and an owl friend for Hedwig.
Adell bought the wand that chose her at Ollivander's Wand Shop after she tried a few tricks with it. (Never mind that she killed the flowers. She brought them right back to life!)
This new Wizarding World in Hollywood is a duplicate of the world in Florida with the snow-topped roof, the grandeur of slightly off-kilter spires high in the sky, and the HogWart's Express engine waiting and puffing at the station.
It doesn't include (yet?) the additional park with Gringott's Bank and a moving train but I bet that's not far off because people love this imaginary world, this clever, magical world with never-ending surprises.
It is immersive and transformative from the joke shop with its slightly disgusting wares to the Forbidden Journey with Harry dramatically leading you through the castle on his broom.
(While the Forbidden Journey ride is breathtaking, it's also nice to take a little longer walking through the castle rooms and halls to see the sights.)
A ride on the Hippogriff is short and sweet. You might want to plan on taking that flight several times over.
There are lots of muggles in the land so start early and plan to stay late if you go.
The lines get long even with a Front-of-the-Line pass. It can be easy to spill your Butter Beer.
Magical times
If you haven't visited yet, now's a good time.
The park has been open since April so it's more possible to get in and do more than wait in line. It's well-managed with friendly wizards and witches close by on nearly every turn to help get a locker open, make a wand work, or find the Owl Post.
It's clean and elegant, beautifully done.
It's a unique experience and a truly fun way to make money disappear!

Smiling faces...

Wednesday, August 24, 2016

Bandito hits the target in "Ready, Fire, Aim," "Hairspray" is hilarious

The Pickleville Playhouse is a Garden City/Bear Lake tradition and success story that's truly remarkable.
Three and a half hours away from Salt Lake, up and running only a few months of the year, this theater, run by Andrea Davis and her family, pulls in sell-out, sun-burned, crowds year after year — mostly because of a lanky, overly-confident, mustachioed character who goes by the name of Juanito Bandito.
He's the heart of these shows.
And although the shows that run alongside the Bandito productions are wonderful on their own, (Hairspray with Kenzie Davis as Tracy and Kurt Haaker as Edna is non-stop funny), it's the Bandito who drives the train.
He's plucky, proud to be the fastest gun and rapper in the West and not a bit ashamed of being a heartless bank robber though he's not nearly as tough as he talks.
The Bandito (left) with his sidekicks.
In the latest show (written by the Bandito who is T.J. Davis in real life) he's tied up and awaiting execution — yet again.
"Have you ever had one of those days?" he asks the audience.
He isn't cowed or even sorry for anything he's done. But he is still trying to talk his way out of trouble.
He's hysterically funny as a blind bandito even with moldy-oldy, blind man jokes: "I'm part-time blind, 20 hours a week!"
"You know! You speak Dumb!" He tells Freddie (Kenzie Davis), thinking she can help understand a finer point and "There's no crying in Cowboyland!" to Troy Boone who is Gator in "Ready, Fire, Aim."
The rewinds and slow-motion action are crazy fun and must have taken hours of rehearsal. (Watch for how the Bandito defuses the other guy's gun.)
The references to things like the upcoming presidential election, Russian athlete doping at the Rio Olympics with Bolt T-shirts and the Bolt stance make the show timely as well as comic.
The spooky, white rabbit on stage from a post production is now a Pokeman Go! creature.
It's all funny and it's all so well done.
The humor is fresh and handled so well that whole families enjoy it (even the little girl invited to try and stare down the show's pianist).
There really is nothing quite like it anywhere.
And it won't last forever. I'm quite sure at some point, someone will come along and take away the Bandito to a national forum.
In the meantime, we make it a point to attend every show that we can at Pickleville.
It's part of our Bear Lake tradition.
One year, I'll even wear a mustache!
(It's been extended through Sept. 10. See a promo video at:

Monday, August 8, 2016

My coat's gone to China

In the interest in saving money and in supporting local businesses, I decided to have the lining on my travel-weary trench coast replaced.
Rather than spend money on a new coat, I thought if I had a tailor fix the shredded pieces it would give me back what I needed at half the cost.
I've loved my London Fog trench coat and it's protected me in rain and snow and sleet.
It's served as a warm blanket on the plane and and extra layer when the bedsheets in various hotels were not enough.
I've practically worn it to death.
But London Fog stores are hard to find and usually located across the ocean from where we live.
So I decided to take it down to the local tailor.
That was in mid-May.
I explained my needs and the owner of the shop gave me a ticket for pick-up.
I left thinking I was looking at a couple of weeks and maybe a $100 charge?
When I came back, it wasn't done but the fabric for the lining had arrived.
I was excited to see it come together.
I checked back in another week. In fact, I started making it a habit to stop in whenever I went to town.
"The girl working on that quit on me!" said the owner.
"It won't be long now," she said. "I know you need it."
"The girl working on that was in a terrible car wreck," she said the next time I came in.
"I don't know where it is. It must be at home," she told me next.
"I know I saw it come through here. I'll look again," she said at the end of June after she and I searched the racks and piles.
The last time, she saw me coming.
"I know what happened," she exclaimed. "I think it's in China."
Seems a customer who had a bunch of coats relined might have picked mine up by accident and taken it with him to China.
She is going to try and contact him to get it back.
I think I'll start shopping for a new coat.