Sunday, February 27, 2011

Red light, green light

Marc and I have distinctly different driving styles.
I take the cautious and cowardly route while he goes for the challenge.
I get in trouble frequently while the angels oversee his careless moves.
For instance, I always try to turn right when I can to avoid having to cross traffic.
He drives right up to the busy five-lane road and expects to be able to get across.
What really ticks me off is that he usually gets away with it. The traffic flow stops and he gets a free pass to where he wants to go.
It's the same when it comes to speeding.
I really try to watch the speed limits, generally going at exactly or under what is posted.
He flies along, often on cruise control set at about 80 miles as hour.
I get pulled over and get tickets.
He gets warnings and finger waggings.
We once got stopped headed to the temple by an officer who noticed Marc was going 40 in a 25 mile-an-hour zone.
I waited in triumph for him to get a ticket (even though it would be paid out of our joint funds) because the week earlier I had been fined $90 for going 35 in a similar zone.
"Where are you going in such a hurry?" asked the officer.
Marc shrugged and pointed at his suit and tie.
"We were headed to the temple," he said, looking up yonder to the Angel Moroni.
"Well, take it a little easier," the policeman said, handing back his license and registration. That's it?
It's quite aggravating to see him get away with his little sins while I pay fines and go to traffic schools.
Just yesterday, it happened again.
We were coming back from Spanish Fork after delivering a birthday gift. We were heading up the freeway alongside a Highway Patrol pickup truck. He was in the right-hand lane when Marc started to accelerate.
I was about to suggest he watch it when the guy "whoop-whooped" his siren.
I thought for sure we were hosed.
"You don't pass the police guy," I said not so nicely to my dear husband.
He blanched and slowed, waiting for what would surely come next.
But the policeman waved a warning and went off the freeway, leaving us to recognize we had been spared this time.
Marc couldn't believe his good luck, again! He's reliving the "whoop-whoop" in his head so I guess he's paying for his crime.
But for heaven's sake, I just think he's too darn lucky.

Tuesday, February 22, 2011

Begging for a quarter

Maybe it's because I've been reading a book about service and what constitutes good service versus the poor kind.
But it seems to me the employees we ran across on President's Day didn't understand the concept.
First we waited, my granddaughters and me and my daughter, as the light granting us access onto the Timpanogos Highway cycled through without letting us go.
We had driven through the construction obstacle course after we'd been waved on by a couple of UDOT flag people.
We waited and waited until it finally became clear that the light was broken or serving only those going east and west. The line behind us was getting longer and we were losing hope.
I rolled down the window and called to the flag person who'd been watching us wait.
"Is the light not working?" I asked. "It never seems to change."
She grinned at us and waved and said something in gibberish. Then she grinned some more.
We backed up, made a U-turn on a decidedly unfriendly piece of road and went back the way we came. The line of cars waiting was about five blocks long by now.
So, trying to help out, I again rolled down my window and tried to speak to the flag person.
"Did you know the light up there isn't working?" I said, motioning north. "Nobody is getting through."
He grinned and waved and said nothing. That kind of set the tone for the day.
We went our merry way until we got to the South Towne Mall where the kids wanted to ride the Merry-Go-Round and drive the little cars in the eating area.
Since it's all quite expensive, we soon ran out of quarters so we tried to get change. The change machine didn't work and my daughter fed in our last two quarters before she noticed the ride took three quarters. Try to explain that to a 2-year-old who's all set to go.
I went over to the girl stationed at the Merry-Go-Round to tell her the change machine wasn't working.
I thought maybe she could help or call someone who could.
"I don't have any quarters," she said with a shrug. No help coming.
I tried the nearby businesses who apparently have a strict "We don't give away our quarters" policy.
The first said "Sorry. Everybody's been asking us that today!"(I'm sure they had been.)
The second said her computer wouldn't open unless we bought something.
So I bought a bag of 50-cent chips for $1.50 so I could get two quarters in change. She still wouldn't change my dollar bill for me.
I kind of understand this but not really.
Sure it's annoying to be constantly hit up for quarters but the rides bring people to the mall where they then spend money on drinks and food and toys. It's not our fault the change machine isn't working.
If they don't want to run out of quarters, why not stock up?
And if they really want people's business, why not be the one you can count on for the dang quarters?
The guy in my book on good service would be appalled.

Saturday, February 19, 2011

Save the marriage at Starbucks

I went to cover a marriage seminar today.
I heard lots of wise people give good advice: pay attention to your marriage and to your spouse and hang in there through the rough patches.
One set of speakers showed us some movie clips about a marriage gone bad and how it was saved when the husband started a 40-day campaign to show his wife he valued her.
Another set showed us how cartoonists capture the essence of marriages by paying strict attention to what happens after and beyond the wedding.
It was very informative and while I found some of the advice simplistic and somewhat cliche, it still made for an educational afternoon.
I now have quotes for my marriage file from guys like Benjamin Franklin and Woody Allen. (Now there are a pair of marriage experts!)
The right stuff
I have a couple of comic strip statements from Frank and Ernest that really hit the mark ("I'll save slovenly and rude for marriage") and I have an envelope full of coupons for date nights: anyone for hitting the trampolines at "Jump On It?"
I have a Love Map relationship quiz to give to Marc when he returns from California. (He loves those kind of things.)
But best of all, I have a couple of ideas about how to connect with my husband on a daily basis.
The one lady suggested we have a "Hopie Chokie" moment every evening, otherwise known as a cup of hot chocolate together. That fits into the Mormon way of thinking just fine.
This other guy said he and his wife take advantage of their kids going to Bible Study every Sunday night. That's when they head to Starbucks for a cup of decaf.
Umm. Perhaps this guy doesn't know his audience.

Thursday, February 17, 2011

Life on my own

Marc's been gone for a day now and I'm out of projects.
When he first decided to help his daughter and her three little ones drive out to visit another daughter in California, I'll admit I was somewhat uncharitably enthusiastic.
My missing clown
It's been literally 22 years since I've had unstructured time to myself to think, organize, clean and create. Marc, loving husband that he is, tends to pop in on me about every 10-15 minutes or so to say hi or to give me a hug. (Rough life, huh?) It's great but I seldom get any deep cleaning or rearranging finished.
So as soon as he confirmed his plans, I made lists.
There were closets to clean out, clothes to sort, paintings to paint and books to read.
I had 19 projects in mind before he was packed.
He left on Wednesday morning at 8:30 a.m. and it's now Thursday morning.
I've cleared the linen cupboard, the bathroom vanities, dresser drawers and the game closet.
I've sorted Barbie dolls and Barbie clothes by color and social event, taken non-essential clothes of my own and outdated books to the library and the DI. I've alphabetized my CDs.
I've inventoried the food storage.
I'm updating my teaching materials files, family photos and my genealogy.
It's really quite amazing what can be accomplished in solitude.
I'm making progress.
The house feels neat and pulled together. I know where most everything is.
But you know what?
It's not really home this way. It's sterile and lonesome.
Hurry back, my love.

Tuesday, February 15, 2011

The Costco rose garden

My husband and I were out running errands and arrived at the local Costco store a few minutes early. The store wasn't open yet but there was a curious sight.
Lots and lots of men were standing around in a bunch by the front door.
Many of them looked like tough guys, not your usual door-buster kind of customers.
As we watched, the crowd grew until it was large enough to warrant serious attention.
Was there a hunting rifle on sale?
Was there a demonstration of breakfast foods being made?
We were curious so after the doors opened and everyone flowed in, we asked the greeter what was up.
Desperate men on a mission
"Oh," he said, "It's the flowers."
It seems every year on Valentine's Day, there's a good price on a dozen roses ($15.99) and the word has spread.
All of these well-trained, loving husbands and boyfriends were snatching up bouquets of beautiful roses for their sweethearts.
Most of the men had this fairly desperate air about them as if they were narrowly avoiding collision with the one they loved most of all.
An indoor rose garden
It was funny to see as these guys  handed over cash for their various bouquets, roses of yellow, pink, orange, white and red. They smiled with relief and skedaddled homeward.
Costco had anticipated them and along with the huge displays of floral bouquets, they had set out boxes of chocolate-covered strawberries near the checkstands.
These guys were set.
It's nice that Costco is not only helping people save pennies but is also in the business of saving marriages, huh?

Thursday, February 10, 2011

Oh! My eyes!

My young grandson takes his responsibilities very seriously.
He's always been committed to living right and doing what he should, even as an energetic little baby he tried so very hard to stay out of trouble.
Now that's he's turned 12 and been ordained a deacon, he's trying harder.
He wants to keep his mind clean and pure.
To aid in that effort, we — his clean-living, supportive grandparents — took him to the Nathan Burton magic show in Las Vegas.
It's been advertised as a family-friendly show and it's in the middle of the afternoon in the Flamingo Casino so how bad could it be?
First of all, we had to parade Scott and his little brother through the gambling hall filled with people drinking, throwing dice and winning big.
Scott in the middle
He fastidiously held a paper napkin to his nose so he wouldn't breathe in the smoky smell.
He kept his eyes straight forward so he wouldn't see anything he ought not to see.
Then when we arrived in the showroom and the show started, he kept covering his eyes, sometimes missing the best parts of the magic. I was surprised given that Scott enjoys magic, especially when it's done well.
To be fair to Burton, he doesn't talk dirty and his routines are — by most standards — just fine.
But he has these seven showgirl assistants who forgot to wear the rest of their costumes. They're mostly clad in skin and feathers.
As they jiggled and wiggled and shook their bottoms, Scott's hands flew to his eyes.
He wouldn't come back out until I assured him the girls were offstage. Then, just when we thought it was safe, out they'd come, again in very itty-bitty outfits.
Over and over again, he covered his eyes and waited for it to be safe.
I felt a little ashamed of putting him in this position.
Aren't we, the grown-ups, supposed to protect and lead by example here?
What was I thinking?
In actuality, he has the right idea.
Don't pollute the brain when you can prevent it.
Someday, he'll make a better missionary and husband and father because of it. It's just a little eye-opening to be made aware of the "evil" around us by a child.

Monday, February 7, 2011

Kristy the crazy girl

She did it.
This plucky daughter of mine climbed into the elevator, rode it up 10 stories and proceeded to allow herself to be launched from the Stratosphere Tower into an 885-foot free fall.
She's pretty proud of herself as she should be.

Sunday, February 6, 2011

Wandering in Vegas

We didn't intend to walk the streets of Vegas until almost midnight.
We'd gone to see the Donny & Marie show thinking we'd catch a cab ride home. (Whoa, expensive!)
We were in Las Vegas to see my grandsons in the Blackjack gymnastics tournament, My daughter drove. She dropped us off around 5 p.m. after we'd assured her that we were grownups and could find our way back to our hotel.
All was looking good when we came out of the show at 9:15 p.m. In fact, we had time to spare, enough so we could pop back and check out the Fine Art Gallery at the Bellagio.
I hesitated because Las Vegas was so crowded and the casinos are SO big that I figured it wouldn't be as easy as it appeared. I was right. It wasn't easy. But Marc said we'd be fine.
First, we had to get across the street from the Flamingo to the Bellagio, no small feat considering the masses and the fact that the entrances to the walkways are hidden in the depths of the buildings.
Then the gallery was way back inside and after we walked for many lengths, it was closed.
Back to the street. Now we had to find the monorail to get us to the shuttle stop at Mandalay Bay.
We looked around. Hmmm. We could try and get across the street again and back up to Bally's or head south to the next stop.
"I'm sure there's one just right over here," Marc said confidently. "It won't be far."
We started off. And we walked. And walked. Eventually we realized there were no stations.
"I guess the next one is at the MGM," Marc said.
I sighed. It was a really long ways off but on we trudged.
Finally we reached the MGM but I knew the monorail station was in the back of the casino. We went in, mostly because it was carpeted and my feet were killing me from the concrete.
We walked and walked. We found the monorail. It had now been an hour since we left the Flamingo.
We bought tickets ($5 each). We climbed stairs. We waited. We hoped.
But something was wrong. We could only find the northbound train.
"Where's a southbound?" we asked the guards.
There is no southbound. The monorail only goes north from the MGM.
"But you can catch a free tram from the Excalibur. Follow the signs to Studio 54," the guard said.
We walked, again all through the casino and out the door, down more stairs, up more stairs, over the walkway and into the Excalibur. We followed more signs and found the tram.
(It quits coming at 10:30 p.m. and it was now 10:45.)
Fortunately, no one told the tram or the rest of the passengers waiting.
We boarded. We rode along. We thought we were saved.
Now all we had to do was find our shuttle — bearing in mind that the last one came at 11:15 p.m.
We went up. We went down. We waited. It got late so we called our hotel. The shuttle had been and gone but would come back.
We asked for directions. We followed more signs. We went down again and out.
Finally, at 11:30 p.m. we climbed on board our hotel's shuttle and rode home in frustrated silence.
What had started as a nice night in Vegas had become a nightmare.
The only thing good about it is that it's now in the past and it's mostly Marc's fault. He'll be making up for this for awhile.

Tuesday, February 1, 2011

Finding my father

I called my 87-year-old dad Saturday morning to tell him I was coming up to help him run errands, pick up his mail, perhaps take him over to the rehab center to visit my stepmother.
"Don't bother coming up," he said in a quavery voice. "I had a bad night and I really don't feel like going anywhere."
He's been suffering from chronic pain in his right hip for weeks now and the deep muscle shot he'd just received had apparently aggravated his condition.
"Uh, OK, if you're sure. If it gets worse, call your doctor," I said, putting down the phone. I was both relieved and a little disappointed.
I had plenty to do but it had been a couple of days since I'd seen him and I wasn't sure when I'd get another chance to help him out.
I went about my day until around noon when my dad's neighbors started to call.
It seemed an ambulance had come screaming in and taken my father away. Did I know what happened?
I did not.
In fact, it took my brother and my sister-in-law and my niece the better part of the day to find out not only what happened but where he'd gone.
There are a lot of hospitals in Salt Lake City.
We called them all including one place that had a guy with nearly the same name who'd been admitted to the emergency room earlier. We talked to him twice.
My brother started dropping in to various facilities in person.
Meanwhile, good daughter that I am, I went off to the movies.
(I'm not completely heartless but I had committed to covering the LDS Film Festival and since we didn't know where my dad was, I decided I would just go ahead until I heard anything more. I did keep my phone on vibrate.)
Between all of us we found him much later on in the Veteran's Hospital up by the University of Utah.
Seems he'd decided he was in so much pain and discomfort that he needed to call 911.
They sent an ambulance to his home in West Jordan, compliments of we taxpayers.
Now he's in a bed in the VA hospital scheduled for probable hip replacement surgery within the next couple of weeks.
He's happy that somebody is finally taking his complaints seriously and enjoying the three square meals every day along with plenty of pain medication.
Meanwhile, we're trying to let his ward members and neighbors know where and how he is.
It's just a little embarrassing to have to admit we didn't have a clue as to where he was for the longest time. It's not as though he ought to have called one of us. We come off looking so disinterested in this frail and elderly man.
"Yeah, he took off in an ambulance but we found him anyway."