Wednesday, June 29, 2011

Parade squatting

The family put me in charge of finding a good spot for watching the Lehi Miniature Parade.
Everyone else either has a legitimate job or babies or children to chauffeur to gymnastics and such.
So I agreed to take on the task although I highly dislike seat-saving and have — in the past — made some rude comments to people who do that.
I pride myself on getting to places in enough time that I don't have to ask anyone to save me a seat and I wholeheartedly agree with the new LDS Church manners policy that says the only good way to save a seat is to be in it.
So I approached the task with some trepidation.
I know how seriously people in Utah take their parade-watching.
I've seen the fistfights that break out at the Freedom Festival Parade between folks who've slept on the street overnight to secure places and those who arrive late with kids in tow looking for a shady spot.
I figured I would need to get to Lehi early if I wanted to find enough space for half a dozen adults and as many children.
The parade started at 6 p.m. so I planned to head over at 5.
By 4 p.m. I was so nervous I just grabbed a book and booked it.
I drove up and down the streets noticing that most of the available green space was already claimed with chairs and ropes and blankets laid down from Wines Park to Main Street.
I headed to a familiar spot near the Legacy Center. Marc and I had often parked ourselves thereabouts when we were covering the parade for our newspapers.
I found a place for the car and spied a thin space between two sets of lawn chairs across the street.
I marched over and put down my chair. I then put a heavy blanket on the curb figuring the kids could sit there and we adults would fit ourselves in behind them.
I eyed the chairs on either side of me and the lawn behind. I gently pushed the chairs aside a bit to make room for my daughters, husband and grandchildren.
We'd probably be all right if we were lucky and the people who owned the chairs weren't hostile.
I sat. I started reading. I played a game on my phone studiously ignoring people who came by, near or around me. I broke into a sweat every time a truck stopped on the road in front of me, sure that I was going to be yelled at. I checked my watch and waited for reinforcements.
Time passed. People were congregating.
I went over and put out another  blanket on the curb by the intersection in case we got evicted.
"Ma, am!" said a lady on my right. "Ma, am!" she said again.
"This is it," I thought, slowly looking up and at her. She was standing by the chairs I'd pushed over a little, looking somewhat indignant.
"Uh, yes?" I asked, all innocent of course.
"Are you saving all of this space?" she demanded, waving her arm at the expanse.
"Uh, no." I said, "Just this, just where I'm sitting."
"Good," she said, plunking herself down and inviting her party to do the same. "I hate it when people who aren't even here try to save the whole street!"
Whew, a fellow marauder.

Monday, June 27, 2011

Finding our digs

Usually when we travel to Bear Lake we know exactly where we're going.
Since we own a sliver of a timeshare we have a condo at Ideal Beach that is made available to us every year for a king's ransom.
This past weekend, we were winging it.
I had found a fairly reasonable rate for a place online where we had never stayed.
The trouble began when we started to look for it.
Not where we stayed
The only address I had was "Marina #6" at Harbor Village.
Having stayed and eaten at Harbor Village in years past, I wasn't worried and didn't do the Internet Mapquest thing although I know better.
We drove to Harbor Village. The posh restaurant we remembered was closed up. The formerly classy units were now run down. There was no business office apparent.
We drove around finding signs that said "Private! Stay out!" and other friendly warnings.
We looked carefully at our home printed receipt. It listed the place as a Bear Lake Properties rental.
Not where we stayed
The Harbor Village we remembered
We looked them up on Marc's smart phone and tried to drive to the address for the office downtown.
"Downtown" again in Garden City, we finally found the office back behind a bunch of souvenir shops and the post office.
The lady in charge gave us keys, tried to draw us a map and we headed back out.
This time we drove up and around and down and around and back again around Harbor Village. We found private homes and condo units with chains on their gates and defunct rentals. We found some friendly deer.
Finally we settled for a bunch of somewhat tired-looking condo units in a pink building with garages on the bottom and no way up to the living space.
Number 6 was painted on the garage door in front of us but there were no stairs or elevators apparent.
I went up the south side and Marc went to the north. I found grass, lots of brick steps and a scenic view. He found stairs, four flights. He trundled down to #6 and tried his key which fit.
I started toting luggage clear down the way, up the stairs and south again.
It was our place for sure, an okay condo with a patio view of Bear Lake and five working remotes (what more can a man ask for?).
So it worked out. We got our exercise every time we went in or out and we learned a lesson.
Also not where we stayed
Never assume people who build condo units or rent condo units do things in a way that makes any sense.

Wednesday, June 22, 2011

A tree in the drink

Last year, we all stood on the beach at Bear Lake and lamented the lack of water.
The lake was so far out and the water so far down that we had to trudge long distances to reach the beach.
We had to park our shademakers and canvas chairs right down next to the waves if we wanted to be ready to march into the water when the Jet-skis were launched.
We all griped about how tough it was.
This year, it's a whole new problem.
The beach that was, isn't.
Trees growing in H2O
There's no sand between the water and the shore, unless you count the sand imported by Ideal Beach Properties that served as a beach a decade ago.
The homes that boast of having beachfront property now have water just off their porches.
The trees that have grown in the sand are now clear out in the lake, looking sort of funny and very vulnerable.
It will make for an interesting recreational year for families like ours who traditionally spend a week playing in the water.
We'll have to watch out for tree branches and grass getting tangled in our wave-runners.
We won't be able to take the little kiddles clear down to the water to make sand castles. We'll have to adapt and play more games inside.
Instead of sandy beaches to play in, we'll have to learn enjoy walking in muck.
We can drive over to the North Shore and pay $5 to play on the public beach but that seems a shame since we have beach privileges on the Ideal Beach side just outside our condo.
It'll require some adaptation and creative thinking, some sacrifice and loss.
How rude of Mother Nature to do this.

Tuesday, June 21, 2011

The Hover Guy

Marc and I received a little card in the mail from R.C. Willey telling us we had money to spend.
All we had to do was to go to one of the stores and find something for $10.
Now, I'm no dummy. I realize there's nothing to buy at this fine store for only $10 and the card with free money is really a gimmick to get me in the showroom.
But I'm a sucker for a freebie and thought it was at least worth a try.
Maybe I could find something for $25 or $30 and look at it as getting $10 off.
(I once found a really nifty camera case for about $50 when I had a $25 gift card.)
We had a little time a few days ago while we were visiting in Salt Lake so I convinced Marc to stop at the outlet with me.
"Look around," I suggested. "Maybe there's a banana chair or one of those kid-size recliners on sale."
He started walking around — not an easy feat right now since his foot is broken and in a boot.
I met him at the CD sale table but by then he'd picked up a salesman.
This guy wanted to know what we were looking for.
I told him we had a little cash to spend and just wanted to browse.
Not taking the hint, he pushed. "Anything in particular you'd like to see?" he asked.
"Oh, maybe a banana chair or a small-size child's recliner," I offered, trying to get away.
He scoffed. "We haven't had those for years," he said, "but here are our banana chairs."
I stepped over and surveyed the inventory.
Marc came with me. So did the sales guy.
We looked them over but for some reason, Marc was a little testy now. The sales guy was two feet away, staring at us hard.
We went back to the CDs. Some were within our $10 price range but Marc was disinterested, not really looking seriously at any of them. He was getting kind of angry, even.
"Maybe this wasn't a good idea," I said, "I didn't think about your foot."
"It's not my foot," he said with a significant look at me.
I looked behind him. The sales guy was hot on his heels. He was hovering and intent. He really wanted to sell us something. He was obviously committed to earning his commission.
So much so that he drove us to a premature albeit unsatisfying shopping decision.
"We are outta here," Marc said.
Anyone need a $10 gift card?

Thursday, June 16, 2011

Storytime bliss

I've been taking two of my grandchildren to Storytime at the Lehi Library since their mother had a new baby.
They love it and I am impressed by the storytellers. They put on a good show.
They dance. They sing. And they don't whack anyone which is a good feat given that they're surrounded by a mass of toddlers who tumble, bigger kids who grab and middle-size kids who alternately cry or scream.
One day I really thought the storyteller's ostrich puppet was in danger of being beheaded, bebeaked or belegged.
Another time, it seemed the sea of youngsters would swallow the storylady up in their rush to get a little world-on-a-stick thing from the laundry tub.
It's interesting to watch this exercise as the moms and babies come in, take a seat and wait to be entertained for free.
There are always the good kids who'll take a seat on the floor and wait patiently for a turn.
There are the tiny ones who get scared for one reason or another and run off wailing.
Then there are the troublemakers who either don't think there's enough action or just didn't wake up on the right side of the bed.
They create a little havoc and their moms chip in.
I sat by a lady yesterday whose kids weren't all that bad.
They just both wanted to sit on mom's lap.
"No!" she said as they clamored for a space. "You go sit on the floor like the other kids!"
When they resisted, she started gathering her things.
"OK, then, we're done!" she declared. "We'll just go home!"
Neither child gave in as she started heading out.
"We're so done!" she said with a mad face. "Come on, let's go!"
It was fairly distressing to the rest of us as we watched her children hang onto her pant legs, unable to find a way to save face and save the day. We couldn't hear and we couldn't watch.
Fortunately, the angry mom looked around and probably saw all of our faces as she sputtered.
"OK, one more chance," she said. "Go sit down!"
They did and the story progressed but I couldn't help but think, "Why did this lady have children? And why did they so want to sit by her and on her?"
It's a puzzle.

Monday, June 13, 2011

Playing dodgeball at 60

One of the things that I like about my husband is his boundless enthusiasm — for life, kids, me, food, movies...the list is a long one.
He's always the first to line up for a game of driveway basketball or to jump into the pool headfirst or to try out a mean roller coaster.
So it didn't surprise me when he came home from work last week all scraped up from playing a hard game of dodgeball on the company's cement court.
Seems he leapt for the ball and got it but landed knee first on the ground, turning his foot, bloodying his knee and bruising a rib.
He came home limping but proud that he kept up with the other, younger guys. I'm sure they were impressed.
I was a little concerned because Marc has little or no feeling in his neuropathic feet so he can't really tell if he's hurt himself.
I questioned him about his injury and recommended he see a doctor to be sure he hadn't hurt it more than it appeared.
He assured me he was fine. "It doesn't hurt," he said. So how bad could it be?
Well, three days later, he took off his sock because his foot seemed a little swollen in his shoe.
It looked awful.
The toes were black. The foot was puffy and funny looking and his little toe seemed oddly configured.
I told him again I thought he ought to see a doctor.
"But it doesn't hurt," he said, trying to put on a brave face despite the ugly situation.
The next morning it looked bad enough that he finally called the doctor and went in, telling the guy he felt silly for being in his office because after all, it didn't hurt so it couldn't be broken, right?
The doctor put it well as he came in with the X-ray.
"So, do you want to see where it isn't broken?" he asked.
Turns out it is and now he's wearing a big, black boot until he can see the orthopedic surgeon.
He's surprised and a little frustrated because while the boot is a pain, "It still doesn't hurt."
I am trying not to say "I told you so" and holding back on the cute comments but I just want it noted here that I was right, huh?
Two things to remember for the future: Dodgeball when you're 60 is not a good idea and my medical degree (earned with six kids and 60 years of personal experience) should be better respected.

Saturday, June 11, 2011


Marc and I were invited to attend a premiere concert the other night.
We had to buy tickets and come in through the proper door and take our seats promptly, no fooling around or delaying.
The 5-year-old concert artists were serious about their offering.
They'd been practicing for minutes and we were the first to see them on stage: Emma and Adell.
See, Emma has a baby violin and she's been practicing every day while she's been staying with us.
Adell is very impressed and told her she should be in a band.
"You play an instrument," Adell told Emma."I wish I played an instrument. I don't play anything."
I reassured Adell that she too had talent. She can sing and she can play the piano a little and the toy flutes we have.
She wasn't totally convinced until she picked up Emma's violin and made similar sounds with the bow and violin.
That led to the planning of the concert.
They decided they would each perform a couple of numbers and a duet.
Adell sang an original song while Emma played her scales.
They both improvised and created music of a sort that only grandparents and proud parents could really appreciate.
It reminded us of a Wynton Marsalis concert we attended a while back with Marc's brother.
Just when you thought it was done and you started to clap, it began again.
Here's part of the performance!

Thursday, June 9, 2011

The social director

Adell and Emma
For the past two-and-a-half months I've taken on a new career.
I've been working kind of as a volunteer social director, planning activities and fun for a senior citizen and four underage children.
It's been a challenge and I'm happy to say my stint appears to be over — at least for now.
My dad, who required a lunch option and/or a Scrabble game and maybe a drive up the canyon, has moved in and moved on with his wife in the Legacy Retirement Center. His needs were simple albeit time-consuming.
The children — two of my son's and two of my daughter's — required a little more in the way of entertainment and maintenance.
My son and his wife went to Washington D.C. via Orlando, Florida (can't get that close to Harry Potter World and not visit!) for five days. They had asked me to watch Emma, their 5-year-old and Erica, their  18-month-old and, in a moment of weakness, I said OK.
My youngest daughter had a baby so I threw in her two so she could recover. Adell is also 5 and Hannah is 2.
It made for a merry mob as we trucked around finding fun.
We hit Kangaroo Zoo which worked great because no one could easily escape and everything there is pretty soft when it comes to hard landings.
We fed "Chocolate" the horse who lives across the street. He quickly learned to recognize that little girls on his fence meant apples and carrots were being offered.
We visited Aunt Kristy who has a playroom stocked with all the toys her four kids have amassed over the last decade.
We went to Storytime at the library and I only lost one child for a little while.
We  crossed busy roads without incident and we had picnics without injury.
We dug for buried treasure in the sandbox and shopped at Wal-Mart for diapers and Party Animals.
We watched a few cartoons and the endless "Thumbelina" DVD endlessly.
Most of the time it was just me and them. Marc was at work and happy to be there.
We built forts and did puzzles and colored and read stories and put on a concert. We did it all.
It's been wild and wonderful and exhausting.
I'm so glad their mothers have them most of the time.

Sunday, June 5, 2011

Meet Mia

Here are the photos of baby Mia Lynn Gardiner...born June 3 at around 5 a.m. after a long night for mom and dad.
She's 7 lbs. 5 oz. and 20 inches long, a big baby for a tiny mom!
Here she is with her proud big sisters.
More to come later. We're all kinda busy right now!

Thursday, June 2, 2011

Getting past the guards

I offered to review a new movie the other day.
I saw the available assignment and before I realized it was a Monday night screening, I offered to attend, thinking Marc and I could get out on a Saturday night for a relatively painless event.
Then I looked closer to find it was not only on a night Marc couldn't go but it was in the Gateway center in Salt Lake.
No big deal.
I simply coerced my long-suffering daughter to go with me, offering her a night away from the kids and a free chick flick.
We did just fine until we hit the theater.
We had no problem with freeway traffic. We got safely parked. We found the theater.
We also found a milling crowd and signs that said "Something Borrowed" is sold out!
I wasn't worried because I had replied to the computer message from Emily Something-or-other that I was indeed coming and after all, I was representing the Deseret News, right?
I told this to the guy at the front of the ticket line.
He looked puzzled. "I'll go get Fred," he said, or something like that.
Fred came over and chirped, "Oh, yes, I'm supposed to let reviewers in but I left my list at home. I'm just filling in for Emily. Wait here."
We waited and we waited which is difficult for Kari since she's nine months pregnant.
We looked at all the people in line behind us and hoped Fred was making pertinent phone calls.
Pretty soon, things started to move. Some people went through the rope and around the ticket stand and started muttering.
The lobby manager came over to ask what we were waiting for.
I told him.
He said, "Oh, if you're a reviewer, you should be all right. Wait here."
We waited some more.
Now it was getting late and I was starting to get mad. My daughter hates it when I cause a scene so I tried to behave but honestly, this was frustrating and still no sign of Fred.
Finally, a guy came brushing past us and waved to the ticket taker.
"I'm press," he said as he moved down the hall.
"Wait!" I said. "I'm press!"
The ticket taker looked at me. "You are? Well, then go on ahead," she said, adding, "You didn't need to have waited."
Inside we found Fred. He said "Hi," and asked me to be sure and give him a statement after the show.
No apology. No explanation as to why he never returned to fetch us.
I wonder if his lack of professionalism and attention to detail affected my review of the show in any way?
Something Borrowed review

Wednesday, June 1, 2011

Happy Birthday to me

I know I wax on too much about my aged father but you know, a blog is cheaper than paying for therapy.
My father is officially a resident now of the Legacy Retirement Center — which is where he wanted to be — and I think I may have my life back.
At least temporarily.
It's never certain when you're dealing with the geriatric generation. He could return tomorrow, cane in hand, frowny face part of the deal.
But for now, he's with his wife (my step-mom) and in Salt Lake and I have the run of the estate.
I can clean the carpets, put the furniture back where it belongs and hose down the bathrooms. (You don't want to know.)
It's been a grueling few months as Dad moved out of the rehab center and waited to get better enough to check into independent living.
No one here could take him full-time so my brother and I split the time between my home and the Value Place motel which he affectionately calls his jail cell.
I tried to keep him here as much as possible and sent therapists and nurses to the motel where they worked to get him more mobile and passed judgment on our plan.
I've led a multi-task life as I tried to do my writing, participate in my grandkid's lives, feed and love my husband and still get dad's rent paid, his banking done, keep his refrigerator stocked and his clothes clean.
It seemed every time I thought we had everything all worked out, Dad's needs would come along and blow my plans apart.
Everything geriatric takes longer...walking, talking, eating, answering the phone, picking up a tissue.
And everything is somehow my fault..."you made my bed and now I can't sleep," "your banana bread fell out of the plastic when I tried to take it from the fridge and fell on the floor," "my tummy stings from the insulin shot I took with the syringe you gave me (It was new, never opened.)."
Today is my birthday and my Independance Day.
Subconsciously I know I'm not done here. Dad's health will only get worse and the day will come again when we'll have to make a new decision for him and because of him but for now, for today, I'm free.
I think I'll go have a good cry.