Saturday, July 30, 2011

Powering up

I've argued my case with the power company people before.
A while ago, I suddenly got a notice in the mail telling me our power was about to be shut off if I didn't pay up right now.
I was a bit incensed because I had dutifully and for the sake of saving trees gone into their website and put in for automatic billing through our bank account.
Since I was receiving regular email notices about our bill, I was assuming it was getting paid.
When I called up to complain and to keep the power going, I was told "it didn't stick" when I applied for auto pay.
I talked to the nice lady in India and thought it was all straightened out.
We went along fine for a while when I started getting a hint of more trouble.
This time it had "stuck" for a couple of months and then expired.
I called again and worked it out. The nice lady said they'd been having some trouble with the website. "Sorry."
That was in March. Now we're getting a whopping big bill that seems out of line with equal billing.
I called up and talked to a nice boy in India.
He said we are on auto pay but "since we didn't pay last month's bill" we were kicked off equal billing.
I asked how we could be kicked out for non-payment since what we owe is automatically sucked out of our bank account.
"I can't pay or not pay," I said. "It's automatic, hence the term, auto pay."
He was unhelpful. "You are on auto pay and equal billing but since you didn't pay the bill, it kicked you out. You now owe $162," he said.
I tried for a while to play the circular argument game but tired quickly.
"OK, OK," I said. "Just take what you need and leave me the rest. But send me paper statements from here on out."
He agreed to do so and suggested we go to equal billing so our bill doesn't surprise us every so often.
What a good idea.

Wednesday, July 27, 2011

Lehi's Joseph well done fun

One of the nice things about having a personal blog is I don't have to ask permission to do a review on a community theater production.
Generally the daily papers shy away from community theater because A. the actors aren't and don't pretend to be professional and B. there are lots of such productions and people get angry when their particular show isn't reviewed.
But, hey, I've got no such restrictions these days and the production I saw last night in the Lehi High School auditorium deserves mention.
I went kind of reluctantly because my husband and I had just seen "Joseph and the Amazing Technicolor Dreamcoat" at the Pickleville Playhouse in Garden City. We loved it and I didn't want to ruin my memories with a lackluster show.
But my husband wanted to introduce a little bunch of our grandkids to the show and the tickets were cheap so we gathered seven chicks together and paid our money and took our seats.
It was wonderful, well done and fun.
The pace was lively and the cast, though it included lots of cute little kids, did a really fine job dancing, singing and sweeping the audience along with the story.
Director Robert Smith clearly has a knack for getting his cast to pay attention and stay on task.
Even the little ones were doing their choreography and making the faces that fit the situation.
Joseph, played by Spencer Behrend, has a tremendous voice and look. He excels from the moment he's plucked "at random" from the audience to the finale when his multi-colored coat envelopes most of the rest of the cast.
McKelle Lindsay Shaw is a great Potiphar's wife, relishing in tormenting Joseph.
The narrators, McKenzie Evans, Amber Glissmeyer and Ashley McKinnon are all talented vocalists who never miss a cue.
Kristopher Higley plays the part of the Pharaoh Elvis on spot.
The brothers, Jacob, the butler, the baker, the wives and the Ishmaelites are all easy to watch. (It's always fun in Joseph to see how the Ishmaelites are portrayed, this time it's with cell phones and dancing in line.)
The production doesn't look or sound like an amateur show.
It's well costumed, well choreographed (even with a large cast of all ages) and really just very well done.
It deserves a healthy audience and a long run.
(It's playing at the high school at 7 p.m. through July 30. Get tickets at the door or at

Tuesday, July 26, 2011

Messing around in the dark

One of the best things about hiking up the mountain and going through Timpanogos Cave has been when the ranger turns off all the lights and shows everyone how absolutely pitch black it becomes.
It's always "illuminating" to not be able to see one's hand in front of one's face no matter how you squint or scrunch.
I always found it fascinating and we had told our 5-year-old granddaughter to expect the moment.
(We tried this year to organize a Grandpa's Timp Cave Hike but due to grandpa's broken foot, various family emergencies and frantic summer schedules, we ended up with two grandparents, one dad and a single grandchild.)
That's why is was particularly annoying to find people in our tour party had failed to shut off their cell phones so when the moment came there were these tiny shimmers of light coming from two or three spots inside the cavern.
Adell not in the dark
One lady tried to hide her screen behind her leg but it was too late, the moment of utter darkness was ruined.
It apparently only takes a smidgen of light to destroy the effect of "total darkness."
The ranger had to adjust her spiel to say "you can hardly see anything" and "it's almost impossible to even make out your hand in front of you."
I added this to the long list I'm keeping of why cell phones, iPods, etc. should be banned from ordinary existence.
They intrude. They disrupt and I find all of it socially worrisome.
Everywhere you go there are these little lights and games and apps with people so absorbed in whatever they're doing that they ignore their date, husband, wife or child sitting or walking right next to them. They mess up movies. They ring at funerals.
Most of the time I just cluck my tongue and berate them silently.
But when they disturb my cave time, I'm inclined to say something.
Shut the dang thing off.

Thursday, July 21, 2011

The key to success

I took my 7-year-old granddaughter to the Orem Library the other night to hear Carmen Deedy.
Alyson is interested in storytelling and how storytellers get their ideas and how they make their stories funny.
I was trying to help her see that many of the stories are simply based on real life incidents: The story Donald Davis tells of his embarrassing moment in the Christmas pageant when he discovered his robe was open and revealing his bare legs and his undershorts to the world, the story Nannette Watts tells of falling off the garage roof in the middle of stealing the neighbor's plums.
I told her it was a lot like writing a newspaper column years ago.
Whenever something bad or traumatic or particularly humiliating occurred, I had the comfort of knowing it would at least provide fodder for a column.
Amazing how that still works today.
There's something bonding in sharing minor miseries.
We then decided to bail on the storytelling because although Carmen is interesting in real life, she wasn't telling stories. She was just participating in a conversation with this guy and it didn't engage a 7-year-old.
Rather than make her sit through something that bored her, we grabbed our stuff and skedaddled as inconspicuously as possible.
We got out to the car and I hunted in my purse for my keys.
They were nowhere. We trooped back inside and "inconspicuously" looked where we'd been sitting.
I remembered it was raining when we arrived and I hurriedly grabbed the umbrella and my purse and locked the door before I slammed it.
Perhaps the keys were still in the car.
I looked. Yep. There they were just out of reach.
I sighed. I could call my husband who was in a class in Salt Lake.
I could call Alyson's mom who lives in Eagle Mountain.
We could walk home to American Fork.
I called my daughter who was in the bathtub. She said she'd get dressed and be right over when the lady next to us said, "You know, you can go over to the police station and they have a guy who'll come pop the window. I've done it lots of times."
We ended up making the trek over to the station, admitting my foolishness, proving my car was really mine and getting an officer to come over in his squad car with his tools.
A few minutes later, we were good to go.
As we buckled up, Alyson said to me, "Grandma? Is this the kind of stupid stuff you were talking about?"
I think so.

Monday, July 18, 2011

Just a question

I'm hearing from the occasional reader that it's difficult if not near impossible to post a comment on this blogsite. Have you had problems? Let me know at: and I'll pass it along.

Sunday, July 17, 2011

Going to live with grandma

Fed up with life as she knows it as a 5-year-old in a house with a new sweet-but-noisy baby, a precocious-but-busy little sister and a mommy and daddy who are occupied with settling into a new life with three small children, my granddaughter Adell recently announced she was "outta here."
She came up the stairs with her most important possessions in her arms, piled them by the door and told her mom she was going to live with grandma.
Adell in the middle of sisters
She had it all worked out in her young mind.
Here she had a younger sister who annoys her, a baby sister who cries a lot, a tired and sometimes crabby mommy and a daddy who is always at work.
At grandma's she can do what she wants when she wants and she likes the colors better at grandma's too.
In Adell's mind, it made perfect sense.
Grandma and Grandpa have the room and the toys and she likes it at our house.
It never occurred to her that there would be any sort of problem on our side with her moving in to stay.
She told her mother she knew she would be welcome. "They love me," she assured her. (We're glad she knows that.)
It took Kari a little while to convince Adell that she needed to stay with the family. She hugged her and told her she knew things were hard right now because the new baby is taking so much of mom's time. She reasoned with her, helping her see she is a valuable part of their family.
She also mentioned that while Grandma is fun for the short term she might get a little testy over the long haul. (What does she remember?)
Adell relented a bit and agreed to give it some more time. For now, she's staying.
She hasn't said anything to us about the deal. She seems as happy and content as ever.
But Kari says her clothes and toys are still piled by the doorway ready to go.

Friday, July 15, 2011

A trail above the water

For many years, we have lived sort of alongside the Murdock Canal.
Marc and I have both covered stories about the canal that bisects North Utah County, stories about people who found out in a tragic way that the sparkling, rushing water wasn't friendly, that once someone got in there was no getting out.
We've covered stories about teenagers who tried to prove they could outwit the siphons and grown men who underestimated the water's power.
We've biked through the fields and lawns that bordered the waterway.
Marc has picked up many a bullhead in his tires from the weeds on the trail on the edge of the canal.
When we learned that the Provo Water Users Association and Utah County and the seven cities between Orem and Lehi had hammered out a contract that not only called for covering the canal but also for putting a trail over top, we couldn't quite believe it.
But the ink is dry on the contract and the work is pushing ahead so perhaps it's OK to celebrate.
We love to bike.
We enjoy the outdoors and the exercise.
We de-stress on our bikes and so the more trails we see, the better.
Highland has done a good job making trails through nearly every neighborhood.
Lindon deserves high marks also. (American Fork has room for improvement as does Alpine.)
The cities in between are kind of hit and miss about it but the Murdock trail will resolve much of the missing pieces.
It's supposed to be finished by the spring of 2013 — two years from now, two years before initially planned and two years later than we'd like.
I just talked to a couple of guys in charge who told me to be patient a while longer. It'll be worth it, they say.
Can't be too soon.

Wednesday, July 13, 2011

Looks good to me

I got this query from the people who run a site called
They wanted to know if I'd promote their site on this site.
Now, I've been hesitant thus far to accept advertising and/or strings on Grandma's Place because grandma pretty well wants to write what she pleases when she pleases.
Over the years, I've had enough of editors telling me what, when and how to say things.
One of the pleasures of writing this blog is that it's all me, whatever that is.
So when I received this query I ignored it at first.
Then curiosity got the better of me and I went over to look.
What I found is intriguing.
It appears that there's no reason not to check it out and use this site to save money.
In my brief investigation I found several stores offering coupons for things I had recently bought at full price (Best Buy among them).
I can see distinct advantages that could come from regularly checking out this website.
You might too.

Tuesday, July 12, 2011

Missing the moment

I remember early on when I would be working the Obit desk at the Daily Herald thinking it was odd and a pain to be asked to call on EVERY obituary to see if someone real answered the phone.
I used to think it was a waste of time because 99 percent of the time, a receptionist or employee of the funeral home/mortuary would answer the phone.
Sometimes it felt invasive if I reached a member of the grieving family.
My bosses basically told me to just do it, never mind that I didn't see the reason.
Now, many years and much experience later, I see the reason.
In fact, it's so clear that I can't believe I ever dared write a word without checking first to see if the source was legitimate, still alive and fairly sane.
More times than anyone would think, people will try to put one over on a news outlet.
An ex-wife will submit her philandering husband's death notice or sell his new Porsche for $20.
A bunch of goof-offs in a fraternity or high school debate class will send in a false lead for a sensationalist story as a joke, ha, ha.
Some enterprising folks just want to see if news folks will fall for a made-up story.
It makes for a fairly paranoid management.
And if you've watched the recent flurry of concern over a recent phony story in the Deseret News, you can see what happens.
(Seems somebody sent out a false press release announcing the Southern Baptist Church acceptance of gays and lesbians. Most news outlets smelled a rat and refused the pickup. Somebody at the D News missed it. The paper ran the story followed by a lengthy, embarrassing retraction:
When this happens, it always makes for a miserable few days as everybody tries to sort out who's to blame and who missed it and how do we make sure it never happens again?
I feel for the unlucky reporter and editor who got taken in.
It's so easy to assume you can trust information someone took the time to prepare.
It's so hard to admit you've been fooled. Every day, there are so many close calls.
Thank heaven for the early obit training.

Sunday, July 10, 2011

Steel Days Coming and Going

Marc and I have been to a lot of Steel Days Parades.
In the early days, we were both shooting pictures and talking to people and writing stories about the people on the floats, in the cars and marching in the bands.
We'd set up our chairs (borrowed out of the office right behind us) and watch the whole thing, waving to the mayor and the beauty queens and taking note of which floats won which prizes.
Some years, we watched to see who read the parade programs that Marc had hastily put together the night before, programs full of local stories and ads and passed out by the publisher's kids.
Other years, we ducked as the firemen sprayed us with water.
Most years we plucked up candy from the road. (For a few years, there was no candy because somebody's child had run into a tire on a float and hurt himself.)
It's always been entertaining.
We've waved and smiled and joked.
It's become a tradition that we follow today even though the American Fork Citizen has long been sold and remade into a gift shop.
We ride our bikes down the road, eat with the American Fork Band at the band pancake breakfast, and then park in front of the building where we lived and worked for many precious years.
It brings back a lot of memories for us as we sit on our camp chairs and watch the world go by.
I think we both miss those days when Marc hefted a camera on his shoulder and walked the parade several times over as he chased the perfect Kodak moment.
We liked being in the know and being friends with the politicians, the stars of the town and the kids.
Today, we sit with grandkids and help them beat out the competition for free candy and we admire the colors and the cheerleaders and karate kids and the occasional traveling jazz trumpet player. We know fewer players. We have less to say and do.
But it's still a hometown parade for us filled with heart and warmth, Americana the Beautiful.
Please let us keep sitting here.

Friday, July 8, 2011

Keeping out of trouble

Ever since I was a child, I've had a hard time keeping out of trouble.
My teachers in the primary grades used to write on my report cards that I like to talk too much.
When I got older, I would get called into the principal's office (or the local ward bishop's office) because I was creating so much havoc in my classes that the teachers were at their wit's end.
I was either talking too much or writing too much down to share.
(I actually started my writing career with a novel that I wrote in home room one page at a time. I would send off a page as it was finished and start another. The pages worked their way around the room until everybody was reading the latest installment instead of doing their classwork. The only reason I escaped without punishment was because the teacher got caught up in the story and needed to know who had Page 12!)
In my inevitable career as a reporter, I often got called to task for a story somebody didn't like or didn't agree with.
Once in a while it involved bringing in my supervisor and the big bosses.
Usually I was OK because I had done my research and my editors know that writing for a newspaper was like working in a mine field. Anything can explode on you at any time.
The ones that got me into the most trouble were the fluff stories, the little innocuous stories that I would do as a favor for somebody, a groundbreaking or an advance for a minor event.
Somebody would see their name in the paper and freak out. Didn't I know this person was hiding out from an ex-husband, the mob or a bill collector and how could I print this trash?
It's been an interesting life as I've gone along, never a dull moment.
And you'd think I'd have learned something about the printed/published word.
Sharing the word
That's why it was a surprise to me when several people reacted to a recent blog, calling me to task for being mean.
I thought I'd been careful with my words.
I hadn't set out to hurt anybody or malign.
I really thought I was simply entertaining the valiant readers who check into "Grandma's Place."
I thought what I was writing was totally benign but possibly interesting.
But I was wrong and so here I am, 60 years old and still talking too much. I apologize but I'll probably keep blundering on.

Tuesday, July 5, 2011

Happy Birthday again and again

It's always a challenge to figure out what to get Marc for his birthday. It comes just after Father's day so I'm usually out of ideas.
This time though, I thought I had a clear shot at getting exactly what he wanted.
See, he had this pair of Boze earphones that had apparently been stolen when he want to Salt Lake for an audition.
He was heartsick because it hadn't been easy to talk me into buying them for him at Christmas.
I thought they were too expensive and it always makes me mad when I try to talk to him and he's lost in his music.
But he really, really wanted some earphones that stayed in and sounded marvelous to boot.
So when he came home to tell me he'd tossed them on the car seat as he ran in to his interview only to find them gone when he returned, I figured I could save the day by getting him another pair for his birthday.
In the meantime, he got his new job so we wouldn't be free to shop on his actual birthday so I suggested we go up the Saturday prior to pick up a pair. (I dare not buy these without him.)
He was pleased but less than thrilled when I said, "Of course, you won't be surprised on your birthday."
"These are for my birthday?" he said. "We're counting them for my birthday?"
Whoops. I guess not.
Now his weedeater has quit on him so we've bought a new one. Since his birthday is tomorrow, I'm thinking, "All right. Here's his gift."
It came in yesterday so we drove up to pick it up. When I said "Happy Birthday!" he was less than impressed.
So that's no good.
I would have counted the extra tie we got when we bought a wedding tie but that seems cheap.
I wonder if there's any chance he'll break or lose something else in time for me to pick it up before tomorrow.

Monday, July 4, 2011

The night lights

Whether or not you agree with the changes in Utah's fireworks law, one has to admit, it certainly made for a more visually interesting 4th of July.
We happened to be driving home from my son's home in Eagle Mountain and were amazed at the scene.
There were dramatic fireworks on every turn, so big and so many that it was difficult to pick out the professional ones being set off at Thanksgiving Point in Lehi.
(The only way to tell was to identify the longitude and latitude.)
There were fireworks of all colors and kinds, big boomy ones and spinners and the kind that look like giant dandelions.
Some whistled and others danced. Some did a series of flashes and flares. Others soared really high into the air, headed for the moon.
I'm not sure making some more elaborate fireworks legal in our fair state is cutting down on the traffic to Wyoming and Nevada. There were plenty of displays that we could see that didn't look all that legal.
I'm not even convinced that it's a safe and sane plan but it made for a really fun night, especially since we actually only spent about $30 for ours but reaped the benefit of thousands of dollars of other people's expenditures.