Sunday, October 30, 2011

Freaking out little boys

It's funny that things never go exactly the way you would expect with kids.
We were throwing a Spooky Supper Halloween party for our grandsons who live in the area, sort of a turnaround because they weren't included in Grandma's Tea Party for the girls.
We decided to keep it simple and sort of silly rather than gross and scary because frankly, I don't do well with gross and scary.
Connor getting wrapped
Kyle the happy mummy
Besides the ages we were working with range from 6-12. We had a mummy wrap contest, a Horcrux Hunt with edible snakes and Ring-Pops and a spooky story with dried apricot ears and boiled cauliflower brains, nothing too horrid. We wrapped hot dogs in breakstick dough so we could have mummys for dinner.
Instead of a spook alley with chainsaws and dripping blood, we opted for a couple of jokes.
In our living room, we set up a tent and draped it in black cloth. Then we threw in a couple of red plastic bats we have hanging around and hung a warning sign "Danger, Rare Bats!!"
We put out a tunnel for the kids to crawl through and set up a blinking light inside.
Then we put a bunch of toy baby rattles inside a cauldron at the top of a tower built out of big, plastic barrels.
Again, we hung a warning sign that said "Careful, Keep Back, Baby Rattlers!"
We led the kids in one by one and let them tiptoe carefully to the edge of the barrels so they could peek inside. As soon as they lifted the lid, we rattled some pebbles in a can.
Every one of them jumped.
Every one took it seriously.
Some of the bigger ones wouldn't go down the tunnel to see the bats.
One child said he could hear the bats moving around in there and he wasn't taking any chances.
It's a wrap for Scott
He hung back until he could see that some of his cousins went in and came back safely.
It was interesting to me how wholly they believed what grandpa and I said.
If we told them there were live snakes in our barrel, they bought it.
If we said there were rare red bats in our tent, there absolutely were.
In a way, that's flattering and kind of sad that we used that blind trust to trick them, huh?

Thursday, October 27, 2011

The magic in making kids laugh

Timothy Riggs is a gifted magician.
He can juggle fire.
He can eat fire and use invisible holes to slip metal rings onto unbroken ropes.
He can divide his assistant with swords and metal sheets and make her disappear only to reappear in entirely new outfits.
He's good with the sleight-of-hand, expert at amazement.
But he's at his best with children.
At the SCERA recently for the annual Trick-or-Treat show, he plucked a few out of the audience to help him on stage.
Ellie helped him gather coins in his bucket from her ears, her nose and all of the kids in the audience (who kept tossing in their imaginary coins despite Timothy's protests and to the delight of all).
He used Tucker as a front man who donned a huge tuxedo coat and tie and added an animated face to Timothy's magical hands as they performed scarf tricks galore.
He made 6-year-old Joseph laugh and laugh as he did rope tricks that he attributed to "dangerous" Joseph.
It was so much fun to watch the kids participate and be amazed.
Even a cynical 11-year-old had to admit it was pretty magical the way Timothy put solid metal hoops together only to "breathe" them apart.
Timothy starts out telling the kids he went to the library to learn magic and the books turned him into a magician.
He mixes enough simple tricks with the ones that can't be figured out that the show works for children and adults.
His Chinese yo-yo tricks are wondrous on their own.
His juggling is fantastic, especially as his assistant adds a stinky toilet bowl cleaner, a plunger and ultimately a heavy bowling ball to his flying props.
"I meant to do that," he declares when a pink ball goes bounding off stage and it's impossible to know whether he's telling the truth or not.
This is a show geared to entertain.
Bless Timothy for shaping his show to include youngsters and bless the SCERA for making it available for only $5 a ticket (that includes free candy at the end).
See more about Timothy Riggs at:

Wednesday, October 26, 2011

Magic and scary stuff

I'm realizing that the child's brain deals with the magical and the spooky stuff quite differently than we old fogies do.
I was trying out some Halloween on my 6-year-old granddaughter just to see how it played out.
I'm prepping for a Spooky Supper with a half-dozen grandsons on Saturday and I needed a kid's opinion on a couple of Spook Alley moments.
In one dark box I had a bunch of baby rattles and told her there were Baby Rattlers inside that she had to stay away from. I tried to help her understand what rattlesnakes are and how mean baby rattlers could be before she peeked over the top to see these creatures.
I rattled some buttons in a box just as she peeked in.
She was unimpressed.
"That's not scary, grandma!" she said accusingly even though I could tell she was also relieved that nothing jumped or hissed at her.
I told myself it was OK because I don't think she really knows what a rattlesnake is anyway.
I tried the next thing.
I had hidden a couple of baseball bats inside "The Rare Bat Cave" and told her she needed to be quiet so as not to scare the bats away. I had a fake black bat hanging over the doorway so she'd have a picture in her mind of what a real bat looks like.
She crawled inside the tunnel and looked around.
She came back out indignant once more.
"That's not scary, grandma!! she said again. "Do you know about scary?"
I guess not.
I'll have to get busy and try harder before my Halloween party.
Otherwise, the boys I've invited are going to laugh.
Wait, that's the point.

Monday, October 24, 2011

C3PO gets bumped

When Samuel Mirejovsky of Newport Beach, Calif., looked for Legos to use in his model of the Bountiful LDS temple, he had to be creative and imaginative.
He had to trade with collectors all over the world to get the pieces he needed for windows and spires and steps.
He paid a good price in some cases to get pieces that accurately replicate the stonework and design, spending more money than he wanted to admit to his wife and several months putting the model together for his ward's Primary — an impressive 4x4 foot building with more than 13,500 blocks.
For the Angel Moroni he came up with what his 4-year-old son thought was a neat solution.
He used a golden Star Wars robot — C3PO — holding an inverted wineglass for his trumpet.
Here he is:
Mirejovsky admits it may at first appear to be an irreverent solution but gold pieces are rare and C3PO actually makes quite a cute addition to the project.
When I first proposed the story on the Lego temple, I wasn't sure my editors would run with it because sometimes Mormon readers fail to utilize their sense of humor and no one wants to look like they are mocking something so sacred.
It was a nice surprise when they said OK.
I interviewed Mirejovsky on the phone and found him charming and completely loyal to the church and his beliefs.
I laughed when Mirejovsky told me about using C3PO and threw in a paragraph or two about him.
The editors cut out the part and in their defense, I don't really blame them.
C3PO was a good guy in the movies but really no angel.
He's a toy.
Here's the link to the whole story:

Friday, October 21, 2011

Three inches too few

In the paper today there's a piece about Delta Airlines adding three inches to their coach seating.
For a mere $99 upgrade fee, you can now have back the three inches they took away sometime last year.
Isn't that peachy?
It makes it so you can actually push past your fellow passengers on your way to the middle and/or window seat without doing permanent damage.
It puts the tall guys — like my husband — back in the game. It means when you drop something, you can actually bend down to get it without getting your head stuck.
It's just great and certainly big of them.
It's also a bit insulting to think the airlines believe we won't all remember a time when there was actual legroom AND little meals AND free luggage AND perks like blankets and tiny pillows and earphones that made traveling fun that came with the ticket price.
I'm not that old that I don't remember when airlines were vying for our business and working to get us to fly more often.
Now it's painful and uncomfortable.
Besides the security check-ins and privacy invasions on the way to the plane, today traveling by air means going hungry and getting fleeced all along the way.
I recognize the need for airlines to make money.
I know it has to be expensive to keep planes in the air and fueled and maintained.
I recognize the need to recoup the cost of high-priced jet fuel. It's got to be tough to pay pilots.
But it would help if there was some honesty in the hype.
Don't try to tell us they're "giving" us three inches when it was our three inches to lose.
Don't try to sell us on the value of being able to purchase a $7 sandwich that used to come with the flight.
And don't try to tell me they're are doing me a favor by letting me bring on a bag for $50.
The formerly  "friendly skies" are today's perilous horizons, give or take a few inches.

Wednesday, October 19, 2011

The end is near

We're almost done with our second round of the HCG diet, aren't you glad?
I'm sure everyone is pretty much fed up (pun is intended) with hearing about it.
And we're pretty much done with thinking about it: can't have this, can't have that, how many calories in this, why is there nothing but fish and chicken and lettuce to eat?
We're two days away from normalcy and the good news is, Marc lost his designated 25-30 lbs. and I hit my goal weight with two pounds to spare.
Our clothes fit better (actually some are a bit loose now) and we both like feeling a little lighter.
But it's been tough.
Not the 500 calories-a-day part so much as the three weeks of protein replenishment.
The theory is that after starving the body for 21 days, it's time to shovel in the protein.
You don't want the body to realize it's starving and start to hang onto any fat it can find.
So you go from 500 calories a day to a whopping 2,500 to 3,000 calories.
None of it can come from sugar or starch which means I can't go out and grab a Sweet Tooth Fairy cupcake or even one of those little tiny carrot cake desserts at P.F. Chang's.
We have to eat a LOT of meat and butter.
It really feels wrong.
Marc is happier with it than I am because he's always wanted to eat a lot of food. He likes a second and third helping.
I like less. In fact, the first time through this, I gained weight back because I didn't believe in the theory. I'm trying to have a little more faith this time around.
But, still, while he's having protein burgers at In-N-Out and double down sandwiches at KFC, I'm drinking lots of whole milk, putting butter on my vegetables, whipping cream on my raspberries.
He's loading up with a grin and I'm feeling like a kid again facing a big plate of food I don't want to work through.
I'm realizing nothing much has changed in my 60 years of experience. I still don't want to eat what's good for me. I don't want to be told what to eat and Mom was right. I don't like anything.
Anybody want to slip me a candy bar?

Tuesday, October 18, 2011

Spud-picking weather

I know in Utah the cooler, crisper weather signals the coming of the deer hunt followed shortly thereafter by Thanksgiving and Christmas.
But for us Idahoans — and there are more of us than you think — it's spud-picking weather.
While the rest of the world went crazily on during October, going hunting or on vacation, we country kids were hitching up our Levis and packing our lunches for two weeks of the endless picking of potatoes.
I thought everybody did it.
School let out and every teenager who was healthy asked the local potato farmers for "jobs."
These jobs paid well in our eyes and since everyone was in the fields, it was the socially cool thing to do.
You'd get up before the sun, dress in your oldest, warmest stuff, grab a pair of gloves and pile into someone's pickup.
Once at the field, you grabbed a wire basket and started in on some of the longest rows of vegetables you ever saw.
It wasn't particularly hard work but it was dirty and every once in a while, you knelt on a soft, rotten potato or flushed out a nest of naked baby mice. Ugh.
In between filling and dumping the baskets into gunnie sacks, you broke up the routine by figuring out how much money you were making. It was exciting.
It was up to the individual pickers to total up the bags. I think we got all of 25 or 30 cents per bag for a grand sum of maybe a $100 or so by the end of the two weeks.
I don't know why we did it, really. Looking back now, it looks like slave labor to me but it was the social thing to do and there were often cute guys coming around for the filled sacks.
It was good, honest work that required little or no experience. It was what everybody did at the time.
So even though I still have nights where I'm picking potatoes in my sleep, I don't regret it. I think it's almost a shame that few Utahns know the feeling.
In fact, when the temperature drops and everything around me shouts "Fall!," I still get a bit of a hankering for the good old potato-picking days.

Sunday, October 16, 2011

The Magic of Timothy

I'm a fan of Timothy Riggs, the magician behind "The Magic of Timothy."
I have been since the last time I saw him at the SCERA and even then, I wondered why a magician of such skill was working in a local venue. At the time, I said he could probably work in Vegas year round.
After my interview with him, I grabbed my husband and a couple of grandkids and chased him down at a place in West Valley known as Hollywood Connections where he puts on free magic shows every Saturday afternoon.
Again, I was amazed and entertained.
Not only does Timothy do a whole variety of tricks including juggling flaming swords, bowling pins and sharp knives, he does so with facial expressions that highlight the magic.
He's funny and he obviously takes a lot of delight in amusing others. He combines magic with comedy and gets a kick out of poking a lot of fun at himself.
He involves the audience. He levitates people. He gets himself into and out of dangerous situations.
He'll be doing a show again at the SCERA on Oct. 26th and the tickets are cheap.
It's worth checking out, believe me.

Friday, October 14, 2011

My review of the new Footloose

Marc and I were invited to the advance screening of "Footloose" and since we got complimentary tickets and a free T-shirt, I feel I should put out a review. (The Deseret News already had two reviewers lined up).  Oh, wait, they've posted it. Here's the link:

Thursday, October 13, 2011

Zombies falling down

There was a spooky story in today's paper.
I usually try to avoid gruesome tales while I'm trying to eat my eggs and bacon but this one caught my eye.
I just had to tell Marc about it and it made us both laugh.
Seems a movie company was trying to shoot footage of a bunch of zombies coming for the kill in Toronto for the Resident Evil series. They were on some sort of raised, wheeled platform doing their zombie thing when the platform collapsed.
A bunch of the zombies were dumped off the platform and hurt when they fell through a gap between platforms.
It was hard to tell how badly any one zombie was hurt because they were already bloody and ragged with missing limbs, gory wounds and white-painted faces.
I gather it was quite the task trying to sort out zombie-ness and injury.
Loved these lines: "Rescue workers at first were startled at the seemingly catastrophic scene.
"I could see the look on the first paramedic, saying 'Oh my God,'" Toronto emergency medical services Commander David Ralph said with a laugh.
At last count, there were 12 of the 16 dumped zombies hurt, from cracked ribs to a broken leg to pulled back muscles.
Now, in case anybody out there is related to one of these zombies and thinks I'm being insensitive, I know it's not really funny.
When people get hurt, it usually isn't.
But you gotta admit, in this instance, it's a little bit of a chuckle, don't you think, specially this close to Halloween?

Wednesday, October 12, 2011

Lordy, Lordy, he can't be forty

Hard to believe I have a son who's turning 40 today.
I remember it like it was yesterday, trying to finish a quilt I was tying and no matter what position I sat or crouched in, I was uncomfortable.
Dana at 2
Dana's father called home and I shared my discomfort and he wanted to come right home.
I told him I didn't think it was labor. I was pretty sure labor was much worse.
He was right and so was I.
I was in labor and actual labor is much worse. Turns out I was just getting going.
But a few hours later, I had this beautiful baby boy.
All mine.
Well, a little bit his daddy's too but all mine in the sense that I got to take him home from the hospital like a thank you gift.
I played with this little guy and hugged this little guy and as he grew older, I spent hours doing puzzles and string art with him.
He was busy and I was too, trying to keep him entertained and progressing. He seemed to have a mind that couldn't quite get enough.
Dana the Cub Scout
Sometimes at night, when he was still just a toddler, he'd still be up at 2 a.m. doing Light Bright pictures.
He went everywhere and did everything, trying on life like a new shirt. He didn't worry about where he was or getting lost because as he seriously explained to me when he was about 3, "I know where I am, mom!"
He was curious and inventive and all kinds of fun. After his father and I divorced, he was my "date" for the Gold and Green ball for a couple of years.
He was a champion debater, an Eagle Scout, a good big brother and a wonderful son.
Today he owns his own company together with his wife who is just as brilliant. He routinely does things and handles problems I don't even understand.
He's capable and confident.
He's not too happy about turning 40 but then neither am I since I was 20 when he was born so if he's 40, that would make me...uh, ummm, I'm not sure.
Dana all grown up
I told you I wasn't all that good with math.

Sunday, October 9, 2011

My kind of Tea Party

Adell the Witch
Fiona the Elephant
I know there's a lot of talk these days about the Tea Party people and their politics.
I just want to go on record as a grandma who thinks a Tea Party should be full of fun and sugar and sweet grandchildren.
Justice Berrylicious
On Saturday, we had such an event with eight little girls from ages 3-11.
Hannah the Fairy
They came in finery and costume and lined up to toss candy kisses into bowls, pound graham crackers into dust for crust and string beads on twine for a necklace.
Alyson the Puppy
They looked for buried treasure and found Barbie dolls at the end of each journey.
Several promptly took their Barbies swimming in the tiny toy pool. A couple tried to negotiate a trade for a blonde doll or vice versa but most of the kids were just amazed to get a real Barbie for a prize. (I found a great sale.)
It was hectic and funny and made do-able because Marc and a couple of my daughters who are now mommys stayed to help.
Austyn the Starlet
(It's amazing how hard it can be to get a 6-year-old to layer ice cream over a graham cracker crust or to get a 9-year-old NOT to use up all the Reddi-Whip on one pie.)
"Tangled" Emma
We went all over the house looking for the dolls, each wrapped in brown paper sacking. We opened drawers and cupboards and even checked the fridge when the clue said to look for a place for dirty sox? (One suspicious child asked me if there really was anything inside the wrapping or if I had just hidden boxes.?)
In the end everybody seemed happy with their booty and I'm putting a wrap on another successful grandma event. (In my mind, successful includes no one getting seriously injured or throwing a fit.)
Cousins and siblings made friends.
Big kids helped little kids. (Who knew a 3-year-old couldn't read a typewritten clue?)
Patience ruled the day and everyone went out the door with a doll, a ring, a necklace and a tummy full of ice cream pie.
Sleek Samantha
The only complaints I'm getting are from the boys who weren't invited to the girl's Tea Party.
Their party comes next.

Wednesday, October 5, 2011

Which way out?

I had finished my interview with Angela Johnson, the artist who has sculpted a breathtaking series of pieces representing Christ and his life.
We were at Thanksgiving Point deep into the gardens when I realized she needed to stay to see the last sculpture installed and I needed to go back to my car which was up the hill and around the bend.
We had driven down in a little electric golf cart because it was kind of a long ways.
I looked at Angela and asked her if she wanted me to walk back so she could stay.
"Oh, no!" she said, "You take the cart. It's fine."
Hmm. I looked at the vehicle sitting there all innocently on the cobblestones.
I'd never driven one but how hard can it be? Old men and young boys drive them around golf courses all the time.
I got in.
Angela showed me how to put it in reverse and forward and told me just to push the pedal down all the way to make it go.
I backed up and circled.
Not so difficult. I took off, thinking how pleasant the day was.
That's when I noticed I hadn't paid a lot of attention as to how we got to the sculpture garden.
More importantly, I hadn't paid any attention to how I would get back out on my own.
I started around the flower beds — of which there are a lot! — and headed toward the hedge.
Can't go through a hedge.
I looked for an escape route. There was a sort of gate with a post in the middle but it didn't look wide enough for my cart.
I tooled around in a circle hoping to figure this out before Angela noticed my plight. I wanted to continue to look cool.
There was a pathway but it had little barriers on the side that prevented my driving onto the path.
I finally decided to take a chance on the gate and luckily, me and the cart squeezed through.
Home free?
Not quite.
Now I was rocking along but I didn't know which way to go. I headed west until I came to a bridge that said "No golf carts!" I headed east until the path became narrow and winding, obviously not the right way. There were more "No golf carts!" signs.
I headed north across the lawn raising the eyebrows of a few gardeners along my way.
I knew if I kept going toward the clubhouse I might luck out so that became my plan.
I went all around, ending up at the waterfull and nearly knocking down a family out enjoying the cool morning.
I saw most of the gardens and sailed along for what might have been a fun ride if I hadn't been so worried about finding my way out without undue embarrassment.
Eventually I made it to the top of the hill and to the clubhouse terrace but on most of the ride I was thinking "So this is what they mean when they talk about being led down the garden path."
You can get in but you can't get out.

Monday, October 3, 2011

Biking on the left, the right and the middle

Marc and I are bikers so to anyone who reads this and starts to take offense, don't think we don't know how it feels to be run into the gravel, over the side or pushed by a mouth-breathing car inches behind your bike.
But Saturday as we drove over the Alpine Loop to see the changing leaves, we met some guys who give us all a bad rap.
We were coming from the Sundance side early in the day so as to avoid the heavy traffic and we weren't in any particular hurry.
We were just cruising along enjoying the spectacular sights and trying to avoid collision with the cars, trucks and RVs coming around the numerous blind curves.
Basically, with the windows open and the radio playing, we were averaging about 25 miles an hour when we came up a pair of guys biking in front of us.
They were sort of on the side and sort of three feet in the middle so Marc didn't dare pass them until he could get a clear shot.
He slowed to about 10 miles an hour (It's obvious that it's not an easy climb for bikers and the road is not very wide at all with no usable shoulders for the most part).
We plugged along for a while when we saw a curve coming up that had a partial turnout on the right.
Marc thought the bikers were pulling over to let us past so he accelerated just as a big car came around on the left with a biker person in the middle.
The two bikers ahead of us did NOT pull over but instead burst out in front of us, causing us to have to brake hard and veer to the right toward the drop-off.
It was scary there for several minutes.
We were happy to avoid disaster but apparently somehow through it all we offended the bikers because now there were not only ahead of us but WAY out in the road.
The one guy was on the side but the other was about six feet out, making it impossible to pass him even without oncoming traffic.
He stubbornly held his position for several more miles until we came to the Cascade Springs turn-off at which point he stopped and hollered something rude at us as we went by.
I'm still trying to identify our sin, our mistake.
Were we not entitled to some of the road?
Was there somewhere else we were supposed to go?
If we hadn't been careful, we could've killed everybody.. and eventually the traffic backing up behind us might have run out of patience, don't you think?
I realize that these guys need to be cut a little slack and when we saw a lone biker holding up miles of traffic coming up from the other side, we sympathized both with him and with the cars behind him.
But seriously, hogging the middle of the road on purpose?
What does that accomplish?