Friday, June 29, 2012

The 10 Tribes truck

I found it fascinating that the Springville Museum of Art director was talking pretty seriously about the return of the 10 Lost Tribes.
He even quipped, during my interview with him, about providing a space for the artwork and the treasures that would come with them upon their return.
Vern Swanson, retiring after more than three decades as the museum's director, was unapologetic about his thinking.
He even offered to give me a picture of a painting that one of his artist friends had done after hearing him talk about the tribes' return.
It hangs in Swanson's home, a masterpiece that, I thought, really ought to be on public display.
The editors at the Deseret News understandably chose not to run the picture of the painting, probably so as to avoid all the letters they would get from people with no sense of humor.
But I thought it was great, funny and perhaps, prophetic in its way.
So I'm publishing it here for you'all to see.
I think it might make for a great Sunday School discussion piece.

Tuesday, June 26, 2012

Dr., may I Jet-ski?

I stopped my doctor in his tracks when I asked him my questions.
I was seeing Dr. #4 in my quest to find out why my right arm kept aching and hurting.
So far, I had spent about $2,000 and been to my primary physician, a neurosurgeon, a neurologist and now this sports medicine guy.
I had undergone an MRI, a mammogram, a painful nerves test and a series of prolonged question-and-answer along with "Does this hurt?" probe sessions trying to root out the problem.
I figured it was old age, arthritis or a combination of the two.
I also figured I'd be told to take two aspirin and go to bed.
On the other hand I wanted pertinent information as to the future.
What would I have to give up?
Numbskull anyone?
This doctor explained that while my MRI didn't make a case for surgical intervention, it did show some loss of cartilage between the 5th and 6th discs in my back.
It showed some bone spurs and some degeneration that eventually would be a real problem if I insist on getting older.
In the meantime, he thought a Cortizone shot and some babying of my shoulder and arm would be in order.
He prepared the arm for the shot, swabbing my skin.
"So Doctor, can I still Jet-ski and ride roller coasters?" I warbled.
He swung around to look me straight in the eyes.
He smiled slightly and said, "Now, did you really ask me that?
"Really?" he repeated. "What do you think my answer would be?"
I was taken aback.
"Well," I said. "I mean how dangerous is it? A little dangerous, completely crazy, what?"
He shook his head.
"Let me put it this way. We can fix a few things here, make some repairs. But we can't go back in time and make things like they were 40 years ago.
"I just don't know why anybody would consider Jet-skiing in your situation."
I guess that means no, right?

Saturday, June 23, 2012

Not in my makeup

I'm sure the girl at the makeup counter cringed when she saw me standing there waiting for a makeover.
I bet she could tell right off she wasn't going to make a big sale with me.
Here I was, an obviously old lady who didn't use much makeup and what I did use, I didn't use well.
I felt like made-up Mulan
But my daughter and I had the night off and we thought it would be a kick to try something new. So we walked right up to the Clinique counter at Macy's and took a seat. At least I did.
My daughter is already lovely without much makeup and she hung back, allowing "lucky" me to get the opportunity to get made up for free.
The girl sat me down and surveyed the situation.
"So what do you usually do?" she asked.
"Um, not much," I said. "A little blush, a little eye shadow, some mascara."
I waited hoping she'd say something like "That's fine. That's all you need!"
Instead, she sort of paused and gathered her wits about her, squinting at my face.
She assembled a bunch of bottles and brushes in front of her and waded in.
She applied some clarifying lotion to sort out my skin, taking stock of my wrinkled cheeks.
She put on some primer to build a base for some paint — er, makeup.
She added another layer of something else, followed by powder and some eye color and some lip gloss with vitamin C in it.
I looked in the mirror.
Looking back was an old lady still only this time with expertly applied makeup.
My skin all looked the same color. My eyes looked a little brighter and my lips were glossy.
The girl did a good job. I was impressed with her skill and how she worked with all these little pots and potions without getting confused.
I probably looked a little better. My daughter said I looked nice.
But to be honest, I know there's a lot to be said for foundation and shading and luminescence.
The geisha look is not for me
I'm sure that for some women, it would be worth spending $200-$300 for a starter kit of products to get one headed toward glamorous looks.
I'm certain there are those who would be happy to be so pretty.
For me, I couldn't wait to get home and wash my face.

Friday, June 22, 2012

Choose who you pet with care

My 6-year-old granddaughter was a lot more interested in petting the California King snake than I was when the kids from BYU's Monte L. Bean's Life Science Museum came to the local library.
She happily took a place in the long, long line of children waiting for a turn while I just tried to stand away where I didn't have to get too close.
She told me later it felt kinda dry.
"Not slimy and cold?" I asked her.
"No, grandma. That's not how they feel. You should try it!" she said, obviously curious as to why I didn't want to feel for myself.
Adell then told me California Kings eat rattlesnakes so they're GOOD snakes (an oxymoron, for sure). 
I didn't want to pet the tarantula either though the opportunity wasn't really presented. The girl walking the hairy spider around on her hand said if we upset "MJ" it would start rubbing some of its little furry legs together and fling hairs everywhere — hairs that disappear into the skin like splinters and itch like crazy.
Who would want that?
It was enough to see it go by on the hand of someone who could tolerate its creepy existence.
I've been to a lot of these kinds of wildlife shows and, y'know, never been tempted to push my way to the head of the line for a turn.
I think snakes are just no fun.
They slither. They're fast.
They flick their little tongues out in a wicked way.
They just have a shifty, unfriendly look from every angle.
Even when someone reassures me that "this one can't bite" and "this one isn't poisonous" I don't believe any of them are sweet.
Even the babies. My granddaughter nodded her head up and down when the presenter pointed out that baby rattlers are twice as deadly as an adult rattler even though they're small and have no rattles yet.
That was almost in the same sentence where she told us the ONLY poisonous snakes in Utah are the rattlesnakes. All the rest are OK.
So, umm, always check the back end of a local snake before you pick it up to give it a hug, right?

Tuesday, June 19, 2012

Big Daddy needs to let go

I don't make it a habit of stealing Internet access.
I know you're not supposed to just log on to any old person's Internet and go careening into cyberspace on their dime.
But I was in Tulsa, Oklahoma at my friend Christi's house and we needed to find some information on other high school friends and I wanted to show off my children and grandchildren.
If the Internet isn't working, that's a crisis.
So I shopped around to see what Christi's neighbors had in the way of Internet.
There were several that had no access protection including a guy called Big Daddy and Dr. T.
Big Daddy had a guest link so I tried that...just as Christi told me she had her own.
So thinking I was going away from Big Daddy, I clicked on her network and tried her password.
It didn't work.
My computer insisted I was linked to Big Daddy Guest.
I tried several times to get away from Big Daddy but no luck.
I shut down my computer and restarted.
Big Daddy still had me in his grasp.
It became kind of a weekend joke as I kept trying to join Christi's network and get away from this guest network.
I could link to Dr. T's network and get out onto Facebook and to my email accounts but I could never get rid of Big Daddy.
It took flying three states away to free my computer of him.
I'm not sure what happened and it's not a huge problem.
But I can't help wondering what was going on.
Is Big Daddy like a neighborhood drug lord who punishes you for trying to get a freebie? Did I commit a cyber crime by attempting to go where I wasn't invited?
Whatever the problem, I'm just happy now to be home and free of this scary guy that I've never met.

Monday, June 18, 2012

A gift from Margo

Margo on the pages of my scrapbook
The day before we were due to board planes to Tulsa, my friend Paula and I were frantically working the phones trying to cancel our flights and get refunds on our tickets.
Our Oklahoma-based friend Christi had called us to say Margo — our red-headed, bubbley friend from high school days — was losing ground to the tumors in her lungs much faster than expected and probably would be in no condition to receive our visit.
She'd been told she had maybe 2-3 months but it ended up she lived less than a month from the time we found out to the night she died.
Margo is second from left
Once Paula and I found we could not get refunds on our plane tickets, we decided to use those tickets and go anyway, crossing our fingers all the way.
We arrived on Friday evening, planning to see Margo on Saturday but got an early morning phone call telling us Margo was gone, peacefully and well but before we had a chance to give her a hug.
We were taken aback and teary-eyed and, at first, sorry we hadn't rushed right from the plane to her house on Friday.
But we visited with her husband and her lovely, younger sister (who had been way younger than us in high school and so had been warranted to be of little or no account) and as we attended Margo's LDS ward and met people in Broken Arrow who knew and loved our friend, we realized it was all like a well-scripted event full of God's tender mercies.
If we had seen Margo Friday, we probably would've gone to church somewhere in Tulsa closer to Christi's home.
If we had come over Friday, we would have met an exhausted, overwhelmed family who were in the middle of dealing with Margo's pain and suffering.
This way, we weren't intrusive. We became part of the start of the healing the day after.
My memories of Margo are of the friendly, freckled, young girl who was my chum and my bridesmaid and a talented, enthusiastic interior designer.
Paula, me and Christi in Tulsa
She knew we cared. She knew we were coming and she had excitedly shared the news with her neighbors and ward family.
At church, we were welcomed and thanked.
And we reaped a precious gift because of Margo. We reconnected with each other like the 40 years since graduation were mere minutes apart.
We laughed. We shared. We marveled at one another's survival through job changes, husband changes and children who ultimately gave us bright, beautiful grandchildren.
It was a magical weekend that surprised us with its rich and deep rewards, gifts that came because of Margo.
Thank you sweet friend.

Thursday, June 14, 2012

Read the fine print

For the first time in my traveling life, I bought travel insurance.
My flight to Oklahoma was pricey and I wasn't sure I would be using my ticket to Tulsa.
My friend Margo is pretty sick and by the time my friend Paula and I could fly in to see her, it was likely she wouldn't be up to having visitors.
So I purchased flight insurance for $30 so if something happened, I wouldn't lose my $500.
That gave me a certain amount of peace as I got the daily reports on how my sick friend was doing.
I realized it was iffy from the start but I figured the most I would lose in dollars and cents would be my $30.
(Seems crass to worry about money when my friend is literally dying, but money around here is tight and I hate to waste it.)
When we got word that it probably wasn't going to work out to visit, I started calling the airline and the insurance company and explaining.
"Oh, that's too bad," the woman who answered the phone said with sympathy. "But your policy only covers a cancellation if YOU are the one who gets sick."
I explained that my friend was terminally ill and there was really no way to predict how quickly she'd lose ground.
"Oh, well, then," said the woman. "You're not covered for a pre-existing condition either."
Now I was getting mad.
I bought the insurance because the advertising makes it sound like you'll be covered in the event of an unexpected reason for cancellation. Now I'm finding there are all kinds of ticky-tacky rules and exceptions.
"We can refund your premium," offered the woman.
"Or you can rebook for another date within the year and still use your ticket," she added. "But that's a $150 additional charge."
My friend from LA was having the same sort of problem so rather than pay for tickets we don't use, we're still going.
We'll just give Margo a quick hug rather than a protracted visit.
We'll still get a chance to catch up with each other and mark the friendships.
And now I have a new mission to pursue.
I'm going to tell everyone I know NOT to buy travel insurance. Don't throw away your money.
There's no point.

Wednesday, June 13, 2012

Of all the nerves

My doctors are busy these days trying to figure out why my right arm continues to hurt.
Originally I mentioned it to my family physician because after about six months, it was still aching and complaining whenever I raised or turned it or laid on it.
I assumed it had to do with old age — who's old around here anyway? — or arthritic bones so I waited a while before I asked about it.
My doctor promptly ordered a CAT scan of my neck which I thought was curious.
Had I not said it was my arm that hurt?
But dutiful patient that I am, I submitted to the test.
It showed some degenerative bone loss but nothing that explained the arm pain.
We moved on to an MRI which examined every inch of me, right?
Those tests were sent over to a neurosurgeon who declined any surgical moves and passed me on to a neurologist.
Again, I was confused as to what we were doing because the pain is in my arm, not my head, not my neck and not my back.
But I tend to think doctors know what they're doing so yesterday I went to the neurologist for a nerve test.
I was a little bit worried because according to my wise Internet friends, nerve tests can hurt.
One guy described it as "accu-torture."
It's actually an hour-long series of pokes and prods with a kind of electrical testing tool that stimulates the nerve, kind of like walking across the carpet and shocking yourself...over and over again and to varying degrees.
I was thinking I was lucking out when he said, "OK. Now. Do you have a problem with needles?"
Several painful jabs later, I was done but the doctor was confused.
"Did you say the pain was in your arm?" he asked.
"Hmmm," he said. "I see nothing out of order with your nerve impulses. I think I'll send you over to a colleague of mine for some further tests."
Oh joy. Oh boy.
I'm feeling a little like a guinea pig here and I can't help thinking, how about an X-ray of my elbow? Wouldn't that help?

Monday, June 11, 2012

A whopper

When the winds blew in Friday night, they did more than turn over a truck and blow some limbs off some trees.
They took away one of our neighbor's backyard grills and toppled some flashing from one of the local church steeples.
Then they shut down the "Wizard of Oz" in Orem.
I was worried when I drove in to have dinner with Marc (who is playing the Wizard in this show) and the winds made it hard to get from the car to Smashburger.
I fretted a bit when I had trouble getting across the parking lot to Kohl's.
I wondered how the production would fare since it's staged at the SCERA Outdoor Shell Theater and all of the set pieces and props are out in the weather.
I wondered about the high pieces like the wire tornado and the wizard's tall wagon. How would the witch do on her bike?
Apparently, my worries were well founded since I came home around 9:30 p.m. to find Marc's car already in the garage and the show doesn't end until 10:15 or so.
I came inside to find him ironing and watching his "Superman" DVDs. The show had been cancelled.
The wind had already done some damage by the time he showed up for his microphone check.
One little girl had been hurt when an airborne bench came a' flying and another nearly decked when the door on the witch's tower blew off.
That didn't bode well for a show full of children on an outside stage.
Marc was disappointed but relieved that cooler heads prevailed and those in charge decided it wasn't worth risking lives to tell a story about a tornado that takes Dorothy a long way from Kansas. (Even though it made a bunch of people mad who'd come a long way to see the show.)
Now we're watching the weather channel and crossing our fingers for calm skies for the next couple of weeks.
Whatever happens, it all goes along well with his line, "We better get inside! A storm's coming and it looks like a whopper!"

Thursday, June 7, 2012


I was uneasy when the guys from Comcast showed up.
Suddenly there were guys in hardhats tromping through our yard and leaving little red flags and strips of paint behind them everywhere: in the front yard, in the back yard and up and down the sides.
My neighbors were unhappy too. These people seemed to think they could just come in and make a mess.
I took pictures when they came back with heavy machinery although they looked at me suspiciously.
I put on a brave face and asked the guys about my husband's hard-laid sprinkler pipe.
"What if you break our pipe?" I said.
The hole where lawn used to be
"Then we fix! We fix!" They assured me as they drove a kind of bulldozer thingy right over the lawn and parked it on the side strip.
They worked and worked and now, months later, we find they crushed a sprinkler pipe. We couldn't check earlier because it's down in the ground and until the city turned on the gray water, we didn't know it was cracked.
It's not a simple repair because the Comcast pipe which is larger and heavier is laying right on top of our smaller, weaker pipe. You can't get at it without digging out way back and under the sidewalk.
Marc complained. He called the number the digger guys had left us and told them they needed to hustle out here.
Three weeks later, "Roberto" comes out. He leans over to take a peek and clucks, shaking his head.
"Si! You have broken pipe."
Marc nodded, pleased to be validated, waiting for the rest.
"I cannot fix," Roberto said. "I only fix the little orange pipes, not the big, white pipes."
So Marc went back to the phone to the same number, the same salesperson, and essentially started back at square one. "No, we don't want your service. We want our pipe fixed."
The salesguy promised to have someone call us and no one has yet to do that.
So we can't turn the water on over there. We just have this big hole and exposed pipe.
Marc could fix it but he's busy and it makes him angry to have to clean up after these people.
I don't have the pictures I took anymore for a court case.
The crack in the white pipe
The lawn is brown and dying. It's sad and ugly.
The only silver lining is, the crabgrass that's plagued us for years in that area is dying too.

Wednesday, June 6, 2012

The haunted wand

It should've been a clue when I found the magic wand at the very back of the toy store at a hugely discounted price.
"We keep them back there because they drive us crazy," said the cashier as she all too happily rang up the sale.
I couldn't imagine why they did that since the wands were colorful and fun, pink plastic with a hint of feathery fabric around the top.
I figured my grandchildren would love it.
So I brought it home, tucking it into the trunk on the way.
That's when I first noticed the bizarre sound.
When I braked or turned the car, I could hear this magical kind of whirring chime song.
I thought something was wrong with the car until I realized the music was coming from the trunk inside the bag with the wand in it.
I got it home and put it in the toy closet.
The grandkids did like it but it soon became apparent that this wand was weird.
Every time we opened the closet doors, it went off. Every time the wind blew, it went off. Every time anybody did anything, it went off.
Sometimes it chimed without provocation.
I hear it some nights when I'm home alone and in another room, on another floor.
(That kind of spooks me because I figure there has to be some movement to set it off, right?)
I've moved it from place to place to try to keep it quiet.
It's been up on the top shelf and under the bed.
It's currently on the bookshelf in my office next to the diapers for the baby grandchildren.
So now I hear it when I work.
I'm typing along when it starts to whirr.
I can't ever define a reason for it to make its noise although I've tried to figure out if it's when the furnace or air conditioning comes on or if I sit back in my chair.
As far as I can tell, it's simply demonic.
It just goes off when it wants to do so.
And it's increasingly annoying. I'm really tired of the little chimes that repeat and repeat the same song.
But I dare not throw it out. I spent like $2 for the crazy thing.
And what if it came back for me?

Tuesday, June 5, 2012

Off to see the Wizard

My brother has let me know I might be whining a bit too often in these blogs.
He's probably right.
It's just so much easier to gripe than rejoice so bear with me for one more.
I need to say something about my not-so-resident Wizard before I explode.
This April, Marc tried out for the part of the wizard in the SCERA production of Wizard of Oz, with my encouragement actually, because I think he looks the part and I knew he'd love doing it.
This is despite the fact that he had promised himself and me he wouldn't do any more productions that didn't pay at least a stipend for his time and trouble. He would carefully choose the time and place.
He got the part and we looked over the rehearsal schedule.
The show was to open one month from the start.
That's fast, especially with a cast that has a LOT of young children in it who have to sing and dance and then sing and dance some more.
At first, Marc didn't have to go every night and every Saturday because the wizard doesn't sing and dance so much.
But now we're in the thick of it. Rehearsals are from 6 p.m. until 10 p.m. in theory EVERY night and he has yet to hit the driveway coming home before 10:30.
Since he leaves for work around 7:30 a.m. and doesn't come home between the end of the workday and the start of rehearsal, that makes for a long day apart.
I feel like Rapunzel in her tower. I've done the laundry list of things to do. I've tended grandkids. I've shopped and spent money. I've written in my journal, read books for review, weeded the garden, trimmed the shrubs.
I've cleaned house. I've tidied the Barbie room, painted and sewed.
After a while, I just wait for my hero.
I have things I need to share that don't translate as well over the phone or by email.
I get restless and sad and mad.
I know in a few more days, the show will open and I'll be sitting in a front row seat enjoying the performance and feeling kinda proud that my wizard is in an entertaining role, giving the Tin Man a heart, the Lion some courage and the Scarecrow a brain.
But right now, I just need a hug from him.

Saturday, June 2, 2012

City Creek rules

I've been wanting to check out the new City Creek shopping center for a while now.
When I was still at the Deseret News and walking up and down the circular stairway I would look out and see it coming together. What was formerly the ZCMI mall became a huge hole in the ground that slowly rose to become new and fancy.
When it was finished, there was so much hoopla it was difficult to tell if it was something wondrous or just new and expensive.
Finally, Kari and I got the chance to take three young girls and see what all the excitement is about.
We brought towels and a change of clothes because we knew there were a lot of water features.
We brought money because we knew there was a Disney store on the premises.
We came to explore and here is what we found:
City Creek has its own entrance from the middle of West Temple.
You drive in and disappear. The parking garage is absolutely huge and takes up acres beneath the streets of the city. After that it's like finding your way inside a spacious building with no windows to let in the outside.
You just sort of follow the signposts and trust that eventually there will be a clue.
In our case, Nordstrom's was the clue.
We came up the elevator and out into the store and found our way to the fountains.
Hannah and Adell were thrilled and promptly starting playing in the water until one of the guards came over to tell them they must have shoes on.
They put their shoes on with their swimsuits which they'd worn under their clothes.
The guard came back to tell them they couldn't wear swimsuits. "We'll get the teenagers if we allow that," he said.
Next he came over to tell me that 1-year-old Mia should be careful of the underwater lights. At the time, I was holding her by both hands so she could dip her toes in the water.
Next we headed to the Food Court dinosaur playground, full of shiny toy slides that looked like all kinds of prehistoric creatures.
The guard there told the girls to take their shoes off.
Next we hit the Disney store and spent enough money to validate our parking ticket, we thought.
Twenty-two dollars later the cashier told us only Macy's and Nordstrom's validate.
We had a good time and we may go again but just an FYI for the promoters of the place.
If you design a place for shopping and advertise that it's fun for families...somebody needs to tell the guards and attendants that families and children will come mess up the place.

Friday, June 1, 2012

The problem with birthdays

Normally, I have no problem being by myself, puttering around the house doing this and that.
I am not afraid to be alone in the store or on the road or even in the forest.
I have plenty of things to do.
But when it's Christmas or Mother's Day or my birthday, my perspective changes.
Things that usually keep me pleasantly occupied seem pathetic.
I start to feel pretty sorry for myself despite the fact that I'm now well old enough to behave better.
Aren't you supposed to be grown up by 61?
I start to count kids and who I've heard from.
My poor husband is hard pressed to do the right thing.
drawn by Jack Morrey
Today, he brought me a new two-player game that I know we'll enjoy when he's done being the Wizard in the SCERA's Wizard of Oz.
Right now, he's not home today or in the evenings because he's at rehearsal so I'll be renting a Redbox chick flick to watch on my own.
Last night he brought me my favorite orange cremes because he knows I get to feeling sad about now.
He's tried hard and his hugs and reassurances go far to make me feel loved.
My daughter has planned a combination birthday dinner for me and almost one-year-old Mia on Sunday. That's good.
My errant father actually called to see if I could take him to get nose-hair clippers today...when I told him I had some birthday plans...he hastily added, "Well, sure, that's why I'm calling! Happy Birthday."
(I will take him tomorrow for ice cream and the clippers, thank you very much.)
My brother and my sister-in-law had Marc and me over for dinner at their home a week or so ago, to celebrate in advance.
So I haven't been forgotten. I know everyone is out there and busy and will eventually say the words.
Plus, there are all those Facebook well-wishers and I have all day to indulge myself.
But it's still a tough go — made infinitely better by this card from across the ocean from 5-year-old Jack.
Thank you.