Wednesday, August 29, 2012

A smack on the back

We were all busy with the garage sale.
We had merchandise overflowing the tables.
We had a few customers checking out our wares and prices.
Mia, borrowed from Kari's blog
We even had a clown making balloon animals (he looked suspiciously like my husband behind his makeup).
Scott and Toby were doing tricks on the gymnastics mat in the garage for people who wanted to contribute to their future in the Olympics.
We had cupcakes and cookies and candy for sale.
Mia, the tow-headed, tumbling toddler, was in sugar heaven.
She could reach the cookies on the bake sale table by herself so she was getting her fill of free treats since we couldn't always catch her when she snatched a new cooky.
We also kept her filled up with Capri-Sun drink because the day was hot and we figured she had to be thirsty given all the goodies.
So when she started to gag a bit and spit some of it back up, we three mothers chalked it up to sugar overload.
I grabbed her hands to keep her from getting everything messy.
Kari and Kristy went for paper towels.
Only 9-year-old Alyson had the foresight to smack her on the back.
Mia alive and well
Out came a flat, glossy blue marble like the ones in table displays, a marble she had somehow picked up and put in her mouth (Who knew toddlers did that?).
"I knew she had one in her mouth," Alyson said. "So I made it come out."
None of the rest of us had noticed or thought about what she apparently was choking on.
Alyson in her 9-year-old wisdom had noticed and responded without hesitation.
She's the hero.
She saved the baby.
Good job, Alyson.

Saturday, August 25, 2012

Doing the can-can

My job at the cannery was a simple one which was good because I didn't want to embarrass myself or break the system.
I was to catch the cans of peaches with bad labels and take them off the line.
Along with that I was to watch and see if the cans backed up too far on the belt. If they threatened to do that, I could push this little plastic loop and make the cans on the far end drop into a box.
It seemed easy enough and it didn't require my getting all sticky or hot or wet.
I just stood on this little metal stool and guided. (For a while, I played a sort of air hockey game, "tossing" the cans into their designated lanes until a supervisor came over and suggested I not do that.)
For the most part, the cans rode along in a docile fashion, labels all in place and everything working just fine.
But every now and then, a label tore or a bunch of labels came through flapping. I saved them from getting boxed without having a properly applied label.
I even found a dinged can that I proudly pulled off the conveyer belt.
But it was generally rather tedious and I remembered why I went to college (so I wouldn't have to earn a living doing something like this).
Because this was a volunteer stint for the church, I tried to be gracious even after one supervisor told me not to handle the cans so much and the next one suggested I prod them into place when they got stuck.
I started helping the cans push the trigger so they didn't back up. There was this comforting "whoosh" when the cans dropped.
But suddenly, cans started coming through with no labels at all. Then the "whoosher" stopped dumping. My stress level shot up.
The guy who'd been manning the label station was over talking with another worker so I started waving my arms at him. (It's so noisy in the cannery that it does no good to holler.)
I hopped up and down and waved some more until he noticed.
Startled, he ran over and shut down the line.
We all pulled cans back and the day was saved.
I didn't know if I broke the "whoosher" or what but I expected some sort of criticism when he came over to talk to me.
"I totally messed up," he said. "That was my fault. But if it happens again, just come over and push any one of these red buttons. That will stop the belts."
Oh yes, of course. I'll just shut the plant down next time.

Thursday, August 23, 2012

A good scourging

I can't quite figure out why I always come away from a teeth cleaning feeling like a failure.
I brush.
I floss.
I even use my little $50 Water Pik the dentist sold me the last time I was in.
So I expected some applause or at least a "Good job!" when I went in for this appointment.
But, despite the fact that I had no cavities and opened wide, I still got read the riot act.
(I swear dental hygienists take a class in guilt-tripping.)
The hygienist tut-tutted all the way through as she stabbed me in the gums repeatedly and swooshed my mouth with this bitter fluid.
She scolded me about "only flossing once a day."
Apparently that's not enough and she suggested I use this little tooth-cleaner brush that looks like a miniature toilet bowl brush to get back in the gaps.
She sold me a bottle of the nasty-tasting mouthwash that would take care of lurking bacteria with strict orders to only use it for 10 days straight and then stop for at least 10 days. (I won't have a problem stopping. It's yucky.)
She said I have to take a serious interest in my investment if I want my mouth to be healthy.
She — at least in my mind — implied that I'm a lazy good-for-nuthin who will be surprised when all my teeth fall out.
After I murmured something about being diabetic and being on an immuno-suppressant, she backed off a little.
"Oh, well, that might explain some of the bleeding from the gums," she said. "And maybe that's why your teeth still give you problems despite your efforts."
I felt a little bit vindicated especially after all the dentist could find to do after his exam was to suggest I have some back crowns redone so they would fit together better.
"That would eliminate one of your food traps," said the hygienist, frowning at my X-rays and gathering up all of the products she intended to send home with me.
"We'll see you back in  six months to see how you're doing," she added.
I know I can hardly wait.

Tuesday, August 21, 2012

A free book

The nice people at Harper-Collins are giving away a free copy of "The Shoemaker's Wife" in paperback. They asked me to host the give-away since I recently wrote a positive review of it in The Deseret News. If you're interested in winning the book, simply email me at: and I'll pick a winner based on when you emailed me and if I want you to win! (If you become a blog follower, it'll help your chances!)

Monday, August 20, 2012

Busted for the brownie

My husband will tell you I'm a closet candy smuggler.
I not only don't like paying the high prices for treats at the movie theater, I don't think they offer anything wholesome for my grandchildren.
So I have a habit of smuggling in homemade popcorn with little pieces of chocolate added to the bag and tell myself it's not really that wrong.
It's not like I'm bringing in pizza or pie or ice cream from the outside.
So as I approached the host at the door of the BYU Education Week class I was attending Friday, I covered the mint chocolate brownie in my hand with a copy of The Daily Universe.
I wasn't sure that bringing food into the classroom was forbidden but I suspected it might be.
The good stuff
It was also a pretty big brownie since the girl at the Pastry Shoppe had been in a hurry and cut an extra big piece by mistake.
I was about 30 minutes early so my plan was to sit in the classroom and nibble on my brownie while I read the student newspaper.
I nodded to the host who briefly checked my name on my press pass and I sailed on in.
I selected a seat to the side of the room and settled in, careful not to get bits of brownie on the seat or the floor. (I may be a smuggler but I'm not untidy.)
I was quite happy and about halfway through my brownie when I looked up to see the host approaching.
My heart beat faster. "Oh oh."
I put my hand over the paper that was over my chocolate-frosted treat.
"I noticed you when you came in earlier," he said, smiling and looking at my hand.
"Busted!" I thought.
I figured at the very least I was going to lose the rest of my brownie. No way was I getting away with bringing chocolate through the door.
"Could you give us an opening prayer?" he said. "Would you be so kind?"
Umm, yeah, sure. I could do that. Just let me wipe the crumbs off my chin.

Friday, August 17, 2012

Getting him to Heaven

It probably wouldn't have been so bad for the guy next to me at BYU Education Week to be asleep, except for the fact we were in a class about how to make better husbands out of raw material.
(That's not really the title but essentially that's what the women attending were probably expecting.)
The husband was nodding off as John Bytheway, the teacher, made the ladies in his audience sigh when he told them they were in the wrong class.
(Paraphrasing here), he said, "If you came here to find out how to make your husband lead the family to Heaven, you're in the wrong place. You can't do that."
He said he didn't have the order forms for women who wanted to submit an order for a new and improved model.
Bytheway said the only thing a woman can do is to love her husband unconditionally and "change" him by changing herself.
Criticizing, complaining, comparing, doesn't do it, he said, but loving and accepting does.
He added that the three words that frighten men the most are: "Can we talk?"
He said if wives will be clear about what they want to discuss and what they want from their husband (Oohs and aahs instead of solutions), things will go better.
It will also help to set a time limit.
He followed by helping explain that husbands and men typically look for exits when they're approached about having a heart-to-heart or holding a Family Home Evening.
"They want to know how long it's going to be," he said, citing a study that show men asked to describe a meeting room one week after the meeting could tell the researchers where the clock and the exit signs were.
Women remembered the meeting, what what said, which illustrates a problem in most marriages.
Men listen and talk for information. Women listen and talk to achieve interaction.
When neither side understands the difference, one or both sides become unhappy.
What about when one snoozes?

Wednesday, August 15, 2012

Are we lost now?

Grandma's safety patrol

We own a pint-size grandkid car that small children can drive.
They simply sit in the driver's seat and push on the pedal and it goes.
The grandchildren who come to visit love it.
They're in charge.
When they push down, the car lurches or sails forward, depending on the driver's natural ability and fear factor.
When they let off the gas pedal, the car stops.
As long as an adult is near by to see that the car doesn't leave the grass or the sidewalk, it's a pretty safe deal.
Sometimes it takes some convincing, though.
When we had 6-year-old Emma and 2-year-old Erica over this weekend, Emma wanted to drive her little sister around.
Emma hasn't been here as much as some of the other grandkids so she was a little erratic.
She'd push the pedal and if the car took off too quickly, she'd stop.
And then start again.
And stop.
For Erica, it was a little too much of a bumpy ride. She looked at us as if we'd sentenced her to certain doom.
As Emma took off down the block, she picked up some speed.
I got on the bike to keep up with her.
Marc loped along behind.
She went around the corner, only stopping here and there to see if we were lost yet.
Marc kept telling her he knew where we were so she'd take off again.
As we ventured on, her questions came a little more frequently.
"Are we lost?" she asked each time, searching our faces to see if we were worried.
"No," we told her. "We know this street. We're OK."
After several more turns and a fairly long ride, Erica's face relaxed a bit. I think she figured she was going to survive this adventure.
Stopping at the stop sign
Emma became more serious as she looked for familiar landmarks.
At last, we turned the corner to our house. I thought she'd be thrilled and surprised.
But she looked at me again and said, one last time, "Are we lost now?"

Monday, August 13, 2012

Mrs. Holiday

I have a friend from the past who needs me to help her become the next Mrs. Holiday.
This is a gracious lady who we used one year as our cover girl for The Utah Valley Life magazine.
I was the editor and I wanted a classic Thanksgiving meal with a hostess who cooked like Martha Stewart but wasn't Martha.
Nancy Judd from Alpine fit the bill.
She taught cooking classes at the local Macey's (ran the place for a while).
She had one of those kitchens with double ovens and lots of counter space and she knew how to make a feast without it looking like a cyclone hit the place.
I remember we were shooting and sampling at her home for hours and it was a delicious experience.
Now she's entered one of these contests that rely heavily on Internet voting to choose a winner so she's a little stressed. There's a cash prize offered and Nancy loves a challenge.
Nancy's entry: Sweet Heirloom Scones
But good inventive cook that she is, she's a much better cook than a Twitter-er or Facebook-ite.
So I told her I'd advertise a little for her here.
She's going for the Mother's Day category.
To vote for Nancy, go to: <>
2. You have to 'like' it. So press 'like'
3. Press vote
4. Type Nancy Judd in the "Search" box. Press enter.
5. Nancy Judd's name, video and recipe will come up. Press the 'vote' button.
You can vote every 12 minutes until Sept. 7th.

If Nancy wins, she'll bring us all treats! (I just threw that last part in for fun.)

Thursday, August 9, 2012

Let me count the bosses

My friend sent me some information about an available job as a book editor.
She said I'd be perfect for it and I ought to check it out.
(Since it's now been almost two years since the Deseret News halved their staff and I became one of the industry's casualties, she thought I could use the opportunity.)
It was nice of her.
But while I appreciate her thinking of me and perhaps I should bite, I think I'll pass.
I've really begun to enjoy working at home, sometimes in my pajamas, doing my own thing.
I toddle into my office as Marc leaves for his office in Orem and check my emails...sort out my deadlines and start "freelancing," (which is another word for doing what you feel like doing for a minor bit of monetary return). (It's a good thing Marc has a bread-and-butter job.)
I spend my time reading books for review, checking out upcoming plays and shows so I can write advances and reviews, I line up interviews with interesting people and look for stories that no one else is doing that my editor might run.
I'm busy all the time.
I'm often juggling as I find myself with a couple of big books I need to read before the same deadline.
I do a lot of waiting for return emails.
For one of my "jobs" I call people in the construction industry trying to get details on projects where a Won-Door accordion door has been used.
For another, I call around Provo City to get information that will make the mayor's message more pertinent.
For another I'm setting up a travel story, arranging for pictures and passes and press privileges.
It's all good because I get to do what I love; write and interview and expand my sphere of understanding and knowledge about the world.
But I realized as I considered applying for this editor job that I'd go back to having one boss dictating my days. I'd have to do what I'm told rather than what I want.
I think I prefer having four or five and none, thank you.

Sunday, August 5, 2012

Hearing the dark

The great heart of Timpanogos Cave
I noticed something was a little different about the group behind us in Timp Cave when they didn't step forward to make their introductions.
When it came to be their turn, I waited because the order of things seemed to be going around that way and I didn't want to be rude.
When nobody spoke, I just went ahead and jumped in line. The people in question didn't ever say anything.
Eventually we realized they were deaf and hadn't heard us. Our first clue was the fact that they were signing to one another.
Don't step in. A natural pool inside the cave
Then later, we heard the rangers talking to one another about whether or not someone should warn them about what happens around the next bend.
See, there's this moment inside the Cave when the rangers turn out all the little guide lights and show you just how completely black it would be inside this mountain.
Absolutely no light seeps in. You can't see your hand in front of your face and more importantly, you can't see where you're going to step next.
It's usually very dramatic and works well to illustrate what the early explorers faced when they wiggled their way into these beautiful and unique caves.
We cling to one another.
Even small children fall silent for those couple of minutes.
However, in this particular instance the deaf folks didn't get the memo.
As soon as the lights went out, they helpfully turned on their cell phones to light the way, turning them this way and that.
Ranger Molly tried to get them to understand that they were sort of ruining the moment but they couldn't see her in the dark. She tried to wave but to no avail.
Beauty in the cave, Don't touch.
They also couldn't hear her and they didn't notice the rest of us trying to let them know the phones should go off.
It was truly a conundrum.
No one could get their attention and Ranger Molly finally had to conclude her little speech with "Well, if it were completely dark..."
Perhaps we should have texted.

Thursday, August 2, 2012

"How" we have changed

Not so long ago, when I was a child (how long ago could that be?), we played cowboys and Indians without paying any attention to how we portrayed the Indians.
We didn't think about whether or not we were insulting an entire culture as we whooped and hollered, sometimes hopping around like we were doing a rain dance.
We took for granted that Indians were the enemy and it was okay to make fun of them.
We somehow thought all Indians were the same.
I remember that it seemed a little silly, an overreaction of sorts, when these people we were mocking started to object to being called Redskins and the like.
So, when Marc and I attended the Castle Valley Pageant in Castle Dale in Emery County the other night, it came as sort of a shock to hear the Indian chief talk like we used to talk for Indians back then.
"How!" and "Ugh!" sounded so wrong.
Though the Indians in the story were portrayed as friendly, they were portrayed stereotypically.
As the chief spoke to the settlers in broken English, trying to tell them they were welcome, it seemed to be an undignified address.
He wore a feather headress and fringed leather and he lived with his family in a couple of teepees just outside the White man's camp.
There was no mention of which tribe these Indians belonged to. As near as I can tell they were from the Uintah and Ouray tribes.
And I realize Montell Seeley — who wrote the script for the pageant — didn't mean any harm. It was simply the way we as a society viewed Indians back then.
In my lifetime Indians have become Native Americans with rights, privileges and feelings. They matter. Their lives and their histories matter.
I thought about the lady on the bus on our recent Pioneer Heritage History Tour, the one with an important government job and responsibilities in the tourism office. She now is more representative of the "Indians" I know.
As a society, we've come a ways.
We needed to do so.