Wednesday, November 28, 2012

The old folks place

We weren't sure why we received this lovely invitation in the mail.
It didn't say what was going on or why.
The little blue and silver card simply asked if we would come to a Laurel/Priest dinner on a certain date and please RSVP.
We agreed to come thinking it would be, at the very least, a free meal.
We were curious on Sunday, however, when it was announced that the youth in the ward would be coming around to gather foodstuffs that same night.
Were we invited to a sort of Hunger Banquet where we would eat a meal prepared from donated canned goods?
Were we going to be asked to share inspirational stories of our long and rich career as parents who survived teenagers? What?
Our first clue were the others we saw carefully climbing out of their cars and toddling into the church.
The prizes
Everybody had gray hair like Marc or "laugh wrinkles" like me.
We looked around and counted the couples.
Yup, we were all over 50, the "wise" people living in the neighborhood.
Except at our table there were also a couple of kids, a Laurel-age girl and a Priest-age lad (poor kids).
The second clue came when we found we were going to play Bingo with buttons.
I know Bingo. My 90-year-old diabetic dad wins a candy bar or two every week at the rest home playing Bingo. Ah ha.
This was clearly a party for the aged.
These teenagers had put together a meal and a simple program with games and prizes they thought we would and could enjoy.
They chose to sit with us and chat so they could build bridges with members of the older generation.
It was fun. The food was delicious, the conversation interesting. (We tried to avoid talking about our ailments and medical procedures.)
We won a box of blue feathers and some Fun-Dip at Bingo.
Marc and I also realized it's time to face it.
We're no longer young.
Who knew?

Tuesday, November 27, 2012

Another dumb way to die

Marc and I have become ardent fans of Tangerine Kitty and the latest safety video for the Melbourne Metro in Australia.
It's funny, catchy and a great piece of entertainment.
Kitty sings the little ditty that gets stuck in your head after you watch these colorful little jelly bean characters run into deadly trouble, one after another.
"Dumb Ways to Die" is a clever short that's creating an Internet sensation. At last count it had more than 26 million You Tube views. It went viral the first week with 12 million.
We discovered it via a tip from a guy in Marc's office and we've since sent it to our grandson in England and our granddaughter in Spanish Fork and shared it with nearby family on Thanksgiving.
One granddaughter promptly learned all the words and drew pictures of all the little jelly bean guys (even though there's one guy with piranhas hanging onto his private parts that's a bit questionable for kids).
So when we read the news item this morning about the guy who died from downing too many live cockroaches at once in his attempt to win a python, we laughed when we should have clucked our tongues in sympathy.
Seems this guy in Florida was well on his way to winning the eating contest when his system became overwhelmed with cockroach body parts. He couldn't breathe and swallow the roaches at the same time so he died.
Rather unfortunate, I say and SO dumb.
I think Melbourne Metro may want to add him to their list.
Here's the URL to the video:

Saturday, November 24, 2012

No escape

My goal in life this time of year is always to escape the madness of Black Friday.
Call me a chump but I would rather pay full price for something than stand in long lines with angry people who want to save a buck or two.
I happily sleep in right past all the doorbuster specials and avoid the craziness.
Except this year I slipped up.
My daughter and I went out mostly to check on the new stores at the Traverse Mountain Outlets and skimmed on by without purchasing anything that made us have to wait for checkout.
However, I saw this one top at Kohl's that I kinda liked and I've been looking for a holiday top.
We didn't buy it when I saw it because the lines were absolutely horrendous and I just wasn't sure if it was what I wanted.
It was all shiny and red and fancy — exactly what I needed for the Christmas parties coming up.
I decided that after I dropped Kari off at home so I circled back thinking it couldn't take that long to buy one thing and I had time.
So I picked it up and tried it on. It fit. It was 50 percent off and I had this little $10 promotional gift card.
So I started to try to find the end of the line. It wasn't where I thought it was.
I loped to the back of the store and over toward the west side of the store and back up to the front again.
I found the end and seriously considered bagging the whole idea.
But I knew the front registers were going as fast as they could so I figured, five or six registers going full speed, the line would surely move along at a good pace.
I got in line.
I waited patiently.
One hour later, the guy in front of me was wearing out my patience. He had a table thingy and a pile of towels that he just slid along in front of him. His pile was unbalanced so he didn't move any more often than he had to. I decided I hated him.
And I noticed the line would swell as we went as people who had been off shopping came back to join their friends who'd been standing.
So as we neared the end, the line got much wider and took longer.
It also came to a dead stop as people who reached the registers wanted unreasonable things, like a different style, color or price. I harbored angry feelings towards them as well.
I noticed all around me there were items people had thrown overboard as they gave up waiting, dolls and sweaters and underwear they decided not to buy.
I finally got my top, $44 at 50 percent off with another 15 percent off and my $10 gift card, it came to $10.05 after I stood in line for an hour and 15 minutes.
I'm happy with it but in retrospect I'm thinking the price was too dear.

Wednesday, November 21, 2012

Movin' on up

The new Dream house
Our Barbie "dream" house had served its time.
By my calculations, it's done more than 30 years with my children, our grandchildren and various visitors putting dolls to bed in it, serving meals in its kitchen and holding weddings for Barbie and Ken.
I've repaired and rebuilt it at least a dozen times, sticking the little plastic pillars and cardboard layers back together and catching it when a tot pulled it over.
I hot-glued it to the wall more than once and considered junking it many times.
But the little girls loved it and I have a hard time tossing something that still serves a purpose.
It had three floors and a roof and a working elevator (that hung by a string that hooked into a notch on the side to secure it when it wasn't dismantled by a little one).
Over the years, we've accumulated a fair amount of furniture to go in it, some homemade, some store bought. It's been moved all around and propped up from behind by a huge piece of poster board.
So when Marc saw the new one for sale at Costco, he was sold.
And I'll admit, it didn't take much to talk me into spending $100 for it.
Marc on his knees
We brought the box home and proceeded to build.
Who knew that inside that big box were lots of small pieces made in China?
What looked like a night's work turned into a two-day project that required drilling and math and patience.
The screws were color-coded and the pieces were numbered. The little shutters closed and opened. The chandelier hung from a wooden knob.
The plan followed a logical order.
Never mind that it was a Chinese logic: walls up and roof on first THEN you put in the shutters, the stairs and the doors...when it's impossible to reach them.
It took us not only some time but some bending and stretching that old people shouldn't be doing.
Victory is mine! A happy man
But now we have a 3-story doll house with a working lamp, a player piano and a toilet that makes a flushing sound. It has a winding staircase and a garden plot with a working gate. The new gliding elevator is string-free.
It's a masterpiece and we can't wait for the grandkids to check it out.
We've been playing with it since we finished.

Sunday, November 18, 2012

The Primary focus

Tis the season for the Primary program and joy spreads throughout Mormondom.
The children are singing. The congregations are swelling and all over the church, members of The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints are straining to see their child or grandchild or grandchildren. (Mine always sit behind a tall kid or the organ so I can barely see the top of their heads.)
It's a predictable scenario as normally rambunctious and noisy children are herded into the choir seats with their teachers to keep order and their parents and grandparents fill the pews.
The passing of the sacrament takes forever.
The format is fairly predictable and designed to give every child a speaking part if he or she is old enough to speak.
The littlest ones just sing with their class.
It's generally sweet and pleasant to watch if you're not one of the ones in charge. Then it's high stress trying to wrangle 100 kids or so into an orderly presentation.
And it's regarded as a big pain by the kids old enough to be almost graduated.
I know when I taught this age group the kids in my class were always trying to get out of it. 
This year, we've heard from more than one grandkid who is embarrassed to still be expected to sit on the stand with the rest of the primary. They're too big, they say.
Our grandson just has his ward split so he gets to do the program twice. Once last week in the old ward and again this week in the new ward. He can't believe his terrible luck.
One of our granddaughters had her 12th birthday just days before the program so she was welcomed into the Young Women program in the same meeting where she was expected to sit with her Primary class and sing. She's tall anyway so she feels a bit out of place under ordinary circumstances. Now she feels she has a legitimate right to defect.
So her mom gave her a guilt-free choice. She said, "OK, you can choose whether you sit with your class and say the part you've been practicing for weeks, the part the rest of the primary is depending on you to say or come down and sit with us. I know you'll make the right choice. It's up to you."
What do you think she chose to do?
What would you' a done?

Thursday, November 15, 2012

No substitutions please

At the request of a couple of friends of ours, Marc and I attended a VIP performance of the musical "Legally Blonde" recently in Salt Lake.
The cast was energetic, a whole slew of kids destined for the big time someday but meanwhile in a high school especially designed for those with singing, dancing or acting talent.
They didn't want to do the same old thing so they really didn't.
The set was fun.
The music was just plain lively and there were a lot of cute bits.
Our friends who are the directors of this operation (The Salt Lake School for the Performing Arts) had skillfully woven together the talents of about 80 hyper teenagers and put them on a tiny stage to put on a novel and complicated show.
I hadn't seen the touring company version of this show but I knew the Reese Witherspoon airline movie version.
I thought I was prepared.
But, hmmm, I'm not sure this is a show for a backwoodsy Mormon grandmother.
The directors, thankfully, had changed the words that prefaced every sentence and nearly every song with the text letters OMG.
But, you know, the brain still plays out the actual words even if you try to pretend it stands for "Oh, my goodness."
Marc and I kind of sat there in a stunned state, surrounded by the young, the wild and the hip.
The blasphemy never stopped.
Apparently, we are still pretty old-fashioned.
We like to think we keep up but the message and the music and the mockery shocked us. It was all so bold.
Most of the time we were open-mouthed, completely taken aback.
Are we alone in our reaction here?

Tuesday, November 13, 2012

Lunch without me?

We picked up Hannah from her preschool class at 12:30 after her mother and I had enjoyed a relatively stress-free lunch at Kneader's.
Since we only had the baby as opposed to having a usually jabbery 4-year-old and an inquisitive 7-year-old, we were able to finish a few sentences and have some serious adult-type discussion.
That's rare in my daughter's world.
And even though 18-month-old Mia spent most of her time risking death and serious injury by standing up in her high chair and jumping around in circles, it was still peaceful by comparison.
We grabbed a couple of simple sandwiches, shared with Mia and finished in plenty of time to get Hannah before she had to wait or worry.
We were at the preschool door with five minutes to spare and Hannah was delighted to see us.
She climbed in the car and happily told us she had a playdate tomorrow with one of her friends and then asked, "Are we going to Chick-Fil-A for lunch?"
Kari and I looked at each other.
"Oh, sorry," Kari said. "We already had lunch. But we can go home and make you a chocolate sandwich!"
Hannah couldn't believe it.
"You went to Chick-Fil-A without me?" she said incredulously. "You had lunch without me?"
Her eyes were wide and her expression shocked. We had taken her by complete surprise.
Instantly her mother and I were ashamed.
How could we?
What were we thinking?
We had committed the unpardonable sin.
Not only had we left her out of lunch but we had included the baby, her biggest rival for love and food.
Hannah looked as if we had gone to Disneyland without her.
We both tried to soften the blow.
"I'll make you a good lunch at home," Kari promised.
"I'll take you, just you, tomorrow," I said. "And I'll bring you a pink cookie when I pick you up at dance, OK?"
Hannah wasn't convinced. Her lower lip quivered and she looked at Mia as if she suspected the baby had engineered the whole thing.
Who knew we would be in such trouble for going to lunch?

Monday, November 12, 2012

Say cheese

We've been trying to catch this annoying little creature in our garage.
Or at least, Marc's been trying.
I'm in charge of squealing and demanding that he do something.
It's been his job to dig out the traps, load them with cheese and dispose of the little critter(s) if we catch any.
It started a couple of weeks ago when he heard one scrabbling about beneath the sack of black oil sunflower seeds we keep to feed the birds.
He set out a trap and promptly caught one.
Then a few days later he heard more scrabbling and this time, there were four baby mice running about in the box beneath the seed.
That was way too creepy for me.
I made Marc take them far away.
Now we figure there's at least one left, a single parent if you will.
And he/she has been tricky to catch.
Marc has baited the trap a couple of times with peanut butter and/or cheese and both times the mouse has taken the bait and run off with it.
This last time Marc brought the empty trap in to show me there was no mouse and no cheese.
I didn't like that he put it on my kitchen counter. It had been in close proximity to grossness.
I liked it even less when he took the hand with which he'd been holding the trap and plunged it into the sack of cheese to get another bit.
I opened the drawer and pulled out a marker.
Marc looked at me curiously.
"What are you doing?" he asked. "The mouse can't read."
"I know," I said, writing "Poison!" on the bag in big red letters.
"And now, we can't ever use any of this cheese for anything but mice again," I said.
Marc thinks I'm over reacting here because I'm throwing out almost a half pound of perfectly good cheese.
I KNOW we can't ever eat any more of that particular cheese.
Ladies, am I wrong?

Friday, November 9, 2012

Back in the sky again

This is actually a post script to my earlier post.
I HAVE fixed the broken antenna. We can get radio reception once again.
After I hooked it on the garage door and broke it, I looked it up online and found that a new one would cost $45 or so.
I called the dealer and they said, "Oh, sure, bring it right in."
I brought it right in.
That's when the trouble started.
The guys in the service department were impressed with how the thing broke right off at the base, leaving a tiny part of the metal rod inside the mount.
They looked around and found they had an antenna my size in the stock room.
They brought it out and announced that they would put in on for $50.
I tried to understand what they were saying.
"So it's $50 for the part and installation?" I asked.
It's $100. Fifty for the antenna. Fifty to get the little piece out and screw in the new antenna.
Now, I've taken the antenna off and put it back on many times at the car wash. I figured I could do it again.
It might take me a minute to get the broken bit out but how hard could it be?
"Just take some vise-grips and pull it out," the guys said.
I went home a touch miffed.
They are an auto dealer. I bought my Mazda from them and I remember them making all kinds of promises to us when we signed on the dotted line, things like "service with a smile" and "making sure you Drive Happy ever after."
They have the equipment and the know-how to do this stuff.
I, on the other hand, have only everyday pliers and a kitchen chair.
I took on the challenge.
I managed to get the bit out but only after I pinched my finger and slid dangerously on the garage floor cement before I could reach the problem.
As I successfully screwed in the new antenna I reflected.
What took me about 30 minutes would have taken the Mazda guys probably 15 seconds.
I'm an old lady. They're young and strong. They know what they're doing. I do not.
What's wrong with this picture?

Wednesday, November 7, 2012

Breaking it off

The short of it
I was carefully watching the view in my rearview mirror Tuesday as I backed out of my garage.
Sometimes the neighbors across the street back out at the same time I do and I fear that one day we'll collide mid-street.
I was also raising the garage door at the time when a funny-looking foreign object suddenly flew into my field of vision, dropped onto my windshield and bounced off the hood.
It looked like a wire or a fireplace poker.
I couldn't imagine what had happened so I stopped and got out to retrieve whatever it was.
My rear antenna.
I was holding my car's rear antenna in my hand. How could that be?
I looked back and where the antenna is usually seated on the car roof was short one antenna.
(I've often crawled up on the door ledge to unscrew and rescrew it in place when I go through the car wash so fairly quickly I understood what had happened.)
Apparently, I backed out too quickly and caught the edge of the antenna on the garage door as it raised — something I couldn't do again if I tried.
It then snapped off and flew forward.
Now I have to figure out how to fix it. (According to a quick Internet search, it'll take a minimum of $45 for a new one IF they can get the bottom part out of the mount.)
The funny thing was telling Marc about it.
I waited until the presidential election was going in favor of his candidate to bring it up.
"Umm," I said, tapping him lightly on his head. "Today when I was backing out of the garage..."
Marc started and sucked in a breath.
The missing piece
"I had a problem that will probably cost us around $100 to fix."
He looked alarmed. I had his full attention.
I produced the broken antenna and showed him the damage.
He started to laugh as relief clearly poured over him.
I thought he was going to say, "At least no one was hurt" or "But the car's all right?"
Instead he said, "Great! Good! It wasn't my fault!"
He went on as I stood there confused.
"I thought you were going to tell me I had done something bad!"
OK. I guess in this case, my husband's paranoia and fear of me works in my favor, huh?

Tuesday, November 6, 2012

Save time, stand in line early

My husband just phoned to say he was going to be late to work.
I insisted he go along to vote this morning BEFORE work rather than AFTER work because I have a meeting I need him to attend for me tonight.
Marc is irritated because the lines were long and there was a huge bottleneck – not so much because it's election day and time's up but because someone in their infinite wisdom consolidated districts so although there were plenty of polling stations, there was only one book listing the registered voters.
That made him mad.
And judging by the long, long, lines I'm seeing on television that snake around school buildings and have lots of frustrated voters standing around, it's pretty much the same all over Utah.
So my question is why bother with the early voting?
If it doesn't make it any easier on the actual day, why take up people's time and space to open early voting times?
I actually voted early.
In fact, I went on the first day in the first hour and stood in, about 90 minutes.
I went to the American Fork Library where the voting took place in a community room just off the main foyer.
It was kind of sad because people would come in the front door, see the foyer with only a few people visibly in line and think they were home free.
Then you watched their faces fall as they came further in and found the line winding round and round the rotunda area like a Disneyland line.
The library staff were kind enough to put chairs here and there for the oldsters among us who couldn't take the long stand.
I worked my way through and got away in enough time to pick my granddaughter up from piano -- two hours after I started -- so I was fine.
I calmly stated my name because I was registered, picked up my credit-like card, entered it in the right place and marked my votes. Then I  was on my way. (A lot of other seniors like me couldn't figure out the card thing...It took them longer.)
And I've actually been pleased with myself for the past two weeks because I didn't have to worry about it. (I'm also happy I don't have to cover elections this year and, thank the Lord, the campaign ads will now stop!)
Marc likes to wait and so now, he's sorry but not very because let's see, by voting early I only saved myself, what, 30 minutes?
Is there possibly a better way?

Friday, November 2, 2012

Whining wipers

A wintry tale
I should not have been surprised, should I?
The windshield wipers on my Mazda 3 started to whine and screetch during the first storm after I had my windshield replaced.
They'd not done that before so when the guy asked me if I wanted to replace my old wipers with new ones at the same time that I replaced the windshield, to "protect it from scratches," I turned him down.
I said "No, thank you. They're good."
I like to think I'm savvy.
I figured it was just a way for them to make a $20 upsale and I was already smarting from the replacement costs.
But, at the first sign of snow and rain the other night, I regretted my thrifty decision.
The wipers howled and annoyed me as they tried to keep up with the snow falling all the way from my home to Eagle Mountain.
It got so bad I just shut them off and took my chances at peering through the snowy glass.
I went back to the windshield store and told them I was wrong, wrong, wrong and would they take my $20 and give me new blades?
They agreed to do so.
After about 20 minutes and an exchange of cash, I was ready to be on my way.
But I couldn't resist asking the guy: "Why would blades that had been working perfectly well suddenly start to be such a problem? Is the shape of the new windshield different?"
(I'm wondering if maybe a repair person bent them when he was replacing the glass?)
"Oh," he said, taking off his glasses and looking closely at the invoice.
"It happens quite a bit. You have this new, clean glass and the wipers are used to working on the old, rough glass. That causes some noise."
I must have looked skeptical because he continued.
"And, you know, in Utah, because of all the snow and cold and the salt we put on the roads, wipers only last about six months, anyway."
Or about two days if you turn the dealer down at the time of the replacement, right?

Thursday, November 1, 2012

The Candy man can

Judging the amount of candy you're going to need for Halloween is a dark art.
It's always iffy and scary.
Yesterday, I got a frantic call from my daughter who had three little monsters to dress for Trick-or-Treating at school and in the neighborhood and at various events and couldn't get to the store.
She was afraid she'd run out of candy so she wanted me to pick up some more.
No problem except I'd just finished my own last-minute run even though I thought I'd bought plenty early on.
I panicked mid-afternoon.
I had these visions of hordes of little spooks coming to the door and finding an empty bowl. I saw myself combing the cupboards for a forgotten sweet, maybe a stale cooky.
So off I went to Walmart to buy two more bags, telling myself I could always save it and use it for Christmas stockings if I bought carefully.
Then, for Kari, I headed to Costco for a great BIG bag of candy.
Both times, I was extraordinarily nervous on the drive over.
I imagined everybody in town doing the same thing and everybody fighting over one last bag.
My heart beat fast and I hurried in, glancing suspiciously at the people on all sides of me. I hustled.
There! The prize!
I grabbed my sugar-loaded treats and headed for the check-out counter.
I was going to be all right.
Later, when the doorbell began to ring I was a little miserly. I gave each ghoul and witch and zombie one Tootsie Roll, one Hershey's snack-size bar, one sucker.
Marc, on the other hand, was generous.
He liberally handed over several sweets at a time.
"What are you doing?" I gasped as the candy level dropped rapidly.
"Oh, they're so cute," he said.
"One, just one!" I said. "I don't want to run out."
So it is now that Halloween's over and I have about four bags of candy left.
It's way too much to have about when there's a sweet-tooth grandma loose in the house.
And I can't save it for next year because it'll get old and it'll never be enough. I just know it.