Monday, January 30, 2012

The kind of movie for me

After watching a bunch of esoteric short films at the LDS Film Festival with high-minded messages and some with really deep and confusing messages, I was so happy to see this simple, sweet, little movie about Clara.
Clara is a beautiful little girl with a problem, sort of a Cinderella girl in that she sweeps and wears tattered clothing.
Clara wants her stepmother to like her but she doesn't know how to make that happen.
She asks the magic owl on the roof to help, a magic owl who is a simply adorable baby.
The magic owl on the roof comes through for her as does the kindly doctor and all ends well.
A charming tale shot entirely with children, it's cute and unique.
Whereas sometimes parents or grandparents overestimate the cuteness factor of their own offspring, these kids are really very watchable.
The energy put into the sweeping is appealing.
The baby on the roof has a smile that's both goofy and great.
Apparently this is the first of what mom Eliza and dad Jan Dawson hope will turn into a web series of fairytale stories.
I'm on board.
See the film at:
How about you?

Thursday, January 26, 2012

Sew nice

Steven's invention
It was a dilemma.
I wanted a new sewing machine that hummed along, one that didn't fight me on every stitch.
The yawning hole
But I also wanted to hang onto the gift my mother gave me years ago.
I knew then and understand better now that she had very little money to spend on a graduation gift for me.
The sewing machine was a beautiful piece of furniture as well as a nice machine.
It came with all kinds of cams that made it possible to make buttonholes and fancy stitches.
I loved it and over the years I've sewn everything from baby bibs to clown outfits.
I made Halloween costumes for my children that my grandkids play in today.
I made bedspreads and lawn quilts.
I made bags and covers and Barbie nightgowns.
A lot of fabric and thread has passed through the feed dogs.
But as the years went by, the machine became problematical. It would buck and stall.
Even after I took it to the local sewing machine guy, it refused to give me an even stitch.
I had to sew very carefully and live with some odd-looking seams.
It was so frustrating that I told Marc that this year I was ready for a new machine for Christmas.
We went and lookcd.
We found a number of good options.
The board in place
But every one I liked had the same problem. It wouldn't come in the old cabinet.
I would have to give it up or give it away.
I tried to find a machine I could put in the old case but it seems the modern machines don't do well hanging upside down.
Machines that come in cases are way more expensive than I was planning on.
My son solved my dilemma.
Ready to sew
He made this little wooden panel that rests across the opening where the old machine rests.
It's light. It doesn't slide away. It supports the new machine and it looks good.
I told him he should make them to sell.
My research tells me there are more ladies out there looking for this kind of solution than me.

Saturday, January 21, 2012

The new Girl Scout salesman

The little Girl Scout standing on my step has been taught well.
She got right to it after I answered the door.
"Do you want any cookies?" she asked rather drearily.
It was freezing outside so I invited her in.
She shook her small blond head.
"We aren't allowed inside people's homes," she recited, looking at me like I was dangerous.
"Oh, well, then. I better decide fast so you don't get too cold," I said cheerily.
She didn't smile at my remark.
I took the order form and started looking for Samoas.
"I used to sell Girl Scout cookies," I told her as I balanced the form on my hand.
She didn't say anything.
"Do I give you the money today?" I asked, marking the box that said I wanted three boxes of the yummy things. I noticed she'd already sold boxes to most of my neighbors. She was actually making quite the haul despite her tactiturn approach.
"We aren't allowed to take any money today," she said. Again the attitude that I was offering something illegal or wrong.
"Oh, then. I'll wait," I said, handing back her pen and paper.
"We bring you your order and you pay us then," she said. She didn't say when that might be.
"OK. That'll be great!" I said heartily. I personally think getting the money upfront beats having to come around to collect but I didn't want to push dollars on her.
She didn't smile but instead stepped back a bit and I swear she saluted.
"Goodbye," she said.
See ya.

Tuesday, January 17, 2012

Handy puppets

I'm making it my mission to attend all of the SCERA's puppet shows as they introduce a half-dozen local veteran puppeteers to Utah Valley.
The second in the series was the introduction of Coralie Leue on Saturday.
So far, this puppeteer is my favorite.
It's more engaging for children, especially the very young ones.
Leau has her own funny voices and appealing puppets from a sea serpent to a pirate to a beautiful, pink-haired mermaid.
And she adds a number of interactive bits that bring children on stage to work the little bird puppets, stomp and dance for the puppets with hands for hands and hands for feet, and get swallowed up by the giant snake puppets.
"What's a snake's favorite food? Kids."
This added to the emcee Marvin the monster puppet and his friendly pet "Stinky-Poo" make for an entertaining 45-minute show.
Coming up next are the "Amazing Animal Adventures" put on by Steven and Teresa Gashler and their puppet animal friends Feb. 11. The shows are cheap and make for a simple Saturday morning break.

Monday, January 16, 2012

My dad's state of mind

It's been confirmed.
I'm not looney. My dad is.
I was beginning to think I was just losing it because I tell him things that he denies having been told. I make plans based on plans that he says I never made.
He tells me things I've heard umpteen times before.
He's rewriting history AND he's pretty sure he's been much more present in my life than he has been.
So when the letter came to tell him his Aid and Attendance Pension had finally come through, I wasn't really as much surprised as grateful to the U.S. Government for recognizing what I suspected.
Basically the VA officials are saying if my dad is not capable of taking care of his basic needs himself then he isn't capable of taking care of the thousands of reimbursement dollars they plan to send him.
He's either competent or not and they're saying not.
That means my brothers and I will now have to take formal charge of this money (and the rest of it if we can convince him) so he doesn't fritter away his reimbursement.
(I think the Veterans Administration has learned just who and what they're dealing with. They're not about to hand over our tax dollars to aged veterans who are living in a fantasy world.)
It will be our job to see that his bills get paid and his money goes toward a good cause like staying safely off the street — quite literally.
I suspected he was making big plans for the money he expected. He kept pointing out the ragtop convertible Cadillac in the parking lot that somebody in the retirement home owns and keeps there under a tarp. He's made it clear that he's envious.
Plus, if I had any lingering doubts, they were vanquished when he looked my brother and I in the eye and said, "I know I have to get my affairs in order. I have to fix my credit rating if I want to buy another car."
This from a man who failed his driving test miserably just months ago. But then, according to him, the guy conducting the test had it in for him.

Wednesday, January 11, 2012

Sew straight

When I heard Santa was bringing my 8-year-old granddaughter Alyson a sewing machine, I offered to teach her some basic sewing skills.
I grew up teaching myself and it was sometimes painful.
I once put together a dress without a zipper that was really hard to wriggle into and even harder to get out of.
I would make mistakes and try to talk myself out of them. (It doesn't look that bad. No one will notice the plaid is running the wrong direction. It'll be fine wrong side out.)
My mother gave me a Kenmore sewing machine for high school graduation that I've now had for 40 years and over the years, I've sewn Halloween costumes, bedcovers, Barbie clothes and the occasional outfit.
I really have enjoyed it despite lots of picking out and redos. (I've sometimes told my son his work in construction is much like my sewing, the art is in disguising the mistakes to look like they weren't mistakes at all!)
I thought Alyson could benefit from my years of experience and I love her and want her to succeed.
I worked out a little plan in my head. I would start by teaching her sewing terms like seam allowance and tension. We would buy scissors and pins and a seam ripper.
We would work up to cutting out pattern pieces and notching.
I made a plan to come to her house about once a week and work with her.
So far, it's been interesting. She's young but enthusiastic. She wants to make stuff with her new toy.
We threaded the needle. We wound a bobbin. We put a couple of pieces of fabric together and made a sewing machine cover.
It was going fine until last week when the machine started doing loop-de-loops and tangling every couple of inches, breaking the thread and bunching the material. It seemed to me the machine was suddenly a demon device, bent on destruction.
Alyson got a lot of practice rethreading her needle while I tried to assess the problem, wondering what we were suddenly doing wrong.
It wasn't until I was on my way home that it hit me. When I arrived that day she showed me the knot of dark blue thread made when her friend had played with her machine, a knot I cut off and discarded.
That's when it became clear in my mind.
"When my friend played with my machine" is a definite clue.

Monday, January 9, 2012

Trickster Scrabble

Marc and I have a new game to play and it's a problem.
My son and his wife sent it to us for Christmas and so far, we've played it twice and we've had a friendly marital spat twice.
It's called Scrabble Trickster, the UK version.
Every other little square is a Trick square which means you get these little cards that allow you to do funny things like spell a word backwards, put it anywhere on the board or turn any letter over to become a blank.
Otherwise it's generally your run-of-the-mill Scrabble game, something we love to play.
I have it on my phone as a game to play when I'm standing in a long line or waiting to pick up a grandchild, etc.
We have a well-worn Scrabble travel game we play in the airport and on the airplane when we travel.
We have a Scrabble game on a lazy Susan kind of board that we play with my dad.
We're fairly serious about our games. We've both memorized the 2-letter words that get you out of a bind with "u"s and multiple "i"s.
We know words spelled with "Q" that don't require a "u."
We periodically scan the dictionary for new "Z" and "X" words. It's not unusual to score into the 300s.
And we both get kinda ticked when the other one takes advantage of a triple word opening. We tend to get majorly depressed facing a whole row of no vowels or 1-point letters.
So with this new game we have new reasons to get mad.
Especially with the card that lets you steal your opponent's last score.
I've used it on Marc twice now and it really makes him angry.
It's a triple whammy. It takes the bloom off the rose for coming up with an impressive word and score and it not only takes away but it gives to the other person. So it becomes like a 50 or 60-point turnaround.
It's a lethal blow, one I liked and he — not so much. After the last game where I had 400 points to his 165, he didn't speak for quite a while. When he did, he told me I would leave him if he ever played that card on me.
We've almost decided that one card may have to get tossed.

Thursday, January 5, 2012

Putting the house back together

It's been a strange holiday.
Not only has there been no snow to speak of which means no skiing, no sledding and no snowmen in the yard, the men and children have been home more days.
With Christmas and New Year's on Sundays, that has meant Marc (and I assume most working husbands) got the Friday before and the Monday
That's made for some additional challenges, especially in the meal making and "doing" department.
It's difficult enough to plan for the holiday meals...They have to be special. They require different ingredients than the everyday and they usually take time to prepare.
So when you add an extra day before and after, you add more "special" meals.
It also means more social planning, more mother pressure.
What to do with bored kids, bored grandkids and bored men?
Movies took up part of the time but everybody else had the same idea so we ended up on the front row stretching our necks for at least one.
Games are good if you can get the babies to cooperate. So are puzzles.
As a last resort, kids and guys can play with their Christmas toys.
For me, there's cleaning the house.
That's the great reward for enduring the shift in furniture to accommodate the tree in the living room and the debris from opened presents and parties.
As much as I like Christmas and the trinkets and twinkle that goes with it, I LOVE the sense of openness and peace that comes from putting it all away.
The sudden sense of space is a balm to my soul.
I love having the mantle clear and the piano top free for plants and hymnbooks.
I like bringing all the plants back from banishment.
I enjoy just sitting on a couch and looking at the simple furniture. I like the quiet.
Maybe in its own way, it's my rubber room.

Monday, January 2, 2012

My New Year's resolutions for Marc

One of my New Year's resolutions was going to be to not pick on my poor husband so much. He's a good man and he loves me and takes care of me.
So when I was trying to think of a good starter list yesterday in church, I was disheartened to look over and find him sleeping away.
It started me on my way but I think it has me breaking my promise to myself before I've even started.
See what you think:
#1. I resolve not to get mad at him anymore for nodding off in church, or at least not SO mad. I'll poke him gently but firmly in a timely fashion. (That means I won't wait anymore until the deacon is standing by him waiting for him to wake up so he can take the bread and water. That's mean of me not to spare him that embarrassment.)
#2. I resolve not to get so irritated when he takes FOREVER to get ready to go places. I'll just sit down and knit a sweater with long sleeves while I wait.
#3. I hereby resolve not to get in his way when he's cooking because it invariably leads to a small fist fight.
I'll just go outside and work in the garden or shovel snow and not think about what a mess he's making of my kitchen or how he's using the dishtowel for a mop rag.
#4. I won't grip the side handle of the car door so hard when he's coming up too fast behind another car or push my feet through the floor when I'm pretty sure he's going to forget to brake quickly enough. I'll just close my eyes and prepare for eternity.
See the problem?
All of my resolutions depend on my dear spouse. Nothing I've resolved is achievable without some cooperation from Marc.
On the other hand, is it possible that I need to look beyond the beam in my eye?