Friday, March 23, 2012

One week from today

Next week at this time, we'll have landed in Merry Ol' England's Gatwick airport — provided we survive the long, long flight across the pond — and greeting the little English lad who makes the trip worthwhile.
Jack is the 5-year-old son of my son Derek and his wife Helen, a grandson who lives in the middle of the United Kingdom where he's raising his parents in a fine fashion.
He's bright, lively and full of imagination and he likes jokes and magic so we're trying to store some up to share.
Knock-knock jokes are his favorite so I've been reading the Boy's Life website. (Knock knock. Who's there? Nacho. Nacho who? Nacho cheese! It's mine!)
We've been planning this for a while so now it seems like we suddenly thought of it.
I'm going around the house wondering if I've packed this and that and the other.
I keep telling myself to think England so I have enough cold-weather clothing.
I have British pounds in my purse and an English guidebook.
Marc is mentally preparing to drive on the wrong side of the road. I'm mentally preparing to deal with that.
It may be the last time we do this because we are getting older and the 12-hour sit in the airplane is becoming harder to bear.
I get restless and anxious and stressed.
To counteract this my doctor has loaded me with sleeping pills, pain pills, a neck collar and little face-masks.
I have Marc's new iPad to play Scrabble on and a tiny pillow.
I won't be blogging for awhile so bear with me and when I return, I promise to bring new stories and some good English knock-knock jokes, compliments of a 5-year-old funny boy.

Tuesday, March 20, 2012

High resolutions

No matter what Marc says or does to entice me to appreciate the fine world of high resolution, I remain largely unimpressed.
Granted, I like watching television when I can see the players and actors who don't appear to be in the middle of a snowstorm but when it gets to noticing the hair in their ears and the sweat on their brows, I can't see the attraction.
I lived (and live) through the first weeks after we bought our new flat screen TV with daily queries about how marvelous it was and is.
I nod when Marc asks me to notice how fine a picture we receive. I smile politely.
(I just want to see my soaps without interruption, please.)
Now, he's waxing on about the iPads -- yes, that's a plural because my son has asked us to bring him one when we come to England next week.
Not only did he wait anxiously for them but when the store mistakenly sold them when they didn't reach him on the phone, he was livid.
Finally, Monday, he got one in his hot little hands and it's the greatest thing since the invention of the wheel. He's flying high.
"Look at the resolution," he instructs. "Can you believe how crystal clear it is?"
I peek over and see a screen with little icons and little colors.
I watch as he works over the Google maps to show me where the little towns in England are with the cemeteries we want to visit.
I see fuzzy trees and rooftops and tiny roads.
"Isn't that great?" he implores.
Yeah, sure. It looks OK to me but I weary quickly as he drives on through the screen, on and on and on. He's already planning on new apps, new "clothes" for it and a keyboard while I'm still trying to see why one needs a Smartphone AND an iPad.
I guess it's pretty spectacular.
Everybody but me seems way impressed, so much so that they're spending beaucoup bucks on these little devices and willing to stand in long lines to do so.
I suppose I just don't understand what I'm seeing.
People tell me it's "so cool" and "way out there."
So why don't I care more?

Saturday, March 17, 2012

It's not easy to be green

I thought I was doing pretty well keeping up.
I'd had three small grandchildren for four days and despite the rigorous demands that come with being 9 months, 3 years and 6, things had gone surprisingly well. (How does their mother do this?)
Everybody got fed. Everybody got clean clothes to wear and nearly everybody got regular naps.
I got the kindergartener to school every day on time and remembered to pick her up at 3 p.m.
I got the preschooler to preschool and back without fail even though one day she had to walk in wearing socks borrowed from her cousin because we forgot her shoes when we went to gymnastics.
Everybody got to gymnastics. Everybody got bedtime stories and baths.
I never once forgot the baby.
I even kept track of the magic blanket and the all-important pacifier.
So when I sat waiting for Adell to come out of school Friday I was surprised to see everyone was wearing green. I was curious as well.
Was it a school holiday? Was it "wear green" day and I didn't get the memo?
I realized the next day would be St. Patrick's Day but that was the next day and not today, Friday.
I became increasingly worried as floods of green-shirted kids came out of the doors.
Every child was wearing green but for Adell who was wearing a bright yellow but clean shirt, one of the uniform shirts her mother left me for her to wear.
I had remembered since it was Friday, she could wear jeans.
We had put a pretty yellow and brown bow in her hair.
She had shoes on and socks. But she wore no green.
When she came out, I hugged her and asked, "Were you supposed to wear green today? Did we miss a note?"
"It's OK," she said, looking at me rather sadly. "My mom gets notes on the Kindle so I got pinched."
Oh dear. Grandma missed that one.

Friday, March 16, 2012

Dead meat

It's been a week of frustration as we tried and tried to save our dying refrigerator.
At first, it looked hopeful although expensive.
The repair guy thought he could swap out the compressor in our 8-year-old Maytag machine and keep it running for another decade or at least a year.
He sent for one from Las Vegas and promised to put in in right away.
That meant we had to store our meat in a neighbor's freezer and limp along with a barely working fridge for the weekend.
We bought lots of ice and changed it out daily.
But after the new $400 compressor came in and was put in, things did not improve.
The ice cubes were water and the frozen juices were soggy in their cardboard containers.
We reported the bad news and the repair guy came back.
He wondered if the relay thingy was bad and replaced it with an industrial strength kind.
That heated things up, literally.
The freezer unit was now hot to the touch.
Inside the fridge, warm air was blowing through.
I moved all the meat out again and bought more ice.
Now, two more days later, I'm tossing all my meat.
We fired the repair guy and called R.C. Willey who kindly brought us a brand-new refrigerator for a mere $700.
It isn't as fancy as the one we lost.
It doesn't have all the removable shelving and the little light in the freezer but it freezes and it keeps things cold.
For me that's good enough.
And I'm resigned to throwing out approximately $100 worth of once-fresh meat. (It's especially hard now that it's refrozen and looks just fine.)
I've tried to tell myself it didn't get that warm or that thawed.
On the other hand, I don't want me, my husband or anybody I invited to dinner to be the dead meat in this story.

Monday, March 12, 2012

The Achilles Heel meal

Most of the time, I'm a frugal gourmet.
I buy meats at a discount. I use a menu so I can use up leftovers and things hanging around.
I carry coupons with me so I can get the best deal.
I'm generally watching the prices pretty carefully when we eat out which means Marc usually doesn't dare order anything more expensive than my dinner.
So when I threw caution to the oceans last weekend and ordered the $70 crab legs, he was pretty shocked.
The last time I did something so out of character was when we were in Hawaii with my daughter and she wanted crab.
"OK," I told her, "as long as it's not more than $50. That's the sky-high limit."
The market price that day was $49.99.
This time we were celebrating Marc's positive job review which came with a raise and a nice bonus so I was feeling pretty flush.
I will admit, though, $70 crab is way up there.
That's when the waitress moved in for the kill.
"You better grab it while you can," she said. "We may not be able to get crab for much longer."
She explained that the Alaskan fishing industry is worried about crab demand and availability. She said the industry board had cut what could be sold in half.
"That'll make it too expensive for us and for most customers," she said.
Suddenly $70 seemed cheap. That's what, a mere $35 a leg?
I ordered the crab legs.
I ate the crab legs.
I so thoroughly enjoyed the crab legs and Marc enjoyed the morsel I shared with him.
We don't regret the extravagance although I'm a little worried about my next crab meal. How much is that going to cost?

Sunday, March 11, 2012

The puddlement

The fridge and backups
Somehow I foolishly expect appliances and techie devices to live forever.
It always surprises me when they wear out, break down or simply stop working. I somehow expect more from machines with wires and chrome.
So when we came home from the movie Friday to find a puddle of water beneath the fridge door, I was dismayed.
I was also a little panicked because it was the weekend, everything would be closing or closed, and everybody who could possibly help us would soon be home in bed.
I tried hard to believe that maybe we'd just left the door ajar or maybe overfilled the freezer so it couldn't circulate properly.
I mopped up and waited only to find water drip-drip-dripping in a continous stream.
The freezer definitely had a problem though I couldn't for the life of me figure out how water was coming from the door.
I check the ice cream I'd just bought and it literally sloshed in the box.
So we started bailing, tossing what was old, liquified and not worth saving like a bag of popsicle juice.
We put all the newly purchased 2-packs of chicken and the pork roasts and bacon and fishsticks into a picnic cooler.
We put the cans of juice and the mushy frozen vegetables in another.
I called a repair service at 7:30 a.m. and left a tearful message.
Still hoping for the best, we vacuumed the back of the fridge, thought positive, maybe that would fix it.
Fortunately the repair guy picked up his voicemail and came out around noon, cluck-clucking as he checked things out.
The good news was he knew what was wrong. The bad news was it was the compressor and he couldn't get the one he wanted until Monday which meant he couldn't put things right until Tuesday.
Meanwhile I had all this frozen and semi-frozen stuff melting at my feet.
I emailed ward members who offered freezer and fridge space.
We bought ice to put in the freezer area so cold air would keep blowing into the fridge area.
I crossed my fingers harder.
It's not a biggie kind of crisis. We can eat other places and buy new food. I know we can even repair the bank account but I keep looking at this pretty, black fridge we bought new only eight years ago.
How can it be broken? It still looks new.

Wednesday, March 7, 2012

The email I can't get

So I've been trying to sort out this problem with my email account that comes with the city Internet service.
I have it as sort of a backup so when my account with The Deseret News goes kablonk, I still have a window on the virtual world.
More than once, it's saved me to be able to transfer clients and sources to my backup account.
This time, however, it was the problem.
I'd been sailing along just fine when all of a sudden it asked for my email account and password.
I tried the password I'm currently using and the one before that. (I find if I keep it simple and basically use the same password for everything, I have less trouble. You identity thieves, rejoice. I make it easy.)
It didn't like anything I submitted so I changed tactics and tried some variations.
It didn't budge.
Since it didn't offer any options, I went to my Deseret News account administrator and bothered him. He couldn't find a solution and in fact, didn't know what the heck I was talking about.
I wrote to the city service on their website and explained my dilemma.
I heard nothing.
It's now been over a week and I know there are emails piling up and things to tend to.
I gathered up the strength to make a phone call (which requires sitting around and waiting for the next customer service representative, etc.) and explained my plight.
The nice young man promptly gave me my password, an ancient one I haven't used in 20 years.
It works.
The logjam is cleared and I'm going through my 142 emails only to find one from them.
"Your password is incorrect," it says. "Please call our office for additional assistance."
Wait a minute....
I haven't been getting any email but they send an email to tell me what to do about not getting any email?
What am I missing here?

Monday, March 5, 2012

Sick, sick, sick

My husband gave me a gift which I don't appreciate at all.
All night Thursday and all day Friday he was sick in bed, so much so that I was quite irritated with him.
He begged off going with me to doing a review in Springville so I went alone.
I knew he didn't really want to go anyway so his motives were suspect.
Then about 1 a.m. Saturday morning, it hit me.
It was awful and still is although it's now Monday afternoon.
I have no appetite.
I have no enthusiasm for anything.
Even during my favorite show Sunday night, I was watching the clock to see how soon I could go back to be bed.
Ice chips became my food of choice.
Everything else was too sugary, too salty or took too much chewing.
I'm hoping by tomorrow I can regain some hope.
There's nothing to do but wait.
In the meantime...bear with me.