Wednesday, October 31, 2012

Marc the Clown

Would you trust this man with your little Trick-or-Treaters?

Tuesday, October 30, 2012

The Subaru from the depths

I know it's rather shallow to think about oneself in the midst of great human tragedy.
I know the people on the East Coast being pummeled by Hurricane Superstorm Sandy are suffering and will be rebuilding their lives for months ahead. They're losing homes and businesses and, in some cases, their lives.
So I'm not making light of their situation.
However, I can't help but wonder as I watch the pictures of streets turned to rivers and cars swallowed by high water, how many of those cars might end up like the Subaru from Hell that we once owned?
How many water-logged vehicles will be resold to suckers like we were?
When we bought the Subaru, it was a nice looking car, kind of a pink silvery station wagon.
We bought it used at a time when we had to really watch our pennies and we needed a reliable vehicle that could carry lots of kids around.
It worked just fine for a little while but then various, expensive parts started to break.
It was one thing after another until it got so I started to sweat every time we took it in for a repair.
No matter what we did, it was another $500 or $1000 to fix the problem.
We were replacing all kinds of rods and struts and wires until the bills finally got to be too much for us.
When the pile reached more than $6,000, we caved.
Even though I needed a car to do my reporting job at The Daily Herald,  we sold the Subaru and I began riding the bus in and out of Provo to work.
It was about a year later that we realized the car had been one of those dumped off the Golden Gate bridge in San Francisco during a weather disaster.
It had been at the bottom of the bay long enough for the salt water to eat away at the undercarriage and somehow we had been lucky enough to have bought it after it had dried out and put back on the market.
I forget the details but I remember the pain.
It was a dreadful time.
So as I watch the footage from Sandy, I can't help but anybody out there going to get stung with the same kind of fraudulence?
Are there laws in place now to protect people from underwater sales?
I hope so. If not, buyer beware and check for leaks.

Monday, October 29, 2012

The girl in our neighborhood

A friend of mine in the neighborhood is running for the Mrs. Utah America title and I think she has a good chance. She's motivated, gorgeous and smart. (She's also the surviving mother of busy twin boys so you know she's strong of heart and mind.) Here's the press release I just wrote for her. Take note of the date and opportunity...

AMERICAN FORK — Kirsty Stalder, wife, mother of five and the current Mrs. Utah Valley, is preparing to compete for the Mrs. Utah America title this next June.

To do that, she needs funding to pay for the costs involved which include travel expenses, workshop and entrance fees along with wardrobe acquisition. (Entrance fees alone add up to nearly $1400.)

To defray those expenses, Culver's Restaurant at 1374 E. Main in Lehi (just west of Texas Roadhouse), is offering to donate 10 percent of the evening's profits for Nov. 7 from 5-8 p.m. to Stalder.

In addition, those who join a texting club in Stalder's behalf will receive a free custard and an additional dollar will be donated to Stalder. (Specific texting information available at Culver's that evening.)

Stalder is 35, a former runner-up to Miss Teen Montana and a current resident of American Fork, where she lives with her husband Steve and her five children;  Savannah, Cora, Owen and twin sons, Dawson and Marshall.

Her pageant platform is focused on community involvement and Stalder's dedication to making local families aware of the opportunities and activities going on all around them.

"That's it. That's what I'm passionate about," Stalder (who recently moved back to Utah from Connecticut) said. "My goal is to make people aware of what's available here. We have been amazed. There's always something to do."

Stalder will compete June 21-22, 2013 at Peery's Egyptian Theater in Ogden in evening gown, swimsuit and interview segments before a panel of expert judges.

The winner will represent the state at civic and community functions as well as go on to compete for the Mrs. America title in Arizona.

Thursday, October 25, 2012

An electric shock

I figured it would be a simple fix, hardly worth an electrician's time.
So that meant it would also be cheap, right?
We only had a few electrical outlets that were not operating at full power and needed to be fixed.
The bottom half of all the ones in the kitchen and a couple in the family room didn't work.
I always had to be sure to plug things into the top half if I wanted my vacuum to go, my glue gun to get hot or my mixer to mix.
Once we switched to a phone that needed a constant power supply, it became a bother to only have essentially one working plug on the kitchen counter.
I kept having to move the crockpot or the mixer or the wok to another counter or have the phone start to blink desperately as it lost power.
So I called a guy who handed out little magnets with his name and phone number on them at the parade.
I told him I needed some minor electrical work done and guesstimated it would run me maybe $100 for his time and trouble?
(I also wanted to be sure the problems weren't going to end up being something serious that might burn the house down.)
The appointment was made. I was told it was $40 for him to just come and look.
The man came.
He looked around as I told him my story.
"How old is your house?" he asked.
I didn't see why that mattered but I told him 23 years.
"That explains it," he said and proceeded to point out that my outlets were worn out. They simply couldn't hold a plug any longer and it was only going to get worse.
He suggested replacing all of the half bad ones — for $50 a piece.
Oh yeah, and the code changed the year after our home was built so we needed a GFI outlet on the counter to protect ourselves and others from a painful death in case of a short-out. That would be $99.
So now, $300 later, we have all new outlets in our kitchen and family room.
I can go around choosing a place to plug in and get power from any one of them.
It's a trip. I love it. The future looks brighter.
I just didn't realize it was something I should have worked into the operating budget a while ago.

Tuesday, October 23, 2012

Chatting with the man

It's come to my attention that perhaps I'm a dyed-in-the-wool Osmond fan.
When I was chatting with Donny on the phone the other day, I realized I know a LOT about these people.
I have their books, their CDs, even a movie from way back when, something about Coconuts.
So when I was talking with Donny I told him we ought to keep up this "every six months" pattern of phone calls and interviews.
He said he's on his 8th or 9th career and has no intention of stopping anytime soon so we will probably visit again, especially since he's going to be celebrating his 50th year in show business this next year along with all kinds of other anniversaries as well: his 40th anniversary of "Puppy Love," his 60th album...the list goes on.
He also told me he's updated the Las Vegas show so I'll have to come see it all over again. Such a sacrifice, don't you think?
Over the years, I've watched and written about the various Osmonds as their careers took off,  they made money, lost money, came back to life and took off again.
I've discussed porcelain dolls with Marie and books with Merrill and Jay.
We bought tickets to "Donny and The Amazing Technicolor Dreamcoat" when it came to Salt Lake City.
We watched "Dancing With the Stars" for weeks when Donny and then Marie competed. (Donny won, he's quick to point out again and again.)
I attended the funeral for Mother Osmond and talked with Wayne and Alan and Jimmy about various projects, concerts and the Stadium of Fire.
Currently I'm listening nonstop to their latest CD — produced by Jimmy but featuring the family in one track or another —in the car and in the house.
I'm planning on attending the Christmas concert at Abravanel Hall in December and making plans to get back to Vegas.
And yet, I've never considered myself an Osmond groupee...
Do you think I'm in denial?

Saturday, October 20, 2012

Too much protection

I've been trying to order Christmas gifts for my son, his wife and our grandson who live in England.
Since it takes a while to get across the ocean, I usually try to order them early enough that they arrive safe and sound in plenty of time. (And since one is an Advent calendar, it has to be there by or before Dec. 1, don't you think?)
I logged onto the other day and proceeded to make my choices.
I thought I was merely putting my selections in my cart when all of a sudden my screen told me my order was underway.
I hesitated because it was a little earlier than I planned and Marc hadn't had a chance to approve my choice of calendar for Jack.
But what the hey, I decided it was fine.
I clicked along, filling out gift cards with Christmas messages and choosing from the options.
I decided to try and see if my new Amazon credit card would work for the UK site since I had some credit there. It didn't.
I went back and changed the delivery mode to Super Saver.
I tried to see what the charge would be in U.S. dollars rather than pounds.
By the time I was finished, I had made about four changes.
I sent off the order only to hear the phone start ringing.
My credit union fraud department was alarmed that multiple charges were being made against my local debit account.
I told them the first charge of about $60 was fine but I didn't understand why there were several $1 charges after that.
So like a dummy — albeit a cautious dummy — I told them to deny the small charges.
Like good fraud agents, they told me my card would now be blocked and to reinstate it I would now have to travel down to the credit union office to get a new one.
I didn't want that. I had serious shopping to do later at Wal-Mart.
I called back to talk with the people who first called about the "fraud."
They told me to call the credit union which I did.
They told me to call VISA which I did.
Several conversations later, somebody said all was well and the card was now unblocked.
But can't get the charges to go through. They keep retrying with no success.
So finally, I cancelled the transaction just to clear the cyber space.
I'll try it again in a week or so but on a different card.
In the meantime, I guess I appreciate the credit union being so vigilant. They may have saved me $3.

Thursday, October 18, 2012

Four feet away

I learned a lot this year at the Timpanogos Storytelling Festival, some of which I'd just as soon not know but it's there in my aged brain anyway.
For instance, one storyteller was sharing his adventures with bugs and such and told us that anywhere we are in the world at anytime, a spider is no more than four feet away.
I don't remember the point of his story or the punchline but that fact lives with me.
I look around now at wherever I am sitting or lying or standing and try to find the spider before he finds me.
I have to mentally shut that information out when I'm trying to go to sleep at night. (Marc will tell you I already have a certain phobia about creepy crawlies in the sheets.)
I think the storyteller must certainly be wrong. I need to check out his sources of information.
How can there be a spider everywhere?
We also learned about noodling catfish, the joys and the dangers of shoving your arm into a hole at the bottom of a pond and bringing it out with a catfish hanging onto it.
We heard about the kind of mosaic art you can make from dried carrots and peas that have been hidden in an aluminum table leg for many years.
We learned that it's a good thing to just go ahead and hope for the best in any situation because "Ya never know what might happen!"
We learned how dogs...otherwise known as "Dee Oh Gees" evolved from wolf pups to help save mankind.
There was all sorts of new stuff to think about.
I just don't want to dwell much on the spider thing. It's probably poppycock, right?
Although...there's one right now, working his way across my computer table.

Sunday, October 14, 2012

Grandma's no-tea Tea Party







I may have to change the name of my annual summer party for my grand-daughters.
"Grandma's Tea Party" suggest we're having tea when in fact it's frappe served with cut-out raspberry and cream cheese finger sandwiches, fruit kabobs, Lindt chocolates and Cake Bites from the Sweet Tooth Fairy.
We dine on fine cut-crystal plastic plates and sip from our Zurcher's plastic snifters.
We get all gussied up with makeup, tattoos and hairdos and nail polish to match our party dresses.
The tattoos are glittery colors in fun shapes and designs and will wash off in the bathtub.
I'm still sporting mine. I like how it sparkles on my arm.
We had to assure one 7-year-old that she wasn't going against the prophet with one of these tattoos. (Even then, we had to call her mother to get the OK.)
Kari the tattoo queen
Laura doing Alyson's nails
The girls each got their nails done by Laura, our resident professional expert, and their hair done by Kristy and 12-year-old Samantha who has been practicing fancy braiding for the past year.
Austyn who wouldn't pose later
They got a chance to get made up by Bonnie who's handy with the eyeliner, the lip gloss, the body glitter and the blush. (Again, we ran up against some concerns when a couple of grandkids previously deemed too young for makeup were able to show off their new look to mom with a "See? It looks fine, right?")
Shannan doing purses
We had an interesting three hours as this collection of 14 girls from ages 4-15 tried on new looks, new persona and interacted with cousins they don't see on a regular basis. (Since Marc and I have a blended family, we have children on both sides who are always discovering a new cousin or two. At one point in the clapping game, 7-year-old Malia looked at the girls next to her and said, "I can't know their names!")
Grandpa took some fine portraits and I think everyone went home happy with their new purses and beauty products and sophisticated faces.
Hannah after
Hannah before
I just hope they all realize they were all as beautiful and cute when they arrived as they were when they left.

Friday, October 12, 2012

Grandpa's toy

Hannah told her mom the other day what she really wants for Christmas. She didn't even have to think very long about it.
She very seriously laid it out.
The problem is that it's about $1000.
This 4-year-old blondie with the great big eyes and engaging grin thinks she needs "a computer toy" like Grandpa's Ipad.
She figures it's something Santa could slip into his bag and tote along to her house without much problem.
And it's fun.
She loves it.
She asks him if she can play with "his toy" every time she's in the same room with him.
It's not as if he hasn't encouraged her interest.
He has downloaded all kinds of game apps that appeal to her. He's always excited when he finds a new one for her.
She can dress Tinkerbell for the ball, color all kinds of pictures and draw her own with her finger. She can save them too. (Marc had 10 saved blank pictures from Hannah the other day.)
She likes the colors, the chimes and bells.
She commandeers the device the minute she comes in the door and she isn't willing to share it with the rest of us.
She just doesn't understand that it's basically a work machine for Marc where he keeps tracks of all of his appointments, tasks and daily demands.
He has the scriptures on it, apps for everything from getting dressed to taking medications.
It's an important adult tool for living.
It's also where I play my Angry Birds so Hannah can't have it.

Wednesday, October 10, 2012

Fire truck, Part 2

OK. Now the first time had to be an accident, a coming together of car and fire truck by pure coincidence.
But the second time?
I'm outside of Smith's today putting my groceries in the trunk when a great big fire truck starts to swing into the road between the parked cars. I swear it's the same truck that nearly creamed me the night before.
I'm behind my car's backside with the cart slightly in the road and I notice he's not going to make the turn without A. hitting the van parked next to me or B. hitting me and/or my cart.
I stepped into the space between the van and my car and waited.
He stopped with the big metal thingy hanging perilously close to the van's topside.
He backed up and started again.
Slowly he swung around until he could pass and drive off to the back of the lot to park.
I looked at the driver's face.
This time, because it was still light I could see his features.
He looked a little sheepish as he passed by. He also looked like he might be trying to figure out where he'd seen a little gray Mazda like mine before.
I wanted to run after him and discuss some points of driving safely with him but I had ice cream melting in the carton so I let it pass.
But if I run into him a third time, we're talking.

Tuesday, October 9, 2012

Keeping it clean

I'm trying to host a little tea party for my girl grandchildren and finding I'm spending more of my time on making sure I don't spread germs around than on decorations or party food.
I want to have these little stations where the girls can get their hair done and their nails polished and some makeup applied.
Sounds easy enough, right?
Except there are 14 girls coming from ages 4-15 and a variety of personalities involved.
I realized I needed to keep things clean so there's no transfer of little critters.
That means an eyelash applicator for each one, a clean comb or brush for each hairdo and individual applicators for lip gloss, blush and eye shadow.
I know from high school that sharing makeup can be bad.
So I bought 14 tubes of lip gloss and 100 eyelash applicators (They only come in quantities of 100 or 1,000 and 1,000 seemed like over kill.)
I have individual Q-tip things to put on eye shadow and cheek glitter.
I have bought new combs and cleaned my brushes.
I have hair decor and ribbons and elastics that can go home with the girls.
Some of the stuff
Now I just have barely enough time to make frappe and ribbon sandwiches and fruit kabobs if I hurry.

Sunday, October 7, 2012

In the line of tire

I'm taking my daughter home in Lehi and sitting in the road in the dark in my little gray Mazda 3 waiting to make the turn when suddenly there are big, blinding headlights right in my eyes.
And sort of a metal ladder kind of thing.
I blink and realize it's a fire truck and the metal thingy is the front bumper which is clearly coming my way without there being any room for it.
The fire engine is making the turn into my lane where my car already is.
"Mom!" said my daughter, "Look out!"
I kind of froze because my brain was trying to compute what was going on.
Why was this big truck turning into me when I was there first?
What was I supposed to do? Were we going to die?
I finally snapped out of my paralysis and started to try and get out of the way.
"Back up!" I told myself.
Thankfully I had the presence of mind to check behind me before I did any actual backing.
I somehow remembered how to shift into reverse and started backing up and over to the far side of the road because there was no way the fire engine was going to make the turn without taking up most of the road.
He swung past us without an apology.
I started breathing again and checked to see if we were fine. We were. It was like a 2-second scare.
But now that I think about it, I'm ticked.
Why was he in charge of what went down?
He was a lot bigger than we were but he was turning into my part of the road and without much warning.
He didn't have his siren on or lights blinking so he obviously wasn't on his way to an actual emergency.
In retrospect, I think he should have waited for me to turn and clear the road.
He should have backed off when he realized there was no room for him and us.
I should have taken down a unit number or license number and reported him for bad fire engine driving.
Or at least I should have shouted, "Where's the fire?"

Thursday, October 4, 2012

"X" marks the spot

Did anybody worry about the smoking, blue-lighted "X" that landed in the ground at night a few weeks ago?
Anybody see the crowd gathered on the Traverse Mountainside to see the crater "created" when it landed?
Or the scientists garbed in yellow Hazmat suits who came out to investigate?
I thought it was an extraordinary sight and an even more extraordinary event.
Xactware Solutions, the software company my husband works for, is part of a huge, new building going in just north of SR-92.
To mark the groundbreaking, they commissioned a big "X" for the occasion.
It took the employee assigned to the task a week to design and create it in his garage. (It reportedly took him more weeks to perfect his baby.)
The "X" that fell from the Orem sky
The result was beautiful, sleek, and lighted. Smoke rose from behind as it stood, having apparently plummeted from space.
It looked really eerie, just like something from outer space would look.
I was so impressed I wanted to share the images which may show up in the Christmas video at the company party but otherwise won't get the world's attention.
I think it should and I'm amazed no one called in an alarm.
Here's a link to their You Tube spot:

Tuesday, October 2, 2012

Short dresses, high heels

The look
Marc and I weren't at the school prom in Tooele where girls were sent home for wearing too-short dresses.
But we were at Market Street Grill where we noticed a flock girls who were dressed like colorful birds headed to a dance and the dresses were deemed "tres" short.
We noticed them as the group pranced past us because 1. the dresses were colorful and fun, 2. the dresses were short and fluffy, and 3. their heels were very, very high.
Everyone in the restaurant turned their heads as these kids went by. (The boys in their tuxes just sort of jogged alongside these lovelies.)
We should have taken pix
So I'm not surprised that some hard-working chaperone or uptight school official at Stansbury High decided enough wasn't enough and sent them home for leggings and more material.
The combination of long legs and 7-inch heels and little skirts with poufy slips made for a sort of flamingo look.
It's not something I could have worn even as a teenager although I remember getting some guff for an outfit or two I owned back then. It was, after all, the mini-skirt era.
And it didn't look comfortable.
The lasses minced more than walked and when they sat down, the skirts were kind of all around their middles.
We watched them for most of our meal out of simple fascination.
It made for great entertainment.
So we were not really surprised to hear about the prom debacle where half of the girls trying to attend the dance were turned away for skimpy outfits.
It's a new look for our generation, not something we're really prepared for.
I'm thinking maybe the dress code should say "With skirts shorter than 10 inches, the heels need to be at least less than half that height."