Tuesday, May 28, 2013

It goes like this...

Typical pieces of property up for sale (Ours is in the middle)
So I showed up at the delinquent tax sale to defend our sliver of backyard property if necessary.
The room was crowded and tensions were high.
The Utah County Auditor said this was the biggest crowd of procrastinators he'd seen in a while.
Now Marc will tell you I pride myself on NOT being a procrastinator.
Given the opportunity I'll be early at everything and late for nothing.
Some of our biggest tiffs are over punctuality or the lack thereof.
So I was a little offended at being lumped into the mix.
However, I was interested in how this all worked and so I sat there for three hours with my little sign, ready to bid if necessary.
I was also mentally prepared to hike on over to the credit union to get cash. They, for some reason, don't take credit cards at the tax sale.
I had arrived at 9 a.m. for the 10:00 sale and stayed through until noon. I was also watching some property my daughter owns, planning to spring into action for her if the situation warranted.
It was fascinating.
I watched while tiny pieces of property sold for thousands and others went unclaimed.
Many of them were just odd bits like ours, very strange configurations.
One or two were actually large enough to serve as a building lot and thus the bidding got a little heated.
One guy actually picked up a piece where he could put a house for a mere $35,000.
I was relieved to see most of the ones similar to ours didn't fetch a price at all. That means the county will take them back and strike them from the tax roll now.
That's good, in my opinion.
I didn't want to pay nearly $300 for property that ought to have been included when we bought our house. I felt no responsibility for the mistake or the subsequent unpaid taxes.
On the other hand, I didn't want some stranger picking it up and holding us hostage which is what somebody did with my daughter's property.
Since their house is on the property, it will be interesting to see what happens next.

Thursday, May 23, 2013

Standing out in a crowd

Marc and I recognized we would probably be among the older, more sedate fans at the Imagine Dragons concert Monday night.
Because we have both been news reporters over the years, we are well used to showing up at places where most of the crowd are just getting their driver's licenses and planning their prom dates.
So it was OK to be the silver-haired (at least Marc is silver-haired. Mine is bottle brown still!) duo in the seats waiting for the rock music to
We were probably among the few who didn't appreciate the warm-up bands either. They were loud and raucous and screechy.
We didn't do the wave.
We didn't mob the stage.
We sat and waited patiently as opposed to dancing and strutting and moving all about.
But we did enjoy the Imagine Dragons music. That's why I had arranged with The Deseret News to review the concert for the newspaper.
I'm interested in the band's career and one of the guitarists is a local boy.
I offered to attend even though it was on a Monday night and it was slammed with no assigned seating.
I even had a photo pass for Marc.
So when the time came, he muscled his way up to stage left and waited to take pictures of this band that has shot to the top of the music world in record time.
He was standing there with his camera, his wide-angle lenses and patience in the hot, steamy events center with a bunch of youngsters.
A guy behind the photographers kept looking at him.
Marc smiled thinking there would be few places they would frequent together.
Finally, the kid leaned up and said, "Don't I know you? I feel like I've seen you somewhere."
Marc just smiled again.
Then the kid said, "Oh, wait. I know. Aren't you on the High Council in our stake? I've seen you on the stand!"

Monday, May 20, 2013

Tracking Tracker

I like dogs.
Dogs are great.
But we don't have a dog because dogs require dedication.
You have to feed 'em and love 'em and walk 'em and train 'em and make sure they don't get away.
That's why I was surprised to find myself standing in the pouring rain Saturday in a strange backyard trying to convince this runaway 40-lb beagle to let me take him home.
We had driven up to Smithfield to see our granddaughter's dance recital.
While mom ran to get the granddaughter from rehearsal Marc and I were to watch the twin 3-year-olds and the dog.
We did fine for a while. We did a puzzle and played Tickle Monster and kept the little guys from destroying the house and each other. They are active little boys with a natural curiosity and energy that keeps a grandbody hopping.
So when the rain appeared to have stopped and we'd run them around the garage a few laps on their lazer racers, we thought it might be nice to take them on a neighborhood walk.
Marc opened the garage door and they, along with Tracker the dog, were gone in a flash.
The twins jumped on their bikes and headed up the road. Tracker was WAY up the road the other way and it started to rain again.
"I'll get the dog!" I told Marc. "You stay on the boys."
I headed after the beagle.
For a short, heavy dog he could book it.
I hollered at him in my best authoritative voice. "Tracker! Come here! Come here now!"
He raised his head and stared back at me wondering who I thought I was.
He kept moving.
I picked up the pace and nearly reached him before he started through somebody's flower patch.
I tried to herd him. He was having none of it.
I cut around a house, he saw me coming and veered away.
I tried to catch up. He was too fast.
I lunged for his collar and grabbed it, thinking I could haul him back home. He growled and resisted.
I tried to pick him up.
He growled again, this time more ominously. I let go.
I stood there trying to come up with a plan. He was heavy. He didn't WANT me to pick him up. He obviously didn't respect my authority. I didn't want to lose the family pet.
I was cold, wet and out of ideas.
That's when Erin showed up with a leash which she snapped onto Tracker and a van into which she pushed him.
I was SO happy to see her and in the future, I'll keep garage doors closed and NOT get a dog.

Tuesday, May 14, 2013

Words over Words With Friends

I consider myself a pretty good Scrabble player when I can get a game up.
Marc and I play anytime we go anywhere on an airplane (and we know how often that is) and we're both fairly competitive. We routinely break 300 points.
We both work with words and so it follows that wherever we go, other Scrabble players tremble...well, maybe that's putting it a little strong.
But when we were asked to join "Words With Friends" on our phone and computer we nodded humbly.
"Sure, we would like to do that," we said.
Yesterday, I signed up with five people and jumped right in.
I'm playing my daughter, and my step-daughter and my son and my grandson and Marc.
Things were going along great, for a while.
Then my son in England played a 59-point word.
What? 59 points is a lot.
I looked carefully at his word, "agenetic."
How did he know that word? I know he's going to college now to learn to make phone apps so maybe he learned it there.
I played my turn, using my "j" and waited for the impressed reaction.
"Haj" was his entry for something like 43 points, using my "j."
What? Where did that come from?
I chatted him, lightly accusing him of playing open-book Scrabble and shopping for words and lucking out.
"That's the only way I can play this game," he said.
Then I got a return play from Marc in the game we had going. He placed the word "mor" in a space that netted him more than 40 points.
I know that "mor" is not a word we both know and use.
I called him. "Since when is "mor" a word?" I asked heatedly.
He finally admitted to trying a few things and being surprised when the game accepted his word.
I told him that was cheating. He said "All's fair in Words With Friends"  because it's not regulation Scrabble. For instance, the triple word spaces are in different places and the board is laid out differently.
I'm ticked and uncertain as to how to proceed. And now I'm hearing something about "Words With Friends Cheats." (Don't think of it as cheating but as a way of playing smarter? Whaaaaat?")
I'm suspecting that if we keep at this, it may lead to actual words with friends, words I might regret.

Friday, May 10, 2013

We own property

A while ago, maybe a couple of years after we bought our house, we started getting phone calls from a lady who said we had some of her property, something about 1-2 feet of our backyard that was pesky to her.
She said she would sign a Quit-Claim deed giving us legal rights to her property if we could just find the time to stop by.
Since we didn't really understand what she was asking and since one of us (who could it be?) isn't really into detail or follow-up, we basically blew her off.
The years went by and every so often as I drove by this lady's house, I would think perhaps we ought to take care of the situation.
Then I heard she died and I figured that was the end of that.
However, recently we got this little note in the mail from the county tax adjustor.
He wants to know who might be willing to pay the taxes on this little bit of property that lies between us and the guy behind us.
It's a one-foot strip that runs along the back edge for about 75 feet and apparently it was to have been included when the developer laid out the subdivision and it never was.
Nobody paid taxes on this little linear piece and now the county wants about $200 in back taxes.
If no one pays the back taxes, it goes on the auction block.
Now we realize we should have paid better attention and sealed the deal while it was easy.
We don't want to pay $200 for something that basically should have been ours to begin with but I guess we owe it.
It's also possible that someone somewhere might buy it just to be mean and make us move our fence or build a hideous wall on our 12 inches.
It's a conundrum as to what to do.
We don't know what the good thing is here. It seems silly to pay money we don't need to pay but we like to think of ourselves as law-abiding citizens.
We're doing some research, thinking it through. 
And, as we went about looking up the parcel on-line we found a bunch of our neighbors had similar tiny plots of unusable real estate.
It doesn't feel like our problem and yet, I can see where it might become one.
I'm think maybe I'll call around and see who's up for a storming of City Hall.

Monday, May 6, 2013

Coming 'round the mountain

the sign says it all

Since I had apparently picked up something viral or at the very least physically uncomfortable, we decided to make a beeline for home from the Grand Canyon.
I was coughing every 5-10 seconds and hungry with no appetite for anything.
I wanted my own bed and kitchen.
So Marc decided to try a shortcut to get us from the lower south rim back to American Fork faster.
We cut out a loop over to Kanab to a museum we were going to peruse and lined up the quickest route on the Google GPS.
It showed a clean shot through Monument Valley that we liked.
However, it came with a warning: "Be aware, 10 % grade ahead next 3 miles, steep curves, gravel surface."
Didn't sound good but the part of the road we were currently on looked fine. We looked ahead and could only see road and the huge monument of colorful impenetrable stone.
Maybe the sign was old.
Or maybe the road cut through where we couldn't see.
How bad could it be?
encouraging news — notice the road mid-picture downside
We forged on.
I kidded Marc a bit about the last time we did something like this and tipped our gas tank to the tune of $1300.
He assured me THIS car could take whatever the road could dish out.
We motored on, now noticing that there were no other cars on the road.
The elevation started to change. We realized we were climbing the side of the mountain to the top.
Now it turned to gravel and washboard.
The turns were blind switchbacks with room for one car at a time.
an aerial view
We started to hang on tighter as we drove on and up. We were literally going up and over the red rock butte. The view from the SkyBridge in the canyon had nothing on this.
We were looking straight down.
I was gripping the car door handle for dear life like it would help.
Suddenly a big old gas truck came the other way, fortunately passing at a rare place wide enough to allow it.
That at least told us it was possible to get to the other side of this road which we eventually managed.
It's one of those "makes a great story" moments that I do not intend repeating.
If you want to, it's called the Mokee Dugway on Utah Highway 261 between Monument Valley and Torrey. I don't recommend it.