Friday, July 26, 2013

Keeping it clean

Marc missed a meeting one Sunday.
And apparently when you miss a meeting, you get the plum assignment.
He came home a bit ago to tell me one we were signed up to chaperone the next multi-stake singles dance.
We were to show up at the local college's ballroom on a Friday night and stick around for three hours.
Our job: keep the singles from getting too close to each other on the dance floor or from drifting away down dark corridors.
I thought it was kind of strange to be asked to monitor the behavior of grown singles.
These people were all at least 31 and older.
Some appeared to be elderly.
They know the rules and if they choose to ignore them, they have their own cars and apartments. They can just go somewhere.
So I didn't really see the point in having to hang around watching them like hawks.
But we did.
We tried to do our civic duty.
We nibbled at the refreshments and walked about.
Since Marc and I aren't really a dancing couple, we sat on the sidelines a lot and chatted.
We watched people who could dance dance well.
We watched people who couldn't dance move around some. We picked out some interesting characters. (One old guy never moved a facial muscle or spoke as he wildly whirled one hapless lady after another around the dance floor. Maybe we should have saved those women.)
We even saw some rather snug dancing but I wasn't about to go up to anyone and say, "Hey! We need to see a foot of space between the two of you!"
(If we really had a problem with anybody, we were supposed to get another chaperoning couple and approach the offenders together.)
It seemed a bit of a pointless exercise, especially since there were about 10 of us in best dress and suits attempting to chaperone. We were like the Dance Police.
Our presence kept the crowd in control which I know is mostly the point.
But it was a very long night. There were lots of things I'd rather have done with my Friday night.
And from here on out, I'll make sure Marc doesn't miss any more meetings.

Thursday, July 25, 2013

The wedding party

Is this what I signed up for? Ring bearer in rear.

Here's a pop quiz.
What does the song Elvira, yodeling, an angry young ring bearer, bubbles, hand fans, rain, Enya and a familiar LDS hymn have in common?
The answer: a wedding in Iowa on a Monday morning.
There was also some heat and humidity, a pretty bride, a handsome groom, plenty of quiche and wedding cake.
It was a unique wedding, planned mostly by the young bride with her artistic mother's help.
The wedding invitations were hand-painted.
The decorations were created at home.
The music, including the wedding march, "Elvira!" and the accompaniment to "God Is Love" was played on a CD player, a couple of smart phones and the rock band equipment including high-powered amps and a keyboard owned by the father of the bride.
The bridal party
The yodeler was a family friend trying to kill time. The ring bearer provided comic relief because he did not want to be in the spotlight. The hand fans provided on each of the seats were a salvation. The rain kept us guessing as to whether there would be a wedding at all.
The familiar LDS hymn was one none of the Mormon guests knew so Marc and I sort of led out to encourage the audience...
"Elvira!" was at the bride's request. (Her dad is an off-beat drummer kind of guy.)
The combination of old and new, traditional and off-beat, was most interesting as we wished on wedding pebbles, watched two adorable flower girls throw rose petals, hoped an unhappy lad would successfully deliver the rings to the groom and played endless croquet waiting for the bride and groom to finish getting their pictures taken.
Here in the West, especially in Mormondom, we get pretty used to wedding receptions in the church cultural hall with air conditioning and plenty of space.
From Russia with love
This ceremony and the reception was in the park and in the park's pavilion.
It was crazy and sweet and hot and lovely.

Monday, July 22, 2013

Parading around....

Who's that lady?
I love a parade.
I like the little kids waving from atop a float made of shiny fringe and colorful crepe paper.
I like sitting on the curb helping the grandkids hustle for candy.
I enjoy seeing the bands go by and stopping to play a tune.
It's always been a tradition for Marc and I to bike on down from our house to the band breakfast and stick around to watch the parade from somewhere in front of what used to be "The Citizen" building.
Over the years we've had to adjust our tradition a little here and there because the Citizen was sold, our jobs changed and we had less and less justification for taking up space in the same place.
But we've hung on, often harking back to the time when Marc was up late putting together parade programs and the mayor and city council people had become personal friends because we covered their election campaigns and public foibles.
So usually I look forward to the mammoth parade on Steel Days Saturday.
This year I worried about it.
Since I am on the American Fork City Library Board and since we are in the midst of an awareness campaign with which I've been helping, I was expected to march — or at least amble — in the parade.
I was to show up at 8 a.m. in the ready area, wearing my black Geek T-shirt and walk the 1.5 mile parade with the other "Geek The Library" supporters.
I resisted as long as I decently could, telling myself, Marc and my library friends that I was too old, it was too hot and I'd feel too silly.
I bargained that it would be a danger to my health to walk that far in this heat.
I told myself I wouldn't do it if I had to walk.
All the while I was buying candy "just in case."
In my mind, there are few sights sadder than a wee child who doesn't get to the candy in the road fast enough.
I determined that "if" I was actually in the parade, I would seek out the woebegone children and personally hand them a treat.
I bought more candy even though I was still telling Marc I wasn't doing this. I now had 7 lbs.
Eventually, Saturday morning came and I ended up in the parade (surprise!), handing out my candy and Geek bookmarks and coupons. I wore a hat, cut the neck of my T-shirt for comfort and packed a thermos with ice.
It was the right thing to do. I didn't suffer any weather-related consequences and I felt pretty good about it after the fact.
I did run out of candy though. That part was hard, marching on by sugar-seeking children with nothing to offer.
Perhaps I should've decided I wasn't going to do this sooner. And if I "never" do this again, I'll bring more.

Wednesday, July 17, 2013

Ticked off!

We traveled to my brother's place in Iowa this past weekend for his daughter's wedding.
Since the bride is his only daughter and they have come to Utah several times to see us, it only seemed fair that we all (my other two brothers and I) truck on out to the cornfields to visit them for this great occasion.
We all met up Sunday for church and a backyard pizza picnic in hot and humid Iowa.
Bryan has five acres of land in Fairfield, most of it wild and growing free — just like he likes it.
So we were outside visiting and eating after we'd all hiked down to his pond at the back of the property and through the various meadows and green space he and Patty have.
I sat in a wooden chair eating my pizza and watermelon and didn't really think too much about the two cans of Deet Bug Spray sitting on the table next to me.
I didn't notice many mosquitoes so I didn't apply any spray.
I was comfortable and blissfully unaware, apparently, that Iowa is currently seeing an uptick in the local tick population.
I stood up to talk to my older brother when my younger brother reached over to flick a tiny black creature off his shirt sleeve.
"What's that?" I asked.
"It's a tick. They're all over here," Darrell said. "You'll want to check yourself when you leave. They're bad news."
I shuddered.
I'd only been worrying about snakes and spiders as Bryan's yard includes a lot of area that would provide great cover and refuge for such creatures.
Ticks were a whole 'nother story.
Growing up, I'd heard about them on the occasional camp-out. I knew something about needing to poke them with a hot match if they climbed on and dug into your skin.
I knew they were carriers of dread disease.
But it wasn't until the next morning that I noticed this creepy black thing stuck onto the back of my hip. It had little waving legs and a horrid personality.
I screeched.
Marc looked at it and grabbed his laptop to look up solutions.
I screeched some more. "Get it off me!" I ordered.
Marc was busily searching the Internet while I tried not to grab at it.
"Do you have any tweezers? It says to pick it off with tweezers," Marc told me.
I picked up my makeup bag and pulled out a set of toenail clippers. Close enough.
I locked them around the tick's head and plucked him off. (What I did with him after that I don't know. I think I tossed him into the toilet or the sink.)
So he's gone with only a tiny speck of blood left.
He's gone but the nightmares remain. I haven't stopped checking for more since: in my hair, between my toes, on Marc.
I mostly hope I didn't bring any home to Utah with me.
The only good thing is, if I start showing symptoms of Lyme Disease, I'll know exactly where I picked it up.

Wednesday, July 10, 2013

The key is...

Yesterday I ran up to the Mt. Timpanogos Temple to get some family cards printed off for Marc.
I had just a few minutes in my crazy day to do this for him and I thought I was so efficient to remember to dress for the temple, take my recommend and the necessary papers.
In fact, I was so efficient I just grabbed the papers and my recommend to take in, leaving my bag and phone in the car.
(I've heard the stories about people leaving cell phones in the temple lockers, cell phones that start ringing and don't stop for anything.)
So I slammed the car door just as I realized: "Wait, my keys are in my purse."
There I stood.
It was hot. It was the middle of the day. I could see my purse but I couldn't get to my purse.
Marc wasn't around. He had ridden his bike to work so he couldn't help me out unless he came all the way back from Orem to our house and collected his keys from the house and rode up to open my car.
I decided to go on in and get my cards printed while I tried to work out what I could do.
I could walk home and get Marc's keys but it's kind of a long ways.
I also realized I may not be able to get into the house without the garage door opener that was presently locked inside my Mazda. We had recently taken extra security precautions after I had locked myself out only to get in via the French doors.
I could call somebody but my phone was in my unavailable purse.
I stood at the counter in the temple thinking.
Finally, I asked the lady making cards if I could use the phone.
She looked at me kind of unhappily.
"I don't know. I'm just here as a fill-in so I don't know if I should do that," she said. Apparently I looked untrustworthy.
I waited until a supervisor came by who said, "Oh, of course. Go ahead and let her make a call."
The lady still regarded me suspiciously and asked me what number she should dial for me.
I reached Marc who had no real solutions. I was tying up the temple's phone so I decided to start walking.
In the meantime...Marc called a neighbor who sent her son to collect me and he called my daughter to help but without my phone I didn't know that.
I then saw a ward member coming out the door and begged a ride home.
Fortunately, I could still get in via the French doors and get not only keys but another car so I could drive up and get my purse out of my Mazda. I called off my daughter and my neighbor and took up keys to hide in Marc's car so he could stop on his way home and get it. (That meant leaving his car unlocked with keys inside for the afternoon but it was parked at the temple.)
Eventually we got both cars back home and all is well. But it drives home the adage, "No good deed goes unpunished" and "Don't ever let go of your purse."

Wednesday, July 3, 2013

No traction in this game

Marc and I love games.
Just ask our kids and friends.
We'll pull out a game at the drop of a hat and if you'll stay long enough, we're happy to play two or three.
As proof, we can open our closet where we have games from floor to ceiling or show you the downstairs shelves piled up with the ones that don't fit in the closet.
We love the Catan games, the Thurn & Taxis games, Scrabble games, Carcassone and Pit.
But we don't like dumb games.
"Candyland" and "Chutes and Ladders" are only good for getting young grandkids into the habit of playing games, as far as we can see.
Games that rely on dice for battles and domination drive me a little crazy. Games that don't allow for strategic thinking drive Marc nuts.
But, for the most part, we just sit back and enjoy a game with little fuss (Actually our sportsmanship and poor loser skills requires a whole 'nother blog.)
So when I got this game in the mail to review, we were interested.
It was advertised as a game all bikers would love.
The glowing endorsement on the box said everyone who biked or ever had any intention of biking would love this game, "a must-have," said the box.
The Debutante
We opened it up and looked at the little cardboard bicycles that are supposed to be the playing pieces.
We laid out the game board.
We picked out our bikes. Mine was a Schwinn Debutante. His was a Schwinn Tigress.
We rolled the big, heavy die and headed down the path.
I landed on a red circle which meant I didn't do anything.
Marc kept landing on yellow circles which meant he either got a Fun Fact to read or a question to answer.
The Presta valve
Fun Facts were boring bits of semi-technical information: "The U.S. Bicycling Hall of Fame was founded in 1986 in Somerville, NJ, home of the oldest bicycle race in America — the Tour of Somerville. It is now located in Davis, California."
Questions were yes and no, true or false about things like: "True or False: Many people put a flag on their bike as another safety feature." Or, "True or False: There are many people that ride their bikes in all kinds of weather."
One of my favorites: "Which valve in the Presta valve? Or "Is this a mountain bike or a tricycle?" (See the picture above.)
The Tigress
Now my question is what do we do with this game? Toss it, throw it, give it away? Who do we really dislike around here? Any white elephant parties coming our way?

Monday, July 1, 2013

Seeing it from the other side

For most of my life, I've been the one asking the questions and writing the stories.
I have chased down unhappy politicians, people who didn't want to comment, folks who were blindsided by the media and neighbors with a story to tell.
I always tried to be fair and balanced in my reporting but often there would be someone upset by my story.
I didn't always see the problem.
Now it's my turn.
I've been interviewed for a piece in the Utah Valley Magazine's women's edition for July and August.
The reporter told me she needed a grandmother to fill out the section and my name had been suggested.
I do, actually, write this blog called "Grandma's Place" where I often talk about things we do with grandchildren. So duh?
I was game for the interview and felt like the writer got a picture of life at our house.
However, seeing what I said in print is revelatory.
The story came out today and I can't help but cringe as I hear my words quoted back to me.
I sound pretty full of myself and I didn't mean it like that at all.
I know I said those things but did I really say those things? Is that what I meant to say? Can I explain?
Grandmothering is hard, just like mothering is hard.
You have good days and bad days, successes and failures.
I read this piece and wonder what my kids will think, what would they have added?
They know better than anyone that my efforts sometimes backfire.
Sometimes I get frustrated. Often, someone is mad at me.
Sometimes — actually often — I lose it when a well-laid plan goes awry or a 2-year-old walks around on the new couch with an open glass of grape juice.
I'm not the "Grandest of Grandmas" or even very patient. I love my children and grandchildren but I'm not super grandma.
I'm more like a grandma-in-training.
I guess turnabout is fair play, huh?
P.S. Where the story quotes me as saying "I just grin and bare it..." I'm pretty sure I meant the other kind of "bear" it. Nobody send it to Jay Leno, OK?