Saturday, April 27, 2013

Pennies from heaven

So I'm checking our checking account as I usually do on a daily basis so I can keep ahead of the money coming in and going out.
The total was $2,500 higher than it was yesterday and it wasn't payday and I wasn't expecting any remunerations from any of my freelance clients.
I quickly checked the date. Nope, nothing anticipated today.
Tax refund money had already come in and been spent.
Maybe somebody gave us a gift?
Perhaps we were getting a rebate on our phone or TV service...we have been haggling with both services for a while trying to get the price down to what we agreed upon.
Maybe a gangster was parking his winnings in our account?
I called Marc.
He wasn't expecting any money and it was not from the company he works for, similar name but not the same.
He went off to do some investigation.
Turns out that a company Xactware was working with to place advertisements had inadvertently paid Marc for the space rather than the proper entity.
They would like their money back, please.
It was very much like the time we closed a loan for our house 20-odd years ago.
We settled up.
The realtor handed us an envelope and we walked out only to realize a few moments later that they had made the check for the payoff (of about $50,000) to us.
There was a momentary thrill.
Think of all the things we could do with that money.
Even if it was a mistake, maybe they wouldn't notice...
Of course, we straightened up and went right back in with the check to point out their error to them and they were pretty grateful. It saved them some stress.
And I know we did the right thing. We couldn't have kept the money. It would not have been honest and would be akin to robbing a bank...very much the same, actually.
It felt good to be honest.
Putt dang.

Thursday, April 25, 2013

Family fun

The motley crew
We just survived a family party for my brother and father and it's going to make a great memory.
Not that survived is really the right word.
It was good to get together. We renewed family bonds and we made my  90-year-old dad happy even though his actual 90th birthday is still months away.
It worked like this: My brother who lives in Iowa with his wife and daughter decided to come to Utah for his 60th birthday so it evolved into a double celebration, a 60/90 event.
Twin birthday boys
All four of us would be together and it would be fun.
It was also a bit of work trying to make it all come together.
My dad is in the Legacy Retirement Center so we decided to have one party there to eliminate dragging he and his wife out into the cold and back.
We decided to have an outdoor picnic for the children's children and their children so as to eliminate breakage and disaster. (Try to imagine 20-25 little kids running through the old people's place with cupcakes in hand).
One event depended heavily on the weather while the other meant I had to think outside the kitchen. The room we reserved is usually a room used for Bingo and church. There's no running water, refrigeration or cooking equipment. So everything we ate or used had to be brought in and up.
I started making lists two months ahead — just ask Marc — and debating the questions.
How much would be enough? How much was too much? Paper or plastic? Utensils or fingers?
For the picnic, were we looking at rain and cold wind? Sunshine and crowds?
Ultimately it all went along pretty well.
A rocket scientist breaking in
We only had two minor disasters.
The $22 worth of balloons I had cafefully ordered in crazy colors loosed themselves from the hitching post at the picnic (Marc was in charge of tying them up) and took off into the sky (the kids loved it!)
The gift my brother brought for my other brother took a hammer, a chisel and a blow torch to break open.
And, oh yes, the song we wanted to sing for my father proved to be a mighty vocal challenge...but that's another blog in itself.
Anyway, it's over now, tucked away in the memory banks, something to talk about in years to come.
No one was hurt. No fist fights broke out and everyone's back in their happy homes.

Wednesday, April 10, 2013

Geek the verb

Normally, I have a problem with words misused, misunderstood or mispelled.
Having spent most of my life working with words, writing them, editing them, trying to find the right one for the sentence or event, I'm particularly sensitive to using words correctly.
My mother was the same way. She hated commercials and billboards that used "lite" for light and "nite" for night, etc.
She was a proofreader by nature and she worried about the future of the world if people didn't bother to treat the English language with respect.
So when I first learned about the "Geekthelibrary" program, I was slow to warm to it.
Not only did this program ask people to regard "geek" as a verb — rather than the noun it actually is — but all the words are runtogetherlikethis.
Kirsty Stalder on one of our posters
I sat back with my arms folded as I listened to our city librarian try to explain that this venture engages people and might be worth using to help our library. "Geekthelibrary" helps people recognize the library as a multi-faceted facility with something to offer everybody, no matter what their interest.
Working with a mega-grant from Bill and Melinda Gates, the Geekthelibrary people introduce libraries to new ways to increase awareness and to create broad support. They supply ideas and start-up materials if we agree to take the ideas and run with them.
Hopefully, the increased awareness leads to increased moral and much-needed financial support for libraries that are losing ground in this changing world.
Eventually I began to see that people who "geek" libraries understand that a good, well-equipped, well-stocked library is a resource not only for lovers of fiction, romance and mystery but it can provide direction, answers, technical assistance and valuable support for everything from finding a new job to figuring out new ways to enrich one's world.
I see where geeks become a positive force as they immerse themselves into opportunities and challenge the norm.
Along the way, they improve the world around them in fresh, new ways.
I now "geek" where I haven't geeked before. 
Come find out how it works at the Geekthelibrary Launch event at the library Tuesday, April 16th from 7-8 p.m. Listen to the local blue-grass band "Stringshot" and have some refreshment.
You can even volunteer to be on one of our posters (shot by Mark Bowers of Bowers Photography).
I geek it.

Monday, April 8, 2013

Invisible man

Marc has the lead for the play that's opening this week for the Lehi Arts Council.
He plays the grandpa of a crazy family, a grandpa who won't pay his taxes in "You Can't Take It With You."
And although I generally resist seeing community theater in dress rehearsal, I agreed to go to this one because it lent sort of a train-wreck appeal.
The entire cast has been off most of the week and two leading characters were still gone.
The director had gamely decided to go ahead with a split rehearsal on General Conference Saturday and put the show on with only MOST of the cast present. (Alice and Mr. Kirby were both out of town and trying frantically to get back in time.)
I didn't see how I could miss this.
It started at 8:30 p.m. after the priesthood session of conference and it was free since it wasn't really ready for an audience.
I went with reservations, chuckled when the director explained the situation and said we could all get our money back if we were unhappy with the performance.
I waited for a disaster.
However, I was pleasantly surprised.
The show is a classic and the dialogue holds up well even after, what, 60-odd years?
The characters were funny, warm, and the timing — despite having to rely on someone off-stage to read the missing Mr. Kirby's lines — was spot on.
Alice showed up in the nick of time, not the least bit flustered. Marc does a nice job and walks like a real old man, having watched my 90-year-old dad closely for the past few weeks.
It was also somewhat interesting to see all the characters looking at and talking to an invisible man.
Marc getting a hug
It made the audience pay better attention, I think.
And we all had to envision a "Mr. Kirby" so he fit the part perfectly, right?
I'm almost wondering if someone ought to write a play featuring the missing guy...could be quite the show.
If you want to see "You Can't Take It With You," it plays through the week and Monday the 15th at 7:30 at the Lehi Arts Center at 685 N. Center. I think tickets are about $5.
And that's for a full cast.

Friday, April 5, 2013

Baby fork in the road

Our garbage disposal had outlived its warranty.
And although I firmly hold that anything made of metal and rubber ought to last at least a lifetime, I knew our kitchen disposal had paid its dues.
So when it made an unusually loud clangy-bangy noise the other day, I wasn't overly surprised.
The new beauty
I stopped it, examined it. (Who doesn't love rummaging around in the guts of a disposal?)
I found nothing but a sort of grimy interior with two clangy-bangy things that moved around some.
I searched and could find nothing to explain the noise.
I flipped the switch again (AFTER I took my hand out).
This time it did nothing. There was no movement and no noise. The clangy-bangy things didn't bang or clang.
I told Marc about it after April Fool's Day was done.
Any earlier than that and he would have thought I was joking because there's nothing more that he loves to do than repair/replace anything to do with plumbing.
We went shopping for a new one.
We stood in the store looking at our options, priced from $85 to $350.
We knew nothing about disposers except we assumed the more expensive ones were probably the better ones.
We didn't even know what kind we already owned.
When the nice salesperson came to help, he pointed out that if we had a Badger brand disposer already, it would be easier to replace. He said a bunch of things like "be sure and knock out the plug in the line between the dishwasher and the unit" and "you might need some plumber's putty if you have an older model you're replacing."
He also mentioned washers and stuff like that. It made little sense to me.
Marc seemed to understand what he was saying but he still sighed as we toted a $100 unit out to our car.
A man happy in his work
Today, he waded into the project.
After he huffed and puffed and pulled and pushed, he got the old unit out. He put the new unit in.
He even discovered the problem: a cute little baby fork cut neatly in half and wedged in so tightly that we couldn't budge it.
I couldn't have killed the disposer any more effectively. I couldn't blame anyone but me.
I threw the fork — still inside the disposer — away.
Marc thanked me profusely for the experience.

Monday, April 1, 2013

Baby sweet

The new guy on the block

Two life-changing events changed the landscape of our family this past week.
We lost a 15-year-old granddaughter and a new baby "Orange" came into the world.
So while we're reeling with loss and heartache and trying to comprehend the incomprehensible on the one hand.
On the other hand, we're celebrating a miracle.
The baby is a beautiful little 7-lb, 3-oz, boy born to Marc's youngest daughter Lauren and her husband.
Lauren and Alec have taken a leap of faith into parenthood given that they have limited financial resources, no car and no experience at parenting (Do any of us the first time around?)
Sleeping on the arm of love
They're having to depend on the generosity of neighbors, friends, workmates and LDS ward members to get about; to the doctor's, to the hospital, to shops. They both walk to work.
They're doing what the rest of us would say cannot be done.
Orange McOmber Watkins
They started into this venture without much at all in the way of cribs, car seats, cash and clothes.
But they've come through with colors and when we saw the baby yesterday in their home, we were heartened.
With our souls sad and our hearts torn, it was solace to hold this warm, small child and just soak in his babyness.
He snuggled up.
He sighed softly.
He drank his bottle and he waved his tiny fists about trying to get rid of the mitts on his hands.
He slept peacefully upon our shoulders.
He soaked my lap.
He somehow made it all better for a while.