Monday, October 28, 2013

Blessings from Heaven

Babies are miraculous.
One day old
Not only do they remind us that life is precious and worth living but they are these tiny little packages of warmth and softness and need like nothing else.
They're amazing.
Our newest grandchild, Richard Cael Gardiner, is a little less than seven pounds in weight but everything in him and on him works.
He has ten fingers and ten tiny toes.
His little heart is beating away.
His little brain is working to make sense of this new world.
His little lips and ears and nose are all just tiny and remarkable.
Then he opens his eyes and there's a whole little person in there.
I never quite get over how God worked this out.
First of all, we all had to agree to be born into this world entirely dependent on another human being to feed us, warm us, change us and love us.
Secondly, we all start out without being able to communicate except through crying...a fairly dangerous plan since the crying can be upsetting.
And finally, we all come here without a clue, forgetting who we really are, where we came from and why we came.
That fact that we survive and thrive, in my mind, is a testament to a God who is in charge and who worked out a truly impressive plan.
It's not something that could have happened accidentally.

Thursday, October 24, 2013

Knocking heads

Because we are no longer in the business of writing for a weekly newspaper, Marc and I attended a Meet the Candidates night voluntarily last evening.
We didn't have to be there to take notes or pictures or even to follow the issues for an editorial.
We simply realized we needed to at least meet the candidates for the mayoral and council seats.
It was illuminating.
It was also scary.
We came away with some real concerns.
The incumbent mayor is not a problem.
He's reasoned and rational and he's learned a lot in the four years he's been in office. He recognizes that city officials often have to make hard choices and color within the lines to get things done.
He's been a supporter for city services that don't make the city money like the rec center, the library and the Arts Council, services that return valuable, intangible rewards.
He's helped make sure American Fork has good, clean water for years to come.
But his opponent is quick to point out that American Fork is in debt and looking to take on more to fix the city's roads.
He harped on how the city ought to run itself like a small business and only pay for things as the money becomes available.
He mixed up his apples and oranges in big ways, advocating a push to attract and keep businesses without recognizing the need for a working infrastructure to go along with that push.
The council candidates were worrisome also.
There are three candidates running for two seats that are coming open.
In good conscience, I can only vote for the one who made sense, the one who'd been there.
The other two were all about the road bond and how terrible it is to take on more debt.
(I know, I know, there's a couple of sides to the road bond but it'll all be over before these guys even take office. They won't be in a position to repeal it.)
Marc and I watched and listened and realized that the new guys trying to come in are more than green. They have NO idea what they're talking about.
They seem to think all city money is the same and you can take money from this pot to that with no regard for legalities.
They seem to think problems will fix themselves if you just stand on principles.
It was all very frustrating and we both came away disconcerted.
Maybe it's time to jump in and run for office?

Wednesday, October 23, 2013

Boiling eggs and other delicacies

In our house, we share the cooking duties.
I make most of the lunch and evening meals and Marc cooks the eggs.
(He also mans the barbecue and the wok as well but this column is about eggs.)
He likes a hot breakfast with choices.
So since I was usually leaving before he was in the mornings, over the years we developed a routine.
He cooked breakfast and I ate it.
I always thought it was pretty much a convenience thing.
But the other day after I left him to make a potato salad with eggs I had boiled the day before, I discovered something.
I apparently can't boil eggs.
I had boiled four extra eggs for him thinking I was saving him some time and effort for the salad he was making to take to a work party.
Off I went to shop.
The next morning I was going about my business when I noticed eight eggshells in the garbage not four.
"Didn't you use the eggs I left you?" I asked him.
He kind of hemmed and hawed not wanting to make me mad.
"They were too soft," he finally admitted. "I made new ones."
I was confused. I had made them the same way I always did.
I put them in water, brought it to a boil and cooked them for five minutes...with a timer to remind me when time was up.
"Isn't that how you do them?" I quizzed in a righteous huff.
Marc looked at me sadly.
"They need 15 minutes minimum," he said, ready to duck my blows.
"Uh uh! I'm sure it's five. I know how to boil eggs."
I headed to the cookbook and sure enough. They suggested 15 minutes for hard-boiled eggs. Five for soft-boiled.
For more than 40 years I've been doing it wrong and wondering why sometimes my eggs turned out runny when I needed them hard-boiled.
I always thought it might be the altitude.
Now I see it was more accurately my attitude.

Monday, October 21, 2013

Do their marketing people know?

I usually just blow off the cheery cashier at Target who is trying to sell me a Redcard.
I let her finish her spiel about how much money it would save me to have a Redcard and how easy it is to apply and then I say, "No, thank you. I have enough cards to carry around."
But right now I'm trying to order something for Christmas from the Target website so I want a Redcard so I don't have to pay shipping costs.
I can also save 5 percent on the things I'm trying to order.
So I have been trying to sign up.
I waded through the online application and gave away semi-private, personal information so I could get a Red debit card.
I stressed a little over handing over access to our bank account but reminded myself about how often I shop at Target and convinced myself it would be fine.
The note on the application said "Take a seat and wait a bit while we see if your banking institution will allow this transaction."
I did that. I took a seat and waited.
Pretty soon I checked to see if a couple of small bits of money had been deposited and pulled back out of our account.
One transaction had been posted and retrieved.
So I went back to confirm and finish my application.
The Redcard people wanted evidence of two such transactions.
It wouldn't budge without two.
I waited some more and then decided, "Heck, I don't need it to be a debit card."
So I started over and tried to apply for a credit card instead.
It was almost instantly approved.
But, hold it.
Now I have to wait 7-10 days for it to come in the mail unless I want to start shopping now with a temporary account.
I tried to do that but the button saying I agree to their electronic messaging won't work.
I'm back to the Redcard square, waiting.
I'll give it a week and then, dang it, I'm going to complain to the cheery cashier.

Friday, October 11, 2013

Surviving supper

Feast for a king and queen
My husband and I have this pact with each other.
Every year at one of the General Conferences we will haul out our 72-hour kits and check our supplies.
The hope is that when we need our emergency food, it will be edible.
And we're getting a little better at it each year.
(The first year we did this, we found food that had expired 3-4 years earlier and dead, crumbly Pop-Tarts which I foolishly figured were like Twinkies in lasting power.)
This time around, the food was only about a year past expiration date and that's only if you took "Best by 2011" as a suggestion, not a hard deadline.
We decided to try a meal with our food to see if ... A. we liked what we had stored and B. if it was not nasty or spoiled.
We chose a night when we were in a hurry anyway so entrees that could be heated and eaten quickly were a plus.
We laid out our fare.
Hmmm. We had our choice of canned beef stew, canned beans, canned ravioli, canned chicken salad and canned applesauce. We had some chocolate milk that didn't require refrigeration. We had beef jerky and some instant potatoes.
None of it looked like the equivalent of a whole, balanced meal so we decided to open everything and have a taste-sampling party.
We learned some valuable lessons.
1. We need to put in a pair of little scissors so we can open packets.
2. We need to be careful getting the little tin lids off...and pack more Band-Aids.
3. We need access to a microwave.
4. We need to set aside an aversion to the smell of processed foods. (At least I do. Marc can eat anything. I'd rather starve than eat something that smells like Chef Boy-Ar-Dee.)
At the end of the meal, we decided on a particular brand of beef stew we liked MUCH more than the off-brand. We elected NOT to try the one where the bottom bulged. We enjoyed the chocolate milk.
We voted in favor of the applesauce and the noodles but we went away craving a fresh carrot and real green peas.
Now we have to replace what we opened and sort of ate and I'm thinking this next time, hmmm, maybe chocolate bars and Twinkies?

Tuesday, October 8, 2013

Love it or get out!

Years ago, Marc and I reviewed a play we didn't love at a theater in downtown Provo.
(The place has since gone out of business so it's safe to blog about what happened there, I think.)
We were invited to see this original production, something written by the guy who owned the place, always a little worrisome because when the writer is the director who is also the lead actor, there's some ego involved.
We, however, went in with open minds and willing hearts.
We gave up an evening of our lives to visit the place and see the show.
But we didn't like it much and I said so later in my review. I also offered some suggestions on how they might save the show; cut some songs, shorten some scenes, pick up the pace...
I remember apologizing for not liking it because contrary to popular belief, most drama critics, including me, feel badly when a production lacks.
We like theater. We like music. We like snappy dialogue and good plots. We like to see these kind of enterprises succeed.
I've actually yet to meet a drama critic who hates theater. Why go if you're going to be miserable every time? (And, in my case, why do it for more than 35 years?)
So I was taken aback when the owner of the theater reacted with serious heat.
He sent me and my editors emails accusing me (and my husband) of coming to the show intent on hating it.
He said he had us "on video" talking about our plans to sabotage the production and hasten the demise of good theater in Utah Valley.
He told me I had a serious problem and should get a new career that didn't involve reviewing plays.
He said if I was having a bad hair day that rather than come to a production I should stay away.
It was vitriolic and unfair.
I remember at the time feeling some serious indignation.
And now, decades later, I still think about that incident, especially when I review something that for one reason or another, warrants a negative report.
I know a bad review hurts sales. I know people don't like criticism.
I am aware that my opinion is not the only one that matters.
But I feel a real obligation to be honest.
Would people honestly prefer we sugar coat what is?
Would reviews then matter?