Monday, December 28, 2015

International Christmas shopping

Christmas is over and I'm still waiting for my presents from Honduras.
According to our bank statement Marc or somebody has been busily shopping out of the country for the holidays.
First, I got a call from our credit union fraud department asking me to verify the last five charges starting with something for about $300 in a women's department store.
The robo caller didn't specify what had been purchased or where it had been purchased but listed the one big-ticket buy and a bunch of smaller charges from $4 to $11.
I told them I didn't recognize any of the charges and they were very nice about telling me they would refuse the charges and freeze my card, again.
This is probably the 3rd or 4th time this has happened to me in the past few years.
And while I totally appreciate the credit union folks for both catching and refusing the bogus charges, I really hate resetting my pin for each new card.
I have to come up with something clever and then remember to use it.
There's always a lag time where I'm punching in my PIN and it won't take it until I remember I now have a different one.
I dutifully went down to the branch office though and got a new card, a green one this time so I would be prompted to remember that this required the new PIN.
Then I checked my statement.
A charge from Honduras in the amount of $308 from Karolina's Accessories on the same day I was getting the new card.
I told the credit union and they agreed to freeze the card one more time.
They also agreed to dispute this new charge even though somehow it had slipped through after the initial trouble.
It's a pain.
I spend part of the time wondering how someone got my information and how I can be more careful in the future. The rest of the time I promise myself to avoid using my credit/debit card at all.
My routines are pretty set, though, and I rarely deal with an unknown drug dealer or cheap watch salesman on the street.
I know most of my business contacts very well and I trust them. I keep thinking I'm safe here.
We did do some shopping in California over Thanksgiving so maybe somewhere along the way there we trusted someone we ought to have avoided.
But my husband was the prime suspect for a while. I knew he was out Christmas shopping for me and I appreciate that.
I called him in and grilled him about the possibility that he might have hopped on a plane for some last-minute buying.
I told him I love him and like that he goes the extra mile for me.
However, I think shopping sprees to Honduras are over the top!

Wednesday, December 16, 2015

Coffee, tea, Coca Cola?

I always thought I was simply obeying the Word of Wisdom, rules for good living (or more accurately advice we Mormons believe comes from God) when I refused a Coke.
In our church, we do not drink alcohol, coffee or tea and we do not smoke.
We just don't.
And we tell our bishops we don't and won't.
Some take it so far as to avoid caffeine as well.
I've always been one of those.
So when the nurse at the hospital told me I needed some caffeine to help kickstart my system after my knee scope, I resisted.
She said my oxygen level was too low and the caffeine intake was a simple way to bring it up.
The anesthesia was apparently depressing my breathing and I could either breathe really, really deeply, cough a lot or have some Coca-cola.
I had my choice of regular Coke, diet Coke, Cherry Coke, Coke Zero or Mountain Dew.
I was hesitant.
The Word of Wisdom allows for tea in the case of medicinal need. Coke was clearly a medicinal product in this case.
I guessed it was OK.
I chose Cherry Coke.
The nurse brought it in a paper cup with a straw.
I started to sip.
Turns out I'm not really an obedient lady just for the sake of obeying the scriptures.
And I won't have to work at avoiding this particular temptation.
I can quite easily continue to live the Word of Wisdom when it comes to caffeine.
Because, as it turns out, I don't like the taste.
In my opinion, it's awful. (But it did bring my oxygen levels up!)
Now when we get into the debate about whether there's caffeine in chocolate or enough to matter, I may be in trouble.

Tuesday, December 8, 2015

No thank you

We didn't hear from the electrician who looked at our project for a really long time.
A lovely wall hanging
He had stopped by one day in the evening to see what we needed to do to put in a charger unit in our garage for our Nissan Leaf.
I walked him around the basement and the garage for a while explaining that we had bought an electric car (This is part 3 or 4 of my ongoing Leaf series.) and now that it was getting colder we wanted a charging unit that took less time to recharge.
We've been pulling power from a wall outlet using what's known as the trickle charge method. It's been fine but now that the temperatures are dropping, it takes 10-12 hours to fully charge and the power draw when we're out and about is heavier.
We've had a good run and we still love the car but we were ready to be a little more independent in our choices and resources.
We told this guy we wanted to run power from the breaker box downstairs through the ceiling and basement to the garage on the other side of the house.
He shook his head and talked about replacing breakers and punching holes in the sheetrock to find the wiring and repairs, etc. He didn't seem enthused about the whole plan.
After a few weeks I figured he was outta here for us so I called him.
He dropped off an estimate the next day. For $1300 he would put in an additional subpanel, run 2-guage wire through, up, around, and get us up and going. We would buy the actual charging unit and he would put in a 220 plug.
We told my son Steven about it. Steven told us the electrician's bid was pretty much a "No, thank you!" estimate.
Steven has been our go-to guy for years. He actually finished the basement for us and has since built a deck, put in a jacuzzi tub, a wall fireplace, replaced the entire kitchen, put in air conditioning, repaired a big hole in the roof, and basically redone, painted and/or fixed most everything in the house.
He shook his head at the estimate.
"I could do that," he said, "And it wouldn't be that much."
We jumped at the chance.
Not only is Steven's work cheaper. We trust him implicitly.
When we were in California he sent word that he had a weekend free when he would be in town.
So we ordered the charge unit from our hotel in California.
Two days later, it was on our porch when we got home.
Steven went to work and now we have a tidy, handy charger in our garage that is easy to operate, portable if we ever move, and one that charges our little cute car in about a third of the time.
Steven also pointed out that 2-guage wire would never have supported the car and likely would have burned up trying! He also ran the wire through the duct tunnel without making any holes. Cool!
We paid Steven for his supplies plus a little extra for being an angel and celebrated.
We are still dancing.
We are what you might call on a power trip!

Tuesday, November 3, 2015

Free tickets!

Leue and her friend Marvin
I've been invited to give away a couple of tickets to a puppet show.
I love puppet shows and often take a grandchild or two with me to see one.
The one coming right up is at the SCERA Center for the Arts featuring Coralie Leue and a few of her friends made of fabric and fun.
Leue is a professional puppeteer who tells inventive, original stories with characters she has created.
She'll be at the SCERA on Saturday, Nov. 21 at 11 a.m. with a brand new pair of stories: "Pumpkinella" and "Little Bear's Tail."
In "Pumpkinella" everyone is invited to the Harvest Ball by handsome Prince Broccoli including Stepmother Eggplant and Stepsisters Patty Potato and Mattie Mushroom. The Fairy Pineapple Mother helps Pumpkinella attend as well in a Cinderella tale with a veggie twist.
In "Little Bear's Tail," (based on a Native American story) Clever Fox is tired of hearing Mr. Bear boast about his long and beautiful tail. He devises a plan to get rid of bear's tail but first, he needs some crawdads...
Tickets are $3 for 3-up.
The performance is at the SCERA Center for the Arts at 745 S. State, Orem, and is part of the popular SCERA's Puppet Shop series.
The first person to contact me on this blog or by email gets the free tickets ( They'll be at will call that morning.
If you don't win you can just call the SCERA at 801-225-2569.

Wednesday, October 28, 2015

She has to pay for that!

The girl is a sweet shoplifter, Mia is.
She had no idea the free candy she'd just taken from the table at the carnival wasn't free.
She just knew she was happy to find her favorites: a bag of Sour Patch Kids, a bag of Skittles and a roll of strawberry Mentos.
She came into the auditorium and showed me her stash.
"I got this!" she said, "and some for Hannah and some for Adell."
I looked at her, 4 years old and so proud.
I didn't understand what had just happened until a loud voice behind her announced, "She has to pay for that!"
I looked at the lady who was puffing up behind Mia from the carnival outside.
"How much? I asked as it became apparent right away that this woman would not be denied her due.
"$3!" she said with a hand on her hip.
"OK," I started digging in my purse but I hadn't come prepared for cash purchases.
I had two paper dollars and a bunch of coins.
I looked at them briefly and handed everything over.
I know I had three quarters and at least four nickels and a bunch of pennies so I figured that was close enough.
"Here, I think that covers it," I said.
The lady looked skeptical.
"All right. We'll call it good," she huffed and took off.
I looked at Mia who had no idea she'd done anything at all wrong.
After all, we were at a Halloween Carnival where almost everywhere she went she got a free cupcake, a free toy and free candy.
What was the difference?
I thought about giving her the standard lecture that comes with a child taking gum from the store but then I thought, why?
"Enjoy!" I said, "and thanks for thinking of your sisters!"

Wednesday, October 14, 2015

Car wash stress

It happened again.
I told myself this time it would be different. I would be successful. I would remain calm.
I would get my car in and out of the car wash without difficulty.
But once more, I stopped the works, made the horn blare and embarrassed myself.
See, since we bought the Nissan Leaf, I've run into trouble at the car wash.
For some undefined reason, I cannot get the car into neutral in time for the belt to grab the car and pull us forward.
The first time I assumed it was just because everything was new.
I felt much the same when I tried to drive the car off the lot at Ken Garff.
I was ready but the car didn't move when I told it to.
I soon learned that in order for the car to go, I had to put my foot onto the gas pedal (in an electric car there is no gas pedal) and the brake.
In this case, I had to push the start button and put my foot onto the brake, then put it into "D" for drive and slip into motion.
At the car wash, it had to be in neutral but try as I might, I couldn't find the "N" position.
The kid running the place shut everything down and came over to help. People behind me sighed.
He figured it out and the car moved on through.
The next time I thought I had mastered the move but again, I couldn't get the car into "N." Everything stopped and I felt stupid.
This kid said, "You have to push it over to the left."
I told Marc about my problem and he guffawed.
I asked him to go with me and guess what? He couldn't get the car into "N" either. The car wash operation came to a grinding halt.
The kid helped us and we got our car cleaned.
We told some friends and family about our situation and they had all kinds of helpful stories about how they knew people whose cars stopped and others ran into and over them.
Then we drove by the car wash and saw it under repair. The conveyor belt had broken.
So I was nervous this last time but I stopped in a parking lot prior to heading in and practiced.
I thought I had it mastered.
But no, once more I sat there and argued with the gear shift knob, moving it up and down and sideways until the kid asked permission to reach in and over me and put it into "N."
"Thank you!" I breathed as the brushes and water started going again.
"You just have to hold it for a minute," he said.
I dunno. I think I tried that.
I believe I need to get out a hose.

Tuesday, October 6, 2015

The big decisions in life

Does this look silly?

There's an old saw about who in a marriage makes the important decisions that goes something like this: "My wife makes the big decisions like how to create world peace and what to do when it comes to foreign policy. I make the smaller ones like how to spend the money, where to live..."
In our house, I handle the bills and the taxes and the general upkeep. I plan the meals for the most part.
Marc gets to choose what TV and Internet we have.
Right now, he's changing us over from Dish Network to DirectTV because Dish is raising the price after breaking its promise to save us money.
I have basically kept out of the negotiations because I can't stand it and I don't understand much of it.
All I want is to be able to watch the 10 p.m. news and an episode of "Bold and Beautiful" now and then.
I don't want to have to fuss much or think upon it.
After he chooses what we're doing, I learn the pathway through the remotes and away I go.
I only have trouble when the 2-year-old comes over and plays with the remotes. Then I have some stress until I figure out how to fix whatever he's done.
But generally I just go my way and expect Marc to figure out how it all works.
We tried a while ago to go with an antenna and a kind of Roku box but that was a disaster so I'm not complaining about this switch.
It's just a little ridiculous while we wait for DirectTV to get their act together.
Ennie, Minie, Mo...

They came right out and gave us a new recorder and a new satellite dish.
The set-up guy spent two hours at our house the first night trying to get the system to talk to our TV.
Then he went away and didn't come back.
And they've been pretty slow about returning to get their leftover cable and Dish doesn't seem anxious to get their dish back.
So we currently have two on our roof.
Both of them look huge to me.
Do they look silly to you?

Tuesday, September 29, 2015

The real circus

We have had a busy week.
We had several things to do that included driving into inner Salt Lake and we narrowly escaped with our lives.
It's a busy place, this city center designed by Brigham Young. I think it worked really well in olden times when there were far fewer cars and more genuine concern for mankind.
Now, there are cars everywhere traveling at a high rate of speed and not very many friendly drivers.
There are split-second decisions to be made, a wide variety of mistakes to make.
It's really very scary.
One night we had to be at the Capitol Theatre by 7 p.m. for a play so we decided to eat somewhere in the city "on our way."
To do that we had to find a place to park and to dine that was located close by.
And since we're coming from Utah County, we had to get onto the freeway and then down the freeway through the eternal construction zone.
Bless our little electric car.
Because we are a zero-emission vehicle, we could slip into the carpool lane and zip on by everybody else — that is, when people would allow us to change lanes and come over. For some reason, drivers in Utah are very territorial.
We made it through unscathed.
Then we had a little trouble at the intersection when the green arrow went off and everybody started coming at us before we were out of the way. (It was their turn, why should they back off just because we were still in the road?)
For the next event, my daughter and I and three grandkids headed out.
My daughter drove and skillfully dodged drivers who were not happy to share the road. She's lived in Salt Lake and is used to the insanity.
But we still had to find parking within a 4-year-old's ability to walk to the arena. We still had to jump out of the way when crazed drivers raced out of the entryways and tried to run us over.
Then coming home, we were stationery for a good part of the time, absolutely not moving for 45 minutes for no good reason we could see.
Honestly, it took forever.
My advice? My plan for the next event?
Stay away or take the Trax.

Wednesday, September 9, 2015

Rules and fools

Marc's picture of foolish folk
The bison and the elk in Yellowstone Park look benign.
The bison are fuzzy. The elk are sleek.

Hey, good-looking.

A fool and his bison. (Not Marc, he's behind our car.)

They basically stand there and give you the eye while you take their picture.
It's easy to begin to believe they won't hurt you if you come up beside them and give one a hug even though you've been given a brochure telling you they're dangerous.
And, after a while, when you've seen a herd or two, they kind of look like friendly foe.
We found that people in Yellowstone Park generally ignored the warnings.
When a big bison stood near the road, people parked close and got out of their cars to get a close-up.
In one instance, a little kid sat on the sidewalk while his dad walked right up to the beast.
We held our breath.
See, I bought the "Death in Yellowstone" book and I've been reading all about the instances where a bison suddenly charged and gored. I've read about elk deciding to show humans who's boss.
People have died because they didn't listen or take care. And currently, there are about 5,000 bison in the park which makes them more dangerous than bears because the bears are mostly out of sight.
I know the warnings are issued for good reason.
The herd at Mammoth Springs hang out at the public park and the ranger stresses because people crowd around.
I see you. Do you see me?
The bison are huge and fast and unpredictable.
Hey mom, there are some people here.
We watched one big guy flip over and take a dirt bath out in the meadow. He was really pretty agile, not a rock like he first appeared to be.
We saw a momma and a baby bison run fairly quickly ahead of the herd.
I don't think people should assume these guys are just going to stand around and do nothing.
I think they have a breaking point.
And I, for one, don't want to find out where that is.

Tuesday, September 1, 2015

Blind spots

It's only taken us a year and a few months, about $500 and a generous visit from Marc's older brother and his wife to get our 26-year-old windows updated.
Still seems like only yesterday that we were happily hanging Wal-Mart vinyl blinds in all of our windows when we moved in here.
At that time, creme-colored slats were the thing.
And we've been pretty happy most of these years.
But the look was tired and when we rode around on our bikes in the evenings, I couldn't help but envy the look of wooden plantation blinds in the houses we passed.
When we were in Bear Lake last summer, we discovered Kerry's wife Lori had opened an interior design shop.
She could do plantation shutters and blinds. She would do ours if we wanted.
I came home and started thinking seriously about it.
The problem was they are in Montpelier, Idaho and we're here so it seemed like a pretty long road trip for them.
I called on a couple of ads I cut out of the paper.
The one guy said, "You'll want to spend the money for real wood blinds, not those composite things." Then he took a cursory look around and threw out a $1500 quote.
The next guy smelled of cigarette smoke from the cigarette he tossed on the sidewalk as he came to the door.
So when Lori said she would order them for us and arrange for installation I was thrilled.
I started giving her measurements and color requests.
We worked until I understood the difference between plantation shutters and plantation blinds. (One is way more expensive and impractical for someone whose windows can't open behind couches and an office desk.)
We kept at it until I was somewhat confident in getting accurate measurements.
We took down the old, melted, dusty blinds.
We placed an order and I started spackling and painting. Marc started making new screens. We ripped out the padded window seat in a bedroom and ordered a vinyl seat.
They Kerry and Lori went on a golf vacation and we started trying to find a working install date.
Yesterday they made it.
We grilled steaks and Kerry patiently hung blinds on three windows.
They look great, professional, smart and clean.
They cut the light, open to the sky if we want and provide both privacy and a touch of class to the three rooms where we've put them. In the back bedroom, they cut the heat dramatically.
Both Lori and Kerry took their work ultra seriously, making sure everything hung straight, was securely fastened and snapped into place. They made sure the babies wouldn't be able to get hold of the cords.
If you want Lori to help you, she has a website: and a store in Garden City at 65 W. Logan Road #7.
I recommend her.

Wednesday, August 26, 2015

Into the woods with Redford

The good-looking guy at 79

Marc knows I have a crush on Robert Redford.
He doesn't worry about it much because, A. I don't think the chances of there being a reciprocal crush are very great and B. I have never met the man.
So Marc indulges me by making sure I have a good DVD collection of Redford movies and get to see whatever comes out starring our local boy.
I own almost all of his films with my favorites being "Butch Cassidy and the Sundance Kid," "All is Lost" and "Up Close and Personal."
The latest is "A Walk in the Woods" with Redford and Nick Nolte.
We'd seen ads for this movie on TV and kidded each other about seeing it right away when it comes out.
So when Marc got an offer from the local AARP organization to see the movie for free at a Salt Lake theater before it is even released, he jumped for it and invited me along.
We toddled on down on Monday and joined a crowd full of old fogies (after waiting forever at a broken traffic light and standing in the 90-degree heat to cross the road).
How not to get eaten by a bear
We had all received offers from AARP with the common denominator being our age and ability, should I say dis-ability. Many came wielding their canes and in wheelchairs.
We climbed into our seats and sat back to enjoy, feeling fairly young comparatively.
(First of all, I'm not so much a Nick Nolte fan but the guy can actually act and he fits the part of an old, fat, barely functioning guy really well. Secondly, I just like to look at Redford even with his craggy, aged face.)
The story is simple. These two guys take off to hike the Appalachian Trail with barely a clue as to what they're getting into.
They revisit the past, ford a stream or two, meet a hyper know-it-all-drive-you-crazy girl, a pair of bears, camp in the snow and get into trouble here and there.
It's a low-key high adventure full of beautiful photography and a good deal of humor.
We laughed.
We fell right into the story.
We enjoyed it all the way through despite some bad language and a glimpse of Nolte's backside as he climbed into his tent.
Hiding from a scary creature
Sometimes it's a kick being a senior citizen.

Monday, August 24, 2015

The seating chart

Some of the good volunteers at BYU's 2015 Education Week were clearly becoming frustrated.
Some were even angry.
I'll explain.
Most of the classes in the auditoriums and classrooms I attended were filled to capacity and so people either had to leave to find another class, climb over you to a middle seat or stand in the hall hoping to catch a word or two.
When the chairs in a class you wanted to attend were all full, it was aggravating, especially if people in the class the hour before just didn't leave.
The overseers in each class tried to help.
They kindly suggested we all slide to the center of the row as we came in so those coming in late could easily find a seat — if there was one.
People weren't supposed to save a seat or take up more than one with their coat, backpack, etc. If we all slid over, the empties became visible.
It was a good plan in theory and one that I understand.'s always somewhat annoying to arrive 15-20 minutes early to get the seat you want and then have to move to one where you're flanked by humanity.
In my case, I always had another class across campus that I needed to attend and cover as a story so if I sat in the middle, it took forever to get out. (Then I'd be a latecomer hoping they'd move over!)
Plus, inevitably, the people taking seats on either side of me really liked wearing a lot of perfume or had just had onions for lunch.
It made it hard to focus and to breathe.
But, as the week wore on, I noticed the class bosses were losing patience.
They'd write on the chalkboard: "Sit In Center!"
They'd ask rather sternly, "Please move in! Now, please!"
And in a couple of instances, they said, "I'm noticing no one is moving! Hello?"
You'd think they were working with mobs of kids rather than with Gospel-fearing, mostly friendly adults.
But we all reacted pretty much the same.
We were comfortable.
We didn't want to move.
We prefer to make our own choices.
So we mostly stayed put and drove the volunteers crazy. It wasn't very mature of us.
Maybe if they'd offered mint brownies to anyone who followed their direction!

Wednesday, August 12, 2015

Party animals

What're you looking at?

Captive audience
We just had a party for the middle-younger grandkids.
(They are the ones between 4 and 10 who are willing to come bring their sleeping bags and "camp out" in the backyard with us. It works out to about 15 kids of various ages and gender.)
We cooked hot dogs. We made S'mores.
We painted T-shirts and we did little mosaic craft kits.We told stories and jokes and herded cats (well, maybe it just felt like it).
We pitched three tents and hid treasure.
Marc kept a campfire going.
We both kept kids from spearing one another with the hot dog sticks or from colliding in the dark.
But as hard as we worked, we couldn't really compete with the stars of this Grandma's Wild Animals event.
The skunk, the bearded lizard, the baby chinchillas, the hedgehog, the mini-pig, the cockatoo, the fox and the boa constrictor won out.
The kids loved them.
Some even petted and held them.
They asked about what the snake ate.
They giggled when the cockatoo showed off.
It was an interesting 90 minutes as Sarah Jacobsen from Wild Wonders brought in her cages and rescue animals.
She told us about each one, "Toothpick" is the hedgehog. "Tiny" is the boa constrictor who "just" ate three weeks ago and isn't hungry again yet. 
We watched her guide a blind pig around the blankets with a clicker.
We saw how she kept a firm hand on a Red fox with a white tail that really, really wanted to get down.
We laughed as the cocatoo flipped its feathers up and down and talked to us once she got safely back in her cage.
We ooed and ahhed over the fluffy little chinchillas. They were all soft and sweet.
Sarah's babies meet our babies
We slowly came to believe the skunk was not going to stink up the place or us.
Sarah came last year to my granddaughter's birthday party and so I borrowed the idea, asking her to come in all the way from Genola and bring everything but the hissing cockroaches.
It's a kind of magic all of its own.

Tuesday, August 4, 2015

Falling leaves...

I promised to post updates on how we're liking our new electric Leaf so here's the latest in my educational series.
We still like the car.
We enjoy being the owners of a Zero Emissions vehicle and we spar over whose turn it is to take it.
However, some of the realities are coming to light and I've made so much noise about the benefits of going all-electric that I need to share these things too.
First of all, our Nissan dealer who promised we could come by and get a Quick Charge any time we liked has a broken Quick Charger.
We stopped by the other day for a 15-minute boost and were dismayed to find only the Level 2 chargers working.
That meant we either could drive it back home on faith after our party in Provo OR come back and plug in for an hour or so.
That's not what the salesman promised us.
And we got an updated power bill which was about $40 more a month than it had been.
We'd been told to expect a higher bill "between $5-$20 higher" according to the salesman.
Rocky Mountain Power doesn't offer any cost breaks or perks for going electric. They seem to think we're funny to be asking.
It's OK because our gas bill has been cut almost in half.
And our car payment is half of what it was.
So we're motoring about quite contentedly and enjoying our purchase.
It feels groovy!
We are still getting used to the absolute quiet when we start it and we still find it funny to go out at night to "plug the car" in.
We have to honk to let people know we're coming up behind them.
And we haven't decided if we'll upgrade our outlet to a 220-volt or install our own Quick Charge unit.
The jury is still out on whether we made an overall good decision here or not.
But in the meantime, we're good, thanks.

Thursday, July 16, 2015

Giddy up!

Ellie and Adell, Spartacus and Captain
We were surprised and happy to unexpectedly have two of our granddaughters stay the last couple of days of our Bear Lake vacation with us.
They're both 9 and they get along great even though they seldom get the chance to hang out together as one lives in Lehi and the other in Smithfield.
So we asked them what they would like to do on the one day we had to do something spectacular.
"Do you guys want us to rent the Jet-ski again or would you like to go horseback riding?" we asked them.
"Yeah! We want to do that!" they shouted.
"Which one?"
"Jet-ski! Ride horses!" they said together.
Marc and I looked at each other.
OK, we could break the bank this one time. How often would this opportunity come around and it's only money, right?
We called to make reservations for the horse ride for early afternoon.
The girls were thrilled.
We changed into swimsuits and went down to the beach to Jet-ski.
The fearless foursome
I took one ride at a moderate speed on a very calm lake reminding myself that my doctor had told me NOT to go on bumpy rides unless I wanted to jar the discs in my back and cause myself great pain.
We had lunch and headed to the Beaver Creek horse ride arena. We were the only ones there so we actually got a private ride up into the forest and over the creek and up and down small, shaded hills.
Adell and Ellie had horses that were supposed to behave. (Ellie's kept hanging back to chomp at the weeds and then he would trot rather briskly to catch up. To her credit, Ellie hung on just fine.
Adell's did what he was told most of the ride until he smelled water. At that point, he ignored the ride boss and stepped right off into the stream for a nice drink, taking us all with him!)
Marc and I were on horses that seemed to realize they had old folks on their backs and they better not scare us.
Mine kept stealing flowers from the trailside but mostly, I kept him under control and he didn't run away with me or buck me off.
I was all proud of myself for a while until the horse started down the hill at a fair clip.
Then I bounced around rather vigorously while trying to look like I was a competent horsewoman. (I didn't succeed at it.)
The next day I was wondering why my back hurt? I hadn't ridden the Jet-ski hard. I had done what my doctor told me except for maybe the horse ride...
Don't eat the flowers!


Monday, July 6, 2015

Shaking my booty...

Let's see, for my 64th birthday I only got a few things from my loving husband: a trip to Maui with two visits to the best restaurant in the world, a new electric car, and a pair of paniers for my bike.
I believe I made out like a bandit.
The new car, the old bike, new paniers, old me
The paniers were a total surprise even after I started getting notices that part of a shipment was at Wal-mart and another part coming.
I couldn't figure out what he had in mind since I hadn't been hinting for anything in particular.
In fact, I thought we had a deal.
We would each pick a place we wanted to travel to and go there this summer.
I wanted to go to Maui since my daughter highly recommended it and I like sun and sand and water.
He wants to go to the east coast to Washington D.C. and to the Smithsonian and stuff. (We're working on it.)
I knew my Mazda needed changing out since I had somehow run up 120,000 miles on my little roadster.
We looked a little before we left the mainland and after we saw "Leafs" everywhere we went in Maui, we came back considerably more interested.
So we decided THIS was my birthday present.
I couldn't see what else I needed.
My grandchildren had made me this hand-printed, colorful T-shirt.
I was happy.
Then came this box with a cage-like apparatus.
Marc explained that it goes on my bike to hold packages and burdens when I go cruising.
Next came this kind of purse that lays over the cage and straps down.
I slowly realized these were paniers, bags designed to help one bring home the groceries from the market.
I have frequently mentioned and thought that my bike riding could be more beneficial if I could haul home a loaf of bread from Great Harvest or a quart of milk from Fresh Market.
They're really quite handy.
So here's my's Marc's birthday today (July 6) and I'm not at all sure how to match him.
We haven't figured out his trip yet. We're still regrouping from Maui and a visit to Bear Lake.
I bought him a set of expensive knives that I gave him for Father's Day and a tomato knife that completes his kitchen set.
I "let" him go buy a new outdoor grill with his own hard-earned money and this morning I gave him a jar of Bear Lake Raspberry Rhubard jam and a hug.
Why do I feel I need to do something more?
Shall I get the travel agency lady on the phone?

Wednesday, July 1, 2015

The monkey and the drowsy chaperone

Pickleville Playhouse shows are always crazy fun but this summer's offerings are so silly your face hurts afterward from all the smiling.
And when you're not smiling, you're laughing out loud.
Jordan Todd Brown is completely out of control in both shows — "The Drowsy Chaperone" and  alongside T.J. Davis as Juanito Bandito in "The One With the Monkey" is his usual Spanglish-speaking, hilarious outlaw now announcing his retirement.
The actual monkey
If you attend both shows on consecutive nights, be prepared for nonstop nonsense.
In "The Drowsy Chaperone" Brown plays the Man in the Chair but with more heart, more dorkiness and more fearlessness than usual.
He jumps on the sofa, plays on the counter and improvises so much he cracks everybody up.
He says he hates the theater which immediately bonds him to those in the audience who aren't sure they wanted to be in the audience.
But he loves his records, especially this one about true love and sacrifice as the actress, Janet Van De Graff, (played by Whitley O. Davis) tries to give up the stage to marry Robert Martin (played by Derek Davis).
The story proves to be a grand mix of goofiness and story with "Trix the Aviatrix" somehow saving the day while "The Drowsy Chaperone" drunkenly and weakly performs her part in making sure the bride and groom can marry.
See a clip on YouTube:
One of the standouts in this show is Aldopho (played by Tony Carter). He's suave and smooth. He almost upstages the Bandito in the Saturday monkey business show.
Speaking of which, the monkey show seems to have been written to feature Chester, the monkey, played by Thomas Belliston.
After the initial foray into the public forum where the Bandito tries to explain that he's giving up the outlaw business to be a rapper who used to be a criminal, the show becomes pretty much all about the monkey.
It's silly and at some points, contrived, but for a Bear Lake crowd coming in off the lake for a fun evening, it's perfect.
It makes one laugh. It's engaging, a little over the top, but side-splittingly entertaining.
The game of "Happy Sultan" is a unique piece of fun that obviously has come from the mind of Brown who is completely out of his mind.

Monday, June 29, 2015

Now you see it, now you wonder

I promised the publicist for "The Illusionists" I would write a review on their show when we talked about my doing an advance for The Deseret News.
I would have written one anyway because I liked their show, a lot!
And that's considering I hadn't heard about this group of magical people before I was asked to do a piece about their stop in Salt Lake.
I had to look them up and read press releases and talk to John Tellum and to Kevin James (who plays "The Inventor" in the show).
I found out about their appearances on "America's Got Talent" and the many, MANY, awards and prizes they've won across the globe competing in various magic contests.
Yu Ho-Jin, known in the group as "The Manipulator" is just a teenager from South Korea...who must have the ability to hide multiple decks of cards in his open hands because he keeps bringing another one out.
Jeff Hobson, "The Trickster," is a kind of Liberace clone who is funny, warm and good with magic as well. (Just ask the people from whom he lifted watches while everyone was looking on!)
He and "The Futurist" make the show fun with a variety of mind-blowing tricks that are one thing on television, quite another in real life.
I enjoyed Dan Sperry, "The Anti-Conjourist," when I didn't expect to. He's painted and shaved and has long greasy-looking hair and basically resembles a movie zombie but he's funny and sweet.
I grew to look forward to his appearances on stage even though some of his tricks were gross...pulling a string from his mouth and then a vein in his forehead and eating razor blades that he later retrieved in a line.
"The Weaponist" had an interesting attitude also as he brought a couple up to help him perform dangerous tricks with an arrow and an apple.
 "The Inventor" somehow helped a young girl from the audience make the clump of paper in her hand wiggle and squirm. Then it turned into a real rose.
He made snow fall up.
The only one I had trouble watching was "The Escapologist." I hate those kinds of tricks because there's too much of a chance that something could go wrong and I would have watched someone die. (Spoiler alert: Andrew Basso doesn't die. He gets out of the water, the handcuffs, and the foot locks just in time!)
The show is over in Salt Lake but they have a tour starting up again in September with shows that are fairly close.
If you get the chance, take it and go see these guys:
They can make a whole train appear with them on stage.
They can cut people in half and staple the pieces back together. They can build a little person out of spare parts.
They are professional, creative, funny and totally engaging.
It's magic that entrances.

Tuesday, June 16, 2015

Moving in Maui

And suddenly, you realize you can't look at the sun

I was actually fairly alarmed when my husband told me about the bike ride down the volcano in Maui.
He was so excited that he didn't even consider I wouldn't want to go with him.
He practically had his biking gear all packed before I could even go on the website to check it out.
A 26-mile downhill run from the summit of the Haleakala volcano to the center of the island at Paia, what could go wrong?
I signed on before I  really thought it through.
But for weeks afterward I'd go to bed reminding myself that I didn't have to worry about it yet. It was a long way off.
Then in late March it dawned on me: if I was going to ride a bicycle for that long of a ways I would have to prepare.
I realized I needed to get on my bike at least every other day and work out enough that it didn't kill me to go for a 26-mile stretch.
We got me some biking pants that didn't tangle with my spokes. I started wearing my helmet and I began to plan my wardrobe.
Since the ride started before sunrise it would be cold, then warm, then really warm.
A pair of kids in Maui, right?
I would need to layer and wear clothes that didn't necessarily co-ordinate color-wise.
I needed to get used to wearing closed-toed shoes instead of sandals or thongs.
(I know, these are basics for serious riding, huh?)
We watched a movie on the plane over to Maui where the coach was telling the kids on his running team., "Get to where when you see a hill (to run over), you smile!)"
I reached that point, I'm happy to say.
After the van picked us up (at 2 a.m.) and the staff handed out our bikes, our helmets and our outergear, I marshaled my courage and my wits and took off, smiling.
It turned out that we weren't riding in a straight, fast line to the bottom of a crater.
We headed out in kind of a single file herd down paved roads with a lot of curves.
Basically our guide wanted us to lean in and keep our wits about us.
Our bikes were heavy and came with wide saddles (thankfully) and drum brakes.
I was pretty proud of myself for a while there, riding along without trouble and mostly trying not to run into the lady in front of me. (She'd been put there with others who looked like they might need the guide's help and guidance.)
I figured I looked like I knew what I was doing. I wasn't crashing or veering or tensing up.
Or so I thought.
Partway through we stopped for a water break and the guide said, "Good! You are all doing well. Sharon, let's move you up to the front, ok?"
Oh well. OK.
It was still a beautiful, refreshing, remarkable ride.
I recommend it.
It's cold in the morning at the top of a volcano

Tuesday, June 9, 2015

Leaf 2, the sequel

I've promised a bunch of people I would keep them posted on our Leaf and how it's going.
Since we bought this beautiful little electric car, we been asked a lot of questions.
"What happens when it rains?" from a concerned granddaughter.
"How far can you go before it dies?"
"What if it stops on you out in the country?"
"How much is your power bill going to be?
All good questions and I don't have all the answers yet.
We do know that it's working just fine so far to simply plug it into the regular house outlet in the garage. And it didn't explode in the last thunderstorm.
Every morning we start out with about 100 miles to go on a charge.
Then as I drive around doing my chores, I come home with about 100 miles left. (The kinetic energy generated from braking builds up the battery.)
If we go on the freeway or if we haul a load of kids up and down hills, we use more miles, not a lot but more.
The closest I've come to running out of battery power was coming home from shopping in Salt Lake. The light on the dashboard starting blinking and telling me I had 14 miles to go but when I stopped at my daughter's house, her neighbor came over to share Leaf stories and told me he has a dedicated 240 plug that I could use when I'm running low.
We've checked out the charging stations nearby. The Nissan dealership even told us to drive right up on the sidewalk to plug in (for free).
The Walgreen's store in Springville acknowledged our SemaConnect card and charged us up for $1.18.
We haven't been overly worried but we have been doing an unusual amount of adding and subtracting. We're also having a great time earning trees! (The car keeps track of economical driving habits and rewards us with trees when we do a good job!)
We are also making new friends. There's kind of a subculture of people who own and drive electric cars. If we wanted we could even join PlugShare where people offer their home chargers to strangers in need of a little power.
We are a teeny bit concerned about the tow hinge and the tow rope and assorted towing equipment that comes free with the car.
And when we asked about the spare tire, the service manager showed us the complimentary patch kit that comes packed in the side panel.
He reassured me — after I must have blanched — that our free roadside assistance and 3-year warranty would take care of anything like that.
So on we go.
We haven't had a power bill yet but we've been told not to worry. Our insurance went up a little bit but our gasoline bill is way down.
It'll all work out.
It'll be fine.
We'll see and I'll let you know!

Monday, June 8, 2015

Share and share alike

So we're at the parade in Cedar Hills.
Our grandson was marching with the Lone Peak High School band so we hopped on our bikes and pedaled over to see it and specifically him.
We parked and grabbed a patch of grass, put down a blanket and settled in, right next to a family with two little girls who came for the candy of which there was an abundance.
(A lot of kids came for the candy. You could tell by the plastic bags they had ready for holding their loot.)
The older girl was maybe 8 or 9 years old and clearly more experienced at grabbing candy.
The younger one (probably around 5 or 6) was new at this.
She'd hang back and wait to see if the candy landed  right in front of her feet. Then she'd reach for it.
Usually she lost the prize because she wasn't aggressive enough quickly enough.
Other kids around her were faster or her big sister took what she was headed for.
We watched this go on for a while and despite the father's urging, the littler girl mostly waited too long.
We helped when we could by handing her whatever landed in our laps.
But still, by the end of the parade, her bag was only a third as full as her sister's.
They weren't my grandchildren so I didn't feel like I could noticeably intervene but I was increasingly annoyed that the big sister wasn't being nice. She didn't help the little sister out.
I thought she was unkind to race in and take whatever the little one had in her sights.
Sometimes she just reached in and snatched the candy without any apology.
But finally, somebody tossing treats at the kids noticed the smaller girl and threw a nice snack-size candy bar right at her.
She caught it and dropped it into her bag. She smiled.
The big sister noticed but she didn't dare just take it from her because the dad was watching.
However, she didn't like that the younger one got something she wanted.
She stood there a minute and then she said to her sibling, looking at the two bags.
"We're sharing, right?"

Tuesday, May 26, 2015

Going blue and green

Grandma's new ride
It wasn't really my plan to go green when we bought our new car.
We just paid off our SUV and my little Mazda 3 had 120,000 miles on it so we went "shopping" to see what was out there.
I had noticed the Nissan Juke cars running around and was curious about the space inside and what it cost. I wanted to know if it came in chocolate brown.
That's when the salesman showed us a Leaf in the line next to the Jukes.
Marc was especially intrigued.
I agreed to a test drive where we noticed two things, it drove really well and it was so quiet that the teenager in the road in front of us didn't move for us until we honked.
But it is an all-electric car and we really knew nothing about them.
And we were on our way to other things (like a vacation to Maui) so we couldn't stay around and chat.
We left but not before the salesman pointed out we could get around $8,000 in tax breaks, never have to buy gas or oil again and help save the environment.
We went home thinking.
Everywhere we looked in Hawaii there were Leaf cars.
We started researching the possibilities.
Seems these have been for sale since 2011 and each year, the range of distance one can go between charges improves. One can plan on about 85 miles at a go between charges and there are various ways and plentiful ways to charge them.
We looked at the ways and means including the cost of putting a charge port in our garage and/or converting a standard plug to 220.
Marc checked out the less important things like how they work and perform. I wanted to know if I could get it in light blue and how my CDs would sound in it.
We came back to our salesman to get some answers and now we are the proud lessees of a pretty blue 2015 Nissan Leaf.
In some ways it feels like we just bought a grown-up toy though it drives and feels like a real car.
In other ways, we feel like we're moving into the future, changing and evolving. We're getting into the habit of plugging in our car each night and driving a sweet ride that makes no noise.
The back side
We're excited and proud and scared to death!

Thursday, May 21, 2015

Snorkeling along

The kid was understandably annoyed with me.
He'd been whistling at me for 10 minutes and I had been ignoring him.
When I finally surfaced and peered at him from behind my snorkeling mask, he was ready to bench me.
I had apparently been heading the wrong way into the ocean, kicking merrily away and risking life and limb.
I thought I was doing good.
It was my third attempt at snorkeling in Maui.
The first time, Marc and I tried to just walk by ourselves into the ocean at Makena beach and the waves promptly knocked me flat.
I staggered out and tried to recover on my towel. I was covered in sand from head to toe and my pride was badly wounded.
Everybody on the beach that morning witnessed my humiliation. It was pretty sad.
I just didn't realize how different it would be to try snorkeling from a standing position. (I've done it once or twice before but once by tipping backwards from a boat and another in a bay of still water.)
The second time on this trip we signed up for a tour. I walked down the stairs from the deck and I had people around me to save me from disaster. I had a wet suit on and a noodle to rely on. Marc had shown me how to fit my bottom lip over the mouthpiece which worked better than just trying to bite harder and cover it with my hand.
I really wanted to succeed at snorkeling this time around.
It's never been easy for me. I always take on sea water but I'm older and wiser now, I thought, so I should  be able to handle it.
My biggest worry was about sharks. Some lady got bitten a couple of weeks earlier at the beach near Makena. I figured if there was one around, it would know I would be easy prey.
I didn't see any but I did see blue fish and yellow fish and little black ones with white edging. I was moving along steadily this time, breathing cleanly and avoiding panic.
Turns out my biggest fear should have been my lack of sense of direction.
"You should be more aware!" said the Hawaiian boy who was sent to fetch me. "We've been trying to get your attention for a while!"
I really thought the whistling was all about turtles. The Molokina Crater we were in has a lot, apparently.
I appreciated him coming after me. I didn't want to die or get washed out to sea. I didn't want to bang into the coral reef. I didn't want to get tangled up with anyone else or lose sight of the boat.
In fact, when you think about it, I might be a little offended. I doubt anyone in the ocean that day was more aware of the things going on around me than me!

Thursday, May 7, 2015

The king and I

Cael and a cookie coming through
The first day he was here, Cael woke up confused and sad — for a toddler.
He didn't know what had happened to his mom, his sisters, his dad or his life. (They'd all gone to Disneyland and wisely left him at grandma's rather than subject him to two 10-hour car rides.)
Suddenly he was here looking at me and realizing if he wanted food, shelter and fun, he was going to have to live here.
It only took him a couple of hours to reconcile himself.
Now he's in complete control.
He gets what he wants and that includes visits to the park with grandma pulling the wagon, feeding the horse next door carrots, getting treats from the pantry and even a Tootsie Roll Pop at the grocery story.
He takes his meals on the run with grandma handing him bits of bacon and toast as he goes.
Cael's cousin Orange on left...
He reclines on his banana chair in front of the big TV in the family room to watch "Toy Story 1, 2 and 3."
He gets to decide whether the little TV in his room is on or off.
If he wants a ride in the car, he goes out and stands by the door.
If he wants to listen to the radio before going to run errands, he climbs into the Barbie car and flips on the station. Then he rocks out to his heart's delight.
When he wants his bath, he comes running when he hears water running.
When he wants a nap, he picks up his blanket and heads to the Porta-crib.
If he wants a hug, he just looks at me.
I'd say he's pretty well taken to the role of king of the house.
He's clear about his needs and doesn't hesitate to holler "No! No! Noooo!" when something's not right.
It's been exhausting and entertaining and all consuming.
I'd forgotten how life is with an 18-month-old in power.
And it's been so much fun.
He's a benevolent king.

Thursday, April 23, 2015

Saving money the hard way

There's nothing my husband enjoys more than haggling over a purchase.
If there's something wrong with a sales receipt or the price rings up wrong, he's out the door before I can start making my fuss.
It pains him physically to have to make a return.
So when the computer at Shopko refused to recognize the three $5 off coupons I had in my hand, he was uncomfortable.
When the cashier couldn't convince the computer that yes, we had bought over $25 in merchandise, he started to grimace.
When it still didn't take the coupon (maybe because without tax added in we still didn't show that we'd spent more than $25) he was hating life.
He grabbed some gum to bring up the total.
Then we added some stuff we were going to buy so we could use our second coupon for another $25.
After that, the girl called a manager.
By now, people behind us were unhappy. We were taking a long time.
I was fine except for the fact that I didn't like being treated like I hadn't prepared when in fact I had carefully noted the coupon's expiration date, the exceptions and had even asked if I could use multiple coupons before we started.
I had made a list of things I needed to buy anyway so we could use our savings wisely.
I had dragged Marc over to shop with me because he needs sunglasses before we go to Hawaii and I figured he'd want to pick them out.
So it was annoying to hit this big bump in the road.
We waited patiently for a time and made it through using the first coupon.
When we tried to use the second, we thought it would go more smoothly.
The cashier we'd worked with had left for an early lunch (why would she do that, do you think?).
This girl started in with determination but, of course, the register declined the coupon.
"Did you use this one already?" she asked. Well, yes, the other girl had tried every coupon in my hand before she gave up.
"Did you get more than $25?" she asked. We nodded.
"Maybe you should go over there..." she said, pointing to where the manager stood across the store.
We picked up our stuff and strode over. The manager smiled knowingly and rang it all up without a snag.
"I knew they weren't doing it right," she said. "Sorry about that. Do you want to save this last coupon for later?"
I looked at Marc who had tears in his eyes.
I don't think so. The store wins.

Monday, April 20, 2015

A model citizen

Fashionistas all!
I've been bored a bit since Marc's play ("Guys and Dolls" at the SCERA until May 9) moved into final rehearsals and opening week.
One can only do so much cleaning and organizing and weed-pulling during the long evening and weekend hours.
So when I saw this little notice about a Style show at Christopher & Banks I was interested.
The ad said they wanted models. It didn't say anything about knowing what you're doing.
I called and got on the list and arranged a fitting.
On the catwalk
They said to just come in and pick out what I wanted to wear. I went in and sort of bumped my way around until I had a couple of outfits I liked with jewelry to match. I had the run of the store.
The clerks were friendly and helpful now and then.
No one seemed to be taking the whole thing very seriously.
They didn't worry about my crazy hair or lack of professional makeup or if I had the shoes to match the outfit.
Then when I came back for the big show, it was still pretty low-key.
Nobody was worrying much about the end result.
They didn't run us through the line-up or talk to us much about posture and hand placement.
I was both relieved and concerned.
Shouldn't they be more stressed?
Shouldn't there be some guidelines here?
As it turned out, it was all good.
A bunch of us came together on a Saturday morning and found our clothes all steamed and bagged for us.
We dressed. We lined up.
We walked through the store trying to look confident and casual and a lady took our pictures at the end.
It was a mild sort of fun and a different way to spend part of a Saturday.
Plus, speaking of spending, we all got 40 percent off our outfits.
I had a good time and I saved Marc about $200!

When you've got it...