Friday, December 23, 2016

Christmas lights in the nights

This year has been the season for seeing the lights in a variety of venues.
In addition to the traditional lights on Temple Square — which are always gloriously beautiful and really, really cold — we've seen the lights at the Utah Lake State Park, the Luminaria at Thanksgiving Point and the lights off the freeway coming home from Logan.
We made a journey up to the Alpine Living Nativity and to Midway to the International Creche Exhibit.
For those who've never seen these or who want to see these, I've put together a little primer:
+ The lights at Temple Square are free and full of beautiful lighted trees plus a life-size ceramic Nativity scene. It's always well attended (translation: crowded!) and it can be freezing. The Visitor's Center is open though and warm. And you can take the Trax up, park your car in any of the lots on the route, from the end of the line in Draper to 13th South and avoid the traffic. It's free to ride the Trax in the downtown area.
+ Christmas in Color is a new drive-through lighted display event in Provo at the Utah Lake State Park. It costs around $25 a car and you drive on a marked path with headlights off to see the lights.
The displays include a couple of car tunnels, singing snowmen, dancing lights and music that is synchronized to the light show.
+Luminaria at Thanksgiving Point in the Ashton Gardens is new and involves strolling along the garden paths to see 25 different lighted areas. The trees are just one part of this offering. There are lighted bushes, overhead canopies and a stream. It's inventive and clever. The center display with several thousand luminaries is a tapestry of colors and patterns. Small children will like it for a few minutes. Older ones and adults could easily spend a couple of hours in awe at the creativity and colors. A bit pricey: Adult tickets are $20 each. Children are $17.
+There are also the lights in Spanish Fork and a display off the freeway on the way back from Cache County. They are cheaper, about $5 a car.
+The Alpine Living Nativity is an interesting and aromatic event held outside and in the barns at the farm owned by mayor Don Watkins.
It only costs about $5 in donation and includes a free hot chocolate at the end. There are live camels and sheep and a burro. (Hence the natural aromas.) It replicates a visit to Bethlehem with Mary and Joseph and the Baby Jesus.
+The Interfaith

Creche Exhibit in Midway is stunning and free. The collection of Holly Zenger is displayed in  the Midway Town Hall in a series of rooms set up all around the meeting hall. On the stage is a breathtaking display of Fontanini nativity figures. Outside, there's ice skating and the opportunity to buy something warm from a food truck. It's over for this year (usually on the first weekend of December) but it's an annual Christmas treat so you can go next year


Wednesday, December 21, 2016

Every once in a while, I am offered complimentary tickets to a traveling show that's stopping in Salt Lake City.
Usually these are last-minute deals that involve me re-arranging my schedule and dragging my happy husband along to something we hadn't planned to see.
This time it came with a chance to see the new Eccles Theater up close, something I've wanted to do since it opened.
I knew it would be helpful somewhere in the future when "Wicked" comes to town or "Hamilton." I'd know the way to the bathrooms, for instance and be able to guess how long it would take to ride the TRAX in from Utah County.
So I agreed to come up and see "Hedwig and the Angry Inch" even though I knew the material in the show probably wouldn't be LDS-approved.
I asked Marc about going and he said, "Why not? It'd be educational."
Well, it was and it is.
I did a little advance research so I knew something about the plotline.
I knew it would be edgy and probably outrageous.
But I'm a grown-up person who has reviewed all kinds of productions over the past 40 years.
I figured I could handle this.
Hmmm. Not really.
It was a little more than I figured on. Way more.
The lead character, Hedwig, is a transgender superstar with some issues. The actor who plays him/her does a remarkable job as far as acting in concerned. The costuming and staging is dramatic and creative.
Hedwig is trying to engage the audience — much like a lounge singer — while churning about how he/she and others in similar circumstances are being treated.
It's bold and, in some cases, shocking.
Then there's the volume level and the strobe lights.
I was having to hold my hands over my eyes to keep my brain from delivering a migraine.
The CO2 smoke was disturbing me as well.
By the end of the show, I was nauseous and dizzy.
I couldn't wait for it to stop.
Now that it's over and I'm back home safe and sound, I'm haunted, and not so much by the physical stress as the emotional reaction to the story.
Why is there such anger, so much emotion? Why bring Jesus into the conversation? (There are several references to accepting Christ as a Savior and Redeemer that mock Him outright.)
And why did I think a 65-year-old uptight grandma could cope with this?

Sunday, December 11, 2016

I know the way home!

When my son was around two or three, he thought he was pretty self-sufficient.
He'd go all over the neighborhood visiting his friends and seeking adventure. It was a friendly neighborhood with lots of little kids so usually I didn't stress too much.
But one particular day, he'd been out for a longer time than usual and I had been searching for him for quite a while.
When I caught up with him, I started to scold him and remind him that he was a small child and it could be dangerous to just go off with no supervision or permission.
I was right at the part where I was explaining, "Dana, I didn't know where you were! That scared me."
He responded with vigor, "But mommy, I knew where I was!"
I don't know if that incident played in his mind the other day when his youngest daughter didn't get off the bus at the stop by their home.
Seems Erica had become confused about the instructions and when the buses all took off, she figured if she was going to get home, she had to walk — kind of a long walk considering she lives in east Highland near the other side of the Cedar Hills Golf Course and she goes to school at Highland Elementary.
I happened to be going by the elementary school when my son called me.
He was fairly frantic and told me to stay close and look around in case she was still in the neighborhood.
Then he proceeded to back track Erica's steps.
Since her older sister had stayed home with a cold, Erica didn't know for sure if she was to get on the bus or wait where her mom sometimes picked her up. So nobody noticed when she didn't get on the usual bus.
Once the buses all left, she simply decided she had to walk which was all right with her since she knew the way.
Never mind that it's a really long ways for a 5-year-old and very cold outside.
She's pretty independent.
She actually made it a good distance, crossing busy roads and trudging along in the correct direction when a lady noticed this 5-year-old child, alone, walking east into the storm.
She stopped to check the situation out.
"My name is Erica! You can call my dad!" Erica declared, being careful not to share too much detail and backing up so she couldn't be put in the car.
Dana was most relieved to hear from her.
We called off an Amber Alert, reassured the school officials that we'd found her and got her safely home.
We thanked Heaven.
So now that all is well, I can't help but think that the child has inherited her father's attitude.
"I know where I am so there's not a problem!"

Monday, December 5, 2016

Men are from Mars, Woman want to talk

The invitation was welcome.
Marc and I have read "Men are from Mars, Woman are from Venus" by Dr. John Gray and believe pretty much in his philosophy: men and women are wired differently.
Thus we don't always connect properly or at all.
Men tend to want to fix whatever problem arises and be done with it.
We women want to talk about it, analyze it and figure out how to resolve it, usually through deep conversation.
When this happens in our life, my husband tends to think I simply want to fight.
I think he wants to avoid.
The Men are from Mars thinking is that women are a LOT more emotional in their reactions because there are more emotional parts to their brains.
Venutians can't rest until they dissect the situation and understand it.
Martians just want to rest. They really, REALLY don't like conflict.
When we were invited to the show at the Jeanne Wagner Theatre in Salt Lake Saturday night, we leapt to go.
We made a dinner reservation and checked the TRAX schedule and off we went despite the cold and the fact that we have something to do almost every night and day in December.
Stand-up comic Josh Hyman essentially does an energetic, somewhat outrageous monologue using the material in Dr. Gray's books. He walks the audience through his relationship with his wife and brings the audience along for the ride.
He's funny and real and, in some instances, pretty R-rated as he talks about relating to the ones we love.
He doesn't mince any words and when he talks about the husband "tending her garden" when it comes to his wife, it's kind of hard not to blush.
He's got it right.
And it's refreshing to hear topics generally kept fairly hush-hush in public settings discussed with candor.
I'm not sure everyone would appreciate this offering.
But if it's approached with a sense of humor, it's great.
I liked what he said about how women keep points, giving men one point for anything large and small that they do and say.  (They give themselves a point for every step in what they are doing so we women are almost always ahead in points.)
He talked about how valuable men are to women and vice versa.
In the end he said all men really want is Trust and Acceptance while women want Affection and Understanding, pure gold (AU).
He said he was heading home to mend a rift with his wife before it reached unfixable levels.
We laughed.
We learned.
On the way home, Marc was reflective and unusually quiet.
I wanted to talk about it.
I wanted to know what he was thinking, why he wasn't saying anything.

Monday, November 7, 2016

Witch tree?

The guy driving the little train through Kew Gardens in London didn't know which tree is the tree used in the Harry Potter movies as the whomping willow.
He just knows it was one of the massive trees in the area.
Too many branches
I supposed the Kew Gardens people felt if they identified the tree, the Gardens would be overrun by Potter groupies looking to take a selfie by the famous tree taken to slamming anyone who came too close.
So Marc and I just tried to guess and take photos of the most likely candidates.
A couple of problems arose: there are LOTS of trees in the gardens that have big, twisted trunks and several that look just like what I can remember from the movies.
The other problem is that the tree changes from movie to movie.
Sometimes it has big, clubby branches that it flings around trying to keep snoopy kids away.
Other times it's dark and still.
It's always a really big tree with dark bark.
Here's a few that I think qualify to be the one:
Too plump at the bottom

Too gnarly

Is this it? I like this one.
You tell me.

Thursday, November 3, 2016

Lost in London

How hard can it be to find somebody here?
We thought we were doing a good deed when Marc and I offered to find one of the women on our tour when she went missing.
We were all at the British Library looking at the Magna Carta and other valuable pieces of written history when those in charge noticed that Susie was not there.
Susie was one of the 38 people on our "Traditions of Christ in Ancient Britain" bus tour and somehow she hadn't made it over to the library from the British Museum.
Because Marc and I are somewhat familiar with London and the tube and the buses, I volunteered us to help find Susie.
We hadn't been with the bunch for the British Museum stop (we'd been at church) but we knew where it was and we know roughly how it's laid out.
The tour director gratefully said she'd let us go look for Susie. (She was so worried she was willing to accept any offers!)
Off we went.
It wasn't until we got into the museum that I realized I didn't have some vital information and resources.
For instance, we hadn't changed our phones to work in Europe. We didn't want to pay roaming or data fees so we were depending on Marc's iPad for basic needs on this trip.
If we found Susie we couldn't call to tell the director that.
If we didn't find Susie we couldn't relay that information either. We really wouldn't be able to do much.
It also dawned on me that finding a little old lady in a crowded museum on a Sunday afternoon wouldn't be easy, especially since we weren't with her that morning to notice things like what she was wearing at the time of departure.
As I tried to describe Susie to the security guards and the lady at the information desk, I realized I didn't even know Susie's last name.
"She's about 80 with white hair. She's thin, very thin and tall," I said and looked around to see about 100 thin, old ladies go by with white hair.
The information desk lady told us to sit down nearby and watch for Susie.
She called docents to scan the galleries. Had they noticed a little old lady looking lost?
Our selfless effort was fairly fruitless and it wasn't because of us that Susie showed up later that day, escorted home by a Londoner who found her at the library about an hour after the tour group left.
Susie wasn't worried.
She'd just walked over from the museum to the library once she figured out she'd been left behind.
She seemed pretty sure that all would end well.
I'm glad she's all right.
I'm happy she is safe and we did the right thing to try and help.
I'm just thinking maybe in the future, I ought to get it a bit more together before I go charging ahead!

Tuesday, October 11, 2016

About that tattoo on your back?

As both of us "celebrated" turning 65 this year, Marc and I are trying to take responsible steps regarding our financial future.
We've been in to talk over our investments with our broker and we're looking into the whole Medicare thing, trying to learn to speak and understand government lingo.
We are mapping out the budget to see if we will be able to live on what we've saved and what will be coming in from various sources.
We sat down one night and opened accounts so we can sign up for Social Security.
Has anybody else found that a challenging exercise?
Talk about driving home the feeling that our government has been tracking us all since birth, this does it.
To set up an account you choose from multiple answers to questions like: What kind of car did you finance in 1989? Who held the loan?
What credit card were you approved for in 2013? 
What is the name of your current mortgage company and do you owe X or Y?
It's nothing like the security questions you answer to maintain privacy on your bank account and those are hard enough: what was the name of your first pet or what was the name of your first-grade teacher?
I find those questions sufficiently difficult. I have to go write them down somewhere if I want to get them right the next time I need them. (Is Mrs. Rumsberg with an "e" or a "u?")
Did I put down my pet's name as "Taffy?" or his whole name: "Taffy Woofy Waffle Hancock?"
The government obviously had records of every financial transaction ever made and can check to see if you get it right.
There's no bluffing your way through this which I suppose is good.
No one else will know where I bought my first car or how much I paid for it.
Nobody else can guess what the mortgage payment was on my first home, not even me.
The problem I see here is that by the time you reach the age to be drawing Social Security, your brain barely works that well anymore.
Things are a bit fuzzy.
How can we aged folks pass the test?

Thursday, October 6, 2016

An Apple a day...

My husband has a few things he really loves: me, his children, grandchildren, his iPad and TV.
So when his iPad quit taking a charge, I felt his pain.
He's only had this one for a little less than a year and he relies on it for just about everything but meals. Want to know what time it is in London? He'll grab the iPad. Want to know the name of the guy rocking out on stage with the Beach Boys' Brian Wilson? The iPad can give him the answer.
In addition, we use it a lot for games when we're waiting for a movie to start or if we're in a long line or have 15 minutes before we have to be anywhere.
It's his friend.
And we'll need it in Europe when we go. Games on the iPad makes a long flight go much faster.
So I was willing to help him out when the guys at the Apple store told him he would need to trade it in for a model with a working charge port.
We'd ridden into Salt Lake to visit the computer store (that I think is unlike any other store on the planet. There are no clothes, toys or chocolates. Yet there are long lines of people handing over a lot of money for virtual needs).
We had talked with the people there and they said the iPad was flawed and — good news — they were more than happy to replace it with a new one.
It's under warranty and it's not his fault that it's broken and the planets were in alignment.
The only problem was they didn't have one.
We'd have to go to the Fashion Place store for the swap.
Well, it was late, we had a concert to get to and Marc had to work the next day so I offered to drive up and get it.
I just had one proviso. He had to be available for the inevitable questions I figured I would be asked to answer.
I didn't want to have to suffer for my good deed.
"Sure thing," he said. "I can do that."
I drove up the freeway, found the Apple store and found the line...a long line of people waiting for their iPhone 7s.
When the attendant realized I just had to make an exchange, she waved me in.
There I found another line for an available clerk who sent me to wait some more at a nearby table.
Once I had a guy on the task and proved who I was with my driver's license, I figured I was good to go.
But no.
He whipped out the iPad and showed it to me.
"Does your husband want a backup?"
"Uh, I dunno."
"Do you know his Apple ID?"
"Do you want to enter a password for him?"
"Uh, just a sec."
I started trying to call Marc.
He didn't pick up.
I tried again, still no answer.
The sales guy was getting a little antsy. There were other people, lots of other people more clued in than I who were waiting for his attention.
There were people who wanted therapy and help with their new, expensive toys, people with money to spend.
I couldn't get Marc on his iPhone so I just told the guy it was fine and I'd just take it as is.
He looked dubious but let me go.
So here I am now, home and feeling dumb.
What do you think?
Should I know any of this stuff?
Is that in the wife's manual?

Monday, September 19, 2016

Ransom of Red Chief

Cael showing his sword to the Chick-Fil-A cow earlier

I can see where it certainly looked like a kidnapping.
You had Marc, a grey-haired old man manhandling this fiesty little kid all the way down the sidewalk and into the backseat of an SUV.
The child was screaming and kicking and hollering for moma.
Marc was just trying to keep hold of him and avoid the flailing feet.
We were leaving the annual Renaissance Academy fund-raiser carnival where there were hundreds of loose children.
Cael was tired and hungry and thirsty. He'd been bouncing in the bounce houses and trailing the Chick-Fil-A cow for hours.
And he really wanted his mother who had to stay another hour to man the booth for Adell's fifth-grade class.
We were headed to Pizza Pie Cafe for something to eat, one of our good deeds for the afternoon.
But Cael just knew we were leaving without his mom.
I didn't have any water with me.
We were treated out.
I couldn't explain to him that it would all be fine.
And I couldn't hold onto this whirling dervish once he got going.
I handed him off to Marc who's a lot better at hanging onto children having meltdowns.
I went ahead with the three older sisters and got into my car while Marc headed to our other car with Cael.
I watched as Marc tried to buckle Cael in. All I could see were flying feet. All I could hear was yelling.
That's when I noticed this concerned-looking lady walking over to see what the fuss was all about.
She approached slowly and carefully.
She had her phone out.
I think she was ready to dial 911.
That's when I pulled up to the side of Marc to offer support, and, if necessary, to corroborate his story. Adell got out to help.
The lady looked relieved to see us.
"I'm sorry. I thought he was being kidnapped," she said to Marc. "He's so upset."
"It's Ok," I told her. "He's our grandson. He's all right."
She smiled and walked away still looking uneasy.
I guess it's good that well-meaning people get involved, huh?

Thursday, September 15, 2016

The Harry Potter lottery

Marc and I aren't big gamblers.
If and when we find ourselves in Vegas, we only rarely lose a few quarters in the slot machines.
We don't do Blackjack or Texas Hold'em or the roulette wheel.
Neither of us is particularly lucky with dice or cards and we don't like to throw money away so we just don't bet on anything but death and taxes.
Except where Harry Potter is concerned.
Our interest in this wizard and his world is a little over the top.
We're going to throw in for a pair of tickets to the newest J.K. Rowling release, "Harry Potter and the Cursed Child," that's going to be on stage when we're in England next.
The play is already sold out months in advance so the only chance we have of getting tickets is to be online the week prior and hope we are lucky enough to win the opportunity to buy some of the 40 tickets they'll release that day.
The tickets are 40 pounds each and will give us seats for two sittings, either two on the same day or one each night for two consecutive nights.
We're watching the countdown clock already (at:
We are going to be in London for four nights of our "Traditions of Christ in Ancient Britain" tour and figure we have nothing to lose by trying.
We just have to be online at exactly the right time, get chosen and get options for the days we will actually be in the city.
It can't hurt to hope, right?
I've already bought and read the script for this new "book" which is actually not a bound book.
It's a script with stage notes and it comes with an admonition from Rowling to keep the secrets.
So I can't tell you the plotline or reveal any of the surprises.
But it does have Harry and Ron and Hermione and Snape and Dumbledore and Draco in it.
It made for a quick read and I, for one, don't mind making Rowling a bit richer by paying for her book and hopefully paying for tickets to the play.
Especially when I had resigned myself to nevermore any Pottermore.
This is a welcome story.
It has a nice amount of magic and it's interesting. Rowling has a gift for creating a world that looks fun and dangerous to live in.
I would love to see the actual play.
I'll just cross my fingers, rub my lucky rabbit's foot and click my heels together.

Monday, September 5, 2016

Wave that wand!

Ollivander checks through the many boxes for the right wand
We knew we would be happy in the Wizarding World of Harry Potter in Hollywood at Universal Studios.
We've been to the opening of the Wizarding World in Orlando and traveled by floo powder to England to the Harry Potter studios where you get to see all the props, costumes, wigs and paraphernalia used in the movies.
We've enjoyed each of them.
We are all Harry Potter fans. We've read all of the books, seen all of the movies. I own a Hedwig and my husband owns a nice wand.
A sweet visit
Grandpa and his girl
Now my granddaughter has a wand too — because she and her mom finished the Harry Potter series and she turned 11 at just the right time, she got a golden ticket to Hollywood with us — and her wand actually least in the park it does. She can make treats twirl on their plates, trunks full of bludgers open and close, chocolate frogs croak and a party dress rise up and down. There are magic spots all over the park where something happens if you wave your wand just right.
Adell can do that.
She can drink Butter Beer and Pumpkin Juice and share a chocolate cauldron.
$million-dollar home
We bought Pgymy Puffs, All-flavor Beans, a chocolate frog, a T-shirt with a Phoenix on the front and an owl friend for Hedwig.
Adell bought the wand that chose her at Ollivander's Wand Shop after she tried a few tricks with it. (Never mind that she killed the flowers. She brought them right back to life!)
This new Wizarding World in Hollywood is a duplicate of the world in Florida with the snow-topped roof, the grandeur of slightly off-kilter spires high in the sky, and the HogWart's Express engine waiting and puffing at the station.
It doesn't include (yet?) the additional park with Gringott's Bank and a moving train but I bet that's not far off because people love this imaginary world, this clever, magical world with never-ending surprises.
It is immersive and transformative from the joke shop with its slightly disgusting wares to the Forbidden Journey with Harry dramatically leading you through the castle on his broom.
(While the Forbidden Journey ride is breathtaking, it's also nice to take a little longer walking through the castle rooms and halls to see the sights.)
A ride on the Hippogriff is short and sweet. You might want to plan on taking that flight several times over.
There are lots of muggles in the land so start early and plan to stay late if you go.
The lines get long even with a Front-of-the-Line pass. It can be easy to spill your Butter Beer.
Magical times
If you haven't visited yet, now's a good time.
The park has been open since April so it's more possible to get in and do more than wait in line. It's well-managed with friendly wizards and witches close by on nearly every turn to help get a locker open, make a wand work, or find the Owl Post.
It's clean and elegant, beautifully done.
It's a unique experience and a truly fun way to make money disappear!

Smiling faces...

Wednesday, August 24, 2016

Bandito hits the target in "Ready, Fire, Aim," "Hairspray" is hilarious

The Pickleville Playhouse is a Garden City/Bear Lake tradition and success story that's truly remarkable.
Three and a half hours away from Salt Lake, up and running only a few months of the year, this theater, run by Andrea Davis and her family, pulls in sell-out, sun-burned, crowds year after year — mostly because of a lanky, overly-confident, mustachioed character who goes by the name of Juanito Bandito.
He's the heart of these shows.
And although the shows that run alongside the Bandito productions are wonderful on their own, (Hairspray with Kenzie Davis as Tracy and Kurt Haaker as Edna is non-stop funny), it's the Bandito who drives the train.
He's plucky, proud to be the fastest gun and rapper in the West and not a bit ashamed of being a heartless bank robber though he's not nearly as tough as he talks.
The Bandito (left) with his sidekicks.
In the latest show (written by the Bandito who is T.J. Davis in real life) he's tied up and awaiting execution — yet again.
"Have you ever had one of those days?" he asks the audience.
He isn't cowed or even sorry for anything he's done. But he is still trying to talk his way out of trouble.
He's hysterically funny as a blind bandito even with moldy-oldy, blind man jokes: "I'm part-time blind, 20 hours a week!"
"You know! You speak Dumb!" He tells Freddie (Kenzie Davis), thinking she can help understand a finer point and "There's no crying in Cowboyland!" to Troy Boone who is Gator in "Ready, Fire, Aim."
The rewinds and slow-motion action are crazy fun and must have taken hours of rehearsal. (Watch for how the Bandito defuses the other guy's gun.)
The references to things like the upcoming presidential election, Russian athlete doping at the Rio Olympics with Bolt T-shirts and the Bolt stance make the show timely as well as comic.
The spooky, white rabbit on stage from a post production is now a Pokeman Go! creature.
It's all funny and it's all so well done.
The humor is fresh and handled so well that whole families enjoy it (even the little girl invited to try and stare down the show's pianist).
There really is nothing quite like it anywhere.
And it won't last forever. I'm quite sure at some point, someone will come along and take away the Bandito to a national forum.
In the meantime, we make it a point to attend every show that we can at Pickleville.
It's part of our Bear Lake tradition.
One year, I'll even wear a mustache!
(It's been extended through Sept. 10. See a promo video at:

Monday, August 8, 2016

My coat's gone to China

In the interest in saving money and in supporting local businesses, I decided to have the lining on my travel-weary trench coast replaced.
Rather than spend money on a new coat, I thought if I had a tailor fix the shredded pieces it would give me back what I needed at half the cost.
I've loved my London Fog trench coat and it's protected me in rain and snow and sleet.
It's served as a warm blanket on the plane and and extra layer when the bedsheets in various hotels were not enough.
I've practically worn it to death.
But London Fog stores are hard to find and usually located across the ocean from where we live.
So I decided to take it down to the local tailor.
That was in mid-May.
I explained my needs and the owner of the shop gave me a ticket for pick-up.
I left thinking I was looking at a couple of weeks and maybe a $100 charge?
When I came back, it wasn't done but the fabric for the lining had arrived.
I was excited to see it come together.
I checked back in another week. In fact, I started making it a habit to stop in whenever I went to town.
"The girl working on that quit on me!" said the owner.
"It won't be long now," she said. "I know you need it."
"The girl working on that was in a terrible car wreck," she said the next time I came in.
"I don't know where it is. It must be at home," she told me next.
"I know I saw it come through here. I'll look again," she said at the end of June after she and I searched the racks and piles.
The last time, she saw me coming.
"I know what happened," she exclaimed. "I think it's in China."
Seems a customer who had a bunch of coats relined might have picked mine up by accident and taken it with him to China.
She is going to try and contact him to get it back.
I think I'll start shopping for a new coat.

Monday, July 25, 2016

Pokeman stop and go...

Marc and I aren't really into Pokeman Go!
We're just doing research.
We feel we owe it to our grandkids and to the public to know what's hip.
It's important as news people to keep up.
So when Marc came home dancing because he'd been playing Pokeman at work, I made fun of him at first and then persuaded him to take me with him to find some virtual creatures.
(Our daughter and son-in-law had come to dinner and showed us that we have a Pokeman stop right by our house. The wagon wheel post box owned by the guy next door gives you Pokeman balls just for checking in.)
(Then our grandson came over to tell us the playground nearby looked very profitable. He and Marc went searching.)
This is obviously something worth investigating. So we headed out to see what this is all about.
I had briefly signed up for the app and then deleted it because it was sucking the power from my phone and I didn't want to have to worry about it.
Besides, I can go along for free on Marc's phone.
We headed out.
Turns out the American Fork Library grounds are littered with Pokeman creatures and people walking around like zombies trying to catch them.
On the way to and from, the phone was making the crashing sound that tells us we're near something.
It's very addictive.
I love surprises and treasure even if they're odd-looking, fantastical creatures with no real purpose in life.
This is fun!
Now we've introduced Pokeman Go! to two other grandkids.
Marc took them down and showed them the sights and raised his Pokeman Go! level by two levels.
They had a great time and came back all enthused.
They were fascinated by the sport and by all the people walking around with their phones out and their heads down.
They made new friends.
They scored a lot of captures.
Now their parents will probably have to get the app and share their iPhones with them.
We apologize.

Monday, July 11, 2016

Shooting from the hip

I thought it a little odd that there were guys in the parade pretending to have a shoot-out, especially since we are all reeling from the killings of police officers in Dallas.
I was sitting in my camp chair watching from the shade, expecting to see a typical, Americana-style,  Steel Days Parade with the bands and floats and such.
For 26 years, Marc and I have come to the parade.
In the beginning, we were packing our cameras and notebooks. We were looking for cute little kids in wagons and pretty girls waving from city floats.
We were high-fiving city council and county commissioner and governor candidates.
We had years surrounded by children and grandchildren scrambling for the candy tossed our way.
We waved to Mayors Savage, Beck, Durfey and now Hadfield.
We applauded wildly for the American Fork Marching Band.
It's been a tradition the last few years to ride down on our bikes to the band breakfast and hang around for the parade.
This year, I was on my own as Marc had a dress rehearsal for his current stage play.
I was comfortable in my chair and happy, expecting the usual.
So I was surprised when these guys came along with golf carts decorated with flags, one of them a Confederate one.
They piled out, pulled out pistols and aimed at each other.
The guys in back fired.
The guy in front fired back (fortunately with blanks).
It had all the earmarks of an old-fashioned street gunfight, an in-your-face gunfight.
The parade watchers — me included — were all dumbstruck.
It didn't seem to fit in, this scene.
I thought at the very least it was way insensitive, given recent events and raw emotions. At the most, it was profane.
It wasn't until afterward that I realized it was probably unauthorized as well.
American Fork City has since issued an apology and insist the entry was NOT blessed by the parade committee.
How it got in there is a mystery.
Why it got in there is another.
The only thing I know for sure is it didn't belong.
Here's the video:

Thursday, July 7, 2016

Keeping up with Cael

It seemed like a harmless venture.
Cael — who is 2 and 1/2 — wanted to check out the slide on the other side of the new Ivory Park.
He could see it from the splash pad and headed in that direction while his sisters and I were playing in the fountains.
He went south so I did too.
(First of all, Mia, his 5-year-old sister, tried to go with him and hold his hand but he was having none of her direction. He fussed at her and so I went along to keep the peace.)
It was kind of a trek but it looked like a fun playset with a slide and climbing features.
I had kicked off my flip-flops so I could enjoy the cool grass with my toes but I hadn't realized the wood chips covering the ground around the playtoy were not feet-friendly.
They hurt to walk on and I quickly retreated to the pavilion cement pad.
Cael started climbing with Mia.
She found a kind of plastic seat thing that Cael wanted to be on as well.
He couldn't reach it so I tried to come over to help.
"Ow, ow!!"
I retreated again. Mind over painful matter didn't work.
So Cael began to climb up a ladder made of metal rungs and rubber hoses.
He was successful although it was pretty challenging for him.
I looked at him standing with Mia about 10 feet off the ground.
Oh dear.
There was no simple way back down, no slippery slide or climbing wall or steps.
I was going to have to go get him.
Because I love him and didn't want him to die, I walked back over, wincing at each step. The chips bit into my tender feet with no mercy. However, I didn't feel I had a choice.
I made it to the tower they were on but I couldn't reach Cael.
He was too high up and he wanted down.
I tried standing on one of the metal rungs but I couldn't get a good hold of him with one hand. He waited, assuming grandma would save him.
I didn't know what to do. I couldn't go for help. No one else was around. I didn't see that this was going to end well.
He thought I was getting him so he started down. The best plan I had was to try and catch him as he fell.
It was really scary.
He stretched his little legs and feet out and then grabbed hold. Mia was cheerleading. I was sweating and praying.
He worked and wiggled and made it perilously from rung to rung and to the other side without falling through.
He was all proud of himself and fine in the end.
I'm rung out.

Thursday, June 30, 2016

MoTown a ride into the musical past

I was never a big fan of Diana Ross.
I thought she was such a great fan of herself that she didn't need anybody else.
However, she was certainly fun to watch in the Broadway Across America show "Motown The Musical" at the Capitol Theatre Tuesday.
The Supremes were just one of the groups featured in the show celebrating Motown's 25th Year and the story of the Motown creator, Berry Gordy.
Gordy built Motown from absolutely nothing and launched careers of not only the Supremes but Marvin Gaye, Michael Jackson and his brothers, the Temptations, Smokey Robinson, Stevie Wonder and singing, swinging stars who provided the musical backdrop for a lot of my high school and college days.
It was an invigorating visit to the past.
The costuming and the set were spectacular and creatively done.
The dancers and actors had the moves down. The young Michael Jackson was totally fun.
The vocals were spot-on.
And there were more than 50 songs included. (My instant orchestra friends, Kenny Hodges and Louis Campbell were part of the pit orchestra!)
It was a rockin' good time.
I even enjoyed Ross and her hair flipping attitude.
She conveyed the fact that although she got kind of carried away with herself, she was talented.
So now, I'm going around humming "Baby Love," "I Hear a Symphony," along with
"My Girl" and "Please, Mr. Postman" and considering going again before it leaves Salt Lake.
It's here until July 1.

Monday, June 27, 2016

Here's a Note...

An imposter in the garage
I hadn't planned on bringing a different car home from the dealership on Friday.
I was only taking my Leaf in for a tire rotation and simple checkup. I figured I'd be in at noon and home by 2 p.m.
I was all the way down to Honeybaked Ham for lunch when I got a phone call: "Hi, Mrs. Haddock, I see we have you down for a couple of minor things but your Leaf has a couple of recall fixes on it. I can't get those finished in an hour so what we'd like to do is keep your car overnight and possibly through tomorrow. We can lend you a car so you have wheels."
What's this portal for?
I could do that. I didn't want to have to come back to take care of the recall issues and it'd be fun to have a new car over the weekend, right?
So now we have a Versa Note in our garage...after I figured out how to get into the house without access to my remote garage door opener and suffered all the way home without my CDs.
I just hadn't properly planned to switch vehicles and ended up leaving my husband's iPad on the front seat, the opener, a couple of loaves of freshly baked bread and the movie blankets I use on Tuesdays in the hatch.
We drove back for several things and now we're driving around this tiny little car that is actually very retro and cheaply put together (no offense intended to any of you who own a Note).
It has handles you wind around to open the windows. It took me a while to figure out how to do that.
It doesn't lock more than one door at a time and even after you've locked all the doors, the hatch door still opens if you don't make a special effort there.
It has a tin can kind of feel and a radio that's fuzzy.
1950's version of a power window
It also requires gas which is not a big problem except I have stopped carrying my gas card with me since we bought the all-electric Leaf.
It isn't as roomy either or as quiet.
And when you push the pedal to go, it takes a few seconds to get into motion. There's an urge to get out and push that comes with it.
I think the dealership was nice to provide me with a vehicle and brave to take a chance on a grandma driver.
But I'm going to be at their doorstep first chance I get to reclaim my car.
 I want my lovely, modern, quiet, sleek and peppy, sky blue, Leaf back.

Thursday, June 23, 2016

Only God can trim a tree

We've been fretting over our big tree for some time now.
A couple of years ago the fellow we hired to trim and shape our cherry tree told us he thought we ought to cable our 20-year-old cottonwood out back.
It's grown quite large and has a split trunk with three large branches growing out of that trunk.
We love this tree as it provides shade for the entire backyard and its leaves rustle in the afternoon breeze quite pleasantly.
We weren't sure we wanted to cut any of it out but we told the tree guy we'd consider it.
He went off to check on prices.
When we didn't hear from him for the rest of the summer, we were actually a bit relieved.
This summer, however, a couple of smaller branches broke off during a particularly wild windstorm.
I dug out the tree guy's number and called him up.
I had him come pay some attention to our shrubs and asked him again about the tree.
He said he would see what a sling would cost and call me.
"You'd hate to have one of those branches fall on your roof," he said.
That's been several weeks ago so I called him up again.
"The best price I found is from a place in Canada," he said. "But I'm a little tight on my finances right now so you'll need to call them and order it. Then I'll come cut off the branch and install the sling."
The sling would be about $300 and the branch removal plus placing the sling would run between $700-$800.
I know nothing about tree slings.
What size? What color? What do I ask for?
The tree guy told me to get a 4-ton sling with a 50-meter cord.
I gulped.
But I did make the call and was doing fine until the girl on the other end of the phone realized I was calling from the United States.
"We only ship within Canada," she told me. "You'll have to pay the freight costs. You might want to consider a company that's more local to your area."
Um again.
I rang off and told my husband the situation.
He was not impressed.
"We don't know what to get and we shouldn't have to get it ourselves," he said. "Let's think about this some more."
I called our neighborhood landscape man who said he would come take a look.
He came by yesterday.
"I don't think it needs cabling," he said. "It's a healthy tree. It looks fine."
Since I'd rather not spend $700-$1,000 to have a branch cut off and perhaps damage an otherwise well-behaved tree, I think we'll go with the second opinion.
Let me know if the wind starts blowing.

Thursday, June 9, 2016

'Newsies' is flipping fine

My granddaughter noticed a few things about the "Newsies" musical that came to the Capitol Theatre Tuesday night.
The energy was high.
The story was interesting.
And everybody could do back flips at will.
Adell had agreed — quite willingly — to come with me on media night to the show.
She's never been to a professional stage production before and, since she's into acting herself, she was a natural choice after my husband decided his knee was probably not up to the sitting and staying in tight quarters.
She and I took off early, intending to park the electric car and hop on the Trax so we could be there by 7:15 p.m. as requested.
It turned out that we missed the exit to get onto the Trax at 11400 so we tried finding the station at 90th.
There was a backhoe and a trench in our way so we came around and ended up back on the freeway.
Then we had to find parking and make our way through the crowd piled up on the sidewalk.
By the time we arrived, it was 7:16 and Adell was concerned.
She wanted to go more than she'd let on.
It was a relief to her that the people in charge had not given our seats away.
We took our seats with nobody in the two seats in front of her.
So we watched the story of these street kids trying to survive by selling newspapers.
When the price per hundred papers went up to 60 cents, they had to take a stand which meant going on strike and asking for trouble. Eventually the Newsies make things better for everyone.
The music is fun. The message is a good one.
The sets move up and down and all around.
Everyone in the cast, except maybe the reporter/Pulitzer daughter and her greedy father, seems agile and good at spectacular dance moves.
After the curtain call, Adell told me what she thought.
"Everyone knew how to make big moves and how to keep the energy up," said my 10-year-old critic.
"I learned about it in my acting class.
"If I was doing a review, I would say it was really good."

Friday, June 3, 2016

On your left...

I got one of "those" phone calls a few weeks back.
It was my husband.
"Just so you don't worry, I'm calling to tell you there's been an accident. I'm OK. John's OK. But I'll probably be here a while," he said. (Love these, "just so you don't worry" openers.)
Here would be on the side of the road, being checked over by the paramedics at the scene of the crash.
Marc and his friend were headed to lunch and waiting to finish turning left at an intersection in Salt Lake where there's a lot of construction and heavy traffic.
Before they could get out of the way, a car coming through apparently jumped the light and smashed smack into them broadside, right where Marc was riding.
It was a traumatic event.
Fortunately, only the cars and their mental health were badly hurt.
Marc sustained some spectacular bruising but weathered it fairly well, all things considered.
His friend, who was driving, is upset. He can't sleep, can't relax and won't drive.
I find myself thinking, "Wow! Marc could have been killed or at the least, seriously injured." He was more than lucky.
The car stood up well for itself.
The other car was totaled and, of course, the other guy has no insurance and no money.
And because John was making a left turn, he was cited.
He's indignant and fighting the ticket.
Marc has run over and over it in his mind, replaying the sequence of events, especially since he got a subpoena to testify in court about it.
There were orange barrels everywhere.
Two lanes were having to merge into one.
The cars ahead of them were slow and blocking progress.
The man who charged into them was probably texting when the light changed and simply took off at a high rate of speed but he's claiming he had the green light and therefore the right of way. (Never mind that John's car was clearly in his path.)
The whole situation is now in the courts while officials try to lay appropriate blame and assign costs. They also have to figure out if the accident was in Sandy or Draper since the road is partly in both cities.
It's dragging on and I don't know how it will turn out.
The only things I DO know is: I'm glad Marc and John are physically all right and I'm being a lot more cautious at left turn situations!

Monday, May 23, 2016

Uh, there's a window well...

So the tree guy I had called to come trim our shrubbery was hard at work.
The saw was buzzing and the branches were flying.
It was already looking better outside my office window.
The bushes had been growing out of control since their haircut from a couple of years earlier.
The interior ones had shot up and the whole area was pretty wild looking.
I had called the trimmers back.
"Just do what you did the last time and make it all look better," I suggested before I retreated indoors.
"Watch out for quail nests, though."
They were busy for a while.
I heard a couple of shouts when they surprised some wasps in a nest deep inside and noticed the one guy standing deep inside the greenery. But I didn't think a lot about it.
When I came out with my checkbook to survey the results, he started explaining why he was in the middle of the bushes.
"I wanted to try and lift the branches so they would fill in the hole there," he said, pointing to where he'd been.
"There's one over there too," he said, gesturing to the other side.
I looked at where he was looking.
Yes, there is kind of a hole in the center on both sides, right where the window wells are.
"Uh, there are window wells there," I said. "Maybe I should have mentioned that."
The guy looked at me.
"Really? That would have been a surprise," he said somewhat dourly. "That would explain a lot."
I wonder if you can be sued for damage to a hedge-trimmer who isn't informed about a window well?

Wednesday, May 18, 2016

Busting his chops

Say cheese!
We busted a few myths when we were in Washington D.C.
Like, the Cherry Blossom Festival lasts for the first two weeks in April. (By the time we were there on April 8, there was one tree with blossoms still hanging on to it.)
And the weather's pretty nice. (It was super rainy the whole time.)
But most importantly, we discovered that Washington's teeth were not wooden.
In fact, he had teeth made of a number of things, none of them wood.
He had some human teeth replacements, some of ivory, some donkey, some horse and some hippopotamus teeth, held together by gold springs.
He had one set made of teeth from some of his Mt. Vernon slaves. (Yes, Washington owned slaves, mostly inherited from his wife but he did own slaves even while he was lobbying against the practice of slavery.)
He spent a good deal of his time hunting for good dentures and was pretty miserable most of his days.
That's why he doesn't smile in any of his photographs and/or paintings.
If you notice, he isn't smiling on the one dollar bill.
He holds his mouth in a tight line.
The poor man was in a fair amount of pain. He lost his first adult tooth when he was 22 and had just one of his original teeth left by the time he became the nation's first president.
In one of the Smithsonian museums, there's a whole exhibit dedicated just to Washington's dental troubles.
I think it's admirable that he was able to conduct himself with dignity every day. Nothing wears you down like mouth pain.
I have increased admiration for the man.
I had no idea and by the way, we never found the cherry tree he chopped down, either.

Friday, May 13, 2016

Read the fine print

Riding high
We were quite proud of ourselves for discovering and using the BikeShare program in Washington D.C.
We learned to register for the shiny red bikes, unhook them from their stations and ride them all over the National Mall.
We marveled at how handy they were and how much easier it was to see the monuments and memorials from bikeside. We zoomed all around.
We were careful to watch our time and return the bikes both days before our 24-hour period was up, sometimes hurrying to make it but always there in time (or so we thought).
So when we got back from our vacation and looked at the bills we were curious about a $60 charge from BikeShare that we didn't feel could be right.
We knew we'd be charged $16 to register each bike and then we understood there would be a $2 hourly charge for seat time.
We figured we rode both bikes a total of maybe 10-12 hours.
We were conservative and it rained a lot so we didn't ride them everyday all day long.
I called up the BikeShare lady to complain, thinking someone had taken a bike we hadn't locked up properly or someone had picked up a ticket on the ground and used it in our names.
I was prepared to be righteously indignant.
The BikeShare lady wasn't very interested in my case.
"You had a lot of overages on your bikes," she said with a sigh. "You were supposed to return them to the stations every 30 minutes. Anything else I can help you with?"
What? That would be crazy. You would barely be able to get from one place to another before it would be time to lock them back up.
I sputtered.
I told her no one told us that.
"It's all there in the contract" she said, unimpressed. "You should have read that part."
I got the feeling she heard this all of the time.
And now it's weeks after the fact. I'm in Utah. She's in Washington D.C. She has our money and the bikes.
I have no recourse except to get mad and warn others in this blog.
So that's what I'm doing here.
Bikers beware...

Thursday, April 28, 2016

Washington sights and sounds

A bit of the National Air & Space Museum
Marc and I sought advice before we headed off to Washington D.C.
We asked a son-in-law who had served a mission there what to see and where to go. We asked another one and a son who had visited or spent quality time there what were the best attractions. We asked a friend who was a page in Congress what we should see first and what we could skip if time ran out. Everyone was agreed on one thing. We had to go in prepared.
The Spirit of St. Louis, open a window and hang out!
There's too much to do and see to be wasting any time pondering once you arrive.
We ended up with a top 10 list that included seeing the Lincoln Memorial, the Jefferson Memorial and the Washington Monument.
We had six days and good shoes.
We wrote ahead and got reservations to see The White House. We made an appointment to tour the Capitol.
We bought SmartTrip passes for the Metro.
So at 7 a.m. on the first day we toured The White House, saw the Blue Room, the Green Room, the State Dining Room and the White House china.
Then we trudged across the rainy streets to the Capitol where we walked through miles of underground tunnels until we found our Utah congressman and a helpful albeit surprised intern who took us on the nickel tour. (They'd lost our e-mail.)
Brigham and friends
We saw the two statues that supposedly represent Utah: Brigham Young and Philo Farnsworth (excuse me, but Philo is from Rigby, Idaho)!
We rented a couple of red bikes from the BikeShare rack and headed along the Potomac River to the National Mall where we climbed a lot of stairs to see Lincoln and Jefferson.
We ducked when we realized our bike path was directly in line with planes landing and taking off from the Reagan National Airport. They were so close!
We visited the National Archives where we could see the actual Declaration of Independence signed boldly by my great-great-(many more greats-)uncle John Hancock. It's a little faded but so very historic.
We ducked out of the rain and into the Castle at the Smithsonian and saw all kinds of cool things. It's a great primer for the rest of the museums, kind of a Cliff Notes version.
At the Air & Space Museum we saw the foods astronauts eat, the sleeping bags stuck with Velcro to the wall, the big and little planes, the hot air balloons and toys inspired by the space shuttle.
We saw a huge tarantula in the Museum of Natural History, the Hope Diamond and the original Wright Brother's airplane.
We stared soberly at the thousands of grave markers in the Arlington National Cemetery, visited the Kennedy graves.
We spent a day going back in time at Mount Vernon, seeing the land and the river and the vegetation as it was when Washington lived there.
We learned about Washington's teeth and the reasons he never really smiled. (He struggled with dental problems his whole life.)
We visited Ford's Theater.
Everywhere we went there was something riveting to see and to understand.
Marc loved the information, the detail and the rooms full of exhibits.
Look out below!

He would have been happy just to immerse himself in the history.
I was happy that I got to see the exhibit of The First Lady's dresses from Martha Washington to Michelle Obama!

Monday, April 25, 2016

A safe place

Mia's prize
Mia knew what she wanted when she came to visit the other day.
She went straight to the pantry and the jar of Jelly Bellys.
She told me she needed more Jelly Bellys because she had friends coming over to play and all she had at her house were the ones nobody liked.
In her 4-year-old mind, the ones at my house weren't doing anybody any good. They just sat on the shelf day after day.
(I've been saving them for game nights.)
I got them out and poured some into a bowl so she could sort out the kinds she liked.
She busily selected red ones and "vanilla" ones and blue ones. She made a separate pile with the ones she knows her grandpa likes: licorice and hot ones.
She tried for a while to determine which ones were chocolate and which were coffee-flavored but after a while, it was too hard.
She simply put them all in a plastic bag to take home.
Then, just at we went out the door, she dashed back to grab the jar.
"I'll need all of these!" she declared.
On the way home in the car she realized she would need to be careful or her stash would disappear once her siblings saw the candy.
I gave her a plastic grocery bag to put the jar into.
I knotted the top so it was somewhat disguised.
She was happy.
She told me she would put them right into her bed so nobody would see them.
She didn't want them in the closet or under a bed or in a cupboard.
She would keep them safe where she could check on them at any time.
Last I heard her plan was working well.