Thursday, August 17, 2017

The proper sun glasses

Marc called it.
I was reading about the line of people that snaked around the block from the Clark Planetarium. They bought 21,000 pairs of Eclipse glasses Wednesday.
The planetarium staff expected they would run out today.
I had heard about the recall on the glasses supplied to the grocery stores and how no one could trust any of the glasses unless they were from the planetarium.
I had checked around for some in Springville and Provo and had no luck.
I now really wanted a good pair.
I have stood in lines for less important things like Cabbage Patch dolls and Elsa dolls.
So why wouldn't I stand in line for proper eclipse glasses?
"You're going up to Salt Lake, aren't you?" Marc said.
It was only about 8:30.
I glanced at the clock, calculating my journey.
I could get up there easily by 9:30 and still have time for my other errands and plans for the day.
I went in and dressed.
Marc grinned and went off to work.
When I arrived at the planetarium it was 9:47. The doors were scheduled to open at 10:30 a.m.
There was already a line of people from the door back about 200 feet.
I joined them, realizing quickly that I should have planned a little better.
I needed an umbrella, water and sunscreen.
I also could have used a camp chair and a full bag of makeup to apply while waiting like the lady in front of me.
A guy came out and started warning the crowd. "We only have enough glasses for 700 transactions," he said. "And we're asking you to limit your purchase to five per family."
He went on to explain that he couldn't open the doors early as it wouldn't be fair to people arriving at 10:30.
(I didn't really get the logic behind that decision as the people who arrived at 10:30 would be out of luck anyway.)
As it was, by the time I was handed a ticket for purchase as buyer #82, the line went down the street and came back around and down the street toward the Gateway Mall.
The man handing out tickets was spending a lot of his time telling people where to go to get information on making pinhole cameras.
I eventually was allowed inside the building and allowed to buy my glasses.
People around me in line were offering to buy any glasses I might not need and I was gaining a new understanding of supply and demand dynamics.
As it is, I'm keeping my glasses out of sight until Monday at 11:30.
They are in the safe.

Monday, August 14, 2017

Four-footed BFF

Eight-year-old Hannah is in love.
Her new BFF has shiny red hair and a glossy mane.
She also has a gentle temperment.
She and Hannah get along great. They're already best buds after getting together once.
Unfortunately "Tess" lives in Bear Lake County at the Beaver Creek Lodge.
Hannah will only get to see her maybe once a year.
We took several granddaughters to ride into the forest on our last trip to Bear Lake.
We rode along calmly into the pine trees and the brush, trying in vain to keep the horses from nibbling on the weeds as we went.
Tess was a little lower to the ground which made Hannah more comfortable since Hannah is not very big or tall.
She walked along with an even gait so Hannah didn't bounce.
When the other horses trotted to catch up to the leader, Tess just kept a steady, even pace.
As it was Hannah's first time on a real horse ride (The ponies who go round and round at Thanksgiving Point don't count, apparently), she was very happy to have a peaceful ride.
My horse and the ones that Adell and Ellie were riding liked to change things up now and then by breaking into a trot.
Mine liked to walk up right up against the trees on the trail, forcing me to try and push him over and away or lose some skin on my leg.
All of the horses liked the mountain stream where they could plunge in and take a long, cool drink.
The ride is a good one.
The scenery is gorgeous and we enjoyed being out in the green and the sunshine.
However, it's a little hard on the legs when you only ride once a year.
I was happy to return to the starting point and climb down to the ground.
So was Marc.
We were feeling like bow-legged oldsters. We headed for the car and the air conditioning.
The girls, especially Hannah, lingered back with horses, patting their heads and rubbing their necks.
Hannah was telling Tess good-bye, not sure she'd ever see her again.
She had tears in her eyes on the way home.
I'm already thinking, can we get the same horses next year?

Monday, August 7, 2017

Casting call...

We both thought it was strange when Marc got a ballot in the mail inviting him to vote for the 3rd District Congressional candidate.
I got one but I'm a legitimate Republican born into a Republican family and taught by a Republican mother to only be righteously Republican, nothing else.
Marc is one of the few Democrats I know and love.
His dad was a Democrat and so he's a Democrat. Besides that Marc fits the mold. He likes to go against the flow and argue when it might be easier to agree.
He's dismayed with the Trump administration and never was impressed with Chaffetz.
When John Curtis decided to run for Chaffetz' seat, he was ready to vote for him. He didn't like the other two guys.
Marc worked with Curtis when he was covering Provo City for the Daily Herald and admires him, his philosophy and his abilities.
I have written for John Curtis and about him for Provo and I like him too.
He's a decent guy who thinks clearly and has good ideas when it comes to problem-solving. He's aware of the pitfalls and dangers he faces in the United States congress.
So when Marc looked at the ballot, he was initially excited and ready to cast a vote for Curtis.
Then he thought about it.
Why was he eligible to vote in this race anyway? Why did he get a ballot at all? What was going on?
Turns out Utah County officials made a mistake and sent a whole bunch of unaffiliated voters these ballots which were NOT for them.
The officials in charge discovered their error and retracted their offer but not before I had discarded the ballot.
Turns out people could still use their ballots but the votes for congressman just would not count.
Now Marc wanted his ballot.
He'd left it right on the counter two weeks ago.
I had thrown it away after I mailed mine in.
That meant Marc had to dumpster dive into our recycling bin to find his ballot which he did and now his vote is in the mail.
He was a touch irate with me for tossing it.
But who knew he cared that much?

Sunday, August 6, 2017

You are my heat!

It was Marc's birthday and I wanted to write something profound in his little birthday card.
I had bought him a kind of bubble spa thing for his poor feet that often hurt in the evenings.
I wrapped it up and prepared a nice card deliberately avoiding the urge to be funny, no jokes and no sarcasm.
Since I sometimes (?) razz him about his homely toes and purple ankles, I figured it was time to just be nice and let him know I love him.
I told him I loved all of him, including his feet.
I told him he was my heart and my life, I thought.
When he opened the card, he seemed puzzled.
He held it this way and that way, trying to decipher the message.
Exasperated, I reached over and took the card.
"See, it says "You are my rack? rust? rook? and my hert? hees? hunt?" I tried to tell him.
But I couldn't read my writing either.
I'm obviously been a journalist too long. I write like a doctor.
I huffed off.
Several days later, I picked the card up and studied the message.
What could I have meant to say?
Finally, the mist cleared: "You are my rock and my heart!"
Of course, clear as a bell.
There you have it.
Much better than "You are my rust and my heat, "don't cha think?
What's hard to understand about that?

Thursday, August 3, 2017

Walk this way...

I had agreed to run my granddaughter over to her friend's house in Eagle Mountain.
Alyson was at my daughter's house in Lehi and I had an hour before I was due at the dentist so it seemed like a very doable thing.
I know the way to Eagle Mountain and figured I could make the round trip with a few minutes to spare.
We took off.
I asked Alyson if she knew which part of Eagle Mountain we were heading to.
She blinked. "Yeah, I know where she lives but she moved," she said. "But I have my phone."
All of my grandkids keep up. They can text and use the GPS with no problems.
So when she pulled out her phone and typed in the address, I wasn't concerned.
We laughed a little when it turned out the GPS voice was a man with a British accent, just like Alyson's dad.
He told us to go to the Crossroads, to Pioneer Crossing and into Eagle Mountain toward where Alyson used to live.
We turned into her former subdivision and followed the directions to the letter...until the voice said, "Prepare to park, then walk to your destination."
I looked to the right and there was a big, vacant field.
Across the field was another development but it looked like mostly new, empty houses and the field was a big one.
We stared.
"Umm, I think I can walk," said Alyson.
No way was I going to let my 14-year-old granddaughter out to cross that field by herself.
I imagined snakes, mice, glass and rusted nails.
I tried to picture having to tell her mother that the last time I saw Alyson she was trudging across a vacant lot alone.
We weighed our options. I figured I was going to make the dental office people mad because I would be late or miss my appointment.
I turned the car around and we went back to the main road on down to the grocery store we could see from where we were.
The GPS kept arguing, telling us to make a U-turn and prepare to park and walk.
We muddled around, turning this way, searching for somewhere we'd never been and then, voila!
There was a house with the correct number on the garage wall. Apparently this subdivision was not yet on the Google map.
Alyson collected her things and walked to the porch. She rang the bell and the door opened.
I called the dentist and rearranged the appointment.
All is well.
But, my goodness, what was the GPS thinking?
I'm NOT leaving any of my grandchildren to walk any unknown distance to a vague destination.

Saturday, July 29, 2017

The red, white and blue poodle...

Upside, backside

Assembly line grooming
How do I look?

The diamond brooch is a nice touch

The ultra tub
Party pooch and his man

The ocean blue?

There is a dog under all that color
When my daughter invited me to go with her to a place called 'SuperZoo" in Las Vegas, I was curious.
What is a SuperZoo?
Why do people go there?
What would there be for a quasi employee of Kari's Klips to do?
But it didn't matter that I had no idea what I was in for, I love my youngest daughter and I certainly didn't want her heading off to Vegas on her own.
(See, she has had tremendous success with her home grooming studio and wanted to learn more. She wanted to see what else there is to see and do.)
What we found was fascinating.
First of all, it's huge...and well-attended by lots and lots of folks...and all kinds of dogs.
The sexy groomer garb
(In fact, it's kind of strange to see poodles, huskies, yorkies and even wolf-hounds tripping alongside their owners on the way to the competitions in this fancy hotel and casino.)
We found the biggest trade show I've ever seen, selling everything from freeze-dried duckheads and pig snouts to puppy playground equipment, industrial-sized washing tubs and Christmas collars.
Everywhere we looked there was another product designed to intrigue a dog lover.
The grooming competition involved the standard mix of dogs of all sizes but the creative grooming contest include outrageous cuts.
One party poodle was dyed blue with a black Orca stamped on his side. He had crests on his back to look like waves and Christmas lights intertwined.
Another had every color imaginable on his legs, his back, his top ruff, his sides.
One standing on a table by the entrance was black, white and red-striped.
A tiny all-pink poodle danced around the audience.
Then were were the dogs in the Rescue Round, dogs who had been neglected and who badly needed a clean-up.
Most of them were cute and kind of bedraggled but one looked just like a big, white rug. The groomer working on it ended up standing in a big pile of fur but eventually a dog emerged.
It was most entertaining to watch.
Meanwhile, Kari went to classes on subjects like clipping mixed breeds and working with demanding clients.
She learned quite a bit. I learned that the dealers really prefer to talk to the business owner and not so much to the sidekick grandma.
I'm actually not sure I minded being dismissed.
I'm more into following the crazy-colored dogs around. 

Monday, July 3, 2017

That cuts it!

I've been worried since we bought really nice, really sharp knives for Marc for Christmas.
I bought him a glove to protect his fingers.
We make sure the knives are always put back in their little wooden sheath.
We take care whenever we use them.
I've been particularly worried when I borrow one of them.
They're so sharp and they cut so quickly.
When I want to slice a tomato, one of Marc's knives cuts right through like it's nothing.
When I need to slice a loaf of bread I've picked up from the bakery before it was cool enough to go through the slicer, I borrow his.
The other day I was laboring to cut up a watermelon.
It took forever.
So yesterday when I needed to cut up another one, I looked at his precious set of cutting tools.
I realized I would be taking a chance so I put my silicon baking sheet on the counter so the watermelon wouldn't roll away.
I lifted the fruit and started to work.
I halved it.
The knife cut right through.
I halved the half and proceeded to cut slices which I then quartered.
It went great.
I didn't hurt myself.
It went quickly and I ended up with nice, neat pieces of melon.
It wasn't until I cleaned up the watermelon juice that I noticed something funny.
The silicon sheet lifted up in places that left the rest of the sheet on the counter.
I picked it up and waggled it. It fluttered in the breeze.
I had efficiently shredded my baking sheet which now was in strips.
It was beyond repair and only good for a demonstration on how dangerous working with sharp knives could be.
Who knew sharp meant sharp?

Thursday, June 29, 2017

Movie mob

Casting call...
We're having a great old time, the minions and me.
Each week we saddle up and roll out, seeing an oldie-but-a-goodie movie every Tuesday, the six grandkids I can fit in the car and me.
We bring along a snuggy blanket for everybody. (Cael's is a Batman fleece while each of the girls has a flowery butterfly pattern.)
We remember a drink and treats.
We travel as a troupe.
The last two years we went to the local Cinemark.
This year we have to drive to the Provo Towne Centre Cinemark because American Fork's theater just upgraded to luxury loungers and displaced all the little kids.
It's a little further and once in a while we have to wait for a train to clear the track but it's fine. It's still only about a 20-minute drive.
Along the way, we sing and chat and enjoy each other, six cousins who recognize each other as movie buddies.
The last two years we didn't have Cael but he's three now, potty-trained and old enough to sit still through an entire showing of "The Secret Life of Pets" and "Shrek the 3rd."
He doesn't mind being the only boy. In fact, he has a whole pack of girls willing to serve his cause.
We're halfway through the 10-movie cycle and so far, the reviews are interesting.
These kids know how to recognize a good movie versus a so-so flick. They discuss what works and what doesn't and tell me how a plotline could've been done better.
They know about movie etiquette and nobody shouts or talks out loud.
They laugh at the funny parts and register dismay at the scary parts.
It's a bit of an ambitious undertaking.
I have to dedicate most of my Tuesday each week to movies I might not choose to watch if it was just me.
It's simple fun and their mothers love it. (They get a couple hours every week to sit down and think.)
The kids get so excited for each Movie Day. They enthuse for each movie.
However, I'm pretty sure it's the pleasure of grandma's company they really go for — more than the promise of candy and pop and a free movie.
They just love being around a funny old lady.
Am I wrong?

Monday, June 26, 2017

Spacing it!

It's a long-standing tradition in our family that we go to space every chance we get.
When the Christa McAuliffe Center was operating at Central Elementary in Pleasant Grove, we went as a family and we dragged along our business associates...colleagues from the Daily Herald, The Deseret News and later on, Marc took his buddies from Xactware when it moved out to the Manila Church as the Space Discovery Center.
While the locations have changed around and the opportunities are less frequent, we've persisted.
There's something magical and addictive about role-playing on the earth-bound ships.
We like flying in pretend space and figuring out how to defeat enemies.
We enjoy learning how to keep a virtual ship fueled, repaired and shielded.
(Of course, along the way we've had our share of defeats. One time, we were all playing dead so the enemy faction would go on its way. It was going fine until the phone rang and one of our crew members picked it up . "Ah, ha! You are alive but now you're dead!" said the alien who then proceeded to blow us up.)
(Another time, the aliens were unimpressed with our tactics and our decisions so we died.)
It's always an adventure trying to work together as a crew and make good choices under duress.
This last time, we went to the new Farpoint Academy at the Renaissance Academy in Lehi. That's where Victor Williamson, the guy who originated the whole idea, is currently building a program.
He had a brand-new facility with high-speed computers and graphics on the screens.
The missions are run by guys who take the whole thing quite seriously.
They explain the mission, the goals and the risks.
Then we take off in the USS Voyager, armed with information, fake torpedoes and a couple of plastic photon blasters.
It's always interesting to watch the grandkids (and the grown-ups) we take along get into the action.
At first, everyone is kind of kidding around, making jokes and acting as if it's nothing serious.
Then it starts to get real.
There are tasks to perform and work to do. Scrub those CO2 scrubbers. Plot a course through the asteroid belt.
Then an alien ship appears and we're in a battle.
Smoke fills the bridge. Alarms sing.
An intruder comes in who must be subdued.
The captain has to make some hard choices.
Crew members find their simple tasks matter.
By the time the mission is finished, everyone is involved and a little stressed out.
A couple of the teenagers on this latest flight went right home and went to bed. They couldn't talk about it until the next morning.
Now they want to know when we're going again.

Thursday, June 22, 2017

Behind you...

I was picking up children for Grandma's Movie Day and because we had a cousin we were taking Grandpa's SUV.
We had a total of six kids and one grandma.
I gathered all my chicks and headed to the car with one in the front, three in the back and two in the extra row.
Everyone was busily fastening their seat belts and I was finding my keys since the Leaf I usually drive just needs the keys nearby and not in the keyhole.
"Cael's not in the car," said Breanne, the cousin.
"What?" I asked, looking around and counting noses.
"Cael's not in the car," she said again, looking steadily at me.
I swiveled.
I couldn't see Cael but he's three and short and if he was in the back row, I wouldn't be able to see the top of his head.
We were running close on time but I got out and went around the back of the car to see if I could find Cael.
There he was, standing patiently behind the car waiting for somebody to open the door.
I gasped as I realized that it was quite possible I could have started the car and rolled back on him.
I opened the door, helped him in and buckled him tight.
It wasn't until I was on the road that it really hit me.
What if Breanne hadn't said anything to me?
What if I hadn't taken a few minutes finding my keys?
What if I had backed into or over this precious little guy?
My Leaf has a back-up camera so I am used to checking out what's behind me on that screen.
It's also not as high profile so I can see out the back window.
Whatever the situation, I had made myself a new rule.
When I am driving anywhere and backing up, I will first walk around the car, without fail.
I think this was my wake-up call.
Thank you Breanne.

Monday, June 19, 2017

The real zucchini killers...

Marc is exonerated.
For the past several years, he's been Suspect Number One when it comes to the question of who killed our zucchini.
We'd buy seed and plant the seedlings and they'd wither and die.
We'd buy plants that were well along in development and they'd shrink to nothing and die.
I figured he was overwatering...He figured it was too hot and dry.
I'd issue strict orders that he leave the zucchini alone and last year, the plant lived. We harvested a crop of several.
This year we bought two healthy-looking plants from a reputable nursery and Marc planted them in the ground.
We stood back and waited and sure enough, in a couple of days the two young plants bit the dust, almost literally.
I righteously declared that his brown thumb had struck again and marched off to the store to buy yet another one.
Marc replaced the dirt so as to give this plant a decent chance,
I built up a small hill and tucked it into a hole, watering around it and pushing the soil all up around it like a blanket around a baby.
Imagine my dismay when the next morning the plant leaves were skeletal. It looked awful so fast.
The leaves had been ravaged. I'd never seen damage like it that came on so fast.
I ran to the Internet...looking for expert advice and comfort.
I found a site dedicated to "holes in zucchini leaves."
This lady had run into similar plant disaster and after trying a couple of things, rigged up a camera to film what happened overnight to her babies.
Earwigs happened!
An army of the critters swarmed over the plant during the dark hours and ate all they could hold.
To defeat them, it would take an insecticide that had to be dusted all around the plant and over its leaves.
I went to the store, bought the appropriate deadly dust, put on my rubber gloves, my gas mask and went to work.
This morning everything seems stable. No further damage but no little dead bugs that I can see.
Maybe they ingest the poison and crawl away to die. Maybe they took a Sunday break.
When it isn't Marc's fault, I don't know what to think.
I'm on this though.

Friday, June 16, 2017

Give it the proper spin...

I have a couple of new friends at Walmart.
It didn't start out that way but now we're buds, the people who work in returns and me.
See, what happened was my granddaughter Adell bought a new, purple, 18-speed bike with mostly her own hard-earned cash.
A bike that promptly exhibited problems.
A spoke broke.
The gears wouldn't shift up.
The brake was erratic.
All in all, it made for a dangerous ride, even with a helmet.
Adell was sad.
Her mother was too busy with a new home business to worry about returning the bike so, intrepid grandma that I am, I offered to help.
Adell and I loaded the bike in the back of my Leaf and off we went to the Cedar Hills store.
I explained the situation to the workers, expecting an offer for an exchange or a refund since it was obviously new and barely used.
The lady at the service counter called in her supervisor.
She asked me for the card used for the purchase.
I offered one my daughter had sent with me.
Wrong card.
I called my busy daughter. She gave me the number for another credit card.
The ladies started looking it up.
"When did she buy it?" they asked. "Did she buy it here?"
I called my busy daughter again. She gave me a date.
Wrong date.
The ladies looked at the day ahead and the day after, then the week ahead and the week after.
Then they took a picture of the bike's serial number.
"It says there's no record of a bike like this being sold for the past two weeks," the lady said.
I looked at her in despair.
"You mean, I have to make another trip when I have the date?" I asked.
"Yes, I'm sorry," said the supervisor, not looking very sorry.
Other customers were now backing up in line behind us.
I called my busy daughter one more time. I told her she'd have to do some research and find the transaction on her credit card history.
We returned to Adell's house with the broken bike, dismayed and defeated.
However...ta we went back armed with a transaction receipt and the proper card and the bike and a little brother.
We made our case. Somehow the supervisor remembered us and we got a new bike.
We were wheeling it up to the counter to buy it again when we saw a man looking over the broken bike.
"This isn't even our bike!" he said. "We don't sell this kind."
I drew in a breath. Adell stopped in her tracks.
Taking a cue from our reaction, the supervisor stepped in.
"Yes, we do," she said. "They had a receipt."

Thursday, June 15, 2017

One migraine headache, please, to go...

open wide
I knew when I called to make my appointment that it wasn't necessarily the best idea.
I've had dilated eye exams before and my memories are fuzzy. (Ha ha.)
But the insurance company was sort of insisting that I get one and I like to do what I'm told when it involves insurance and co-pays and my good health.
I got an appointment for mid-day, deliberately selecting a time that wouldn't interfere with my main duties of delivering grandchildren to various birthday parties and social events or with my shopping and/or errands. (I'm a busy girl.)
I took a book and prepared to wait a bit.
When it was my turn, I took a seat in the exam room and rattled off my history.
I recited the letters on the eye chart, forwards and backwards. I think I got an "A."
Eventually the actual eye doctor came in and did his thing.
He looked all around in my eyes and then he put in sticky drops.
He told me to wait in the outer foyer for 30 minutes.
That's when the trouble began.
My vision began to get a little fuzzy.
Everything started to get brighter.
When I finally returned to the exam chair, I was a touch wobbly.
The doctor shone bright white and yellow lights directly into my eyes.
I started, recognizing the kinds of triggers I try to avoid so I don't get migraine headaches...things like strobe lights, mirror balls, hot sun, flashing mirrors.
I said something about it but the doctor was unimpressed and he had his task to complete.
Finally, he was finished with a flourish and a pronouncement that my eyes were healthy.
He handed me the bill and a funny slip-in pair of shades.
My pupils were huge and the world around me shimmered.
I drove to where Marc and I were buying dinner for the grandkids.
I put my temporary shades in my purse and then couldn't find them again.
In the restaurant, I was on sensory overload. The music seemed really loud.
On the way to Salt Lake, I was miserable, nauseus, disoriented and, according to Marc, a little cranky.
It wasn't until several hours later that the effects wore off.
I'm supposed to have one of these every year now because of my diabetes. I believe it's probably a wise plan.
I just can't see it from here.

Friday, June 9, 2017

There must be something...

The mighty Leaf
I took our Leaf in to have the tires rotated.
Every year, that's our maintenance plan, move the tires around each 7,500 miles and keep the car battery charged.
(Plus, keep me from banging it into things like other cars and solid snowbanks, but that's another story I've already told.)
I've been faithful about the rotation even though it drives the service department at Ken Garff Nissan a little crazy,
I drive into the bay and hand the man the keys.
"Just a rotation?" he says, looking over my sky blue, electric vehicle that quietly stole into the area.
"How much do we charge you for that?" he asked, writing down "$40" on his paper.
"Uh, usually nothing," I said. "It's a lease and that was part of the deal."
"Oh, ok," he said and erased his note. "It'll be ready in about 30 minutes."
In 30 minutes I came back and he handed me a 15-point checklist with everything checked off as fine.
Amazingly my sweet little car didn't need any fluids, air filters, any gaskets, anything at all.
Because it's all electric there's no engine debris, no oil and no fuss.
It's a zero emission so there's no exhaust system to worry about.
I think it's great.
I feel like I'm doing my part to keep the planet clean and I love the economy.
So far, my only problem is feeling a touch guilty as I drive away having paid the service guy nothing for his time.
(He did try to talk me into four new tires because one on the left back side is starting to show some wear, he said. The other three are in good shape but "it's a good idea to replace all four at the same time" for a mere $500.)
I think we're good.

Sunday, June 4, 2017

A big tree, a big ocean and fat starfish...

As good as it gets...North California beach

Fern Canyon ferns
Underwater Marc

A pair of hooligans

Starfish in love

Rocks to die for

A Happy Birthday girl

I didn't ask for much for my 66th birthday.
I told Marc I just wanted to go to the beach, stand where I could hear and feel the roar of the surf and see the Redwoods in California.
I wanted to stay in a place that offered more than the standard hotel experience. I'd pay a little extra for the ocean front view and the solitude.
Oh, and our visit would have to be sandwiched in between high school graduations and writing deadlines.
We'd have to fly over and back in a jet and a puddle-jumper that could land in the Eureka/Arcata airport.
Marc signed on and off we went for three days.
We hiked and splashed and discovered all kinds of natural beauty on the northern California coast.
We stood almost face to hindquarters with a major herd of elk that weren't that impressed with us.
We climbed down the dangerous face of a cliff to get to the beach rocks and then up again so our leg muscles could claim a serious workout.
One morning we combed the beach tide pools with about a hundred schoolkids looking for critters, finding big, fat, pink, orange and red starfish tucked in all the crevasses and masses of anemones.
We explored Fern Canyon which is really a magical kind of trail through the water back, back, back into a place where the walls drip and sparkle and rain down on everyone who comes in for a look. (It's actually where Steven Spielberg filmed "Jurassic Park, the Lost World" because it feels so primeval and ethereal.)
From our bed and breakfast (Turtle Rocks Oceanfront Inn), we could hear the barking sea lions covering the rocks in the ocean...all day and all night!
Inside the trail dedicated to Lady Bird Johnson, we stretched our necks to see to the top of giant Redwoods that are thousands of years old and huge!
Some are Fire Trees, trees that have been completely burnt out inside yet still live to support others.
For a mini-vacation for me, it completely worked.
I came away fulfilled, aware that there's still so much more to see in this world and it's a good idea to stay healthy enough to check more of it out!
I just have to live another 66 years or so.
Mini me, bottom right...honest..I'm only a centimeter tall

Wednesday, May 3, 2017

A tree house for Mia

Mia wants a tree house but she needs a tree...and some wood, some nails and a ladder.
She has it all worked out in her 5-year-old mind.
She is a problem solver.
She has seen a tree house like she wants at her friend's house.
It's cozy and up in the air and she can take cookies up there.
The main obstacle is the absence of a tree.
There used to be a tree in Mia's backyard but it was a mean tree with thorns and a rough scaly trunk.
Her dad cut it down to keep kids from scratching their legs as they attempted to climb it and because it was very old and leaning dangerously in the wind.
It now makes for an interesting stump to jump on.
So Mia is searching for a new tree.
She asked me if she could use our tree, looking at me with hope in her big blue eyes.
We have a cottonwood in the back that has some potential as far as she can understand it.
It's tall. It has lots of branches and it's right here in Grandma and Grandpa's yard.
She knows I would help her.
We went out to look at it.
Hmm. Most of the branches didn't look up to the task.
I told this to Mia.
She dismissed my concerns.
"I know where you keep your wood. We can put it up there and then try it. You could get some nails and a ladder and I could climb up there!" she said.
I sighed.
I asked Marc about it.
He was aghast and he fears for our precious tree.
"Mia might just have to do without a tree house," he said, looking at me pointedly.
I'll just have one more surveying look. Maybe if we propped a piece of plywood on the lower branch or hung a kind of hammock between two of the stronger ones?
Maybe a double-decker?

Tuesday, April 25, 2017

A roller coaster ride...

As a rule, I'm kind of a wimp when it comes to roller coasters.
I like mine to be sort of leisurely with limited surprises.
So when we went to Orlando this past month I had to buck up a little.
I only agreed to ride the Rip Ride Rocket because my grandson really wanted me to. "You'll like it, gramma!" Jack promised. (He'd never been on it but he was sure about how much I'd like it.)
Not your grandma's ride
I went on the Dragon Challenge at Diagon Alley because I thought it was the benign Hippogryff ride I've been on several years earlier.
Watch out, the monster's torn out the track!
I rode backwards in the dark at high speed on the Everest Expedition because no one told me I'd be doing that after the Abominable Snowman wrecked the track.
Stomach dropper!
This is grandma's ride!
In all I figure we went on more than a dozen roller coasters — mostly back to back and several involving getting soaked — during the week I was in Univeral Studios and Disney World.
I'm pretty sure my doctor would not have approved. He's been concerned about my spinal cord for a while now.
But "Big Thunder Railroad" is a keeper. So is Space Mountain.
I love "The Hulk" because it shoots me out fast and I don't have time to panic. (The California Screamer is similar.)
The Gringotts bank ride is quick.
As we journeyed from line to line and thrill to thrill I tried to be a sport but I drew the line at Transformers and again at The Mummy ride. The Tonight Show ride through New York was sold out until 8 p.m. so I didn't get to form an opinion on it.
I thought for a senior citizen I gave it all a fair shot.
After all, I won't ride Wicked at Lagoon or the new Cannibal ride because I have a lot of time to reconsider my choices as the cars are pulled up the hill.
I prefer the Bat where you just sort of drift around in the sky.
In Florida, I liked the Hogwarts Express because you stay on the ground and the African Safari because the bouncy jeep we rode it was rugged and dependable.
I found I could mostly work with a scary coaster by closing my eyes all the way through or pushing up against the back rest really hard.
Or I could ride the bench and watch the others get knocked around and drop-kicked.
That's my kind of fun.
Right off the edge!
Holy smoke!
It looks scary and it is.
Rocking and rolling...
The Hulk is a keeper!

Monday, April 24, 2017

Ski season

Conner and Brayden at Brighton

Adell on the downhill
Poor Marc.
This winter he had to go skiing time after time in order to get all the grandkids who wanted to try the sport on the hill.
He had to log more ski miles this year than he's covered in years.
This 65-year-old grandpa did the improbable.
He had 11-year-old Adell who qualified for the program for 5th/6th graders that allowed a child to ski three times at each of the local resorts for a $35 fee.
In order to capitalize on her passport, he felt he needed to get her on the hill as much as he could.
He had Brayden, the senior who was just coming into his own on his snowboard.
Marc wanted to get him up on the powder so he could try out his newly honed skills.
He had Conner, the younger brother, who wanted to try it.
And you can't go just once.
Skiing demands a time or two — minimum — after the first go.
So Marc simply had to keep loading up the ski-rack and driving up the hill.
He even had to buy a new pair of skis and replace the ski boots that have become outdated and tight.
He had to pay the high prices for lunch at the lodge.
And I had to support him taking whole days here and there while I warmed the home fires.
(I didn't mind because my skiing days ended when I blew out a knee several years back. I like the fact that he can get some quality time with some grandkids as well.)
Happy skiers
So now that the snow is melting and we're turning back to biking and visits to the zoo, I'm a little sad.
It came and went really fast.
We do, however, have the photos!
Tough duty I say!

Thursday, April 20, 2017

Upping my game

I've had to improve my smashing and bashing skills since Cael discovered Rampage! in our ancient video game collection.
He's 3 and doesn't like it when I die and ruin the game.
So I've had to learn to kick, grab and jump up and down on the buildings in Salt Lake City, Denver, Madrid, Los Angeles and Barcelona.
I have to pay attention to where the food is and make sure I don't run out of energy as we go along.
Cael also has a problem with my character punching his or getting tangled up with him as he tries to climb a skyscraper.
The problem is I didn't pay enough attention when my sons were playing this game years ago.
Usually I just wanted them to turn it off because the monsters make all kinds of noise as they destroy virtual communities.
(This is for a game we've had for 30 years!)
Cael and I are usually here alone when he comes to visit so I can't just rely on his older sister to help me.
She has shown me the codes to enter so I can get a stronger guy to do my destroying and Cael waits patiently while I input the letters and numbers.
But despite my best efforts, I still die too soon.
I'll be playing along trying not to get shot down or injured by fire and flying bullets when Cael will suddenly wilt in his banana chair.
"Died!" he'll cry. "Died!"
He means I died and it kind of puts a damper on our game as one player is left to finish knocking down buildings.
I've decided I will add in some practice time when he's not here and upgrade my game.
Instead of cleaning and cooking and writing stories, I will work on my kicking holes in the walls and plucking hapless people out of windows.
After all, that's the least a good grandma can do, right?

Monday, April 17, 2017

A crown of a different color

I paid a hefty sum for our tickets to the Medieval Feast in Orlando, Florida, which I didn't begrudge at the time.
I remembered taking three kids to this joust and dinner about 15 years back and it was entertaining. (You're all shuffled into a long table/seating area and pretty much left to make your way through the chicken and soup and salad with your fingers while knights and horses square off in the sand in the middle of the arena. The King and his daughter choose the victor for the hand of the princess.)
My son remembered it too and he wanted his son to experience the drama, the adventure and the fun.
So we bought tickets well in advance online.
Our knight is the one in yellow and red
We talked about what knight we might get to champion.
On the night of the feast, we arrived an hour early so as to claim good seats and a clear line of view.
(Turns out we were roughly assigned seats depending on how much we spent for our seats.)
When I declined an upgrade, we were summarily handed paper crowns that were red and yellow striped and basically dismissed.
We gathered in the big room where there were drinks for sale and souvenirs with high price tags...chess sets, feather fans, masks and leather-bound journals.
We hung around there killing time until the master of ceremonies starting announcing our entrances.
"Those with VIP tags and gold crowns may enter through the gates!" the man said.
"Those with VIP tags and blue crowns may enter through the gates," he sang.
"Those with VIP tags and silver crowns may now enter through the gates," he continued and on and on he went, inviting those who had spent more money than we to go in first.
One group after another marched through the doors into the arena leaving us with the wrong color crowns standing behind.
It was somewhat humiliating.
We didn't have red crowns or green crowns or blue crowns or black-and-white striped crowns.
We were the lower caste crown folk and it became evident within minutes.
Finally, we were allowed through the double doors but not until we'd been shown the color of money and of the right color crowns and what that could buy.
We ate well.
We saw an impressive show.
My grandson loved the horses, the clanging swords and the colors.
It's an event to remember but you know, somehow I think there's a better way to have done this.

Friday, March 24, 2017

Monkey business

At first glance, Marc and I knew the "Funtopia" place in Lehi was something our grandkids would enjoy.
Hannah conquering her fears
We could easily envision Mia at the top of the plastic tower of blocks. We could see Cael climbing the rope ladders.
Mia monkey
We just weren't sure that Hannah would like it just because she's unpredictable in what she'll try.
But we signed on anyway since we were having them for a week while their parents and oldest sister went to Maui.
It looked like something different and fun.
We signed up Marc as well because he likes to try everything and we might need him to help bring somebody back down once they climbed clear up.
Turns out no one had to do that and in fact, the only one that fell off with a terrific thump was Marc!
My job was to monitor the process.
The only real trouble we had was that Cael, being 3, was a bit too lightweight.
His safety rope kept taking him up when he wanted to stay down or where he was.
Grandpa trying to keep up
Someone had to hang onto him to keep him on top of the blocks.
Cael coming down!
But the attendants were very helpful and one guy even went all the way from block to block hanging onto Cael's safety line so he could reach the top one. (He was a pretty proud little boy!)
Mia is a natural climber with no fear so she had a ball. Up, down, all around.
Hannah had done this once before, sort of.
She'd come to a climbing place with a birthday party group and found herself paralyzed with fear.
This time she was determined to give it an honest go.
During the safety video I noticed she was shaking so I offered her my jacket.
"It's OK," she said, "I'm not cold, just worried."
We progressed and everyone got hooked up to a line and off we went.
Bravely, she started up a wall.
Next thing we knew, she was grinning at us from the top.
She climbed the walls, the ropes and the towers.
She hung from all kinds of contraptions.
She never complained or cried or asked to quit.
I think we have successfully created a monster. (Funtopia is expensive!)
Oh well, that's what grandparents are for, right?