Wednesday, December 13, 2017

Warming, warming...

Absolutely impressive
I don't know who was more confused when we said we were in Kirtland, Ohio, for our anniversary; the people who live in the frozen state or Utahns who don't know why we didn't go to the beach.
But we didn't mind their blank stares.
We just enjoyed the snow (we couldn't find any this year in Utah) and the history and the beautiful creches at the Historic Kirtland Nativity Exhibit.
Marc had had Kirtland on his bucket list of church history sites for a while now and really wanted to visit.
He also (just coincidentally, of course) wanted to visit the Rock and Roll Hall of Fame where his close friend Bob Dylan has a little bit of space.
I had heard about the Historic Kirtland Nativity Exhibit and since I love nativities, I signed on right away.
We headed out armed with new gloves, boots, Harry Potter scarves and thermal underwear.
We flew out with no problem and landed in Kirtland safely.
The prophet sat at this table
The next day was a snow-crunching tour of Kirtland with a pair of really cold, earnest, sister missionaries who showed us the Newell K. Whitney store where Joseph Smith spent a lot of time in the upstairs room studying and the school of the prophets held class.
We stopped at the John Johnson farm where Joseph and Emma were when ruffians broke in and stole Joseph away for some tar-and-feathering.
We checked out the Kirtland Temple, literally built with faith and prayers, a place now owned by the Community of Christ church.
In the John Johnson gingerbread exhibit
We then headed to the visitors' center to see the 954 Nativity sets on display.
We were quickly overwhelmed with the detail, the creativity, the beauty and the many ways and means people use to portray that Christmas event.
(My favorite is a tiny nesting Nativity with a microscopic Baby Jesus!)
We then made a stop at the Rock and Roll Hall of Fame in Cleveland.
It is a brilliant collection with almost every song Marc and I knew from our high school days celebrated.
So, Bob, what's new?
Marc even had a heart-to-heart with Dylan.
I enjoyed the Elvis collection and would have come home with the gold outfit he never wore as a complete outfit if I could have got away with it. He only wore the jacket because it was too showy, he said.
For casual Fridays
Really? This from a guy who wore a diamond-encrusted pantsuit in most of his shows?
I think my mind is blown.
We found out later that the night after we visited Kirtland an ice storm shut down the hill we'd driven up and the day before we flew out of Atlanta 350 flights were cancelled due to bad weather.
We just skirted around all the trouble. I guess our guardian angels were on duty.
Want to travel with us?

The highlight in Cleveland

Monday, December 4, 2017

A rising star

I've enjoyed Nathan Pacheco since Yanni invited him to be a Voice on the first album that included words with Yanni's gorgeous music.
I thought at the time that he was a perfect choice since his voice had color, depth and range.
(Even though I think for a lot of us diehard Yanni fans found it difficult to welcome singers to the mix, Nathan was a natural. He respected Yanni's talent and augmented what was already beautiful music without harming the instrumental core.)
So sitting on the front row at his concert in Kingsbury Hall Saturday night was truly a gift. I was delighted.
Marc and I had to work to get there.
We had a full Saturday with a ward breakfast that required Santa and Mrs. Claus (We know them very well) to show up in costume with pockets full of candy canes, end-of-season yardwork, Christmas decorating and catching the TRAX train in time to chug up to the University of Utah.
Marc is still babying a toe that required a knuckle removal and stitches so, for him, scurrying along the sidewalk from the stadium to Will Call required stamina and sweat.
For me, it's a test for my complaining arthritic joints.
It was worth it, though.
Nathan has a charming personality and some of the song arrangements were so remarkable that I'm going online in a few minutes to buy them.
He sings in several languages with ease. He's comfortable with the patter.
He encourages sing-alongs so the audience feels a part of things and invests in the music.
He can dabble in a variety of styles.
It's a fun Christmas event and there are two more Utah concerts: Nov. 8 at UVU and Nov. 9 in Logan at the high school.

Sunday, October 29, 2017

Basic math

We are trying to get the bulk of our Christmas shopping done.
I know that to some of you this will seem way early but to anyone with 39 grandkids like we have, we're already pretty much out of time.
So we were at Toys R Us trying to buy a few things on the way home from dinner.
I had carefully read through the gift catalog and had several things marked for Marc to look at.
(He had a good sense of what little and bigger boys like as gifts.)
I had calculated that we could spend $100 and therefore earn a $25 gift card to use later.
We shopped all over the store trying to find the dinosaurs that come apart and have flashing eyes of three colors.
We found a Noah's Ark set with one prophet and 16 plastic animals and a boat with a drawbridge.
We added a Magnetic toy set that would help with Grandma's collection.
We headed to the checkstand after two guys had begrudgingly helped us find our stuff.
The boy checking us out was still our friend since he hadn't been asked to help us.
But he couldn't get the register to accept a gift card as part of the deal.
He called for help.
The girl who came to assist couldn't persuade the register to cooperate either.
She tried and tried.
She asked me if I had the catalog with the gift card offer. (The catalogs in the store didn't have that.)
I did. I went out to the car to fetch it.
I came back and the guy (and now the girl) tried again.
Next they threw away the card and got a new one.
This time it took and we started out to our car.
"Wow! That came to a lot!" I said, "$157?"
"That can't be right," Marc said and took the receipt to look it over.
He was right. The charge was wrong.
We went back in and showed our weary cashier the receipt. It listed a charge for $25 for the gift card.
The guy AND the girl shook their heads. "You're right. That's not right but you will have to go over to the service desk to get it fixed."
We walked over to the service desk and explained the problem. The service desk girl called for help.
The same girl who had sent us showed up to help.
She called another lady.
The new lady tried to tell us that it added up just fine. Four items at $30 each came to $157!
"No, no, no, no, no," said Marc, who usually doesn't get involved in such matters.
A half hour later, we ended up with a $25 refund, a $25 gift card and a slight sense of satisfaction but we're a little worried about Toys R Us.
Why would they be headed toward bankruptcy?

Wednesday, October 25, 2017

Up and down...

I jumped at the chance to be part of a video shoot with Nathan Pacheco.
I've been a fan since he appeared with Yanni in the Voices project.
At the time I even interviewed him on the phone. How did it feel to be chosen to work with Yanni?
What were his plans after Yanni? How did Yanni hear about him?
I pretty well assumed that once you had worked with Yanni, you'd sort of reached your peak.
I think I was wrong.
Nathan's career has steadily gone straight up.
He has several new albums out and has partnered with David Archuleta. He's a Disney Pearl artist.
He's toured the UK. He's coming to Utah in concert Dec. 2, 8 and 9th in Salt Lake, Orem and Logan.
So when a post appeared on Facebook inviting people to come to Rock Canyon Park to be an extra in his music video, I was intrigued.
I had two reasons to want to be involved.
I'm trying to negotiate another interview with Nathan since he has a concert in Salt Lake in December and I wanted to see how a video taping worked.
The instructions said to dress warmly and comfortably and be at the park at 5:30.
I showed up in plenty of time and looked for others dressed warmly and comfortably.
The equipment trucks arrived.
Nathan arrived.
Others arrived (mostly young and dressed like they shopped at Eddie Bauer).
We waited for our marching orders, assuming they would want to shoot this video before the sun set.
Eventually a guy came over who said he was the director. He told us to hold tight and we'd get started soon.
Time went by and Nathan started saying hello. He told us we would be providing background to "Oh, Come All Ye Faithful."
I got to shake his hand and explain who I was. He was very nice and tried to tell me he remembered meeting me. (Since we'd only talked on the phone, I didn't think that was true but he was nice to try.)
We waited around.
The light guys fussed with the lights.
The sound guys fussed with the sound equipment.
The fog guys released some fog.
Finally we started by climbing the hill, over and over.
"Reset!" became a familiar order.
The sun set. The moon came out. We kept climbing.
When the director was satisfied, we were all pretty tired and then he announced we were heading to Provo to shoot more footage.
"We'll find a road that's not too busy," he said.
I'm not sure movie work is for me.
(I'm in the middle, second row, smiling.)

Friday, October 20, 2017

Lunch in peace

We had trooped all over the "This is the Place Heritage Park" for several hours.
We had ridden the train, collected treats from about a dozen old buildings including the Fairbanks Home, the Gardiner Cabin, the Telegraph Office, the Blacksmith Shop.
We petted two lizards, three snakes, several turtles and gasped at a tarantula.
The three grandkids and I had panned for gold and collected quite a good assortment of shiny, tiny rocks.
All three had mock tattoos on their hands and a little piggy notepad they stuck together in the Deseret Hospital craft house.
We were taking part in the "Little Haunts" event which basically transformed this great historic town into a Halloween fun spot.
But now we were ready for lunch even though everybody had a hefty bag of Trick-or-Treats.
I had taken note on the way of a Wendy's on Foothill Boulevard.
I can never find real food at the park and even if I could, I'm fairly sure it would be more than I wanted to pay for food the kids might not eat.
Since Wendy's is a favorite we drove back and turned into the parking area.
Curiously, there was no parking except for the gas pumps out in front.
Apparently this was a drive-in only kind of establishment.
I was unprepared to suddenly make fast-food decisions but I followed the arrows into a single lane road that wrapped around the store.
A huge garbage truck seemed to block my way.
That's when I noticed a sign that said "Sharp left!"
I made my sharp left hoping the garbage truck backed off a little.
We placed our order with no time to think about it, three kids meals with chocolate Frosties and a $5 special for me with a small Sprite.
There was a long silence.
"What did you want?" the machine finally asked.
I repeated the order with one small change. One child now wanted a vanilla Frostie or maybe apple Fanta.
We came up to the window and paid $21.
We got a huge Sprite, six Frosties (chocolate and vanilla), three fruit drinks and lots of ketchup and our chicken and tons of fries — more than we could eat in the car.
I could see green grass a road or so over.
"Let's go eat in that park! I suggested.
"Yeah! said the kiddos.
We drove over, parked the car, dashed across the road and spread a blanket.
That's when we noticed flowers placed here and there on the lawn. There were also concrete blocks every so often.
I looked around. Hmm. Where had we landed?
I passed out the food and everyone started in, delighted to have choices.
"What are those flowers and balloons for?" asked Hannah. "Yeah," said Mia, "This doesn't look like a regular park?"
"I think maybe it's not. I think this might be a cemetery," I said, trying to act nonchalant about it.
"You mean this is a GRAVEYARD!" exclaimed Mia, looking around in alarm. "We are eating lunch in a GRAVEYARD!"
"Are there ombies?" asked Cael (who loves zombies, by the way).
"No," I assured the girls. "No. There are no zombies and it's OK. No one will care."
Nevertheless, we finished our food in good order and cleared out.
Even if it's Halloween, eating chicken nuggets and having a shake in the cemetery is a little creepy.

Wednesday, October 4, 2017

Selective hearing proven

For a while now I've been accusing my husband of tuning me out.
He goes along seemingly listening to me but when I finish talking, he either doesn't recall what I said or doesn't react as I expect.
I get a tad annoyed.
I don't like to have to repeat myself and when I ask him about something I told him, he acts as if he's never heard what I said or pretends and that makes it worse.
When I ask him if anyone else has this problem with him, he says no. He claims to be able to hear everyone who speaks plainly.
He tells me I mumble or talk to  him when the radio is on or the TV or the dishwasher is running.
I've been concerned for a while now.
When we'd get these offers in the mail for complimentary hearing exams, I'd show them to Marc.
He wasn't interested and in fact, was a little offended as if I'm implying he's getting old.
But finally, a couple of weeks ago, he agreed to submit himself to a test (mostly so I would quit bugging him).
He realized that the lack of hearing was creating a relationship problem for us.
We signed him up.
An hour and a half later he returned, looking a tad sheepish.
"What did the doctor say," I demanded.
Marc looked at me.
"He wants you to come with me next time," he said. "He wants to hear you talk to me."
I was taken aback.
Why? Was this like going to parent-teacher conference with a child?
Marc paused.
"It's umm, like this," he said. "He said I can hear okay...except in the range where you talk! He needs to hear you."
That explains a lot. We can fix this problem.
And I'm not crazy.

Friday, September 29, 2017

Mystery sort of solved

My iPhone 5s never held a charge well.
I thought it was me.
I either turned it off the wrong way too often or didn't charge it often enough properly.
I'd start off with a fully charged smartphone and very soon it read at 27 percent and then zero.
It made interviewing people on the phone very difficult.
At one point I had to ask people to contact me on my computer so we could finish a conversation.
More than once I've been in a situation where I was all alone in a dark place without a way to communicate.
It's been more than a little bothersome.
My kids thought a smartphone was just too much for a grandma to manage.
I'd send texts that never arrived.
I'd make a call and end up shouting at no one who could hear me.
But I've muddled along and fussed at Marc.
He tried to reshape my charging habits.
"Just plug it in every night and you should be fine," he'd say.
Finally the phone is almost up for renewal so we decided to see what could be done.
(I hate the buying of phones process. The lingo is so high-tech that I never know what's going on. I basically hang around while Marc negotiates and we leave with a yards-long receipt and new shiny phones.)
I hadn't completely ignored my problem. I took it in once to Verizon Wireless and waited a couple of hours to see a technician.
She crinkled her nose at me and said I should go home and run it completely down a few times and reboot. That should fix things.
I did that and nothing changed but I didn't have time to go back and waste more time so I tried to  just deal.
Finally Marc had heard enough complaining. He took me and my phone to Batteries Plus to get a new battery.
The guy there opened up the phone and stopped in his tracks. "This is a used phone. The screws are out of place, a plate is missing and the battery isn't even securely connected. Take it back to your supplier," he said.
We went back to Verizon who sent us to Apple who assured us they don't sell refurbished phones.
That's good since our receipt for the phone said it is a new phone.
However, the Apple guy did say we needed a new display and he would give us one for free is we'd wait 90 minutes.
We waited and returned.
This time he said the display was fine but there were problems uncovered when they opened it up. He said without the proper new screws they couldn't put it back together.
So the guy offered me a new iPhone 5s. (They still had some of these hanging around.)
That's great. That works.
I'm happy and Marc's happy plus I feel validated.
Apple retains our business.
Never mind that we'll never know what really happened.

Wednesday, September 20, 2017

Chugging away...

I had this opportunity to attend a conference for non-profit organizations and since I'm trying to help out the Timpanogos Arts Foundation these days I thought I'd go.
I also wanted to see if riding the FrontRunner up to Layton and back is a good idea.
I'm always interested in doing what I can for the environment and Marc and I ride public transit when we can.
(I've just never gone that far by myself before.)
But it's a straight shot from Lehi and I figured it would beat driving down the freeway and back, especially with some construction going on at 10600 South.
I had to leave early because I was told the conference went from 8 a.m. to 4 p.m.
Just ask Marc, I'm a freak for being on time so I set my alarm for 5:30 a.m. and was waiting on the platform for the 6:08 train.
It came. I tapped on with my FarePay card. I got on and congratulated myself for my ingenuity.
I watched the landscape go by.
After about an hour or so, I got off at the Layton station.
I looked around and headed in the direction I figured was towards the Davis Convention Center.
The bus driver honked a little as I strode off.
I thought he was honking goodbye.
In a little while I realized he was trying to tell me I was headed the wrong way.
After a few minutes of trying to come around the Hilton hotel I back tracked and took the right road.
I was at the convention in plenty of time.
Later that day, I decided to figure out how to get back home.
I knew the general direction back to the bus stop but realized I didn't know when it came or when the train left the Layton station.
I walked to the stop and studied the sign. I walked across the road, thinking I needed to catch the bus going back.
I waited a while. A maid leaving work at the hotel shouted at me: "It comes at 3:24!"
I checked my watch.
I couldn't check my phone because my battery was nearly dead.
I waited some more then decided to call UTA with my final bit of phone power.
I punched in the number of the stop and the bus.
"The next bus comes at 3:18," said the automated voice.
It was 3:25 now and raining. 3:35. I knew the train left every half hour and I'd just missed one.
I looked around, trying to think what to do. Call Marc and have him drive up to get me? Go to the hotel and make some calls?
Then came a bus. I climbed aboard and asked the driver, "Does this take me to the Layton station?"
"Yes, but you won't make it. Go across the road and take the bus to Clearfield," he said.
I must have looked dismayed.
"It's all right. He'll be along soon," said the driver.
Long story short, the other bus came in another 10 minutes and it took me to the Clearfield station and I eventually got home to Lehi about 5 p.m.
I'm fine and it only cost me $5 to go all that way.
It's an interesting way to travel and it works for the experienced rider.
But I'm not sure I'd recommend it for the faint-hearted or the weary.

Monday, September 11, 2017

Keep telling me a story...

The 2017 Timpanogos Storytelling Festival is over and I'm sad.
I've just started to expect to spend my days listening to stories about Esther Agra trying to wiggle out of a speeding ticket with an innocent grin and the excuse that she doesn't speak the English and about Bil Lepp trying to stay atop Diablo the devil horse.
My face hurts from laughing.
I find myself going around with images burned in my brain of Ed Stivender as a dancing man and Sam Payne trying to impress the girl in Camelot with his Lancelot song.
It's magical and real.
I've gone to some of the festival every year for nearly the last 30 years and usually written a section cover story about one or two of the storytellers.
I've seen the festival grow from an event held in Karen Ashton's backyard in Orem to an event attended by thousands.
Ed Stivender
I've become a serious fan of tellers like Carmen Agra Deedy (with the Cuban fast talking speeding mother) and Donald Davis who makes a trip down the Grand Canyon on a mule an unforgettable terror ride.
Donald Davis
My grandchildren all know the stories I have on tape.
They know Davis by sight and sound.
(This year when the teacher in his story caught and killed a mouse, they all gasped. He had them immersed in the story of Miss Daisy and their adventures as they traveled the world in her fourth grade class. They also knew not to cross a teacher who wasn't afraid of a mouse.)
There's no real way to tell non-believers about the storytelling festival.
I heard a guy trying to describe it to his friend over the phone.
"Yes, they tell stories but it's more than that," he said, clearly having trouble conveying what it means to hear stories that move you, make you laugh and make you cry.
I can listen to Carmen Deedy talk about babysitting her grandson and I know why she crawls up in the crib with him and then can't get out.
I hear the funny, small voice Catherine Conant uses when she tells the police officer she is the daughter of the guy who sold him his house and I travel back in time to when I sped in my father's Impala between Idaho Falls and Pocatello.
Their stories bond us.
We who are listening travel through time to when we were kids and when we were in trouble or in love or simply growing up.
We've all been there and it's sweet to go there again.
For a good one of Donald check You Tube.

Friday, September 1, 2017

A child can do this...

The little girl on the You Tube video makes the trick look easy.
She lights a match, drops it into a bottle, caps the bottle with a boiled egg and woosh! The egg is sucked into the bottle.
"It's working! It's working!" cries the child as the egg wiggles and starts to sink.
Looked doable to me.
So I boiled an egg, got a bottle and invited my granddaughter over to try to make some magic with me.
Adell was interested and since she had a magic birthday party coming up, it seemed like a good idea to try it out.
We were truly innocents.
Turns out it matters whether your egg is sufficiently boiled and peeled.
The bottle opening has to be just right, not too small and not too large.
The bottle had to be completely dry.
At first we tried a glass bottle (actually a vase) but it didn't provide the sufficient volume of displaced air.
We tried a larger plastic bottle which worked once but the next time, the bottle sank in on itself with the egg inside.
We learned to light paper to drop into the bottle with enough paper burning to suck up the oxygen in the bottle.
We learned to do this without burning our fingers.
We had two successful tries with one egg completely sucked in and another sucked halfway before we assumed it was done. Then with a whoop, the rest went in.
We think we've got it down now.
It's just a little hard to count on it and I've gone through more than a few eggs in our attempts.
I've also dug out a few destroyed eggs so I could reuse the bottle.
The magic party is tomorrow and I'm holding my breath.
Anybody know a spell that guarantees a success?

Friday, August 25, 2017

Probing questions

The last time we were at the Space Center Marc launched an authorized probe.
I was in the control center watching the background action when the guys in charge noticed it.
They were curious about why he would launch one when the captain hadn't asked for it.
I've been teasing him since then.
He's always liked buttons and dials and knobs. He plays with whatever there is on the car dash.
I think it's one reason he likes computers and iPhones. There's always something to push or turn.
Put him in front of a panel with options and he can't help himself.
He fiddles.
So when I was assigned to be science officer in charge of probes and interior scans, I found it challenging but I figured I could behave myself.
I sat next to Marc.
He showed me the probes.
They were cool.
I could send out a scientific probe, a defensive probe or one that simply gathered general information from space.
I could collect chemical data, take a soil sample, blow up things.
I had no idea.
I tried to interest our captain in my probes.
"Not now," he said as he had his hands full with things that mattered more.
I bided my time as others on the bridge rushed around protecting the bridge, firing phasers and torpedoes, talking to aliens and the onboard computer.
"Would you like me to launch a probe?" I asked a couple times. "How about now?"
When I was waiting for permission, I tried launching one just so I would know how to do that when the time came.
(It takes time to put the proper probe together and I wanted to be ready.)
We were in the middle of a crisis when the computer said, "Someone has launched a probe that has damaged the station wall. The damage will need to be repaired.")
Then one of the crew came over to tell me I owed 10,000 kronar for the damages.
I was mortified.
Marc started laughing.
One granddaughter wrote in her log about grandma being the one who launched a probe. She thinks it's pretty funny. 
I think I understand things a little better now.

Monday, August 21, 2017

And then there were two...

We love the quail who live in and around our house.
I like the bobbing heads and the little flippy feathers on the male's heads.
I find them a fun kind of bird.
We do our best to protect them from roaming cats and dive bombing hawks.
Every year we delight when the baby quail hatch and we come upon a mother quail scrambling to get her little family back in under the bushes where they apparently roost.
We find them on the sidewalk in the mornings and out back in the herb plants in the evenings.
We try not to upset or harass them.
This year, however, we kept surprising them when we came out of our garage.
When the garage door would go up, they would panic.
One day, they scurried about and several of the nine chicks ran back into the garage, behind our garbage can.
I worried about them getting stuck inside and not being able to figure out how to get out.
So when I returned from an errand, I pulled the garage can out.
Sure enough, there was a frantic little chick back there trying to hide.
He went behind a piece of cardboard I had behind the can.
I moved the cardboard and he ran out, fortunately toward the open door and freedom.
I thought he was the only one.
But the next day, Marc found a lifeless baby bird on the cement, then another.
I guess they had hidden deeper inside and died for lack of food and water.
Then I found some fluff and tiny feathers on the walk.
We're assuming a hawk had a snack.
Now when I see the mother quail I can only count two chicks. Who knows what happened to the other four?
Life in our yard is obviously a dangerous life for a quail.
I'm not sure how to protect them, how to ensure they live long enough to grow up.
At this juncture, I can only cross my fingers and consider posting "No Trespassing" signs around our yard.
Maybe I should buy a BB gun and fence off the garage door.

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