Sunday, October 22, 2017

Dear Kids,
          First off, Abi’s baptism will be a week from Saturday, on November 4, at 10:00 am. They’re having it at Tom and Kim’s Stake Center, which is the second church past JR Smith Elementary, if you’re driving east on 500 North. There will be an after-party at Tom and Kim’s house, so you can call Kim if you want to bring something. I’m really looking forward to it! It’s hard to believe Abi’s eight already! (And Bentley’s 16! He’ll be baptizing her.)
          I was so disappointed that my sisters’ retreat fell through last weekend, but we did practically everything this weekend! Nancy and Jane came Friday night, and we watched movies and worked puzzles. And we went to dinner at the Food Town deli. Our dessert was chocolate cookies that Ellie baked for us–she happened to be staying over too. They were flat, but delicious. Saturday morning we went for a long walk around our neighborhood. The air was crisp and cold, and nobody was around–maybe because of the deerhunt, or maybe because it’s always quiet here. At noon Barbara and Bonnie came, and we went to lunch at the Rhode Island Diner, which seemed to take most of the afternoon. We watched the rest of Nacho Libre, and went through bags of clothes Bonnie had brought, and talked and talked. It was wonderful. We missed Katie, but we did the best we could without her. I love my sisters so much, and I’m so grateful we’re able to have these get-togethers!
          I’m still working in the yard, here and there, now and then. It has to be at least 45 degrees, and the sun has to be out, and the wind not too strong. But I’m fighting the oncoming winter. My trees have lost most of their leaves, and the birds have all gone south, except of course for the magpies. It has already snowed at least five times. The National Weather Service is predicting lots of snow for the Rocky Mountains this winter.
          My piano classes are all doing wonderfully well. I have eight ladies in Heber that are making good progress, and the class at the Lighthouse Church has settled down with about 15 good students and six good teachers. We always have fun, which is the main thing, and lots of my people are learning to play really well. Life couldn’t be better!
          Love, Mom

Sunday, October 15, 2017

Dear Kids,
         The retreat I was going to have with my sisters fell through, and I was terribly disappointed. It seemed like almost everybody had a conflict at the last minute. We didn’t even try to reschedule it, because there’s so much going on with all my sisters. And winter’s coming up, which makes it hard for Katie to come from Boise. We’re hoping to go to lunch together next Saturday, those of us who can come. It’s the best we can do for now.
          To make up for my disappointment, I went for a walk on the Jordanelle trail yesterday afternoon. It was a gorgeous afternoon: blue sky, white clouds, and brown hills with yellow leaves. There were lots of fishermen out on the lake in their boats. After my walk I felt lots better about life. Dad and I are so fortunate to live here! We still can’t believe our good luck.
           I have a new plan for birthday presents: money for everybody!! Doesn’t that sound good? Our family is so big now, and it’s so hard to decide on presents, and so many of the grandkids are getting into their teen years, that I realized it will be easier all around if I just send everybody a birthday card with money in it. Even for the little kids. You parents can intercept the card if you want to, and buy a present with the money, or just let your kid spend it. Even little kids like money! If there’s something I really want to give somebody, though, I might still buy a present here and there. And Christmas–if you would rather have money than gifts, let me know by Thanksgiving. That would have to be on a whole-family basis. I’ve enjoyed picking out Christmas presents over the years, and I’m still willing to do it, but if you’d rather have the money, let me know.
           Sharon’s family has been dealing with the fun of head lice. Remember our adventure with lice, so many years ago? I got the shampoo from FHP, and we shampooed all your heads (besides washing all the sheets, etc.) Well now, according to Sharon, the shampoo doesn’t make your eyes sting, and it doesn’t kill the lice, either. That’s probably due to EPA regulations, which have given us weed killers that don’t kill weeds, bug killers that don’t kill bugs, and oven cleaners that don’t clean ovens. For lice, Sharon says you have to go to a special clinic where they do a heat treatment, sort of like an intense blow dryer. Interesting! Anyway, the lice are now dead.
          I hope you’re all doin’ great and lovin’ it! Mom

Sunday, October 8, 2017

Dear Kids,
          Yesterday was probably the last warm day of the year (66 here in Francis) so Dad and I blew out our sprinkler system with John’s gigantic air compressor. We even blew out a new line I just finished, in the back. I’m already excited for next spring, to put in the last sprinkler line and plant grass back there. People ask me when I’m finally going to be finished with our yard, and I proudly answer "Never!" Working outside in the clean air is so much fun, I’ll always find something more to do.
           But winter is creeping in. We’ve already had three snowstorms. And Thanksgiving is coming up! I know it’s the "off" year for some of you, but it’s always "on" for somebody else. And some of us will be having distractions. Donna’s baby is due the day after Thanksgiving, but I’m predicting he’ll already be here by then. I’m having some minor surgery the week before, and I might not be up to much. So Allen has volunteered to be in charge of Thanksgiving at the cabin. You can contact him for a food assignment. We’ll let you know more when it gets closer.
           Speaking of Allen, his girlfriend Jenny’s son Brock shot a magpie from an upper window in the cabin. They were target practicing on some cans, and the magpie just settled down among them. He was dead as soon as he landed. Allen paid out the $5.00 bounty and I reimbursed him. If anybody wants to go for magpies at Thanksgiving, the bounty money is still available.
            Next weekend my sisters and I are having a retreat here at our house, and I’m very excited. We’re meeting Friday afternoon in Heber for lunch, and then we’re going to John’s office to try on designer frames and give each other advice. We might shop at the boutiques in Midway, and then we’re coming here for snacks and movies. Saturday morning will be more of the same. We have so much fun talking, it almost doesn’t matter what we do. Except for where we’re going to eat. That’s always a big deal.
           I hope you’re all having as much fun as we are! Love, Mom

Sunday, October 1, 2017

Dear Kids,
          Dad and I have really been enjoying the conference sessions this time around, but we’ve missed seeing President Monson. John was talking about that last night; he said, "Something missing! Oh, yeah, the prophet!" You would think, with so many wonderful speakers and so much wisdom, you wouldn’t miss one person so much. It’s nice to know the Lord is guiding the Church, though, and it will always be in good hands.
          Our soup dinner last night was wild and crazy. I cooked a record amount of ramen–10 packs, I think. It was fun having so many of you here. Too bad it was so cold and rainy, and we couldn’t have spent more time outside. I wanted to make a fire in the fire pit, and make s’mores, in the dark. I was even hoping to set off some more of my fireworks, left over from the Fourth of July. But we still had lots of fun inside. The howling wolf skeleton I bought at Home Depot was the biggest hit of all. It’s practially life sized, and when you clap your hands or bang dishes, it’s jaws clatter, it’s red eyes flash, and it howls. Different grownups kept shutting it off, and different kids kept turning it back on. I bought it for Halloween night, but I didn’t dream the grandkids could have such a great time with it right now, in our living room. Needless to say, Tina hates it.
           Speaking of Tina, she’s been courting death, taunting the Siberian Husky next door. It’s bad enough when she stays on our side of the fence, and rolls in the dirt in front of him, but a couple of days ago, she went right into his yard (crawling under the gate) and tried to stare him down. Naturally he jumped at her and chased her out. She barely made it back under the gate in time. Her tail was puffed into a giant plume, and her eyes were wild, but I’m not sure she learned her lesson. We can only hope she comes to her senses before it’s too late.
          In spite of our rainy and snowy weather, I’m still out digging in the yard, practically every day. I’ve pulled giant rocks out of the ground, which Dad hauls out to the street, and people pick up. I’ve been digging sprinkler trenches, and gluing pvc pipe. I’ve been spreading more rubber bark in the playground. (You can get it at Home Depot, now!) I plan to have as much fun outside as possible, before winter really hits.
           Life is good here! I love you all! Mom

Sunday, September 24, 2017

Dear Kids,
          Conference is coming up next weekend! It’s funny how things have changed over the years–the cabin used to always be our conference refuge, partly because of the beautiful location, and partly because it had our biggest TV screen–32". But now we have a 75" in our basement, where the conference speakers will truly be bigger than life. And we have a 55" screen upstairs. And plenty of seating. So if anybody wants to watch conference here at our house, with us, you’re welcome. If you want to go to the cabin, of course you’ll be welcome there, too. For Saturday night, I’m planning my usual soup and bread dinner here at 5 pm. Any of the guys who want to go to the priesthood session with Dad can do that. Afterwards, we’ll have ice cream and toppings, and if it’s warm enough, we might have a fire out in the fire pit, and make smores. If you want to sleep over here or at the cabin, you can do that. Sunday at noon, between the sessions, we’ll have our usual Sunday dinner at the cabin. I heard a rumor that Tom will be making dutch oven. Be there, or lose out totally!
           Glenn and Jana McGettigan came to visit us yesterday, and we had a lot of fun, talking over our lives, and going to lunch at High Mountain Drug. (Still the best burgers in Utah, in my opinion.) We bought a cheesecake on our way home, and ate it while we played games and watched a movie. They didn’t stay over and go to church with us, like they usually do, because Jana is choir director in their new ward. But we still had plenty of fun. Nora and some of her kids came by, too! I love having people here! When we moved here, I thought we were going to the ends of the earth, and nobody would ever find us. But look at us now!
          Our new little cat, Solar Eclipse, never came back, and we’ll never know what happened to him. John said there was a great horned owl in Heber that was carrying off chickens and small cats, and maybe that happened to Solar. It was just at dusk when he disappeared, prime hunting time. I know he was orange, and might have been deficient when he grew up, but he was so cute, and he purred all the time! It’s hard to get over losing him.
          We’ve had two snow storms, but winter isn’t really coming. We need to have a long, warm fall, like last year. I’m hoping for a reprieve.
           Lots of love, Mom

Sunday, September 17, 2017

Dear Kids,
          I’m sorry to report that our new little cat, Solar Eclipse, has disappeared. It was last Saturday night, while Dad and I were gone to the adult session of stake conference. Solar had been playing in the yard with Tina. (Yes, they had become friends. They raced and chased together.) I should have put him in the garage when we left, but he’d been here for nearly three weeks, and I assumed he’d be OK. When we got home, he was gone. It was a nice evening, and a lot of people were out walking, so maybe he followed somebody. He was so friendly, he would run up to anybody! They might have assumed he was a stray. Or maybe he got homesick and set out for Idaho. The worst would have been if he was run over and somebody disposed of the body and didn’t tell us. We’ll never know. It’s heartbreaking to lose a cat. Tina is very smug now, and happy to have us all to herself.
          We might be having an early winter this year. We had a generous rainstorm on Friday, and it’s 35 degrees this morning. It’s supposed to be down in 20's this coming week. Naturally I’m wishing it will stay warm longer, like last year–I was still raking rocks in the yard in November, while Dad was gone to Hawaii with Allen. I did a whole dry creek bed while they were gone. I wish we could have a long warm fall again this year, but it’s cooling off pretty fast.
          When I say my prayers at night, I always ask the Lord’s help for all our grandchildren in school. I mention Julie especially now, since she’s in college. Then I realized that Sharon is back in school, for a nursing degree, and James too–he’s getting his masters degree from Georgia Tech Online. So I mention them, too. Is anybody else in any special program? I never could have made it through college without the help of the Lord, and I assume everybody else needs it too.
           I’ve bailed out of Francis 2nd ward (again) and I’m back in the Spanish Branch (again.) I love it there. On any given Sunday, you never know what you’re going to do–they ask you when you walk in. Last Sunday I led the music in Sacrament meeting. Today I might be doing something else. I don’t have any official calling yet. But I always look forward to going. You really feel the Spirit there.
           I love you all! Mom

Sunday, September 10, 2017

Dear Kids,
          Thursday night Dad and I met Allen and Carson at the Centerpoint Theater to watch Ellie in "Seussical." She was one of the tigers in the Jungle of Nool. We really enjoyed the production! I always love watching our grandkids in their musicals!
          After the production, we stayed over at Nora’s house. We always sleep on their living room floor, on our camping mats. I know the basement will be finished one of these days, and there will be a guest suite down there, but in the meantime we really like the living room. In the morning, while it’s still dark, you can see the lights of all the cars down on the interstate, and the Frontrunner, going into Salt Lake. Where we live, nobody’s going much of anywhere in the morning. Such a difference!
           Later in the morning, after most of the kids had left for school, and Nora was giving Dad a haircut, McKay and I walked up the switchback trail hunting for "spiders." (They’re actually black beetles.) McKay carried a jar and I had a big spoon to scoop them up with. We got six of them, of all sizes. McKay was fascinated watching them "fight." Nora wasn’t as impressed, and screwed the lid down tight on the jar. She said they had plenty of air to last them all day.
          Our Toyota Sienna has been suffering for almost three years with a dent I put in the front fender (a metal dumpster I misjudged), plus a large rusted spot and some flaking paint on the bumper. We asked around here about body shops, and everybody recommended Mick Clegg in Marion. His shop blends into the scenery–grassy pastureland, lots of cows, pine trees–not your usual West Valley body shop. He did a fabulous job on our car, and he only charged us $600, and it took less than two days. We definitely recommend this guy!
          For the last 32 years I’ve always been in charge of my mission reunion, every October. This year, the guy who said he would host it was out of the country, and another guy I called sounded so tired and used-up that I didn’t want to bother him. I made a list of everybody who has ever hosted our reunions. Two of them have died, two have recently lost their wives, and one has dementia. Of the people who are still OK, most of them are on missions, or serving as mission presidents or temple presidents. Finally I sent out a letter to everybody saying maybe it was time to say "we had a good run" and let it go. I’ve had lots of responses. Everybody wants to keep our reunions going, but nobody volunteered to take over my job. One guy, just leaving on a mission to Latvia, said he would host a big final 50-year reunion when he gets home. So we all have that to look forward to now, but I won’t have the stress and fun of doing it every year.
          Life is good. I love you all. Mom