Sunday, August 13, 2017

Dear Kids,
          The reunion was fabulous! Thanks to all of you for all your preparations, and for your wonderful meals! Thanks especially to John, for planning it so well! I think the highlight was the go-cart track, followed closely by the rope swing at Bloomington Lake. So many of you were so gutsy, swinging out over those rocks and dropping into that ice-cold lake! Where do you all get it from? (Not Dad and me. We enjoyed all our fun from the sidelines.) 
          Bear Lake itself was wonderful too. It's never been higher, when we've been there.  We couldn’t have had better weather at the beach! I hope you all can get the sand out of your kids, eventually!
          And now back to real life. Oh, yeah, the eclipse is a week from tomorrow. Donna and Sharon are taking their kids to Vanessa’s house the night before, I think, and then driving into the zone early Monday morning. Nora and Vanessa’s families will be camping at Craig and Rachel’s house in Idaho Falls. I’m still not sure what Dad and I will be doing. I want to be as close to the center of the zone as possible. John still has a few eclipse glasses, but they’re going fast.
          Our cat Tina had a luxurious time while we were gone. I’d accidentally left the door ajar between the mud room and the garage, so she had the run of the house. One of my fake trees had a couple of branches torn out, and the stuffed black bear on our bed had been savaged. She wasn’t at all glad to see us when we got home. She walked away from me and switched her tail in contempt.
          I can’t think of any news. It all happened already. There isn’t a single thing on our calendar for the coming week! I guess I’ll go back to raking rocks.
          Lots of love, Mom

Sunday, August 6, 2017

Dear Kids,
          Wasn’t that fun yesterday, helping Paul and Stefanie move? What a riotous after-party, celebrating Josh’s second birthday! Thanks, Paul and Stefanie, for the good food and the fun! I think they’ll be really happy with that nice big house, (four bedrooms!) and yard. By the way, Paul said that the amortization schedule for his 30-year mortgage showed that the last payment would be made on August 1, 2047–my 100th birthday! What a party we can have that day!
          And then there’s the excitement for our family reunion this week! You can refer to John’s schedule (posted here on my blog) or contact him if you have any more questions. It will be nonstop fun. Thanks, John, for planning this. Our reunions keep getting better and better.
            Friday night Dad and I went to the Snow Park amphitheater at Deer Valley for the 1812 Overture (played by the Utah Symphony) with real cannons going off at the end. It was spectacular! Thanks to those of you who went in on the tickets for my Mothers Day present! We had reserved seats, a new luxury for us. (A couple of times before, we’ve sat on the grass with the "wine and cheese" crowd.) Actually, there was quite a bit of wine and cheese around us, including the guy next to me who drank a whole bottle during the performance. He evidently wasn’t expecting the cannons to go off at the end, because he leaped up out of his seat when they started to fire. That was the best part of the program! The guys who fire off the cannons used to dress like mountain men, but now they wear George Washington costumes. It’s all great fun!
           We’re gearing up for the eclipse two weeks from tomorrow. Dad and I are definitely going to Idaho, but I’m not sure where. Nobody knows how many people will be up there. I talked to Stefanie’s friend Anne’s husband yesterday, because they live in Rexburg, which is in the absolute center of the eclipse path. He said they have their eclipse glasses and their food storage. (For all anybody knows, there might be a million visitors, and they might buy up all the food in the stores.) I bought a 10-pack of eclipse glasses from Amazon, but John has plenty for sale in his office, for $1.00 each. I was reading a little booklet in Lowes, and it said that only one person in 1,000 has ever seen a total eclipse of the sun. It should be spectacular.
           On with the show!  Love, Mom

Sunday, July 30, 2017

Dear Kids,

          First off, here’s the agenda for the family reunion, courtesy of John.

Tom: Thursday Breakfast

Donna: Thursday Lunch

Nora: Thursday Dinner

Paul & Stephanie: Friday Breakfast

Vanessa: Friday Lunch

John: Friday Dinner

Sharon: Saturday Breakfast

Allen: Saturday Lunch at lake

Mom & Dad: Paper plates, utensils, and firewood

WEDNESDAY EVENING is dinner on your own and set up camp when you arrive after 3:00pm.

Beach all day THURSDAY with boat, kayaks, and jet skis. We have a 20' Ski Boat rented from 10:00-6:00. Lunch at the beach

FRIDAY we have a go cart track rented from 9-10 AM. Friday morning after go carts we will drive from the Go Cart track to Paris! We will explore the Paris ice cave. Lake Trail. Friday Afternoon we will hike to Bloomington lake and play on rope swing into lake.

FRIDAY or SATURDAY morning, early bike ride. At 5:00 AM, the cyclists will leave on their bike ride with crew van.

SATURDAY MORNING, Breakfast and then take down camp. Beach with Kayaks and Jet skis, and lunch at the beach. End of official reunion after lunch. Stay at beach as long as you want.

* * * * *

          Thanks, John, for planning this! I can’t wait. I’m sure we’ll have good food, great adventures, and lots of good memories.
          Meanwhile, Dad and I have had lots of great adventures. I didn’t write my family letter last Sunday because we were camping at Bryce Canyon with Donna and Bevan and their kids. We saw lots of gorgeous scenery, ate lots of good food (courtesy of Donna) and went on some great hikes. Sunday morning we went to church in Tropic, where there were probably 1,000 people in sacrament meeting. We went to Kodachrome Basin and hiked to Mossy Cave. It was all fabulous.
          We got home Monday in time to get ready for our fire pit party. Thanks to all of you who came! Thanks for encouraging me to set off the aerials. I have more to bring to Bear Lake.
          Tuesday we went to lunch with Bill Steele and his wife, who were also at the party Monday night. (Tom said, "There really IS a Bill Steele!) Dad and Bill talked nonstop about old times, and I learned a lot.
          The rest of our week has been wild and crazy. Charlie and Matthew are here now, but they’re leaving this evening for Upalco. We’ve had a great time with them.
          On with the fun! Lots of love, Mom

P.S. Here’s John’s list of the numbers of people for meals. There are 45 people in all:
Dad & Mom 2     Adults
John 6     3 Adults 3 Kids
Nora 8     2 Adults 4 Kids 1 Little
Vanessa 7      2 Adults 4 Kids 1 Little
Tom 8      2 Adults 3 Kids 2 Little
Allen 3     1 Adults 2 Kids
Donna 5    2 Adults. 1 kid 2 Little
Sharon 6     2 Adults 3 Kids 1 Little
Paul 3    2 Adults  1 Little

Sunday, July 16, 2017

Dear Kids,
          The big news of the week is that Donna had her ultrasound on Monday, and she’s having (roll of drums) . . . a boy. Is anybody surprised? I knew. That will make nine boys in a row. 11 out of 12, if you start counting after Lucy. Of the 34 grandchildren we’ll have, the score will be 14 to 20, in favor of the boys. We love all these wonderful grandsons, but if anybody is ordering new babies, could you please put in for some girls? Actually, though, we’re thrilled to have so many grandchildren, and if they were all boys, I’d still be thrilled.
          Dad and I have had a wonderful and wild week. On Monday we tended Paige, Stuart, Isaac, and Anna. Paige practiced on my accordion, like she always does when she’s here. She’s making good progress. (Nora’s been looking to buy her an accordion, but they’re practically collectors’ items now.) The other kids played on the playground, watched movies, and got out toys. When my piano students came at three, we had eight kids in the house, but they all interacted very nicely with each other.
          Tuesday afternoon we drove to Pocatello, because Vanessa’s book club was reviewing Mutiny on the Bounty that night, and I wanted to be there. (I’ve been obsessed with the Bounty books.) We stayed overnight, even though Vanessa and Trent and Sterling were leaving at 4 the next morning for Trek. (Tom and Bentley and Emma were leaving that same morning, too. And Nora was gone to girls’ camp, and James to scout camp. So many of you were off having fun!)
          Thursday night Dad and I went to "Annie Get Your Gun" in Midway. Thanks to all of you who went in on the tickets, for Dad’s Fathers Day present. It was a wonderful production! (Last year it was Wizard of Oz.) We always love getting tickets for presents. In a couple of weeks we’ll be going to the 1812 Overture, at Snowbird. You kids keep us entertained!
          The family reunion is coming up in less than three weeks. I’m guessing John will be sending out the agenda pretty soon. I’ll ask him about it today.
          Life is good. We’ll never run out of fun.
          Lots of love, Mom

Sunday, July 9, 2017

Dear Kids,
          Our fire pit party for the 4th of July bombed, because practically everybody was going to be someplace else. No matter–we’ve moved it to the 24th, which is a Monday night. If you can come, we’ll have fun. If you can’t, that’s OK too. Actually, our fire pit doesn’t need an official launch. It’s ready any time. I have roasting sticks, and I’m going to start keeping marshmallows on hand (but not the chocolate-spread graham crackers, because we just eat them up), and we can have a flash party on a minute’s notice.
            Meanwhile, our actual 4th of July wasn’t a bomb at all. We went to Nora’s. I took all the fireworks, thinking we could shoot them off, and I’d buy more for the 24th. But just as it was getting dark, the wind started blowing furiously. It even blew out the snakes the kids were trying to light. I figured we couldn’t possibly shoot off our expensive fireworks in that wind. I went around to the back of the house to see if the wind was calmer there, and it was. So we moved the action. And as it got darker, people down in the valley started shooting off their fireworks. There were hundreds of aerials going off at the same time, and some big park displays. You could have called it "Valley of Fire." I’ve never seen anything like it. Remember when we used to sit on Tate’s lawn and watch the few paltry fireworks from the West Fest? This was a thousand times more spectacular. There’s a whole new era of fireworks now, since everybody can afford aerials. The 4th of July will never be the same again. Everybody can put on their own show. And I’ve still got my own packages for the 24th.
          We’re still gearing up for the eclipse on August 21. Dad and I will definitely be going to Idaho. And Sharon pointed out that August 21st is President Monson’s 90th birthday. Maybe he’ll grab onto the tail of a comet and go out in glory. Oh, wait, it won’t be a comet. I was thinking of Mark Twain, who was born at the appearance of Halley’s comet, and left this earth the next time it came around, 90 years later. We’re not anxious for President Monson to depart, but it will be glorious for him. He’s sure been a great example to us all.
           So much fun! What a great summer we’re having!
           Lots of love, Mom

Sunday, July 2, 2017

Dear Kids,
          Our fire pit is finished, and we tried it out last night, burning up a few pieces of wood. It works fine! So we’re ready for the Fourth of July. We bought fireworks at Costco with John–we went in on a deluxe $100 package, with the aerials that go off one after another, when you light the fuse. So Dad and I will be hosting a hotdog and marshmallow roasting party Tuesday night, probably starting about seven, since it doesn’t get dark enough for fireworks until pretty late. Let us know if you plan to come! You can bring your own fireworks if you have them. You can come way earlier, if you like, and your kids can play on the playground. We fastened down the legs of the swingsets lots better than before, so they can’t shift around when the kids swing high. We’re ready for fun!
          What else? Ellie stayed with us from Wednesday night until yesterday, and we had a good time with her. We ate vegetarian, and we liked it. We dragged her along with us to the senior center on Thursday, and to the temple on Friday. She sewed and wrote in her various notebooks and watched "Once Upon a Time." I asked her if it wasn’t pretty boring here, and she said no, it was relaxing.
           I’m still digging up rocks in our back yard. I spray them off with the hose, and then Dad hauls them out to the side of the road, where he piles them up. People still come by to get them. One of them is our stake president, Mark Durham. He likes to chat. I told him that a ton of "Jordan cobble" (the name for our rocks) costs $100 at Staker Parsons. He wondered how many rocks were in a ton, and I told him it was about the size of the pile he was looking at. He’s an investment banker, so he’s interested in things like that. I figure we’ve given away thousands of dollars worth of rocks in the last three years. And I still have thousands more to dig. Good thing I like it so much!
           We hope to see a lot of you here Tuesday night, to try out the fire pit and shoot off fireworks. If anybody has time earlier in the day, do you want to do the "top of the world" hike? The wildflowers should be beautiful up there! Let me know!
          Lots of love, Mom

Sunday, June 25, 2017

Dear Kids,
         The party for Blake’s baby blessing started last night, here at our house, with the arrival of Paul’s family from North Salt Lake, and Vanessa’s family from Pocatello. We had fun out on the playground, while the sun set. Our rubber bark is doing great. There was a furious windstorm three or four days ago, the strongest one we’ve ever had here. (It was like a hurricane--the trees bent almost double in one direction, then about half an hour of calm, and then the wind came from the other direction, just as hard.) Bottom line: our rubber bark didn’t blow away--not a piece of it. Our pergolas were shaking back and forth, and our trees nearly snapped, but the bark stayed put.
          Oh, yes, back to the baby blessing: 9 am, Tom’s church, just east of Smiths and JR Smith elementary, on 5th north. The after party is at noon, at Tom’s house. We’re looking forward to seeing all of you who will be coming, and we’ll miss those of you who can’t be there.
          Here’s some big news: Paul landed a new job, and it’s something he’ll really enjoy–transportation. He’ll be working for Forsgren Engineering, and their office is right in downtown Salt Lake. He starts tomorrow morning. Go, Paul! He actually had two job offers at the same time, and they were both so good that he and Stefanie had to talk over the pros and cons of each one, and lay out all the details. I’m sure they’ve made the best decision!
            Remember the good old days, when smoke detectors went off with a nice beeping that annoyed the heck out of you, but that was all? We didn’t realize we had the new kind until Wednesday night. We were sound asleep when a voice started shrieking "Fire! Fire! Get out! Get out!" The alarm itself was shrieking, too. It was all over our house, since all seven smoke detectors were going off. (They’re interconnected.) We raced around the house looking for a fire, which we didn’t find. The alarms finally stopped, but I called 911 for the fire department anyway, since you hear stories of people who went back to bed and were burned up by a real fire. The nice fire department guys showed up about half an hour later. (Summit County, after all.) They went through the house and checked out everything, even testing for carbon monixide. Nothing. We finally went back to bed, but we didn’t sleep, because adrenalin was racing through us. We never found anything wrong with the smoke detectors, not even low batteries. I hope that never happens to us again.
          Otherwise, everything is great here. I love you all! Mom