Sunday, February 19, 2017

Dear Kids,
          Dad and I drove down to Nora’s on Friday, so Dad could have a haircut, and so I could see their newly-framed basement. It looks really good! Scott Treu and Dad did a great job! And the floor plan is brilliant. Besides a big family room, there’s a mother-in-law apartment for people who want to stay over! What could be better! The rough plumbing has already been done, by James with a jackhammer, and a professional plumber. The HFAC guy has already been there. I was totally impressed. Meanwhile, Tom is still going full steam on his basement. We haven’t been there in the last couple of weeks, but we’ve seen pictures of his sheetrocking. Donna, too, is deep into projects. She’s working on the doors in their master bedroom. On Thursday, we took her some joint compound. Everybody is into such great projects! And me? I’m moving the last of the boxes out of our garage. But it’s very tedious. They’re all boxes of desperation, and I have to look at every single thing in every box and decide what to do with it. Not fun. I’m missing the excitement we had last winter when we, too, were working on our basement. Too bad we don’t have anything exciting this year. I’m looking forward to spring, whenever it comes. I want to go out and dig in the yard again.
          I’m racking my brain for news. Nothing. Conference weekend and Easter are still too far away to worry about. I got a play mouse for Tina and rubbed it with catnip. She likes to toss it around. She still freaks out over my long skinny balloons.
           Christmas is still 10 months away, but I ought to mention now that I’m going to have a $5.00 bill for each child (or grownup) who can recite "How the Grinch Stole Christmas." You can do it individually or in a group. Those of you who are far away can skype it. I got the idea last Christmas when I heard Bentley recite it all, while he was unwrapping a present and reading the directions. (Go, Bentley!) Abi was mouthing it along with him. So, if anybody is bored with winter and can’t find anything interesting to do, you can start in on the Grinch.
         Life is good. We all ought to be "doin’ great and lovin’ it."
         Love, Mom

Sunday, February 12, 2017

Dear Kids,
          Allen and Carson and Ellie stayed over here Friday night, because Tom and his ward’s scouts were at the cabin. So, what did we do here for excitement? Ellie practiced on the Clavinova, with headphones. Allen practiced on the grand. (I really enjoyed his songs!) Carson went to bed early. So did I. So did Dad. (He was worn out from working on Nora’s basement, helping Scott Treu with the framing.) None of us partied, but it was nice having a full house–well, not like we used to have, but at least one person per bedroom.
           I’ve known for a long time that I’m losing my hearing, so I went to a clinic in Park City to be evaluated. They’d send out a flyer in the mail, with the promise of a gift card to Rocky Mountain Chocolate Factory if I came in for an evaluation. So of course I went. They tested me, and found out that I hear pretty well in the lower frequencies, but my hearing loss is "severe" in the higher tones. They fitted me up with hearing aids that are really high tech, which they programmed remotely from their computer. It was strange to hear so much, all at once. I wore them OK on the drive home, and it was strange to hear raindrops pattering on the windshield of the car. When I walked around the house, I could hear my hair swishing on the sensors on the tops of my ears. I figured that might be a problem. But then I tried playing the piano. I heard all kinds of tones! When I played the notes singly, I discovered that the hearing aids were "singing along," with strange buzzing tones, which were not the same tones I was playing. Weird! I put them on Dad, and he heard the same thing. And Allen. I figured three of us hearing the same thing was a pretty good test. So those particular hearing aids aren’t going to work for me. And I’m not sure there’s anything better out there. But it was a free trial, and I still have the gift card to redeem.
          My Senior Citizen piano classes in Heber have really taken off. What’s the magic of Heber Valley? Everybody who doesn’t already play the piano wants to learn! In West Valley, at the Harmon Center, I never had more than four students at a time, with at least two of them deadbeats. Now I have ten, and a waiting list! And nearly all of these seniors are conscientious and dedicated! It’s lots of fun teaching them. I always look forward to Thursday mornings!
          I mentioned that I’ve been using long twisty balloons to keep Tina off my face, when we’re watching TV at night. She got more and more courageous about batting at them with her paws, and finally, she bit one. You could hear the bang all through the house. It sent her under the bed. I look forward to lots more fun with those balloons.
          Lots of love, Mom

Sunday, February 5, 2017

Dear Kids,
          Put this on your calendars: Saturday, March 25, for a family get-together. Monica, Neil, and Jackson will be here in town! It’s their spring break, and they’ll be camping in southern Utah (best time of the year to be down there!) but on that Saturday, they’ll be here in town. We’re not sure yet where the party will be, probably either at the cabin or at John’s house, but I’ll let you know for sure when it gets closer. We’re all looking forward to seeing them again!
         My best new purchase has been a pack of twisty balloons and a balloon pump. Why? I can use those long skinny balloons to keep Tina off my face while we’re watching TV at night. She hates them! I only have to jab one at her, and she jumps to the foot of our bed. I’ve used them for a couple of weeks now (Paige gave me my first one, a long skinny flower she’d made) and it’s nice not having cat fur in my eyes and nose. Tina’s gotten brave enough to paw at the balloons, though. Wait till she bites into one! She’ll have a big surprise.
          Vanessa and her kids stayed over at our house Friday night, because they were going skiing yesterday at Deer Valley. It was fun having them here! They’re so pleasant and well behaved! (But of course all our grandkids are exceptional!) I admire Vanessa for getting all that gear together: clothes, kids, ski equipment. She said whenever she’s getting ready for something like that, she thinks it’s too much trouble, and it isn’t going to be worth it, but it always is. 
           Four of my sisters, Jane, Nancy, Barbara, and Bonnie, came here to our house yesterday so we could go out to lunch together. Barbara and Bonnie hadn’t ever been to our house before, so I had fun showing them around. Bonnie says we have a "million dollar view." We went to lunch at Hi Mountain Drug, and Barbara said that’s the best hamburger she’s ever eaten. Jane had a salad, and took most of it home in a doggie bag. She’s lost 52 pounds since her surgery, and she’s doing really well now. We heard Scott has lost 80 pounds! Hooray for them both! I’m proud of their courage.
            Since Katie couldn’t be at our lunch yesterday, we’re planning a sisters’ trip to Boise in May, to visit her for a couple of days. I’m so looking forward to that!
          Life is wonderful. I love you all! Mom

Sunday, January 29, 2017

Dear Kids,
         The snow is still piled up, high. It hasn’t been warm enough to melt anything. There are gigantic drifts alongside the roads, where the snowplows have pushed it. The magpies are having a tough time finding enough roadkill to keep them happy, but Friday, coming down Highway 32 into Heber, I saw a couple of deer legs sticking out of a snowdrift, and the magpies were scrambling all over them. There should be more snowshoe rabbits for them pretty soon, too, because they’re turning up here and there, running across the road like idiots. Last year they dug up our lawn, but this year there’s too much snow. Dad has a friend over at the "coffee club" who measures water levels in the mountains, and he said right now there’s 24". That means there’s been about 24 feet of snow.
          What else? We visited Paul and Stefanie yesterday afternoon, for a belated birthday party for Paul, and the Riebens were there, too. We all admired the remarkable Josh. Paul makes him fly like an airplane (or "superbaby,") and he loves it. Earlier in the day, we’d had a sledding party at the cabin with the Barnecks, a young family in our ward with six kids. We took them up the hill in our Sienna, in two batches, since they don’t have snow tires. The first batch was all kids, and when I got them into the cabin, Allen was making waffles. The kids all declared that they were hungry, so Allen fed them. When their parents got there, they were all happily eating waffles. Thanks, Al! By the way, Allen has a Clavinova now, which he bought last week. And he’s started taking piano lessons from a teacher in Centerville!
           John discovered that Costco sells a really dark cocoa powder, twice as dark as Hersheys, and it only costs half as much. He brought me a bag last Sunday night, when we had a lot of people here. I mixed a batch of half cocoa, half brown sugar, and tested all the kids for "true chocolate lovers" by giving each of them a tiny taste. Only two passed--Aubrey and Abi. They both wanted more. Everybody else made a face. But then the three of us, the true chocolate lovers, each got more.  There’s no stopping the fun!
           Love, Mom

Sunday, January 22, 2017

Dear Kids,
          Our snow hasn’t melted, but it’s compacted down about a foot. We had a few more inches yesterday morning, and there’s supposed to be more this afternoon and Monday. Otherwise, nothing exciting is going on here. Usually I have big building projects in January. Last year we were finishing the basement, and I was in a state of constant excitement. The year before we were getting new cabinets in the big bathroom and our office. The year before that, we had just moved in, and I was building miles of shelves for the library. But this year? I still have projects, but they aren’t very exciting. Shelves for the basement closets. Molding I never finished. Very dull. So I stand at the window and look out at the snow.
          Friday afternoon, though, there was a window of sunshine, so I went hiking at the Jordanelle. (Dad doesn’t come with me on those hikes–he prefers the treadmill at the fitness center.) My duck-hunting boots kept my feet dry, and the trail belonged to me! There was a small path tromped down in the center that I could sort of follow. I think it was mostly made by deer. But the sun was brilliant, and the sky was blue. Down on the reservoir, there were ice fishermen and snowmobilers. Other than that, it was just me and the snow. By the way, if any of you get in the mood for a winter hike, come and do that trail with me! There’s no place more beautiful, anywhere!
         This morning I’ll be teaching Gospel Doctrine in Sunday School. Since I was "nudged out" of Primary, that’s been my new calling. I love it. I only teach once every three weeks, because I rotate with two other teachers, but it always gives me a big high. The course for this year is the D&C and church history, but this morning the lesson is on the Book of Mormon. I want to get the people in my class to tell us the stories of how it has changed their lives. I ‘m sure they’ll come through!
          Love to all, Mom

Sunday, January 15, 2017

Dear Kids,
           Last week I wrote about our wonderful, deep snow. But then it rained, and most of it melted, leaving a soggy mess. But then we had the most fabulous snowstorm ever, since we’ve moved here! From Tuesday night until Wednesday noon, we got a whopping two feet! It was a chore, digging out our car, because we needed to go to piano class Wednesday afternoon, but I almost didn’t mind, the snow was so beautiful. I did some of the digging, and Dad did a lot, and then our neighbor, Spencer, came over with his snowblower and did the rest. Meanwhile, at the cabin . . . well, I guess you saw the picture Allen posted. But there’s no stopping the cabin fun! Tom had a youth group there, on Wednesday night I think, and they dug out the fire pit and made a bonfire. John had his scouts there Friday night, and they had a great time sledding. In fact, they sneaked out at 1:30 am and were back on the hill, whooping it up. There was a full moon, John said, and it was as bright as day.
            Blackhawk helicopters have been flying over our house every day, north towards the mountains, and then back again. Maybe they’re training for a mission in the arctic! The horses in the field behind us absolutely hate them. They leap into the air and then and start racing whenever the helicopters go over.
            A week or so ago, Dad and I sorted all our tools, and we set aside the duplicates. They’re spread out on the garage floor: screwdrivers, files, wrenches–all kinds of things. It’s first come, first served, for anyone who would like to have any of them.
          I checked with John about the dates for the family reunion, because some of you have been wondering. It will be August 9-12 (Wednesday, Thursday, and Friday nights) at Bear Lake, the same campground we had in 2012. I’m sure it will be a riot of fun.
           Love to all, Mom

Sunday, January 8, 2017

Dear Kids,
          We finally have snow! Lots of it! There’s probably a foot and a half on the ground now, with more on the way. And it’s been cold--Friday morning it was 17 below. In honor of the cold, John threw an ice cream party Friday night. There was hot chocolate (to warm us up before the ice cream,) and billiards, and we watched the first "Star Wars" movie (in honor of Carrie Fisher). Then we ate lots and lots of ice cream. John had to buy five cartons at Smiths, because they were on sale, five for ten dollars. He saved money that way. Anyway, it was great fun. Thanks, John!
         When Dad and I go to IKEA (seldom) we never run into anybody we know, because the shoppers are all so incredibly young. They all look like teenage couples! How surprised was I to see Nora there on Monday morning! She was checking her kids into the play yard, before she started shopping. We would have visited longer, but Dad was just hauling out a "TV unit" we’d bought for our basement family room. So I handed off the pack of sweet rolls I’d bought on impulse, after I took out one for Dad. I didn’t need them! We’ve been living on holiday goodies for weeks now, and it’s time for a change. Anyway, it was great seeing Nora and all her kids.
           I made a nice new centerpiece for our dining room table out of a basket from the DI and some fake ivy. Then I put in some little fake birds, made out of styrofoam and real feathers. It looked really cute, until Tina destroyed it. And killed one of the birds. I found it on the floor, full of bite marks, with ivy strewn around it. A very sad sight. I was able to put it all back together, but the bird sure doesn’t look the same. Tina’s not allowed anywhere except in our bedroom now, at night, when we’re watching TV. I carry her in with welding gloves that Dad bought, so she can’t scratch me with her awful back claws. I’m reminded of what Tom asked when he was a very little kid: "What are cats FOR?"
         The fun goes on and on. I love you all! Mom