Wednesday, December 21, 2005

Dear Kids,
      I’m wrapping Christmas presents on the dining room table! Can you believe it? After all those years of huddling in my bedroom with all the wrapping paper and presents, and setting them out in the basement hall for you guys to carry upstairs, finally I can wrap presents out in the open! There’s nobody here to see them! I’m using a different roll of wrapping paper for each family, so I can keep them sorted out. It’s lots of fun. I’m having fun fiddling with each toy before I wrap it up.
      So what’s the plan for Christmas? On Saturday, Christmas Eve, we’ll be having soup bowls here at out house, probably about 6 pm, maybe later, and then everybody who wants to can hike Ensign Peak with us. The rest can stay home and take care of the kids. Christmas morning there’s a breakfast at Nora’s at 9:30. Call her if you want to bring something. Christmas night, the fun at the cabin will start at 6 pm, or so. Nora’s cooking a ham, and I’m bringing funeral potatoes, so it will be like a Christmas dinner. Again, Nora, the queen bee, is in charge. Monday morning it’s a free-for-all for breakfast, so bring all your leftover Christmas food. About noon we’ll have sloppy jo’s and chips and that sort of thing. Hopefully there will still be enough snow to go sledding. It’s melting here, but usually it’s a lot colder at the cabin.
      Tuesday night is the party with Dad’s cousins, at Marla’s house, at 7 pm or so. They hope as many of us as possible can come. I’m sure they’ll tell us all their recent adventures. If you can’t remember how to get there, call me.
      I got the Blizzac tires for the Windstar! Dad had to special-order them from Big O Tires, and he had to buy an extra set of rims, because you take them off in the spring. But I cheered when they were finally on. Friday night, Dad and I went back to the cabin to check on the pipes, and although the road was a sheet of ice, we zipped right up. So if anybody has trouble getting up on Christmas, we’ll come down to get you. Of course it’s not very exciting to go up that hill without slipping and fishtailing, but I can get used to it. About the pipes–they all thawed out, and nothing was broken. Yay! I made Dad crawl underneath to check on things, and he found heat tape that wasn’t plugged in, so he hooked it back up. I think we’ll be fine now.
      Rachel had her baby. Here’s the e-mail from Ben: Zachary Charles DeBuck, born December 17, 2006. 7 lbs. 2 oz., 20 inches long. Reddish hair, fair complexion, looks like all the rest. Rachel had an easy time of it, with a labor lasting just a few hours. All is well. Looking forward to Grandpa Allen assigning a number.
     This morning I talked to Grandpa Allen, and he said little Zach DeBuck is number 151.
      Sharon and I went snowboarding Friday, on Chickadee (Snowbird,) and we were looking forward to a great day of it. But at the bottom of our first run, Sharon slipped, fell back on her wrist, heard a snapping sound, and she just sat there in the snow. It hurt too much for her to get up. I had ibuprofin in the car, so she took 5 of them, but we weren’t able to make any more runs. Her wrist started swelling, so it was probably a sprain. Later on we went for a hike, because she was so excited to be in the mountains. Those of us who see mountains all the time, and snow, and blue sky, and pine trees–we get used to it. But Sharon thought it was wonderful. Last I heard, her wrist is doing better, but she won’t have another chance to snowboard this year.
      Tom is getting quite the reputation as a photographer. If you want to see his wedding picture of Brittany, Kim’s sister, look at It looks professional to me! He’s always buying equipment and lenses on e-bay.
      Things you find out visiting teaching: JaceBills is out of jail (drugs.) The neighborhood up by Harmons has rats. KatieRickett has broken away from Dan at last, after 10 years, and is living at home again. Nathan is home, too, and works at the Triad Center as a security guard.
      I can’t believe it’s almost Christmas! I only wish all our family could be here. But Monica, Paul-- we’ll be talking to you!
      Lots of love, Mom

Wednesday, December 14, 2005

Dear Kids,
      Our house is finally full of people again. Well, not as full as it was in the old days, but we have Donna, Sharon, Seth, and Charlie. Besides Dad and myself and Reggie and the two cats. So there’s plenty going on again. Donna starts her job back at Deer Valley tomorrow (where she’ll see Bevan every day!) and Sharon and Seth and Charlie flew in this afternoon. Donna and I picked them up at the airport, and they were exclaiming how warm it is here! (It was 33°. Monica, we all want to come to Tucson!) This evening, everybody’s going to bed early. The Thackers are still on Michigan time, and Dad is asleep on the couch (Webelo scouts today) and I’m just getting over an intestinal upset. I think it was food poisoning, from our Study Group Christmas dinner Sunday night. We all came from great distances, and the food sat out for a long time before we ate. So Monday morning I had terrible cramps, nausea, diarrhea, the whole bit, and it was violent. But in 12 hours it was over. And my sinus infection came back, so I had to start another round of antibiotics. And my back is improving, but it sure is hard to throw up when your back hurts. So I was really hating life yesterday, but today it’s all good.
      Vanessa and Trent came to town last weekend, for a Jazz game and the Cousins’ Christmas party, and it was really fun to see them, and Sarah (who’s just a little toodle bug) and Sterling. Vanessa had an ultrasound, and it looks like she’s going to have a girl! (She says the baby wasn’t very cooperative, but they’re 90% sure.) Vanessa is still swimming, and she finally learned how to do a flip turn, just like they do when they race. Another lady showed her how. She’s amazed, after 6 years of swimming, she finally learned how to do it.
      Heather had a lump removed from her shoulder, and it turned out to be more extensive than they thought. They kept pumping local anesthetic into her, until, according to John, it was about four times the normal amount. So she was pretty sick from the anesthetic, when I talked to her the next day. She had another lump taken out five years ago, when they were in Ephraim. They always send the lumps to be biopsied, but she says there’s practically no chance it could be malignant. We hope she recovers soon!
      Donna, always the adventuress, has been riding her bike around Logan in this sub-zero weather. (I had really started enjoying my bike, but when the show fell, the bike went into the shed). But here’s Donna riding her bike around when any normal person would be bundled up in several layers of coats, and bumming rides from roommates. She’s lost eight pounds. Her roommates are all trying to lose weight, but the aren’t willing to use the “Donna method.”
      Last Friday morning I drove to the cabin, for the first time in two weeks, but I couldn’t get up the hill. It was barely above zero, so I should have been able to zip right up, but I guess the front tires are really worn. Normally I wouldn’t mind walking up, but I had a whole carfull of stuff–blankets, Walmart sacks, 2X4's, hampers full of clean sheets. Luckily, Vaughan Stanley was right behind me, the bodyguard, the guardian angel of Woodland Hills Drive. He hauled me and all my stuff up the hill. He said to get Blizzac tires for my car. They’re made of soft rubber that really grips the snow. So Dad called around the next day. They’re very expensive, but I’m going for it.
      Then, when I got into the cabin, I could tell it was lots colder than normal. I guess that’s because Dad and I hadn’t sealed up the outside opening to the crawl space. It’s sort of like leaving a window open. In the downstairs bathroom, the water in the toilet was frozen solid. Some of the water lines were frozen, too. I put a heater under the house and sealed up the crawl space, and after several hours, I had water again in most of the lines. It didn’t like any of them had burst, fortunately, but I never did get water into the little bathroom. This weekend Dad and I are going back to put heat tape on the water lines. It only gets that cold once or twice in the winter, but we’ve got to be better prepared.
      I’m looking forward to Christmas. Paul, it’ll be great to talk to you!
      Love, Mom

Wednesday, December 7, 2005

Dear Kids,
      Dad and I drove to Price Sunday night because Tom was singing in Mr. Wilson’s “Messiah.” It’s always great music, and it hits the high points and is done in an hour. What could be better? We got there early enough to have dinner with Tom and Kim beforehand, and Emma entertained us by playing peek-a-boo with her bib. (Get this: she already goes pee-pee in the pot!) Bentley ate lettuce with his fingers. Dad and I snarfed down the wonderful lasagna that Kim had made. Tom was supposed to be at the auditorium by 7:00, so he left at two minutes before. I love Price! Kim walks to work, which is the elementary school right across the street. Sometimes Tom walks, too, when he doesn’t want to warm up the car. (In Price, in the winter, nobody’s cars ever get warmed up. They get to where they’re going first.) But Tom and Kim’s days in Price might be numbered. Karl Bentley has been transferred to Vernal, but Kim’s Mom and sisters will be staying in Price until McKenzie graduates, in May of ‘07. Then all the Bentleys will be gone. Tom’s job has its ups and downs. I think he ought to start looking in Utah Valley, or Salt Lake. Even though he probably won’t be able to walk to work.
      Dad and I slept over in Tom and Kim’s basement, in a big comfortable bed, surrounded by piled up furniture and lamps. The people who own the house are off on a mission, and lots of their kids’ stuff is stored there. It was pretty cold that night, and when we left the next morning, the wiper fluid in our car was frozen solid. But now the cold weather has moved up here, and the cats are freezing on the deck, looking very pathetic.
      Saturday night Dad and I had free tickets (family and friends night) to see the McGettigan kids in “A Christmas Carol.” Tyler was doing his last stint as Tiny Tim, for the 5th year. Sam was one of the Cratchett boys, plus other minor parts. Kara was Little Fan, and Harriet Cratchett. It was a great production! On MSN’s list of things to do at Christmas, along with the lights of Rockefeller Square, is “A Christmas Carol” at Salt Lake’s Hale Center Theater! It’s number four on their list!
      Tom is going to fix up so there’s one more link, to “Ackerson Kids’ Letters.” That’s so all you married kids (and singles) can e-mail me with your news, and I’ll just put it up on the site. That way, if I don’t mention you in my letter, you can put up your own news! I think it’s a good way for all of us to keep track of each other. I’ll let you know when the link is ready.
      My back is doing a little better. Everybody fasted for Grandma last Sunday, and I figured I could get in on it, too, by having Grandpa and Dad give me a blessing, when we stopped by Orem on our way to Price. But we left much earlier, so I had Dad and Tom give me a blessing, when we were in Price. And right away my back started to improve. It’s got a ways to go, but at least it’s getting better. Hey, I want to go snowboarding as soon as possible! Sharon and I are going up to Snowbird, when she and Seth get here next week. So you can see how anxious I am to feel good, besides not enjoying my back pain.
      Last night Dad and I went to tithing settlement, and I told Bishop Little I need another calling besides playing the organ. I told him I can’t sit through three meetings, and I’d even be willing to do nursery. He said, “Why can’t you sit through three meetings?” I tried to explain, but how could I say, “Relief Society is boring” and “Sunday School is a drag.” I told him I need to be busier. So I deserve whatever comes my way, even nursery. I’d much rather roll out play dough and eat crackers, than sit through meetings, listening to lessons.
      So all you kids that are restless and hyperactive, you know where it comes from.
      I love you all! Mom

Wednesday, November 30, 2005

Dear Kids,
      Well, it’s finally winter here, as in SNOW! Up till Thanksgiving, things were pretty dry and desolate. But the storms started rolling in on Saturday. Of course the first big one hit just as Dad and I were coming home from the cabin, trying to get over Parley’s summit. If we’d left just half an hour earlier, we could have sailed home. But here we were, inching through the slush, with semis jack knifed off to the side. We didn’t even have our chains in the car! (They were still at home in the shed, where I put them last spring.) It took us two hours to get home!
      Other than that, Thanksgiving was great. Thanks to all of you who came to the cabin and brought food and joined in the fun. I think most of us ate more on Thanksgiving night than we did at the polite sit-down dinners with the inlaws. Dad and I had a great time at Grandma and Grandpas, sitting at the fancy table with the lace tablecloth, eating daintily off china. Who can gorge themselves when everybody is being so genteel? But it was fun. Like always, I wanted to go for a walk after dinner, before we cut the pies, and when we got back, Jeanne and Barbara had already cleaned up the kitchen. So my reputation as a slacker (with my own family, at least) lives on.
      Monica and Neil had a fun Thanksgiving–they went for a hike in the savannah. (For those of you who are not ecologically hip, a savannah is a grassy plain, with oak brush and mesquite. Some of the savannahs are endangered, like the rain forests.) Monica and Neil feasted on bread and cheese, and they camped, but the next morning they were driven off by cows. Monica reports that Ramona is still out of control. She gets wild after her walks outdoors, and she continually “talks” to Moinca. By the way, Monica, the big news here today is that IKEA furniture is building a new store in Draper, at the intersection of Bangerter and I-15. They have 30,000 Utah customers who have driven to Phoenix for their furniture, so they’re coming here. For the rest of you, Monica and Neil are IKEA fans, and most of their furniture is from the Phoenix store.
      The big social event of the season was Annice’s wedding reception last night. Unfortunately Dad and I couldn’t stay very long, because Dad had scheduled home teaching appointments later on, but Nora gave me a full run down this morning. No, Donny Osmond wasn’t at the reception (at least I didn’t see him there) but Nora says he came to the sealing yesterday morning. But lots of old ward members were there, like the Pistoriuses and Fallises. Colleen Yorgason and Maté were there with their four children.
      My back has been hurting like crazy these last few days, who knows why? I did a lot at the cabin over the weekend, but it didn’t start hurting until we got home. I’m OK sitting down or standing up, but not in between, and it’s almost impossible to bend over. So yesterday, while I was trying to do my hair, I kept dropping my comb on the floor. (Jittery fingers, from taking lortab. It’s 5 years out of date, but it works.) Anyway, I didn’t want to bend down to get it, so I just got another one out of the drawer. And another one. Ditto with my hair claws. When I was done, then I got down on the floor and picked everything up. I’ve become very creative at saving my back. Hopefully it will improve before our first snowboarding expedition.
      New babies on the way: Jake and Dierdre, (after four years of trying), Heather’s sister Leah, (obviously no time at all trying), James’s brother Paul and his wife, Cassie, and probably others, that I can’t think of now. And of course, Vanessa, which we already know. It seems like there are always more babies born in the spring. Like kittens.
      This Sunday, Grandpa Allen wants us to fast and pray for Grandma Allen, who still has lots of pain in her knees and back. I put up Grandpa’s message at, under “other family letters.”
      I love you lots! Mom

Wednesday, November 23, 2005

Dear Kids,
      Well, this is going to be an odd Thanksgiving for Dad and me. I’m not even cooking dinner! So many of you kids were going to the “other side,” Dad and I decided to spend Thanksgiving with Grandma and Grandpa, and Jeanne and Rich’s family, and Barbara. So I only have to make pies. Of course I hope to see at least some of you at the cabin Thanksgiving night, (or maybe this will be the past tense, by the time you read it.) I have to make pumpkin pie, because nobody else can do it the same. I’m not just bragging–reliable sources have told me this. I even heard a rumor that James was refusing to come to the cabin Thanksgiving night because he didn’t think there would be any of the “real” pumpkin pie. Well, I’m baking it right now. It’ll be there.
      Sharon and Seth are having Thanksgiving with Missy’s sister Tara, and her husband Nick. Last year, Tara said, she and Nick spent all day cooking, and then they ate their dinner, by themselves, in about 10 minutes. I’m sure they’ll have more fun this year, with Sharon and Seth and Charlie for company, and some help with the cooking! Nobody cooks like Seth, or Sharon, either!
      Tom and Kim came to town on Monday for Emma’s appointment at Primary Children’s Medical Center. She was diagnosed with a heart murmur at least 3 months ago, and it took this long to get her in. They tested everything out, including giving her an ultrasound, and they found that she has pulmonary valve stenosis, which is narrowing of the pulmonary valve leading into the heart. It isn’t causing Emma any problems right now, and they’re going to check her again in a year. Thanks goodness it isn’t anything serious, so far! Tom and Kim spent the rest of the evening visiting with us here. I had made one of my pumpkin pies early, especially for Tom. Remember how, when he was on his mission, he complained bitterly that he didn’t have pumpkin pie for two Thanksgivings? (I guess the kimchi didn’t quite fill that empty spot inside.) Remember how I made pumpkin pie for his homecoming dinner, in June? Well, I remembered. So we had some on Monday. It was a good warm-up for Thanksgiving.
      Tom also reports that he’s now “permanent” in his job, because the former permanent guy moved to Logan, and is going to work remotely. Trouble is, Tom is not sure he wants to be permanent. He says that on the salary he gets right now, there’s no way they can buy a home, unless Kim keeps working. Of course my remedy was for Tom to start looking for something here in Salt Lake right away, but it’s not that simple, of course. Still, I’m sure there are a lot more opportunities here, especially with the experience Tom has now.
      Winter is settling in, even if there’s no snow on the ground. How do I know? Xena is obsessed with getting inside. Last night at bedtime I was wandering around the house, turning off lights, and I noticed some extra gray fabric on my sewing table, behind the serger. Actually, it looked more like fur. I lifted it up, and sure enough, it was a warm contented cat. I tossed her into the kitty room, and made sure the door was shut tightly.
      Paul, I mailed your medications. I have to do it at the post office now, because they made new rules about mail to Canada. Letters and photos are the only things you can put directly into the mailbox. I guess you’ve probably heard that. Thanks for your entertaining letters! Keep Elder Wolfe on the level, OK, now that you know his weakness for Sisters!
      Lots of love, Mom

Friday, November 18, 2005

Dear Kids,
      It’s been a busy and fun week here. On Friday, Vanessa brought Ben, after his week in Pocatello. Vanessa had all these plans to shop, but she ended up lying on the couch, and we had a nice visit. It was lots of fun. I had agreed to tend Ben for the last day of Nora and James’s vacation, but it turned out to be the last two days, since they didn’t get home until Sunday. They had trouble with their flight out of Cancun, so they missed the connection in Denver, and had to stay overnight there. (Luckily in a motel, and not waiting in the lounge.) Addie had been dropped off Saturday afternoon, by John and his family, so she stayed the night here, too. Both kids were very good. But anxious to see their parents. Nora and James brought back a video showing them swimming in a tank with dolphins! These creatures have been trained to kiss humans and sing, both of which they did with Nora and James. They also swim under you and lift you up by your feet. You just have to see the video! Nora and James obviously had a very good time, and they have lots of stories to tell.
      Dad has been very happy out driving his bus again, but management is putting a lot of pressure on him to come back into the office. They’ve tried out other guys, and he’s the one they want. They’ve promised him a raise, but I don’t know how much it is. Somebody pointed out to him that your social security and retirement pension are based on how much you make the last 5 years that you work, so it would mean more money over the very long haul. One reason management is so eager to get Dad back behind a desk is that they’re so impressed with his English skills. He did a fabulous job rewriting the radio training manual, and it didn’t have any mistakes. You can guess who gave in and finally proofread it before he sent it in! I’m thinking they should pay me something.
      Speaking of my life, my visiting teacher, Louise Wilde, said she had a very personal question to ask me. I said OK, because of course I don’t have any secrets. She wanted to know why I don’t have a job. I told her I’m too busy to work. She laughed. She’s a grandmother like me, and she says she’s also too busy to get a job. Who would’ve thought?
      John and Heather are planning a breakfast for Thanksgiving morning, like they’ve done before. I know it’s the “off” year for most of you, but if you want to come to Heber, John says everybody’s welcome. I asked him if the meal was going to be gluten free, and he said his pancakes are so good, you’d never know there isn’t any wheat in them.
      I took inventory of the cabin movies, and there are four of them I can’t locate: Catch Me if you Can, Saints and Soldiers, Pride & Prejudice (LDS), and O Brother, where art Thou? Do any of you have a clue where any of these might be? I can replace all of them, easily (love that DVD burner, and the library, my partner in crime) but I’d like to know if any of these are still around.
      You know how you get “presents” in the mail from charitable organizations, like return-address labels from the humane society, or sample greeting cards from the Sierra Club? Well, I just opened a package from the Salt Lake Rescue Mission, with a complementary holiday chef’s apron in it. It has a smiley guy serving up a turkey, and it says “Happy Holidays” from the Salt Lake Rescue Mission. When I wear it to serve my holiday meals, I’m supposed to remember those who are hungry and hopeless, and send a donation. It’s pretty surprising, the stuff you get in the mail.
      Well, I’ve got a ton of stuff to do. Busy Grandma, you know. Lots of love, Mom

Thursday, November 10, 2005

Dear Kids,
     Things are quiet here. But not in Cancun, where Nora and James went after all. (It turned out not to be a cruise, just a vacation.) And not in Heber, where John’s family is tending Addie. And not in Pocatello, where Vanessa is tending Ben. I talked to Vanessa on the phone this morning, and she said it’s been going OK. They were having such nice weather, she decided to take all three kids for a walk up a little canyon, with Sterling and Ben in the stroller, and Sarah in the backpack. But Vanessa only got about 200 yards when she started to feel lightheaded. (Or maybe it was from the chlorine she’d inhaled swimming that morning.) Anyway, her walk was short. Tomorrow she’s bringing Ben here to our house, and we’ll have him until Saturday night, when Nora and James come home.
      Donna is up to her ears in school work and projects. People tell her that the first year of landscape architecture is the hardest, and then her senior year will be easy. Let’s hope so. Right now she’s frantically trying to get things done. She’s also looking for a summer job in Utah Valley, hopefully in her field, and luckily, there’s a kid in her program who’s brother-in-law is the owner of a garden shop in American Fork, which Donna had already been interested in. That would be a great internship for her. Already, I’m asking her what shrubs to plant around the cabin. Ordinary people like me always need advice like that.
      Last week I reported on Grandpa Allen’s surgery. About a day and a half after the operation, he started hallucinating like crazy–Crazy as in: the ceiling coming down to crush him, men walking down a spiral staircase into his room, with black trenchcoats and hats, with a plot to kidnap him, and lots more. People who were there say he was also swearing and flirting with the nurses and singing old army songs. He thought Charley’s cell phone was amazing. Anyway, there’s a whole description of what Mark (my brother) thinks happened on, under “other family letters.” Now he’s home, and doing OK. Bonnie has taken a break from her teaching job and comes every morning to help them, and there are other people, like physical therapists, home health nurses, and the like, who come and help, too.
      Monica reports that things are going OK at “Gum Tech,” her day job. She said it’s a lot like “Office Space.” And also her restaurant job, where she makes the real money. Her scooter has arrived, and it’s in a warehouse–she was just waiting for a break in her schedule so she could go pick it up. Go, Monica. We want pictures of you on the scooter!
      Paul, your letters are the best! I especially like the missionary cartoons on the back. I wish I could send them around to everybody!
      Sharon’s Relief Society is planning a big pre-Christmas extravaganza, and she called me to find out the recipe for my oatmeal muffins. I told her, just use jiffy mixes. They’re easy, and they taste good. She said sure, she could just see herself e-mailing the recipe to the Relief Society president: 1 box jiffy mix, 1 c. water. But I think any Relief Society that makes extra work for people needs to lighten up. Just my own opinion. Oh, by the way, Sharon, thanks for the cute pictures of Charlie! I’m enclosing them in everybody’s letters.
      Gotta go! I love you all! Mom

Wednesday, November 2, 2005

Dear Kids,
      I hope all the grandkids had a fun Halloween. Well, I know one who didn’t, Ellie, unless you think it’s fun to fall off the coffee table and break your collarbone. Who knows what she was trying? Missy didn’t even see it happen, since she was busy in the kitchen, and there were other kids in the house, and they were all going crazy. So Allen and Missy and Ellie spent Halloween night at Primary Children’s Hospital, getting Ellie treated. Only, if you’re just a toddler, there isn’t much to the treatment. It think they bound up her arm, so the collarbone won’t be disturbed, and then it should heal itself. (You know kids, they’re made of rubba’.) Meanwhile, back at Al and Missy’s house, Stan took Carson trick or treating, and then they came home and handed out treats, which Carson seemed to really enjoy. He’s always good if you give him a job.
      Also on Halloween, Grandpa Allen had surgery to replace his hip. It took longer than they thought (of course, it always does) because his femur had “migrated” up into the hip socket. He’ll be in the hospital (Utah Valley Regional Medical Center, in Provo) for a week or so. Meanwhile, some of the rest of us are trading off spending time with Grandma. We hope everything goes OK.
      If you visit our website,, you can now click on “other family letters” and bring up the latest news from your aunts and uncles. I know, it was supposed to be working a couple of weeks ago when I wrote, but now it really does work. I put up letters from Barbara, Jane, and Andy, and there are a few more in our e-mail that I’ll put up over the next several days. That way you can get the news of the cousins, and also the news of your aunts and uncles. For example, who but Andy and Renae would be vacationing in Colorado, and want to tour the Air Force Academy? (Well, maybe Chuck) Anyway, now you can keep up on all the gossip and other events.
      Sharon reports that things are going great in Michigan. She calls every Sunday night, so I can always keep updated. She had to make a “Summer Wheatley” pinata for a Napoleon Dynamite party they were going to. She also had to make the dang quesadillas. Other people were bringing the tater tots and corn dogs. I’m glad to know there are other Napoleon Dynamite freaks outside of Utah and Idaho. I still wear my “Vote for Pedro” shirt on a regular basis.
      Nora and James are going on their cruise after all! It seems their hotel wasn’t hurt that badly, and it’s up and running. Nora and James are leaving Saturday morning, and I hope they’ll have fun. Ben is going to Pocatello, and Addie is going to Heber. I know they’ll have fun!
      Our neighbors, the Coombs (aka Nogans) took down their giant elm tree, the one in the front yard. Maybe they were getting roots in their sewer line, or they were tired of raking leaves–who knows! I wish Barry would do the same thing with his. It just gets bigger and bigger, and there are always a ton of leaves to rake, and we’ve already had its roots in our sewer line. Somehow I don’t think the tree is in any danger, though, because there’s a Jesus statue sitting on the ground next to it. Maybe for protection, who knows? Is that a “Christian” thing? Paul, have you seen it–Jesus statues by trees and bushes?
      Well, I have to go rake leaves. It could snow any day. Last Saturday at the cabin, there were white flakes coming down, but they didn’t stick. Deer Valley has snow about halfway down the mountain.
      I’m doin’ great and lovin’ it. Hope you all are, too. Love, Mom

Wednesday, October 26, 2005

Dear Kids,
      Some things never change. Remember how frantic I used to be, just before Halloween, sewing costumes? Well, Nora has decided that Addie needs to be Little Miss Muffett, (never mind that there are two other costumes in the closet she could wear) and Nora is hurrying to finish a little yellow gingham dress and white pinafore. Nora thinks it would be just so cute for Addie to be Miss Muffett, and Ben can be the spider. That fits perfectly, because I have a spider costume, and because Ben lives to torment Addie. When they came here yesterday, I noticed that Addie had a black eye. “Oh”, Nora said, “Ben hit her with a softball.” Of course. Other news about Nora and James: (Oh, not that news) Their plans to go on a cruise keep getting blown off. By hurricanes. The first cruise they booked, they were supposed to leave from New Orleans, and we all know what happened there. So they re-booked, for Cancun. So of course it was hit by Hurricane Wilma. It’s not exactly clear what happened to their hotel, maybe it’s OK, but probably not. So now they’re planning to re-book for February, when the hurricane season is definitely over.
      Sharon reports that Charlie has taken four steps. Of course she wasn’t looking–it was at church, and some other mothers saw him take off. That’s always how it goes. Sharon also reports that Seth has been called to work with the cub scouts. Perfect fit! I hope they’re all normal–no psycho cases. Seth ought to have a lot of fun. Dad is finishing his third year with the Webelos, and he likes it more all the time. He was buying up popsicle sticks and construction paper and other supplies, using them for craft projects, but Grandma told me to just have him look in “Oriental Trader,” where you buy the kits. Great idea! Nora says she looks in Oriental Trader to get ideas for preschool crafts, but she buys the stuff at WalMart.
      Grandpa Allen has started having a lot of pain in his hip, not the one he had “done” 8 years ago, but the other one. He has had to resign from the temple, hopefully temporarily, and he has an appointment to see the orthopedic doctor tomorrow. We’re guessing he’ll have surgery. Bonnie is planning to take a leave of absence from her teaching job to help take care of him, and Grandma, too. We need to remember them both in our prayers. Grandma has a lot of pain in the knee that she’s had “fixed” twice, and she was hoping that a bone scan would show what the problem was, but it didn’t help. Could it be that both of them are just wearing out? No, never! I’m voting for them to be translated, like the 3 Nephites, but they can just keep living in Orem and we can keep visiting them.
      I reported a few weeks ago that our church grounds had been scraped bare of grass. They dug out lots of dirt, too. Now they’ve finished a spectacular new landscaping job, that’s supposed to be a showcase of water-wise plants. I like the plants a lot, but there’s also lots of bark and rocks, and you know what kids do with both of those things. In fact, there’s a whole fake dry-stream bed across the front of the church property, made of fist-sized rocks. It’s just begging for kids to run back and forth in it, and the rocks are just the right size to throw. And the bark is already migrating into the rocks. But we’re hoping for the best. Right now, it still looks pretty good.
      Because gas is expensive, and because we’ve had such beautiful fall weather, I’ve taken out Paul’s bike and now I go somewhere every day, like the library, or the grocery store, or yesterday, I rode all the way to Valley Fair Mall. I’m discovering our town is not very bike friendly. There wasn’t a single place at the mall where I could chain up the bike! The library has a bike rack, but it’s broken. And hardly any streets have bike lanes. On 41st South, I ride on the sidewalk, when I have to go that way. Usually I look at Google Earth and plan out my route so I’m going through neighborhoods. It’s lots of fun. Dad is concerned that I don’t wear a helmet, but I’m not racing down mountain roads on asphalt! Just leisurely cruising through neighborhoods doesn’t seem very dangerous. I asked him if I needed to wear spandex, too, and he said that would be great. I can just see it, a 58-year-old grandmother in spandex, riding down the road. As far as saving gas, it wouldn’t cost much to drive to the places I bike to, but it’s all in your frame of mind. When I’m all sweaty from a bike ride, I’m not in the mood to start up the car to go anywhere!
      I hope you’re all well and happy. Paul, you’re the greatest! I hope those Victoria people appreciate you!! I hope some of your investigators will come through.
      Lots of love, Mom

Thursday, October 20, 2005

Dear Kids,
      I just came back from having a crown prep at Dr. Condie’s office, and it will be my 14th crown. My mouth is nearly filled up. According to Grandpa Allen, once your mouth is all filled up with crowns, you can eat all the candy you want. Sounds good to me. But I’ve got a temporary tooth where my new crown is going to be, and they told me to avoid all the traditional Halloween candy, like caramels, pumpkin taffy, all the good stuff. (Christmas, on the other hand, is mostly chocolate. Easter is jelly beans.) So I’m licking a butterscotch candy to get rid of the bad dentist taste in my mouth. Dr. Condie, by the way, was all dressed up, ready to go to a funeral at noon. His nephew was the kid swept over the waterfall in Alpine, if you heard about it. He was trying to rescue his dog, who had fallen into the stream. Sad.
      It’s that time of year when the mice come inside. They smell winter coming. Now, Dad and I don’t have that problem, here at our house, because we have Xena and Rat Cat. No mice. But Allen and Missy have had a few. Missy says that twice, when she’s been reading her scriptures in their bedroom, a mouse has run across the floor. So, did that put an end to her scripture reading? No, Allen got those sticky strips that you put along the floor, and the mice’s feet get stuck to them. And then what do you do with the wiggling, squeaky mice? Allen seals them in a zip lock bag. I guess there’s no pretty way to get rid of them. There haven’t been any at the cabin, ever since Ramona’s stay there. I guess she put the fear of death into all the mice for 50 miles around.
      Ramona is enjoying the weather in Tucson, where it’s 80° most days. Their neighbors have a bunny, and when Ramona goes out for walks with Monica, she plays her own version of “whack the bunny,” through the fence. That’s even more exciting than watching pigeons. Other news from Tucson: Monica is going to buy a scooter. She said Tucson is very “scooter friendly,” and the weather is pleasant most of the year. Go, Monica! She plans to get a new car next spring.
      News from Pocatello: There’s going to be a new little Sutton on or around May 1st of next year. Congratulations, Vanessa and Trent! I’m always excited to hear that there will be new babies. Hey, the last batch is getting pretty big. They’re lots of fun, but they really aren’t babies any more. Vanessa reports that she’s been able to swim about four mornings a week, and it’s helped her feel better, during those icky early weeks. She made her first machine quilt, too, as a result of Renae’s class, and also as a result of having a brand new sewing machine. It’s a baby quilt, and she said it went pretty fast.
      I’m enclosing a copy of the Christmas exchange list, made up by Missy, Kim, Nora, and Vanessa, during conference weekend. If you have any complaints, talk to one of them. Christmas is on a Sunday this year, so we’ll be having our annual sledding and present-exchange party at the cabin on Monday, the 26th. Dad and I will probably drive up there on Sunday night, any anybody else who wants to stay over, you’re welcome. But wait–Thanksgiving comes first! Thank goodness it’s such a nice, informal holiday. Just let me know if you want to have Thanksgiving dinner with us at the cabin, and I can give you a food assignment. We’ll probably eat around 1:00 in the afternoon, like we usually do.
      Poor Paul, you’re going to miss the holidays again. But I’m sure the members will take good care of you. We’re so proud of the work you’re doing! Thanks for your weekly letters!
      Lots of love, Mom

Wednesday, October 12, 2005

Dear Kids,
      I’m eating a gigantic cookie for breakfast. It looks like those big pink Mothers brand cookies you buy at Mavrick and other gas stations, the ones where, when you look at the nutrition information on the back, it tells you it only has 200 calories, but that’s only for one “portion,” which turns out to be maybe 1/4 of the cookie. I made a bunch of these cookies, and wrapped them up and put them in the freezer, so Dad could take them in his lunches. But I discovered (like frog and toad) that you can take them out, and eat them for breakfast. They’re very good.
      Dad spent three days in Virginia, where he went to his 40th year high school reunion, and hung out with his brother. He flew home Sunday morning, and when I picked him up at the airport, he seemed to have a serious case of jet lag or time warp or something. But later on, after we went to Church, he turned back into his old cheerful self again. At work, he’s back to driving busses, instead of sitting in an office. When his trial month ran out, he told them he really preferred driving. Sure, he was making more money in management, but he just didn’t like being shut up in an office all day (and having to write booklets and go to meetings.) And whatever suits him, suits me.
      Friday night I went to Nora’s book club at the cabin. It was a blast. They had read “And Then There Were None,” by Agatha Christie. And they talked about it, in the dark, around the campfire. They’re all very bright and thoughtful. About six of them slept over, and the rest left for home, about two in the morning. What a group! There’s no stopping the fun. For the ones who stayed over, Nora fixed a great breakfast (Kim’s German pancakes), and then a couple of us hiked the little loop. Most of the fall colors have faded, but it was a beautiful morning.
      Speaking of fall colors, Sharon reports that Michigan is absolutely beautiful now, with yellows and oranges and reds. It’s the thing, there, that you drive around the in country and buy apple cider and donuts, and go to fairs. There are also pumpkin patches where you go in and pick your own. Of course we have that, if you want to go to a busy street corner–it’s not way out in the country.
      If you check out the main page of, you can see that Tom has put up a whole new batch of pictures, from conference weekend. All the grandchildren look spectacularly cute. And on the main page, next to where it says “Christy’s Blog,” I’m going to have Tom add another link, to “other family letters,” because my brothers and sisters are all sending out family letters by e-mail now. I’ll put them under the new link, and then you can read all their latest news. I couldn’t possibly condense it all on my own.
      Sunday afternoon, in church, Kara McGettigan was sitting between the two of us, drawing cats. She asked me the name of that little gray kitten we had, and I told her “Mystic.” Then she said, what about that other cat you don’t have any more?” I said, “Scarlett . . . Ethyl?” She shook her head. She said, “You know, that brown one, that was half lion.” Finally I figured it out. “Ramona!” She drew a picture of Ramona with a witch. I asked her if Ramona was afraid of the witch, and she said, “No, Ramona has power over the witch. She treats it like a dog.” So, here’s a question for Monica, “Does Ramona have power over witches?” You can give us a report after Halloween.
      Jeanne’s dad, Leon Hartshorn, has written his life story, and I’m editing it right now. It’s really interesting. He taught seminary and institute first, and then religion at BYU, and they lived in Grantsville and Boise and California and Hawaii, before they finally settled in Orem, where Jeanne met Richard. Brother Hartshorn published a series of books, “Great Stories from the lives of . . . . ,” about eleven books in all. And he also served as a mission president. And I think he met every general authority there ever was. Anyway, it’s lots of fun. I’m nearly done.
      Thanks for all your phone calls and e-mails and visits and letters (Paul only) and love.

Wednesday, October 5, 2005

Dear Kids,
      There’s frost on the ground this morning. Xena is fervently chomping on the cat food, bulking up for winter. Our furnace is cranking out heat. Where did the summer go?
      Well, at least it was warm for conference weekend. Saturday afternoon we were sitting outside by the swings, watching the kids play, and it was positively hot! By the way, it was great to see so many of you there, especially Vanessa and her kids, who had to come so far, and Tom’s family. We ate a lot of food and had a lot of fun. Sunday morning, Vanessa and Nora and Tom and I hiked the big loop. Tom’s gps showed that it was 5.3 miles, from the front of the cabin, back to the same spot. I’m glad to finally know. I figured it was between five and six miles, but I always wondered. Other highlights of the weekend, besides conference, of course, were campfires both nights and lots of trips on the Yerf Dog. Saturday night, I babysat six kids while the guys went to the priesthood session of conference, and the girls went shopping. It was just like doing nursery, only I didn’t have to give a lesson. I put on Bentley’s new copy of “Trucks and Big Machines,” and the boys sat fascinated for at least some of the time. After they watched the fire episode, I happened to be starting a fire out in the pit. So they kept running into the greenhouse to watch, screaming “the house is on fire!!” and then they ran back to the TV again. That was mostly Bentley, Sterling, and Jacob. Ben sort of trailed along behind them. Aaron did his own thing. Julie was pretty fed up with the whole business. She complained to me that she didn’t have anybody to play with, and I agreed that her life was difficult.
      That night, Monica called, and we happened to be at my mission reunion, but things were winding up by then. Dad, of course, was still talking to people who had stuck around, but I had a good chat with Monica. She now has two jobs, a day job in her own field (hooray!) at a food lab, where she tests gum resins, I think she said. Nights she earns more money, at Flemings, a high-end restaurant. The downside is that Ramona is now the latch-key child of a working mom, and she isn’t taking it very well. She peed on Monica, and then, while Monica was screaming at her, she pooped on the floor. Bad Ramona! Well, she was just showing her opinion of Monica’s new schedule. Good thing she couldn’t talk! Grandma Allen once said, “If cats could talk, none of us would have them.”
      Hey, Paul, I hope things are going well for you in Victoria. Have you met any Smiths? They’re all inlaws of Jim Cope, one of my old mission friends. He said to have you watch out for them. Their father was the stake patriarch, and he just recently died. I think there are about 10 brothers and sisters, probably about my age. One family lives on Mann Ave., by the Church. If you run into any of them, tell them your mom is an old friend of Jim Cope. Maybe they’ll feed you, if it doesn’t happen to be “prime time.”
      Last night we went to the wedding reception for Matt Bunkall and Jenny Anderson. Of course there were a million people in line. We were right behind Nichole Archibald and her husband. Nichole’s mom, Cheryl, who knows everybody in the world (she used to come into the dairy a lot, I remember,) was also in and out of the line. She reminded me that Nichole had once gone to a dance with Tom. I said, “Yeah, and the bride did, too.” Tom, you really got around.
      I’m on my way down to Orem to take Grandma to have a bone scan. She’s had nothing but trouble with her knee, and after two “replacements,” it hurts just as much as ever. She’s trying out a new doctor, and he had obviously decided she needs the bone scan. I remember when I was having all my neck trouble, 5 years ago, it was finally a bone scan that showed where the problem was. So I’m hoping she’s just as lucky.
      I’m doin’ great and lovin’ it. Hope you all are, too.
      Love, Mom

Tuesday, September 27, 2005

Dear Kids,
      We finally have a computer up and running, but of course I don’t want to go through the whole story. It works. I can write normal letters again. On schedule.
      Paul has been transferred to Victoria! His new address is: #102 3819 Shelbourne St., Victoria BC V8P 5N3. On the map, you can see that Victoria is on the southern tip of Vancouver Island, even farther south than most of Donna’s mission. It’s probably going to be a great place to spend the winter. No dog sleds. Go, Paul!
      It must be the season for romance. In fact, it must be a monsoon season for love. Can you believe that both Annice Turcsanski and Shanna Spencer are getting married? Annice is marrying Dan Osmond, a son of one of the older Osmond brothers, one of the deaf ones who didn’t sing. He’s been married before and has a 5-year-old daughter. Shanna is marrying a guy named Zach from Washington. Her aunt set them up. She doesn’t have a ring yet, but she sold her condo and moved back in with her parents to save money. We also have a wedding announcement from Matt Bunkall, who’s marrying Jenny Anderson, who’s Tom’s age, and there’s also an announcement from April Ulrich. What a batch of marriages coming up! Dave Michelson made a trip to Idaho to meet Connie Harper, and I hoped a romance would flare up immediately, but he seems to be checking out a lot of different girls, and Connie is just one of them. Well, if there was ever a year for Connie to find her man, this has got to be it.
      Last Friday and Saturday was the annual sisters’ retreat for Grandma Allen and all my sisters and me. We’ve nearly always gone to St. George, but (1) gas is too expensive and (2) we haven’t been invited to Charley’s new house there and (3) Barbara doesn’t live there any more, so we went to the Cabin instead. I had worked like crazy to finish up the inside moldings around the new windows, and put the blinds and shutters and curtain rods back up, because I knew they would look into every room and exclaim over every little thing I had done. And they did. It was lots of fun. Actually, it doesn’t matter where we have the retreat if we can eat out, shop, watch movies, and gossip. And we did it all. We ate at the Gateway Grille in Kamas, and everybody was impressed! Go, Kamas. We watched “The Terminal,” plus Hurricane Rita coverage. (Big flop. It hardly damaged anything!) My sisters shopped at the outlet stores, but I stayed at the Cabin with Grandma, and raked rocks in the yard. And we gossiped. Jane was here visiting, and she had hoped to meet Jamie’s new girlfriend. But every time she visits, things go south with the current girlfriend. Just before Jane got here, Jamie went to pick up the girl for a date, and she’d had her hair cut into a mohawk, and it was spiked. She told him she thinks it’s OK to drink coffee, and the Church is not all that important to her. Oh, and she also told him about how she’d tried to kill herself. Needless to say, he’s starting out all over again. I heard lots of other gossip, which I’ll probably let slip here and there, when I’m not careful.
      Sharon has a new church calling–ward camp director! She’ll have a great adventure, I’m sure. Their camp is going to be in July, but she doesn’t know if it’s ward camp, or stake camp. She’s hoping for Stake, so they’ll pick the theme and make most of the arrangements. You know, they have to have the matching pajama pants, and the workshops for learning camp skills, and the booklet of camp songs, and the crafts . . . But of course it’s all good.
      We’re looking forward to conference this weekend, and it will be fun to see everybody who is able to come to the cabin. Those of you who can’t . . . we’ll miss you.
      Love, Mom

Thursday, September 15, 2005

Dear Kids,
      Here I sit, again typing my weekly letter on the laptop, again late, completely aggravated about our new computer. Dad’s friend had it ready for him on Saturday, but he configured it wrong (striped instead of mirrored,) so Dad spent several hours re-doing it, rather than taking it back. It has no game port to plug my music keyboard into, so I can’t work on my recital music, and the screen flickers, probably having something to do with the video card. The flicker is so bad that after just a few minutes I’m so dizzy I can’t do anything. About the game port–Dad’s friend told him there were adapters that would convert my MIDI cable to USB, but Dad couldn’t find one. So enough about that. If I even talk about it, I get too mad to think about anything else.
      Is there any good news? Your cousins Adrien and Michelle both had their babies. Michelle had a boy, Liam, and Adrien a girl-–I think her name is Miriam. I have no idea when either baby was born, oh wait, Michelle’s must have been about a week ago, because Nancy had the twins, when I was visiting Grandma yesterday. And Amy was there with Caleb, so we sat and watched the babies play and fight together. It was fun. Outside, in the street, there was yellow “caution” tape strung everywhere, because two days earlier, one side of the street had been slurry-sealed. I know, it doesn’t take two days for that stuff to harden. It doesn’t take even one day. But the two old geezers who oversee everything in the neighborhood were keeping good watch over it, and the rest of us had to crawl under the tape, even old people in wheelchairs, going to doctor appointments. So I took the opportunity, when they weren’t looking, to cut it with scissors. They tied it back together when they saw it was all sagging, and then they took to watching it even more closely. I found another chance to cut it, down at the end of the street, when they were gone inside, but by the time I made it back to Grandma’s house, going in the back way, they had tied it up again. Well, I gave them something exciting to do. The trouble is, Grandma and Grandpa and everyone in the neighborhood is too nice to them. They wouldn’t last five minutes on our street.
      Donna has had some kind of identity theft with her cell phone, because our last bill had 53 text messages that she had supposedly sent or received, and of course they cost extra. She called customer service, and the guy she talked to asked, was she sure she hadn’t received the messages, and it was weird, and he didn’t know what do to about it. We all advised her to keep trying, till she gets somebody who can fix it. It’s not expensive, but aggravating.
      Sharon reports that Charlie is now in a play group that meets outside in the sand box. The mothers sit and visit while the kids play. Sounds like fun to me! (Both the sand and the visiting.) Sharon says the weather has been beautiful in Michigan, but they don’t go out exploring much now, since gas has become so expensive.
      Heather has a fabulous garden this year. It’s all neatly arranged in raised beds, and she has everything from beets and carrots to beans and tomatoes and zucchini. Next year I definitely want to have a garden again! Those fall vegetables taste so good!
      Tom and Kim have moved into the house of a nice older couple who are serving an 18-month mission. Heck of a deal! Tom says there will be a lot of yard work, but we all know how much he loves that sort of thing.
      Conference weekend is coming up! Dad and I will be at the cabin, of course. I’ll fix Sunday dinner. If anybody wants to come for all or part of the weekend, and eat with us, let me know, so I can plan.
      Lots of love, Mom

Wednesday, September 7, 2005

Dear Kids,
     Dad and I had our last-of-the summer cabin siding work party over the weekend. Translated, that means we nailed up our last batch of logs, until next year. We’re about 75% done. You can see it all at I know I’ve been consumed with the project for several weeks now, so it will be nice to go on to other things.
      Did you all hear that Ned Winder died? The obituary said it was heart failure. He hasn’t looked good for the last several months, but I sort of figured he would live forever, anyway. Dad and I didn’t go to the viewing or the funeral, because we knew that thousands of people would be coming from great distances, and we have our own good memories of him. The funeral was in the stake center, and there were TV’s in every classroom, and still, that wasn’t enough. I knew it would be mobbed.
      Remember how I said I killed 283 hornets? Well, their relatives got revenge. It was out in the field by the cabin, where I accidentally stepped in one of their nests. They went after me, and chased me back to the cabin, and inside. I grabbed some bug repellant, and sprayed down my face and arms, and they finally backed off. But they got me good in quite a few places. My upper lip swelled up until I looked like Homer Simpson, and it took a week to completely go away.
      Dad has a surprising new assignment at UTA–they’ve pulled him into management, temporarily, to rewrite a training manual. They gave him a desk and a computer and a palm pilot and a cell phone. He goes to meetings and sits in on training sessions. When he told me all this, I was flabbergasted. He said he’s the best they’ve got. I guess they know he has a college degree. I said, “Who’s going to be your editor and proof reader?” He said he’s it. I’m pretty sure he’ll bring things home for me to look over. He said nobody else would know the difference. So now he’s working 8 to 5 in an office. I don’t know how long he can do it without going berserk.
      Last Monday morning, while Dad and I were working at the cabin, Donna called us on her cell phone. She and Bevan were at the top of Timp! They had started out at 5 am, and they were at the top before 8. They must have really hoofed it! She said there were hundreds of people on the mountain. I guess everybody realized it was the last good weekend. Probably the only good one. There was still a lot of snow, and Donna told me later, they had to be careful coming down. But guess who they ran into? John Patterson and Cindy! He, of course, wanted to know who Bevan was, a boyfriend, husband, what? Donna said he wasn’t her husband. Later, Donna had to tell Bevan the whole story of John Patterson’s misdemeanors, and that, of course, led to the story of Jacob, and Donna’s patriarchal blessing, and that whole strange affair. By the way, John Patterson has been hired as city manager of Ogden. The media called it second-in-command to the mayor, but John, in an interview, called it city manager. Good for him. Go, John. (As in, “go to Ogden, OK?”)
      They’re digging up all the ground around our Church, but I don’t know why. (Maybe they announced it in Church last Sunday, when we were out of town.) All the grass is gone, and most of the shrubs, and they’re hauling away dirt, for a couple of feet down. Maybe it’s contaminated. I’ll keep you posted.
      Hey Paul, I’ll send the stuff you need. I’ll get to it right away, promise. I’m glad you’re so busy. Keep up the good work. Go for the gold. (Oh, sorry.)
      Hope you’re all doin’ great and lovin’ it! Mom

Monday, August 29, 2005

Dear Kids,
      I haven’t written in almost two weeks, because we still don’t have our computer back. So I tap out things on the laptop, but it’s a pain. Meanwhile, everybody in the family has been doing interesting and unusual things. Monica and Ramona have gone off to Tucson, and everything seems to be fine there. (There are plenty of trees with birds in them for Ramona to watch.) Donna came home from the Tetons (with Bevan, surprise, surprise) and moved all her stuff to Logan, and started school today. She’s living in a 50's style house with interesting roommates, including a Spanish-speaking older lady. Seth and Sharon arrived safely in Ann Arbor, but I haven’t talked to them much. Their phone is always busy when I call, so they must have plenty going on. Nora has started up her preschool, and she has also enrolled Addie in a “Joy School.” If you want to know more about joy schools, ask Nora, or Kim, whose Mom did one for her years ago. It’s sort of a parents’ co-op. Speaking of Kim, she had all four wisdom teeth out, but she looks pretty good again–just a little swelling still, when she and Tom were here last weekend for his 10-year high school reunion. (The reunion was too expensive, so Tom and his friends met at Rodozio Grill and had their own fun.)(It ended up costing almost as much, however, but they didn’t much care, it was so much fun to boycott the real thing.) Tom tells us that Emma has a heart murmur, and she has to see a specialist as soon as possible, which turns out to be in November. Don’t you love our health care system? Well, it’s probably better than most other places. Paul, you can probably tell us stories about Canadian health care, when you come home. Which will probably be June 2nd. Paul wrote that in an e-mail to Donna. Why she needed to know is a whole ‘nother story.
      Last time I talked to Vanessa, they had several loads of boulders in their yard, and Trent had borrowed a skidloader to make a retaining wall out of them. Now that sounds like a fun project to me! Maybe someday Trent can show me how to do it. I’ve never driven construction equipment, not even a bobcat.
     Last week when I went to the cabin, I saw that the door from the garage to the kitchen had been left open, and I heard rustling inside. I thought there might be an intruder, and I was really scared, but when I stepped into the kitchen, I noticed that all the chocolate graham crackers I made last time, a whole batch of them, had been eaten. The lid was on the floor. I heard scurrying in the pantry, and when I walked in there, I saw a little furry tail disappear down that hole that goes through the floor. It was a squirrel, and it had burrowed through a whole package of napkins and shredded two boxes of bran flakes, for nesting materials. I put a can of paint over the hole, but I didn’t know there was another squirrel still in the cabin. By the next morning, he had chewed into the banana I left on the counter, and he was shredding paper off the sheetrock on the wall. I swept it up. But later there was a new pile, and also wood chips that he had chewed off the corner of the door. So I finally got out the rat poison. He took one cube down to his nest. Poor squirrels. I hate to kill little creatures, but now I have to repair the walls and the door.
      I also killed 283 hornets in one day. I put out a bowl of chicken water for the cats, and the hornets swarmed into it and drowned themselves. I kept skimming off the dead ones and counting them. I know, sick. But I was curious how many you could kill with one bowl of chicken water. Interesting.
      I can see I’ve written more about squirrels and hornets than family members. I’ll do better next time.
      Lots of love, Mom.

Thursday, August 18, 2005

Dear Kids,
      My letter is late this week, or maybe this is next week’s letter, because we don’t have a computer right now. Dad thinks our motherboard is fried, probably caused by a failing power source. Or whatever. I’m typing on the laptop, and it’s giving me a hard time.
      Sharon and Seth left for Michigan yesterday morning, and they made it to North Platte, Nebraska, by last night. Tonight they’re supposed to be in DesMoines, Iowa, where they’re staying with somebody they know. Tomorrow they’re driving to Chicago, and then on Saturday to Ann Arbor. Their new address will be: 2831 Sagebrush #208, Ann Arbor, MI, 48103. Their phone number will be 734 913 7982. It was hard saying goodbye to them (and Charlie,) but they’ll be here for Christmas, and time goes by fast.
      Cathy called Sunday night. She and Amber are settled in Buffalo, New York, and we’re already making plans to visit them next summer, hopefully about the time of the Hill Cumorah pageant. (Hopefully Sharon and Seth and Charlie will be with us, too.) Amber and Cathy’s address is 96 Heather Rd., Cheektowaga, NY, 14225. Their phone number is 716 837 1076. There. Any more address updates? I don’t know of any.
      Over the weekend, Dad and I and the Study Group went to Ulrich’s cabin down by Manti. It overlooks Palisades reservoir, which has a 9-hole golf course that costs $9.00, and sometimes the golf cart rental is free. So Dad went golfing for the first time, with the guys. He said he had a blast. We also went four-wheeling, with the gang. There’s a dirt road that goes east of there, and if you go about 35 miles, you come out in Ferron. We didn’t, but it was sort of fun, riding through the pine trees and aspens. My neck didn’t like it, though, especially when we went over rocks. So I figured it was probably my first and last 4-wheel adventure. Ulrich’s cabin, as you can imagine, is super deluxe. Five bedrooms, four bathrooms, two family rooms, a big rock fireplace–it’s really nice. It also has a fabulous view of the reservoir, and several rows of mountains behind it. It’s sort of desert country, vegetation like Albuquerque. Not what I imagined, but very beautiful. Of course we also got caught up on everybody’s news. Shanna Spencer is pretty serious with a guy in Washington, who was staying at Spencer’s house for a few days. He works for Quest and earns a lot of money, according to Martha. Ralph Spencer was very involved in the “Extreme Makeover–Home Edition” they recently did in Bountiful. He said you can see him marching in the parade at the beginning, in their yellow shirts and hard hats. I had lots of questions for him, like how did they get the cement to dry so fast, and ditto with the joint compound, and what did they do with the family’s furniture. (D.I.) He talked about it nonstop for over an hour, which is more talking than I’ve heard Ralph do in 27 years, but he was very excited about it. The show will be on in September.
      We’re up to our ears in Cat Wars. Here’s how it happened: Monica and Neil have moved to Tucson, and they’re allowed pets. (Funky older home, it sounds like.) So Monica’s here to get her stuff, and Ramona. Grandma said if she had to give up Ramona, she needed a new cat. So yesterday we went to the animal shelter in Orem, even though Grandma has hardly been able to walk in the last two weeks, and we looked over a wonderful selection of cats. She picked out a black one with white tufts coming out of his ears–very elegant. We took him home to Grandma’s house, and Ramona threw a fit. She sat under the deck and hissed at me whenever I came close, and Grandma finally had to go out and get her. I stuffed her in the cat carrier, and the new cat walked by, and Ramona let out a howl/shriek/hiss that would have curdled your blood. The new cat jumped about two feet in the air. Not to worry–Ramona was coming to our house, OK? Not OK. Because we have this new fluffy gray kitten, who’s not the least bit afraid of Ramona. Or the other cats. They hiss at her, and at Ramona, and Ramona hisses at everybody. So the hissing and growling and yowling has continued. Last night, the kitten slept on Monica’s face, while Ramona sulked in the curtains. Today it’s been one fight after another. Monica and Ramona will be leaving on Monday, however, so maybe there will be peace in the house again.
      Last Saturday morning we had a lot of fun here–Leah was getting married, and all four sisters had slept over the night before. Early Saturday morning they were all up early working on Leah: Amanda was painting her toenails, Heather was doing her hair, and Jenny was putting makeup on her. I took a picture, is was so cute. Leah left early for the temple, and Heather was in charge (with 101 other responsibilities) of making sure Jenny was modestly outfitted for the temple grounds. She appeared wearing a very short skirt, so Heather borrowed a long skirt from me, and made her put it on. I overheard her saying, “I can’t believe this!” But it was all good. Dad and I went to the reception that night, at Uncle Richard’s house in Mapleton. Hey, it’s even bigger and grander than Mark Ulrich’s house! It was a beautiful evening, and Leah was a beautiful bride. The groom, Jason, played Uncle Richard’s grand piano and sang to Leah. It was very touching. Dad and I ate way too much cake and ice cream, but it was so fun!
      I’m going to the cabin for a couple of days, because I can’t do anything here without a computer. I hope you’re all doin’ great and lovin’ it.

Wednesday, August 10, 2005

Dear Kids,
      Well, Dad and I were just settled in with our new e-mail address (just2cats) and only having two real cats lounging on the deck, when a new kitten arrived at our door. CC Barbuto showed up with her. It seems that a mother cat stumbled onto Barbuto’s driveway, “as big as a house,” according to CC, and started having kittens, 7 of them. So here was one for us. Well, I’ve hardly ever chosen our cats. It’s more a matter of fate. (Like having kids.) So we’re trying out this kitten for a while. (OK, probably permanent.) She’s tiny and gray and fluffy, and her eyes are so little and gray you can hardly see them. And like all fluffy kittens, she’s really dumb. I have to clean her bottom with a washrag, because she hasn’t learned yet. She really likes Dad. She uses his leg and his back for a climbing wall. The other two cats hate her, of course.
      Addie is carrying around a popsicle stick with her “stitches” on it. 5 of them. The same day she got them, (on her chin, like Nora had, like James once had,) Ben was stung by a bee. Nora was making stroganoff for dinner, and she burned it. Just one of those days, she said.
      Tom found some information on the web about Victory Ranch, the development that’s supposed to come right up next to our cabin area. Only the part they’re showing in their first map is down by the Provo River, near the sawmill, if you’re coming from Heber. You know that spillway, that looks like it would be so much fun to ride down–it’s right near that. They’re selling lots right next to the river, (I think Tom said about $600,000 for 1 acre) where people can build big beautiful mountain homes. On a flood plain. Up on the mountainside, they’re building the golf course. Duh. I hope those people buy good flood insurance, because it’s not if, but when, their beautiful homes are going to be washed down the river. If you want to see the map, check out
      Monica called from Tucson, where she and Neil were looking for a place to live. She’s flying here Monday, to get her truck and have a dental checkup. She also said she wants to go to the Tetons for a few days. It will be nice having her around, even if it isn’t very long. I look back fondly to last winter, when she and Caroline and Ramona lived at the cabin. It was so much fun, visiting them! Caroline’s last pot of flowers just recently gave up the ghost. It was sad to toss them out.
      John’s family had their annual vacation all in one day, last Saturday. They rode the Heber Creeper and went swimming at the fitness center in Kamas, and then they came to the cabin to fix dinner and ride the Yerf Dog. I guess if your vacation is only one day, you have to make the most of it!
      Most of you have heard that Brendan didn’t stay on his mission very long. He was only in the MTC for a few days, and then being separated from his family was too much for him. So he’s back home, doing splits with the missionaries and working 2 days a week at the bishops’ storehouse. I hope that all works out well for him.
      I’m off to visit Grandma. She had a bad fall more than a week ago, and her leg was so bruised up, it’s taking forever to heal. She made one trip to the hospital, and Grandpa’s taking her to the doctors this morning. I really wish she could get back to her old life, where she was able to do a lot of things she enjoyed, but it’s getting harder.
      I love you all, and I miss those of you that we don’t see very often!
     Love, Mom

Wednesday, August 3, 2005

Dear Kids,
     Thanks to all of you who remembered my birthday with phone calls and birthday cards and visits and presents! It’s really fun to be the mother of such a big family when birthday time rolls around! On Sunday, we were invited to Al and Missy’s for a birthday dinner, where we stuffed ourselves with barbecued chicken and other wonderful food, and sat around and talked. Nora and James and Sharon and Seth and their kids were there, too. Then, on Monday, I talked to several of you. And Paul, the phone call from Sister Brooks was great! There were a whole bunch of people, and they all sang Happy Birthday to me. She said you had gone home already, which is good, since it was 10:30 at night! You’ve got great members in your mission!
     It’s weird being home now, after a month at the cabin. Dad and I got a lot done our last week there, but we didn’t get any more logs put up. When we went to pick up our last shipment, I thought some of them looked a little bent, but we took them back to the cabin anyway. We started unloading them, and nearly all of them were bent or twisted or curved. So we returned the whole order and got our money back. I was disappointed, but it was sort of a relief, since we were both so tired. We’re going to try for another load the last week in August, and I hope they give us better logs.
     Amber came and helped us out at the cabin for a couple of days while we were there. What a workaholic she is! She swept out the greenhouse (ugh!) and hauled bark and painted linseed oil under the balcony and did other chores I’ve been putting off. Go, Amber. She left for Virginia on Monday, where she’s meeting up with Cathy (who’s coming home from a few weeks working in Russia) and they’re moving to Buffalo, New York, together. One thing you can say about most Ackersons, we’re adventurous!
     John brought his family up to the cabin on his birthday, along with his present, a re-curve bow. (His other main present was a package of “chocolate stuff,” mostly candy bars, that Julie gave him.) Now the re-curve bow--I’m not sure what that is, either, but John says it’s great. He and Dad were shooting arrows into a target they made out of bales of hay. Would you believe–-Dad hit the bullseye several times! He said that when he was a kid, they had a target in their back yard, and he and Grandpa Ackerson used to shoot arrows for hours at a time. Who would’ve thought!
     Monica’s on the road again. She called from Dodge City, Kansas, on my birthday. It was 106 there that day! She and Neil are on their way to Colorado, to do some hiking, and then to Tucson, Arizona, where Neil is starting school again. He’s going for his doctorate now.
     James has a new calling: High Council! I know, it’s usually old men, but I’m sure James will be great! He’ll give good talks, at least! The only drawback is, he has to be ordained a High Priest. No more fun hanging out with the Elders.
     A week ago Sunday night, I visited Grandpa and Grandma, since I hadn’t been making my usual Wednesday visits. Grandpa has replaced his exercise machine with a rocking chair. He studies Spanish by listening to the “Libro de Mormon” CD’s I gave him, and reading along in English. Ramona sits under the rocking chair, guarding him. She still likes to chase things, especially rubber bands. Grandpa was concerned when she ate one, but it didn’t seem to bother her.
     Well, I’m off to Orem again. Back to my usual schedule. I love you all!

Sunday, July 24, 2005

Dear Kids,
     Dad and I have finished another strenuous week at the cabin, and we nailed up a lot more siding. You can see how the cabin looks now, at (Except that you can’t see the sides and the back, yet.) We had pretty good wood, except that we’re moving really slowly. When Tom and I first started the project, we were putting up 40 logs a day, but now it’s down to about 18. (10, on our worst day.) A log is 12 feet long, but usually it gets cut up in several pieces, especially when you’re working on obscure little corners, or the inside of the greenhouse, way up. It’s especially fun when you have to climb up two layers of scaffolding, and you discover your piece is cut wrong. I did some shortcuts while we were working on the front–I just climbed the stairs inside, and handed the pieces out the window to Dad. He spent most of his time balanced on a narrow plank that ran from one set of scaffolding to the other one. I heard him tell somebody that he was “30 feet up,” and he was surprised when I told him it was only 12. He said it felt like 100. At least it seems like it, when the wind rocks the plank, and you can’t find a place to hold on. As we’ve been working, I’ve heard cars slowing down as they go by our house, and at first I’d always think it was somebody turning into our driveway to visit us. Then I realized people are slowing down to look. Maybe they’re waiting for one of us to fall.
     Tom and Kim are coming back to the cabin tonight, for the July 24th holiday. Tom just can’t stay away from the project. Sharon and Seth are there right now, too, and Sharon pointed out that Charlie is crawling! We’re having a barbecue tomorrow, whoever’s going to be there. At least it probably won’t be as hot as last week.
     Dad and I went to my 40th high school reunion Friday night. I was surprised to see all these old people! I thought everybody would look the same as in 1965! As usual, all the “beautiful people” were congregated together. None of my friends were there, since we were all nerds, and don’t have the best memories of high school. But it was still fun. I was the only one who still knew the words to our school song, “Roar for Orem High.” A group of the “beautiful people” were trying to sing it, and I was coaching them. Some things never change. Gary Herbert, who is lieutenant governor of Utah, was there, and he brought greetings from Governor Huntsman. He was also a mover and a shaker back in high school.
     Speaking of movers and shakers, Donna ran into Elder Richard G. Scott, hiking on a trail in the Tetons. She asked him what he was doing there, and he said, “Same thing you’re doing!” She was surprised to see him wearing a denim shirt. Here, she’s lived in Salt Lake all her life, and never meets a general authority until she’s hiking in the Tetons. Here’s something else that’s funny–at the Mural Room, they heard there would be a lot of Mormons coming to the lodge for church on the 24th. So they assumed everybody would come in for breakfast beforehand. They expected to be really busy! But of course, they weren’t. Donna told them, “Mormons don’t usually eat out on Sunday.” But they’ll probably forget by next year.
     Dad and I have a new e-mail address: But I think we’re still getting mail at both addresses now.
     I wish I had more news, but I’ve been really isolated. I love you all!

Sunday, July 17, 2005

Dear Kids,
      I’ve been isolated at the cabin all week, but it was lots of fun, because Tom and his family were there. We tackled the big load of log siding in the garage, and after 4 days, it was all on the cabin.

     If you go to, click on the photo gallery, then on cabin work, and then on slideshow, you can actually watch the siding moving up the front of the cabin. Very cool. Tom did that. We put up a pretty good amount of siding on the back, and on the east side, too. Working on the east side was hard, because the old siding is completely decroded (Napoleon Dynamite’s word) and we had to chip off lots of it. Besides that, lots of the logs were curved or twisted, from sitting in the garage for more than a week. But we forced most of them into shape. It was hard, but lots of fun. Tomorrow morning, Dad and I are going to pick up a new load (but not as much this time,) and if everything goes well, we can put it up by next Thursday or Friday. I don’t know after that. We’ll have to see how much enthusiasm we still have for the project.
      While I was at the cabin, I talked to Dave Matheny, and besides finding out that he really did marry his Brazilian girlfriend (Tatiani, who is an architecht and works in Park City) I found out what finally happened to the pheasant. Dave did him in. It was the same day it was attacking me, and I walked over to see if Dave had had any trouble with it. He hadn’t, and I told him if he wanted to do something to it, that would be fine with me. He said he liked to eat pheasant, but he never could bring himself to kill it. Well, later that day, it attacked Dave, and wouldn’t leave him alone. So he strangled it. He said, “It wasn’t pretty, but it needed to be done. I took care of it.” Go, Dave Matheny. He’s a great neighbor. I forgot to ask him if he ate it for dinner.
      It was really hot at the cabin, like it was everywhere last week. Kim and Bentley and Emma mostly stayed inside. Kim did the dishes, fed us, and picked up after us, which was wonderful. Bentley watched “Follow Me, Boys,” about 30 times. Each time it ended, he wanted to start it over again. Tom got aggravated, but I reminded him that he used to watch “Ghostbusters” every day. He said, “Yes, but it was the only movie we had.”
      The 24th of July is a week from today, but I the official holiday is the next day, Monday, the 25th. Sharon and Seth are going to be at the cabin. Nora and James, too, and hopefully Amber. Anybody else want to come for a barbecue? We won’t make you wrestle logs, unless you want to. Just bring your own meat and fixins, and maybe a salad or veggies or chips. We’ll put it all together. I hope it won’t be so hot.
      Dad went to visit Grandma and Grandpa on Wednesday, in place of me, and Jane was there. Brendan had just gone into the MTC. Dad fixed Grandpa’s printer, which needed some adjusting. Grandpa reported that Ramona had killed a bird, and he gave Chuck a feather. He was surprised that she could do it, with no claws, but Chuck explained how cats can compensate. I know Xena’s killed both birds and mice, without claws. I think they learn to bite and kill, in one leap. Too bad we can’t ask them how it’s done.
     I love you all! Mom

Sunday, July 10, 2005

Dear Kids,
      Dad and I have had a wild week. Last Sunday morning we left home for Brigham City, with a car full of stuff to take to the cabin afterwards. We were going to Russell and Kristen’s baby blessing. Although they are now living in California, where Russell works for Intel, they were here in Utah on vacation, and Kristen’s (rich) family was here, too, so it all worked out. And Dad was on vacation, and we have church callings that don’t keep us home every Sunday, and I always like the food that Renae fixes, so we were eager to go. We had Reggie with us, too, because he had to come to the cabin with us. (Nobody at home to fill his seed cup and play with him every day.) We dropped him by Andy’s house before church, because we didn’t want him to cook in the car, and nobody was there. But we heard that Andrea came in later and was practically hysterical when she heard the sounds of a bird in the house. But it was OK when she saw that he was in his cage. (Later he got into Andrea’s hair, because it’s like Nora’s.) After Church (a very nice meeting!) I hung Reggie’s cage outside under a tree, and whenever little kids were crying, I took them over to meet him. Later I moved him into the kitchen, where he soon had about 8 kids standing around, wanting to play with him. For Reggie, it was old home week, just like Miss Nora’s preschool. He loves an audience! They played with him, and he did his tricks, and their parents were very happy to have them entertained for a couple of hours. Go, Reggie!
      Sunday night Dad and I drove to the cabin, where Sharon and Seth and their friends were still hanging out. We all had fun together, and they all left Monday morning. Dad and I stayed, and Tuesday morning, our logs were delivered. The uprights for the corners looked fine. They were long timbers, 8" in diameter, and some of them were 18' long! We had also asked for some siding to be delivered, banded, and we were going to wait and cut the bands when we were ready to use it. Well, it turned out, they had no way to get the siding off their truck, except to unband it and stack it in our garage by hand. I was so mad. Who knows how bent and twisted it’s going to be when Tom and I start working with it tomorrow. But our immediate worry was getting the timbers up onto the corners of the cabin. The 8' and 9' ones were OK, but for the 18-footers, Dad had to use rope and his logging knots from Webelos, and we had to screw an eye-screw up under the eaves, and feed the rope through, to hoist up the logs. The neighbors, of course, thought we were crazy. It took all 3 days to get them done, but we did it. They look really cool. I’ve never been so tired in my life.
      We came home late Thursday night, and Friday morning we left for Boise, for Carly’s wedding. It was held at the “old penitentiary,” a historic prison up in the foothills, but there are historical homes on the property, and this was the “bishop’s house.” (Not LDS, but Episcopal) We could have toured the prison and seen the gallows, but it was too late by then. Well, the wedding was practically underway. Carly looked beautiful, in a traditional dress and veil, and the groom had on a tux, and so did their bulldog. The wedding was out in the garden, and they had brought in a bagpiper to walk ahead of Carly, playing bagpipe tunes. Bruce McCarty escorted Carly, and the groom, Levi, was waiting under a flowered arch, along with the LDS bishop who was going to marry them. It was really nice! I even cried! I think this will be a great step forward for Carly, and her new husband seems like a great guy. She said no alcohol was going to be served at her wedding, which really disappointed Levi’s side of the family, but the die-hards brought their own bottles. Later, the little grandkids (Athena, Cassidy, Ryan) picked up the empties on trays, and looked like regular barmaids. But it was all good. There was lots of food, and it was delicious. What could be more fun? At least with a non-Mormon wedding, there are always going to be surprises. Grandma and Grandpa came, and Bonnie and Curt, and Mark and Heather, and of course all of Katie’s family. It was a great party.
      Saturday night, after we came home, Amber dropped by. She’s quitting her job 2 weeks before she moves to Buffalo, so she’s going to spend part of that time at our cabin, helping us with the siding. Yay! She’s going to Washington to visit Theresa and her family, too, and hopefully be there for the birth of Theresa’s #7. She confirmed that Ginny is here in town, and in fact, Amber helped drive her here. Ginni’s current assignment is helping patrons with genealogy in the Joseph Smith building. Amber has been going out with a 21-year-old, who she says is really nice. She’s been attending a BYU ward–what can you expect? Anyway, she’s leaving town. (Those Ackerson girls, with their hearts of stone.)
      We received a wedding announcement, addressed to the “CEU Ackersons,” from Laurie Jean Saunders and Adam David Hebdon. Anybody? Let me know if you want me to send it on to you. They’re getting married Friday, July 22, in the Ogden temple, and there’s also a reception that night in Ogden. 2 days earlier, on the 20th, there’s a picnic open house in Paradise, which is in Cache Valley, south of Hyrum. Whoever this pertains to, let me know if you need more info.
      What a great family we have! I love you all!

Thursday, June 30, 2005

Dear Kids,
      Well, we’re down to just two cats now. Yep. I took Ethyl on a one-way trip to the West Valley animal shelter, and I paid them their “disposal fee” to send her to kitty heaven. In return they gave me a little poem on a piece of paper, about the “Rainbow Bridge” where I’ll meet my beloved pet again. But I was crying so I just stuffed the poem in my purse. So what finally brought me to take Ethyl in? She started pooping in the shop, on the floor, and I had to clean it up every day, or the basement really stank. In fact, while Dad and I were gone on our trip to the East, she created such a big pile of poop that I had to flush it down in more than one batch. You all know how she’s been senile for a long time–well, this was the last straw. I told her where she would be going, and that it’s really great there, and that she could hang out with Scarlett. I think she was OK with it. She lived 14 years at our house, and she had a pretty good life, in spite of all her deficiencies..
      Trent and Vanessa and their kids stayed here Sunday night, on their way to Spanish Fork. Trent’s grandpa Nyberg passed away on Friday, so they were going to the funeral. They had been expecting this for a while, but it was still sad. It was fun for us, though, visiting with them and seeing the kids. Sterling woke up the next morning all excited about playing with Reggie, who had probably awakened them with his screeching, but they had to get on the road. Sarah had a rash, probably from the sun or amoxicillin or her vaccinations, but she looked really cute, anyway. She likes cake! Surprise surprise. Vanessa says she just goes nuts over ice cream. Funny how that gene comes through.
      Ward news: Jimmy*Simko is finally serious about a girl. Susan, his sister, who I visit teach, says this girl really keeps him in line. She makes him eat food he doesn’t like, and she makes him help clean up, when he doesn’t want to. Sounds like it might work!       So, Paul, you don’t want your letters posted on Why not? I think they’re funny and highly entertaining, besides being inspiring and instructive. But we’ll honor your wishes, unless you tell us differently. I’ll send you the waffle recipe, if Dad doesn’t get around to it. I hope your new missionary program is effective! I hope you and Elder Eckman aren’t just standing around the chapel, when you could be eating good dinners with members. Just kidding!
      Donna thinks she now has cell phone reception at Jackson Lake–well, at least her phone beeped her last night, and today she was able to call out. If you forgot her number, because you haven’t called her in a long time, it’s 801 859 5559.
      I’ll be on a different letter writing schedule in July. Usually I write on Wednesday or Thursday, but since I’ll be at the cabin all month, I’ll probably send my letter out on Saturday or Monday. You can check on if you’re not sure I’ve sent it. I’m looking forward to our month in the hills! Dad is going to be there the first week, and the third and the fourth. Tom and his family are going to be there for the second week, and maybe Sharon and Seth, for part of that time. I checked with the log man, and it turns out we have to put the upright logs on the corners before we can do the siding. He’s trying to get them for us, and hopefully we’ll have them delivered next Tuesday. Since Dad and I will only be there until Thursday night (Carly’s wedding is on Friday,) we’ll probably just do the uprights during that time. Then I’ll wait until the next Monday morning, when Tom is there, to cut the bands on the unit of siding, because once it’s cut, the wood has to be put up in 2 or 3 days. You need two people to do it, but a third person would really help, and it would go faster. So, if anybody wants some vacation time along with a fun work party, come to the cabin and help! Nora said she might come with her kids, probably the 3rd week. Anybody is welcome any time! I’ll pay for your gas! It will be fun! Let me know if you can come, and when!
      Aren’t we all “doin’ great and lovin’ it?!!!”
      Love, Mom

Wednesday, June 22, 2005

Dear Kids,

     If you’ve clicked on lately, you’ll notice a couple of changes. “Check out the new blog” will take you to the family letter, with the latest one on top. Tom set it up for me that way. Of course I’ll still be sending the letter to you in the mail, but if any of your old roommates want to keep up on the family news, they can click there. Or, if you don’t like so much mail in your mailbox, let me know, and I’ll save a stamp that way. Also, Tom has uploaded lots of pictures to the other link, the photo gallery. Then, below that on the home page, are pictures of you kids individually, with your families, and links for your own family pictures. Tom is going to give me instructions to send out to you, so you can upload your latest pictures to your own space. If you have cute pictures you want me to put in my coffee table book (when I get it caught up again), just put them on your page, and I’ll download them and print them. Wow, what fun. “Yes, I love technology . . . “ Thanks, Tom, for taking care of us.
     At the cabin, the pheasant is gone. Boo hoo. I guess he died from inhaling the weed-killer fumes. At least I can work outside now. I just planted two more sections of grass, and I’ve been doing outside molding around the new windows. Dad and I are still on track to start putting up the new siding in July. We have lots of scaffolding, now. In fact, we had to put it up over the garage to do the last two new windows. At one point, dad was balancing a 24' plank over a smaller plank, the wind was blowing, and the whole set of scaffolding started to tip. I climbed down and put a better board under one of the feet. That was the closest to disaster that we’ve come so far. Maybe you all ought to pray that we don’t kill ourselves on this project.
     Trent finished his football season, and they lost their last game. So few guys were there, there were only 4 on the bench at any one time. They were glad they lost, because otherwise they would have had to go back and play Wasatch again. (The ex-BYU players.) Go, Trent. He talks about retiring from football, but it isn’t happening yet.
     Donna is having fun in the Tetons. She’s already had a visit from Bevan (according to Sharon) and she’s been called as Relief Society president. Dave Mickelson is there–he said after the pain of his divorce, he needed to be in the “cleansing Tetons.” He still has the phony southern accent. He and Donna went on a “Sunday stroll.” It wasn’t a hike, Donna said. According to Dave, if you don’t break a sweat, you haven’t broken the Sabbath.
     Last weekend Sharon and Seth went to St. George with Holly and Tim, to see “Joseph” at Tuacahn. They borrowed our van, so they could all ride together, and in St. George, they stayed at the elagant house of Holly and Tim’s friends. Both babies were pretty well behaved. Those kinds of trips get to be impossible when more kids are involved, so that was nice they could do it now.
     If you’ve been to Heber lately, you’ve noticed that John and Heather’s yard is looking really nice! The lawn is planted, and Heather has a nice raised garden. Their white fence, which caused them so many headaches, looks really good. You just have to see it all! John called the other night from Outback Steakhouse, where their family was going to have dinner, because they have a gluten-free menu!
     I visited Grandma last week, and Jeanne came by in her brand new Mini-Cooper. It gets 38 miles to the gallon! She's no longer driving the big SUV, which got 12. Of course she would have to drive the Cooper about a million miles to make up the savings, but it’s pretty spiffy. My brother Mark came by, too, in his brand new 1971 Bronco. He explained that it’s sort of a cult car. The broncos made about that time are really “cool” now, he said. The owners of them stop and talk to each other. Grandpa wasn’t impressed, because to him it’s just an old jeep with lots of rust, but I could see where maybe it was cool.
     Well, now I’ll print out this letter to send you all, and have the fun of uploading it, too. If I get a lot of hits, maybe I can sell advertising, and make money off my “Mom” letter. Just kidding.
     Love, Mom