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!