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