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