Thursday, December 28, 2006

Thursday, December 28, 2006
Dear Kids,
      This is my last letter for 2006. The year has flown by. I’ve been reading all the Christmas letters people have sent us, and I’m a little depressed by the overachievement of everybody we know. Can’t they just write about their cats and birds?
    It sure was fun at the cabin on Tuesday! I spent a lot of time out on the hill with Dad’s cousins, so I didn’t get to visit with some of you, but it looked like you were having a good time. I think the little kids were having the most fun of all, with their Christmas presents from each other. We hauled out record numbers of bags of trash!
      In contrast, our Christmas morning here at home was very quiet. Just Dad, me, Paul, and Donna (because Bevan had to go to work at 6:00 that morning.) We only filled one trash bag. But we all got great presents! Thanks to all of you for being so thoughtful! Later in the day we went to Nora’s, and had a good visit with James’s parents and Bev’s family, who were also there. And we had a great dinner! I can’t imagine Christmas without good food. Even the pathetic characters in “A Christmas Carol” end up having a good dinner.
      Monica and Neil have moved out of Neil’s parents’ house, into a place of their own. The address is: 638 North 1st Ave., Tucson, AZ, 85719. Ramona is doing fine, of course. She’s moved so many times, she doesn’t care, as long as there are plenty of birds to watch, lizards to eat, and rabbits to whack.
      Donna is settled in at the cabin now, with Bevan and his 4-wheeler. And they have an address! You can send them mail there! (Tom, too) It’s the cabin street address: 3970 S. Woodland View Drive, Woodland, Utah, 84036. After long years of just talking about it, the cabin association finally installed mailboxes at the bottom of the hill, by the trash cans. And the post office is obligingly delivering mail there.
      Last night Dad and I went to an eagle court of honor for Matt Allen and Austin James. Rich and Jeanne are here in town for a week, so it worked out really well. They had it at their old church in South Jordan. I’m not usually a big fan of scout ceremonies, but they had a live eagle there! What a nasty-looking bird. He looked like he’d sooner kill any person there, than live on rats and fish. He had a 7-foot wingspan. Who decided that the eagle was noble? People had to keep their distance from him. (Although he knew how to pose very nicely, when he had his picture taken with the scouts who were getting their eagles.) And there were Indian dancers, too. (Pagan religion, sponsored by the Church). But in all, it was lots of fun. Jeanne’s parents were there, and her Dad, Leon, gave me a copy of his book, which I worked on last year. It’s his life story, and I learned a lot from it. They also gave me a 2-lb. Box of Sees dark chocolates. It was more than fair pay for the time I spent on the project.
      Paul has a temp job at a CD packaging place, on 36th West, up around 23rd South. He got the job through SOS. I figured it wouldn’t be hard. Businesses are scared of hiring illegals now, so there are lots of opportunities for college kids. Paul spent his first shift taking CD covers off a conveyor belt, putting labels in them, and putting them back on the belt. He is now convinced of the value of a college education. He agreed to stay there till the end of the week. Maybe SOS can find him something even better for next week.
      Sharon and Seth and Charlie are here today, packing up to go home. They had a lot of fun at the Thackers. Charlie was in heaven, with a truck, tractor, and backhoe on the premises. He even rode on a big dog. (Mike and Collette’s.)
      I hope you all have a great new year! Love, Mom

Wednesday, December 20, 2006

Dear Kids,
      Well, the big event of the week was, of course, Donna and Bevan’s wedding. I was so glad to have nearly our whole family there. We felt bad that Kim and the kids couldn’t come, but it’s like that, when you have a tiny newborn in the middle of winter. (Ali seems to be doing well now.) Thanks so much to all of you who helped in the kitchen, and especially to those of you who stayed till the bitter end to clean up. I was so tired I could hardly move, and it was great to have you kids racing around, packing up and cleaning. I hope most of you got home before the storm hit. Dad and I (and Sharon and Seth and Charlie) left right as it was getting bad, and we went on a wild goose chase up through Alpine (hey, in a blizzard you don’t always know where you are) but we saw some very elegant houses, and eventually we found the highway and made it home. I assume Donna and Bevan are having a good time in Hawaii. No news is good news.
      Sharon and Seth and Charlie have spent most of the week with us, and it’s been entertaining. Charlie feeds the cats for me every day. I think he’s a little scared of them, because he gets part way to the sliding door, and stops. I have to nudge him along the rest of the way, and open the door so he can dump the cat food into the pan. Then he laughs and has lots to say about feeding the kitties. In fact, he has lots to say overall. That kid is a talker!
      Last night we had our first annual Christmas Music open house, for all my piano students and anybody else who wanted to come. Nora and James and Addie and Ben sang “Jingle Bells.” It was really cute. Al and Missy and their kids came, and I think I heard Allen playing the piano later on. And of course Sharon and Seth and Charlie. And the Fultons and the McGettigans and the Parkers and the Kilburns and a few others. Lots of people. Lots of food, but it went fast. In fact, we finished up most of the wedding leftovers. There were lots of good musical numbers, and some pretty ordinary ones, too. I think we’ll do it again next year. Sunday night, Dad’s cousin Marla had a “Beethoven’s Birthday Party” at her house, but we couldn’t go. She said she served smoked salmon, high-end cheeses, blanched vegetables, and eggnog that was spiked. She said it didn’t offend her Mormon friends, because they’re all OK with being in places where alcohol is served. (I asked her if any of them drank it, and she said No.) She played the first movement of Beethoven’s Appassionata Sonata. We didn’t have any high-end numbers like that at our party. Or high-end cheeses, either. (Or eggnog.)
      Paul has been hanging around here this week, working sudoku puzzles and watching TV. After Christmas, he might work at Deer Valley with Donna and Bevan. He just needs a good pair of boots. Too bad he can’t borrow them, but who else wears a 14? (The only good thing about wearing a 14 is that the boxes make very good cat coffins.)
      We received a nice e-mail letter from Rich and Jeanne, telling a little about life in Calgary. If I can remember how, I’ll put it up on, under other family letters. They’re going to be here in town the week after Christmas, and there’s an eagle court of honor for Matt on Wednesday, the 27th, at their old ward house. (2550 W 9800 S., W. Jordan) Everybody’s invited. Austin James will be getting his eagle then, too.
      Last week, it seemed my hands were getting dirtier and dirtier, but I thought it was just all the chocolate from the wedding cake. The lines in my hands were actually black! No matter how often I washed my hands, it didn’t get any better. Then I took a good look at the new lotion I’ve been using, which Dad bought. It’s a “bronzing moisturizer.” Duh! I told my sisters, and they laughed at how clueless I was. Katie uses it on her arms and legs, but she said you definitely don’t use it on your hands. So, does anybody want the rest of it? Or do we all prefer to be “Ackerson white?”
      Gotta go! I love you all! Mom

Wednesday, December 6, 2006

Dear Kids,
      The big event of the week, of course, was the very quick arrival of Ali Marie Ackerson on Sunday night. Tom called us about 7 pm, more or less, and said they were on their way to the hospital, and they were pretty sure it was going to happen. Or maybe Kim was just going to be “checked,” or whatever. But they weren’t in a big hurry. In fact, Tom and Paul had been planning to go to the Messiah, but Tom cancelled at the last minute. So Tom and Kim headed for the hospital, but evidently, Kim wasn’t in any huge distress. When they got there, the nurse checked Kim and saw that she was dilated to an “8,” and started yelling for people to get in there. Kim’s regular doctor was out of town, and the backup doctor, Tom was sure, was over at the Messiah playing the violin. But fortunately, he wasn’t. Just this once. I guess he got there just in time to deliver Ali, who pushed her way into the world very quickly. After the delivery, they had to suction lots of “gunk” out of her lungs, and air out of her stomach, and since then, they’ve been treating her for infection, but all’s well that ends well. You can see a complete slideshow on, on Tom’s photo gallery. There are lots of great pictures!
      The second big even of the week (it would have been #1 in any ordinary week) was Dad appearing on the front page of the Deseret News. They did the interview a couple of months ago, and he had almost forgotten about it. I never heard anything. So it was a total surprise, when the phone started ringing Sunday morning, first John, and then Tom, and then other people, congratulating him. I had been online earlier in the morning, and I always skim the headlines of the Deseret News, before I go on to other things, and I had seen the story about State Street. I figured Dad would want to read it, but I forgot to tell him. I had no idea he was the featured driver! We saw the picture of him online, (you have to agree it could have been more flattering) but I had no idea how huge it was on the front page of the paper, until Nora and James brought theirs over, later on. Now if it had been me, I would have been totally hyped up and psyched out and feeling very important, but Dad was completely nonchalant. He seemed more concerned about a song he had to learn for choir, and getting his home teaching report done. Ah, life!
      Monica says that it’s getting colder in Tucson. All the way down to 65°. She went apartment hunting on her scooter, and said it was chilly. They have to move again because Neil’s parents are coming to live in the house that they bought, which Monica and Neil have been tending. And Ramona has kept the lizards in check. Ramona is furry and fluffy again (after being shaved for the summer) so her attitude is out of control.
      Speaking of cats, I had to replace our kitty door in the shop window, which, after eight years of abuse, was all twisted and warped. Lots of cold air was coming into the shop, which the cats didn’t appreciate. So I bought a new door, but I had to take the old one out to see how it was put together. Meanwhile, I closed the shop window all the way, to keep out the cold. I left the room, and when I came back in, Rat Cat was banging his head against the window, confused. He was thinking, “This always worked before!” He reminded me of some poor Harry Potter, trying to get through the brick wall at gate #9¾.
      Things are coming together for Donna’s wedding! We’re going to need help in the kitchen, and I’ve already talked to some of you about volunteering a half hour apiece to help make sandwiches, fill nuts cups, and take foot out to the cultural hall. Vanessa is taking the first shift. There will probably be kids picking up the dirty dishes, and Donna says she thinks Beverly can find people to help wash the dishes (We’re using the glass plates and cups) so we only need help with the food. Cathy and Amber are coming (yay) and Cathy said they’d help, too. I think we’re covered for everything else!
      So much excitement! So much fun! Love to all!

Wednesday, November 29, 2006

Dear Kids,
      I didn’t write a letter last week because Thanksgiving wiped everything out of my mind. (I even forgot about my piano students Wednesday afternoon, which I’ve never done before.) But it was great to see everybody during the holiday! Except for Sharon and Seth and Charlie, who will be here soon. (Dec. 14th.) And Monica and Neil. They went camping in the savannah for Thanksgiving, like they did last year. I asked Monica if she wants Tucson to be their permanent home, and she said she would really rather be closer to the snow, and the skiing. Still, 80° in November sounds pretty good to me.
      But we’ve got snow here now, and that’s great, too. A couple of weeks ago, Tom got blizzak tires on his car, and then he predicted we wouldn’t have snow for a long time. But Monday evening a snowstorm hit Heber really hard, and he drove to the cabin in the middle of it. He passed a car off the road, on its side, but otherwise, there wasn’t any traffic, except for him. His car cruised right up the hills to the cabin, no problem. So now he’s agreeing with me, Blizzak tires are worth what you pay for them.
      And speaking of shelling out money, we got a great big snowblower for the cabin. (John did the shopping for us. He got one for himself, too.) Bevan is already a pro at using snowblowers, from his job at Deer Valley, and everybody else is learning. It’s supposed to be lots of fun, shooting a long jet of snow into the air, but I’ll probably never get a chance at it.
      I don’t need to write anything about Thanksgiving, because you can read it all on Nora’s blog: (, or on Missy’s blog: ( Missy also has a great slide show of Thanksgiving, and some new family pictures of them all. If you want to know about Sharon and Seth’s Thanksgiving in Michigan, well, guess what? Sharon has a blog, now, too! The address is: She put up some great pictures! I love blogs! How about the rest of you getting on the bandwagon??
      If you happen to be listening to the radio in Heber, on their local country station, you might hear an ad for Ackerson Eyecare! As if John didn’t have the market completely sewn up, he’s now into radio ads. Supposedly, you get to hear about the different kinds of contact lenses. But considering it’s a country station, he could also have mentioned his guns, his dogs, his truck, and his lovely wife Heather. (Oh, I forgot, country music is all about love gone wrong. John doesn’t qualify.)
      Kim might have their baby any day now. Her doctor is willing to start her labor this Friday (Dec. 1) so Tom will be there, but she hasn’t decided yet. I’m sure she’ll keep us posted.
      I know there’s lots more news, but I can’t think what it is. So I’ll mail off this letter, and then I’ll remember everything.
      Lots of love, Mom

Thursday, November 16, 2006

Dear Kids,
      I just got back from the dentist, and my mouth is numb. So I can’t eat. Besides that, my Dell DJ is dead (won’t charge) and the Windstar still isn’t running like it should. So I’m stuck at home with nothing interesting to do. But there are fun things coming up. Tomorrow I’m driving Grandma and Grandpa to Vernal for Jamie Quinn’s wedding. Grandma has been doing a lot better lately, and she thinks she can make it. (We’re taking their car.) We have reservations at the Dinosaur Inn for Friday night, and we’re coming back Saturday morning. The weather is supposed to be nice! So at least I can look forward to that.
      I’m also looking forward to Thanksgiving. Who wouldn’t? There’s 8" of snow at the cabin. Maybe we can go sledding!
      And I’m also looking forward to next October, when Dad and I are going camping in the Florida Keys. Dad got his vacation week already: October 1-6. Anybody want to come along? Nora said they’re really tempted. The weather is in the 80's in the daytime and 70's at night.
      Donna had her invitations printed, and they look really nice. Tom took the picture, of course, and the writing is printed on one side of the picture, with Donna and Bevan on the other side, hugging each other, looking cute. Donna has decided to hand-address the envelopes, because that’s what’s Beverly Hawkins is doing. The Etiquette books say that’s what you’re supposed to do, but we’re spoiled, with the computer age, where we can print out labels so easily. However, Donna is going by the book. She’s getting Amy to help her, and she says they’ll have a good “bonding session.” Meanwhile, Bevan has moved into the cabin. I haven’t heard whether he and Tom have put up a satellite dish yet, or ordered ESPN. He was promoted at Deer Valley: now he’s a Mountain Supervisor.
      I’ve been cleaning out cupboards and shelves, and I’ve found three (3) graduation gowns, two hats, a couple of tassles, and several sets of honor cords. I know last time we needed the gowns, we only found one, but they’re all here now. So Paul, Donna, anybody else graduating, any friends–we’re all set for next spring.
      Has anybody been wondering what happened to Miss Strassburg? Vanessa saw her on TV. Actually, it was a satellite broadcast from the conference center. They’ve been having these stake conferences for about 80 stakes at a time, and you meet in your own meetinghouse and watch it on the screen. We had one a couple of months ago. (It sounded great in Spanish. I used the headphones.) Anyway, Vanessa and Trent’s stake was having one, and when they stood up to sing the congregational hymn, at half time, there was Miss Strassburg leading the music. Vanessa got pretty excited, and Trent didn’t know what all the fuss was about. But who in our family wouldn’t get excited to see Miss Strassburg again! I think she’s back downtown, at Eagle Gate, where she lived before.
      Paul came home for the weekend, and it was nice to have him around again. He did his laundry, lounged around, went to Church with us, ate Sunday dinner with us, all the usual college-kid stuff. But he knew better than to try to study. He said Tom told him not to even bother bringing books home, because you won’t open them, anyway, and you might forget them when it’s time to go back. It happened to Tom.
      The cats are getting thick fur. It’s going to be a snowy winter!
      Lots of love, Mom

Thursday, November 9, 2006

Dear Kids,
      I’m baking cookies for my fall piano recital, which is on Saturday. It’s such a tradition! I’m sort of nostalgic when I think of how we used to have a whole van full of kids, going to the recital, and now it’s just Dad and myself. But still fun. The Fultons and McGettigans all take piano from me now, and they seem like our kids. We just have to share them with their real parents.
      Two letters ago, when I painstakingly listed all the new family members and their numbers, I left off Tom and Kim’s new daughter, due December 8th. I had all my info scribbled on an envelope, and I had made a lot of changes, and somehow I just overlooked her. So sorry!!! To think I would leave off one of my own grandchildren!
      Last Friday night Dad and I went to the Hale Center Theater to see “Man of LaMancha” with the McGettigans. (They always have free tickets, because of all the productions their kids are in.) We were just sitting down when somebody called to us from a couple of rows behind, and it was Michael Allen, with his girlfriend, Kylee. There was another couple with them, too. We talked for a few minutes, and then the play started. The next morning, at the bridal shower, I was telling Nancy about the performance, and Renae said that she and Andy were there, too! On the same aisle, but farther back, on the other side. I don’t know how we missed them. So, were any of you there, too? I wouldn’t be surprised. By the way, it was a fabulous performance. Cliff Cole, who posed for the Joseph Smith paintings you see everywhere, played the part of Don Quixote. (We also saw him play the pirate king in “Pirates of Penzance,” a few years ago. He’s one of their regulars.)
      Dad had a great time fixing the Windstar, and it’s up and running again. (He even talked about my “freeway incident” in testimony meeting on Sunday.) He found lots to do, and it took about three days. But he was having so much fun, I didn’t want to rush him. I just rode my bike everywhere. He was so psyched up after that, he went out and bought a new timing belt for the truck. He said it’s lots cheaper than paying for a tow truck. If it were me, of course, I wouldn’t do anything until I had to. But then, I don’t like fixing cars.
      Allen and Missy already RSVP’d for Thanksgiving, and got their food assignment, so I reserved them a room. Does anybody else want to make a reservation? I’m sure it will be fun, whether we have a lot of people or just a few. I’m planning to bake the pies at the cabin the night before. There’s nothing like the smell of pumpkin pies baking! It’s almost as good as Thanksgiving itself.
      Dad and I were election workers on Tuesday, at the Redwood Multipurpose center. We had to be there at 5:30 am to set up the voting machines, and we weren’t done until 9 that night, but the day went really fast. I was surprised. You know the strange people that sit at their tables, eating sandwiches and drinking their drinks, and looking up your name in the polling book? That was me, and a couple of other quirky ladies. Dad roamed around showing people where to go, helping with the machines, filling in for whoever needed a break. We never had long lines of people, but it wasn’t slow, either. Just a steady stream of good citizens coming to vote. Working in that part of town, I thought we’d see a lot of weirdos, but there weren’t too many. Our boss was Laura Searle (now Laura Shepherd,) who started taking piano from me when she was seven. Who would think she’d end up being our boss? We had a lot of fun gossiping about people in the 16th Ward.
      Last Friday Donna and Bevan helped me rake leaves and till them into the garden. We’re going to have the best dirt next year! I can’t wait.
      Love, Mom

Thursday, November 2, 2006

Dear Kids,
      I’m stuck home today without a car, because the Windstar died on the interstate yesterday. I was toodling merrily down towards Orem, near Lehi Roller Mills, when I heard a thunking sound inside. But it only lasted a few seconds. No matter. But when I got off the interstate in Orem, I discovered I didn’t have any power steering. I called Dad on my cell, and he said just to be careful. So I drove to Grandma and Grandpa’s, where we had a great visit. (News: Michael Allen has a serious girlfriend, the girl who came with him to Grandpa’s birthday party. Richard flew here from Canada to check her out, and they approve.) So, we had a great time, but when I left for home, I smelled a burning-rubber sort of smell in the car. Then, on the interstate, I saw that the rpm indicator had dropped to zero, and the car started bucking. I called Dad, and while I was talking to him, the speedometer dropped to zero. Dad told me to get off to the side of the road as soon as possible, which I did. Just as I was slowing down on the shoulder, the car totally died. So I called a tow truck, and had it bring us back home. Me and the car. Now it’s sitting sadly in the carport, where Dad has been working on it. First he showed me the shredded timing belt. Several other things went wrong, too–sort of a chain reaction. But he thinks he can get it going again. I hope so! I’ve had so much fun in that car, I can’t stand to give it up. (The car, of course. I won’t give up the fun.)
      Dad and I had a lot of fun on Halloween. There weren’t very many trick-or-treaters, (the only really big group was the 20 Polynesians from across the street), but we got to see Nora and James’s kids, because they came over here early in their costumes. (We also got to see Carson and Ellie on Sunday, in their costumes). Which reminds me, I really would like some pictures of your kids in their Halloween costumes, either real pictures, or a disk, or e-mailed ones. Actually, any recent pictures would be great. I’m finally getting back into doing my photo albums, and I hope to be caught up pretty soon.
      Thanksgiving is coming up, three weeks from today. Last year I didn’t cook dinner at the cabin, and we just met there for pie in the evening, so I presume some of you are “on” for this year? Let me know. I’ll gladly cook a turkey and pies, and make the gravy, if anybody wants to volunteer for potatoes, salads, rolls, or anything else. Let me know, and also, if you want to reserve a room for any of the nights. I think Dad and I will be there for the whole weekend. Who could believe that it’s time to be thinking about Thanksgiving already?
      I talked Nora into starting a blog. You can see it at Right now she just has one picture up, and one entry, but it’s a start. Missy had a long entry last week. I had fun reading it all.
      I can’t think of any real news. Oh, well, I wrote a lot last week.
      Love, Mom

Thursday, October 26, 2006

Dear Kids,
      Here’s the latest New Baby News: Uncle Ben reports that Jeff and Emily had a baby girl on October 18th. Her name is Kimberly Joyce, she was 19.75" long, weighed 7 lbs 13 oz, and her voice sounded like “a very small bear.” Not to be outdone, Uncle Andy reports that Dan and Amanda are now the parents of Micah Paul Allen, born Oct. 20th, no size or weight. But Andy says, “Apparently some of the Allen genes made it through this time. The young boy reportedly has big hands with short stubby fingers, and space for an extra toe between the 1st and 2nd toe.” All this information came to us by e-mail, but on Sunday, Dad and I went to Brigham City for Gary’s homecoming. It was lots of fun, as always. We saw Mark and Tamry’s little girl, Elsie, who was born soon after the family reunion in August. She has cute auburn hair, lots of dimples, and smiles a lot. In case any of you are keeping up with Grandpa Allen’s number chart, the newest baby, Amanda and Dan’s, is #157. #158 will be Jamie’s fiancee, Andrea Fleming. #159 and #160 will be a toss-up between Andrea Hill’s baby and Bevan. Since Andrea and Dan are living in China, she’ll go to Hong Kong to have her baby, scheduled for December 15. That’s the same day as Donna and Bevan’s wedding, of course. But when you factor in the time difference, the baby is likely to come first. One interesting thing about Andrea is that her baby won’t be able to go back into China for about 2 weeks after it’s born, because they have to apply for its passport. There’s a special hotel where the new mothers stay, waiting for their babies’ passports. Sounds like fun, doesn’t it? Renae’s going to fly to China to take care of the older kids while this is going on.
      Back to the numbers: #161will be Charles Allen’s fiancee, Julie, and #162 will be John and Heather’s baby. Sharon and Seth’s will be #163. Since I don’t know of any other babies or weddings before July, Neil could come into our family as #164. But of course you can never keep up with all the new happenings in the Allen family. (Edit: Kim is due December 8th)
      While Dad and I were in Brigham City, Andy demonstrated his new web cam for us, like we’d never seen one before. A year ago he didn’t even have internet access, and claimed he didn’t need it, and now he’s hooked. He’s made all his kids get web cams, too, since two families are in California and one’s in China. Andy dials them up and has the parents put the kids in front of the cam, so he can talk with them. So we got to see Dan and Amanda’s new baby in Santa Barbara, and watch Dan act goofy, like always. Andy told Dad and me that we absolutely had to hook all our kids up with web cams, but I told him when you’re going on 18 grandkids, it isn’t such a big deal. (Just kidding of course.)
      News from Price: Paul reports that he and his engineering buddies are building their trebuchet (like a catapult, I think) for their class project. All the kids in his statics class get to take their catapults to Moab, where they’ll stay in a motel and hold a competition. I think they’re going to throw pumpkins with them. Sounds like a good use of students’ tuition money, doesn’t it? Or our tax dollars? But of course it’s all good.
      News from Pocatello: Vanessa and Trent started laying their sod last weekend, and Vanessa finished up Wednesday morning just a couple of hours before it snowed. Meg can sit up now. Sterling is finishing his soccer season, but with 4-year-olds, it’s pretty casual. At their most recent game, Sterling’s team only had 6 kids, but the other team had 11, all of them on the field at the same time. If they kicked the ball out-of-bounds, they just kept kicking until they got it back in. You can guess who won.
      I just finished reading Missy’s blog, about their trip to St. George. There’s a cool slideshow, too. Here’s the link: I wish you all had blogs. It’s really easy to start one on blogspot. In fact, I had to create one so I could post a comment about Missy’s pictures. Also, Amber has some cool pictures of their record-breaking snowstorm in Buffalo. And her story of their power being out for 2 days. Here’s her link: Have I convinced anybody else to start one up? I hope so.
      Bevan is moving to the cabin on Nov. 11th, when he starts working at Deer Valley. Meanwhile, Donna has discovered that for spring semester, her classes will only be on Tuesdays and Thursdays. So she’ll move into the cabin right after the wedding, and just be in Logan from Tuesday mornings to Thursday afternoons. She won’t even have to rent an apartment there! And she can work at Deer Valley with Bevan on Mondays and Fridays. What a deal! Donna wants everybody to know, however, that she expects the cabin parties to keep going on. If we let her know in time, she and Bevan can escape somewhere overnight, and leave the cabin to us. (Tom does the same thing too, of course.) So there’s no stoppin’ the fun!
      Nora and her kids are here to look at Halloween costumes. I’ve gotta go!
      Love, Mom

Thursday, October 19, 2006

Dear Kids,
      Biggest news of the week: There’s going to be another Julie in the family! Charles finally got engaged to his girlfriend, who some of us met at the family reunion. She’s tall and thin, and I can’t even remember her last name! I think she’s from Oregon or Washington. The wedding date is December 29th. I’ll pass on more new as we get it.
      Dad and I had lots of fun at the cabin last weekend, because Tom and Kim and their kids were there. It was UEA weekend, and the weather was great. (At least on Friday.) Kim fixed wonderful meals. (Some of it she was going to freeze so Tom would have good dinners during the week.) Dad finished staining all our new siding on the cabin, and even started on the second coat of the older part. He loves to stand at the top of a tall ladder with his paintbrush and jug of stain, listening to his IPOD, (Right now he’s listening to “The World is Flat,” by Thomas Friedman), and he can paint all day long without getting tired of it. Meantime, I’m down below, raking rocks, yelling at him if the stain drops on the deck. It works. I’m hoping we can do some more this weekend, but it’s getting colder all the time.
      Monica reports that Ramona has been attacking lizards. When Monica finds a big one, she calls Ramona, and tosses her at the lizard. Ramona likes to eat them head-first. After clearing all the mice out of the cabin, she thinks lizards are easy work. Meanwhile, the wedding plans are coming along nicely. Monica is still planning to have the marriage in the backyard of the cabin. Who’s going to perform the ceremony? Monica said Neil wants somebody in a cowboy hat. Maybe it’ll work . . . . We know for certain that the food will be good! Monica said something about a band, too.
      Donna’s wedding plans are coming along, too. I think she’s decided on the chocolate wedding cake, not just on the inside, but all over, like Vanessa and Sharon had. She wants the frosting even darker than ever before.
      Yesterday I went to visit Grandma and Grandpa, and we had a good time. I showed them some funny videos on their computer. (Now that they have cable modem, it’s a lot easier to waste time there.) Remember how I told you that Christy Montoya Walk and her husband Jeff won $10,000 on America’s Funniest Videos? You can see their winning video if you google “over-excited dog.” It’s hysterical. We found some funny cat videos, too. Grandma was really entertained. We talked about the book by Richard Bushman, a biography of Joseph Smith called “Rough Stone Rolling.” I’m in the middle of it right now. We all have the same opinion of it. Then I put on the video “Mormons and Mobsters,” which is pretty silly, but we had a good time watching it. I really enjoy my visits there. I only wish I could go more often.
      On Sunday I went to the stake president’s office to get my temple recommend signed, and there were a whole slew of people waiting in line. Including Dennis Nordfelt. It’s still funny to see him on the outside, instead of the inside. Somebody had been commenting that he’s had the titles of Colonel, Chief, Mayor, and President, so I asked which one he liked being called. He said any of those are lots better than what they call him at work. We talked about grandchildren, and he said they’re going on 27. He says we’ll never catch up with them. There were so many people in line ahead of us, he finally had to leave before he got in. He said he was fixing Sunday dinner for some of their married kids, and he had to “get his meat on.” He said to tell you all Hi.
      Life is good! I love you all! Mom

Wednesday, October 11, 2006

Dear Kids,
      When Dad got home from work Tuesday afternoon, the UPS truck was in front of our house, and the driver was unloading two giant boxes that were for us! They were bicycles! I had almost forgotten–for Dad’s 30th anniversary with UTA, they let him pick out a prize from an on-line catalog. The farther through the catalog you got, the better the prizes were. The last one was these two bicycles, his and hers. Dad ordered them, but I didn’t think they would really come. But the boxes are now in our living room. I’m going to take them to the cabin tomorrow, and Dad will put them together there. I always wanted bikes at the cabin, besides Missy’s Huffy that’s already there. Even with the Yerf Dog, I sometimes want to hop on a bike. So that will be fun. Except that the cabin garage is getting full of stuff.
      Most of you remember Mark and Jenn Woodruff, who lived in our ward for so many years. They moved to Albany, New York, because of Mark’s job, and we were all sad to see them go. Then, a few weeks ago, Angie Holden told me that they would be moving back to Utah! I said, “Back to our ward?” She said, no, they had better things in mind. They were definitely going to be moving up. So where’s “up?” Allen and Missy’s neighborhood! Yep. Missy saw them in Church and thought they looked familiar. When they saw Allen, they made the connection right away. So, Al and Missy, tell them Hi for us. Congratulations for living in such an upscale neighborhood.
      Seth and Sharon are in the middle of a fun week–Seth’s parents and Lucinda are visiting there right now. (I wish it were us!) Sharon said it’s really pretty there now. The grass is all green, after lots of rain, and the leaves are red. She said the temperature is perfect. They might go to Nauvoo with the Thackers. I’m even more jealous!
      Sharon said she’s been to see Nick and Tara’s baby a couple of times. I guess she has a ton of dark hair, unlike Carson and Ellie, who definitely take after the Ackerson side of the family. Oh, well, nobody said cousins had to look alike.
      I just got a nice thank-you note from James’s parents, who spent Friday night at our cabin, along with Nora and James and the rest of his family. I figured they would play a lot of games–they always do–but they also hiked the little loop. Friday night it rained like crazy (I know, because I was there, and I didn’t want to leave for home while it was pouring) but they had good weather on Saturday. When they got back from their hike, they had missed some real excitement–one of the Galmore dogs had killed one of Matheny’s chickens. Too bad. I had just chased the chickens out of our yard that morning. Mother nature knows what to do with careless chickens.
      Tuesday night was our Relief Society service auction, and I was so excited to auction off my item--a free snowboarding lesson! I had a picture scanned from a magazine, framed, with a snowboarder in the air, and the caption said “This Could be You!” I thought that would inspire lots of the ladies in our ward to want to try it. I was so wrong! They all said they didn’t want to break their necks. Only two ladies even bid on it! But the lady (girl, actually,) who won, Bekah Davis, is the really adventurous type, and we’re going to have a lot of fun. She’s from Preston, Idaho, and her uncle is in “Napoleon Dynamite.” She’s a returned missionary. She used to be a flight attendant for Sky West. She has the same Eddie Bauer dress I have. We’re soul sisters! I can’t wait for the snow!
      As always, “Doin’ great and lovin’ it,” Mom

Thursday, October 5, 2006

Dear Kids,
      Conference weekend was so much fun, I’m still recovering. I mean, trying to get back to my normal ordinary boring routine. But wasn’t it great while it lasted? Tom said it was the most fun conference weekend we’ve ever had, and I agreed. It was certainly the best weather, if that’s possible. Maybe Tom will put up a new slideshow with all the great pictures he took. And that’s not counting the bridal pictures of Donna, and the engagement pictures of Donna and Bevan. They’re going to have a hard time choosing from so many good pictures!
      Monica is moving ahead with her wedding plans, too. She talked to Tom about checking out some barbecue food from Gateway Grille. (You know, that restaurant at the main intersection in Kamas, where you turn left to go to our cabin.) So Tom’s assignment is to go to this restaurant and sample their barbecue. Maybe he’ll have to go two or three times! If the food is good, Monica is going to have them cater her wedding! So we’ll have really great food we can sink our teeth into, not just frothy punch and little nut cups. Oh, and I forgot the most important detail: The date will be July 7th. That’s 2007. So the official date is 07-07-07. Funny, my lucky number has always been 7, so I’m sure the wedding will be a fabulous affair.
      I’ve been working hard on my outside cabin projects, trying to get as much done as possible before winter, so I’ll be that much further along next spring, so it will look as good as possible for the wedding. Dad and I finally got some more siding, and Tuesday we were working at the very top of the cabin, around the chimney. It’s the part the neighbors have been wondering about, how we could possibly get up there! Several of them slowed down to watch us, and one man walking down the street just stopped and stared. We had set up ladders on the balcony, resting them on both sides of the chimney, and we were up at the very top, clinging on, handing the nail gun back and forth. Finally we had to climb onto the top of the roof, to work around the chimney. The wind was blowing, and we tried not to look down. I’ve always been afraid of heights. Dad, too, it turns out. But we were both very brave. There’s only one little spot left. I’m hoping to finish it tomorrow.
      I signed up dad and myself to be poll workers at the November election. The new voting machines are all computerized, so we had to go to a training session this morning, and practice setting them up, checking in voters, voting ourselves–it was all lots of fun. Except that the trainer started getting really rude to me. I kept asking questions, and he kept getting more hostile. (These were really ordinary questions! Nothing ridiculous.) Finally, he said if I interrupted him one more time, he was going to have to ask me to leave. Hello? He was being paid to train us. I told him he was supposed to be helping us learn, not barking at us. He said he wasn’t barking. The rest of the group said, yes, he was. When it was over, we filled out evaluation forms, and several of us said he was rude. I even called in a complaint. Dad is worried the guy will lose his job. I couldn’t care less. And in spite of all that, Dad and I are looking forward to the election. Dad gets to “encode” voter cards. I’m a “receiving judge.” We’re assigned to work at the Redwood Miltipurpose center. It should be an intersting day.
      I can’t think of any news. We just saw most of you. We missed the ones we didn’t see.
      Lots of love, Mom

Thursday, September 28, 2006

Dear Kids,
      What beautiful fall weather we’re having! Yesterday I rode my bike to Valley Fair Mall to return some stuff to Penneys, and there couldn’t have been a better day! We ought to have glorious weather for conference weekend! John is talking about bringing his chocolate fountain for Sunday afternoon. I’m looking forward to seeing so many of you.
      Dad and I have been trying to finish the log siding on the cabin, but the mill in Heber hasn’t had any logs for us. I just called them this morning, though, and the guy said he’s making some today. So with a little luck, we can pick them up tomorrow afternoon. That doesn’t mean that we’ll be working during conference, though. We’ll save most of it for the following Tuesday. Dad’s on vacation all next week, so I have plans for him. Originally, we were going to take Grandma and Grandpa Allen on a trip to southern Utah, but that won’t work out now. They both aren’t doing very well physically. Grandpa has had a couple of strokes, and according to Katie, he’s even stopped driving. (That’ll be the day.) Grandma is still on oxygen, which will probably be permanent. Sunday night, we had Grandpa’s birthday party at their house, instead of the cabin. But it was still fun.
      Missy has a blog! She just sent us an e-mail about it, and I checked it out! You can read all about their trip to a circus parade, and Carson’s “Pirates of the Caribbean” birthday party. There’s a slideshow, too. The address is: Amber has a blog there, too, but she hasn’t added anything recently. I wish all of you had blogs! It would be so easy to keep up with each others’ news!
      There’s a tiny lizard that’s moved into the cabin greenhouse. He runs around among the tomato plants. He’s only a couple of inches long, or maybe less. I don’t know where he came from. Other wildlife news: There were a couple of very stupid mice who built their nest right in the mouse bait box. I guess they thought it was a great place–lots of food, and lots of protection. Well, they both died. One of them was a couple of feet away from the box, and the other was inside, next to the bait, on his back, with his feet sticking up in the air. At least they didn’t have time to produce any babies!
      Tom said he was driving down the main street of Heber, by Day’s Market, and he saw a glider overhead, banking perfectly, leveling out perfectly, in a straight line. Later he called John, and sure enough–that was him up there! He has to do everything just right. He said he had to give up wearing his Doc Marten shoes in the glider, because they were so heavy, he didn’t have any control on the pedals. So now he wears lighter shoes. And speaking of weight, if John can get down to 210, there’s a new glider he can fly. Go, John. I’ve just been reading the book Seabiscuit (recommended by Paul) that tells how the jockeys used to loose weight. Some of them swallowed tapeworms! When they got too sick to ride the horses, they went to the hospital and got themselves cured. Just an idea, John!
      Sharon reports that Seth is the new financial clerk of their ward. Hopefully tithing settlement won’t be a problem, since they’re flying here December 14th. Maybe he can get it all wrapped up before that.
      Gotta go! I love you all! Mom

Thursday, September 21, 2006

Dear Kids,
      Well, I was wrong about the clean sweep of girls, because Sharon and Seth are having A BOY! That will be nice for Charlie–a little brother to wrestle with. Two boys together in a family can always have the fun of beating up on each other. There’s lots of other advantages, too, like sharing a room. Congratulations, Sharon and Seth! We’re really happy for you. A thorn among the roses. We need it.
      Here’s something discouraging: they give you the senior citizen discount, and you didn’t even ask for it. That happened to me at the Salvation Army thrift store. I was buying a skirt for $3.00, and she rang it up as $2.25. I wondered why, until I saw the sign that said “Mondays: Senior citizen’s discount--25%.” I did the math and came up discouraged. Maybe they count senior citizens as 25 and older. I would have gladly paid another 75¢ not to have my ego deflated.
      I went to the cabin last Friday morning, ready for two days of hard work in the yard. I’m trying to get as much done as I can before winter hits. That evening it started raining, and as I went to sleep, I was happy to hear the rain on the roof, because I knew the dirt would be soft the next morning, and I could dig out rocks all the better. But when I woke up Saturday morning and looked out the window, it was white, as far as the eye could see. So much for digging out rocks. It snowed all morning, and there were about 6" on the ground when I finally left at noon. Luckily I undid the sprinklers from the taps, and turned everything off. I saw on that it got down to 22° in Kamas that night. Tom said it was really cold when he got there after work on Monday, and a fire didn’t do much to warm it up. I told him it takes a couple of days. It’s supposed to snow again this weekend, but it should be a lot warmer for conference. So don’t worry! We’ll have lots of fun, all of you who are coming. I heard rumors of Café Rio salad for Saturday afternoon.
      Paul is plugging away at his studies at CEU, and he’s also serving as Sunday School President. But he’s having trouble getting teachers. Does that sound familiar, anybody? He says he puts in names, but they don’t call anybody. He wants at least two Gospel Doctrine teachers, so they can trade off. And he wants to have Gospel Principles, but the ward mission leader said he won’t teach it. All this is good preparation for Paul to go out into the real world, as if a mission weren’t enough.
      Kara McGettigan says it’s about time we were getting a new kitten. I explained to her that most of the kittens are born in the spring, and besides, I need to be home more, to take care of it. She wasn’t convinced. I’m still grieving for Jasmine, who disappeared in July. And Jasmine came from the South Utah Valley animal shelter. Grandma says all the cats from there end up dying. Maybe the shots they give them are bogus, to save money. I don’t know. They have a bad reputation for putting dogs to sleep before the allotted time. Maybe I’ll go looking for kittens here in Salt Lake. Or maybe I’ll be sensible and just enjoy the two cats we have. Our e-mail address ought to say it all: just2cats.
      Dad has entered a “alternative transportation” competition at UTA. They get points for riding a bike to work, or taking the bus. So Dad rides his bike to Valley Fair Mall, and catches the bus there, so he can get double points. He does the same thing coming home. But of course this week we’ve had lots of rain, so he comes home soaked. The prize is only a $30 Visa gift card, and those are impossible to redeem, but he says it’s not about the money. He wants to win. Go, Dad!
      I’m off for downtown, to attend Emily Allen’s wedding in the Salt Lake Temple. This evening is the special dinner for invited guests. Nora and Paige are coming with me, because Dad has pack meeting. The Dinner is at “The Point,” a nice restaurant up at the Huntsman Cancer center. I’m sure the food will be good, and there will be lots of fun people to talk to.
      I hope you’re all doin’ great and lovin’ it! Mom

Thursday, September 14, 2006

Dear Kids,
      Here’s another news flash: Heather is having a girl! Haven’t I been predicting a clean sweep of girls? Now the pressure is on Sharon, who’s having her ultrasound on Monday. So maybe by the time you get this letter she’ll already know. Or I could be wrong–she could have another boy–a thorn among the roses. We’ll see.
      Sharon goes out running every morning, with Charlie in the jogger, and now Seth’s going with them. Sharon said she wasn’t feeling too safe out there, so she persuaded him to come along, and now he really likes it! (You gotta love those endorphins.) Go, Thackers! Charlie really likes all the things he sees, like squirrels and school busses.
      Nora’s preschool is in full swing now, and Addie is part of the group this year. Ben was, too, for a short time. Nora thought he might do OK, and save her the hassle of a babysitter for him. That is, until she heard little girls running and screaming, and went to see what the trouble was. Ben was chasing them with a lion puppet on his hand, making growling noises. So he’s been kicked out. Well, he’s only 2. He can buckle down when he’s a little older.
      Nora’s book club had a great time at the cabin Friday night. Of course I had to be there for the fun! (I go to her book club every couple of months, if it’s a book I like.) They were discussing “The Devil in the White City,” which is sort of ghoulish and depressing. But other topics always come up, like their kids. And toilet training–that’s always a hot topic. We sat around the campfire, and the moon was out, and there were three babies bundled up, including Paige. One carload of girls was going to stay over, and the other carload was supposed to leave for home when the discussion was over, but they were just hitting their stride when I went to bed at midnight. I think the “carload for home” finally left about 3 am. They should have all stayed over! In the morning, we ate breakfast and drove the Yerf Dog. Nobody was very eager to head for home, and get back to their husbands and kids, but Nora reminded everybody that they were stopping at the outlet stores, so that got them motivated to pack up. With Nora’s book club, there’s no stopping the fun.
      LizBunkall’s wedding reception last Thursday night was a lot of fun. It was at the Carmelle, a ritzy place on Highland Drive, and Liz and her new hubby looked really happy and excited. We’re really happy for Liz.
      I visited Tom at his new work site last week. It’s in an old historic remodeled school building, about 100 East and 200 North, in Heber, which I’ve been interested in for a long time, now. I liked to drive by it, while they were working on it. (Supposedly, they spent a fortune on it, and the whole school board was voted out, after that.) But who would’ve ever guessed that Tom would work there someday? His work area is down in a dungeon, full of cables, wires, plugs, boxes, inverters, diverters, converters, routers, reversers, who knows what? Tom says it’s a treasure trove of stuff. There’s another whole room full of computers, humming away. Tom says his job is so much fun, he totally forgets about the time. In fact, he can’t believe he’s been there more than a month already. John has taken him out looking at houses, but so far, everything’s way too expensive. Hopefully, when winter hits, all those people who are tired of the cold will put their houses on the market at the same time. It could be a buyers’ market!
      Conference week is coming up! Dad and I will be at the cabin from Friday afternoon, Sept. 29, to Sunday night, Oct. 1. Let me know if you want to reserve a room.
      Lots of love, Mom

Thursday, September 7, 2006

Dear Kids,
      Here’s some good news: Jamie Quinn is engaged to Andrea Fleming, from Vernal, and the tentative date for the wedding is November 17. They’re getting married in the Vernal Temple. Jane sent out an e-mail with the announcement. You can guess she’s pretty excited. Charles, the other cousin-in-love, was flying up to the northwest (Portland? Seattle? I can’t remember which) to drive back to BYU with his girlfriend, Julie. We hope we’ll also hear an announcement from them pretty soon, but according to Ben, Charles is sort of gun shy after being dumped by other girls. I’ll keep you posted.
      Meanwhile, Monica has a unique idea about her wedding–why don’t they get married at the cabin? They were thinking first of Park City, and then a ranch-type place, maybe near Oakley, and finally Monica figured that the cabin might work pretty well. And with the money they save by not renting a place, they can serve better food! I’m totally in favor of that. I said Ramona has to come to the wedding, and Monica said, sure, she can be the flower cat, and Carson can drag her down the aisle on a leash. It’s going to be an outside wedding, so now I have to get going again on my unfinished outside projects (rock wall, siding, deck railing) before winter comes. I suggest to Monica that if they were married near the end of June, the cabin would look its best: green grass, flowers, etc., versus dormant grass and dead flowers in August. She said she’s open to any suggestions.
      I called Pocatello last Saturday morning to see how Vanessa and Trent were doing, and Ruth Sutton answered the phone. She was babysitting while Vanessa and Trent ran the Pocatello Marathon! I said, “A Marathon??!!” but Ruth said that they were just doing the 5k. Vanessa called me back later and explained that whether you run the 5k, 10k, half-marathon, or marathon, you still get the T-shirt, and you cross the finish line with everybody else. She had a great time and didn’t even break a sweat. She said it was a little harder for Trent. They saw Scott Harmon and his wife Jane, who’s from Inkom, running the race. They do it every year. There’s a carnival at the finish line, and everybody has fun. Now that’s my kind of marathon.
      Dad and I got a lot of work done at the cabin on Labor Day, and in the early afternoon, Marla and Tony showed up! (Tony was driving.) I had been watching out for Marla’s Jaguar, but they came in a Subaru Outback. (Their Alaskan Malamut dog, Sasha, came along–too bad the neighborhood Malamut, Coda, wasn’t there.) They oohed and aahed over the cabin. Marla said it was an estate. Then we sat around and ate crackers and drank crystal lite, and Marla told me about climbing the Middle Teton. She’s always having new adventures! She also talked about their family. Nichole has started law school in Seattle, after finishing her BA in three years. Her boyfriend Jason is going to truck-driving school. (Don’t you love it!) Carla is thinking of retiring from her dance studio, but doesn’t know where to go. Shawn has a website, Check it out. He sells his own designer bags. We had fun talking for a couple of hours, and then Marla and Tony said they had to go, so we could get back to work. We talked about getting together there at Christmas. That could be fun! Maybe we could have it be our after-Christmas sledding party. We’ll see.
      So much going on! So much fun! Love to all, Mom

Thursday, August 31, 2006

Dear Kids,
      I was hoping to write my letter yesterday, but two of my fingers were superglued together, and I couldn’t type. I couldn’t practice the organ, either, or the piano, or put on latex gloves to do grout in the basement. I taught my piano lessons, using my left hand when I needed to play something. And it hurt! I kept trying to pull my fingers apart, but they were too well glued. It was old superglue, kind of thick, and I guess I got a big blob between my fingers, while I was at the cabin working on the sprinkler bubblers. I’ve had superglue episodes before, but this one was lots worse. I didn’t want to soak my hand in acetone, because it would eat my skin. But this morning, when I first woke up, I had the idea of dribbling acetone on the joint, drop by drop, with a mascara brush. It worked! Maybe 15 minutes of dribbling, and my fingers came apart! So now I’m back to my normal routine again.
      Last Sunday night we drove Donna to Logan, but on the way we stopped at Allen and Missy’s for dinner. Nora and Paige were there, too (her other kids were sick), and we had a great time, and great food. Allen’s grilled chicken is about the best I’ve ever had! There was a belated birthday cake for me, too. It was lots of fun. Then Dad and Donna and I left for Logan, and when we got there, we helped her move her stuff into the same decrepit house she lived in last year. It ought to be condemned! But the rent is cheap. And she’ll only be there one semester, until the wedding. I guess she’ll be OK.
      Meanwhile, Paul is doing OK down in Price. He hung out at Tom’s house last Saturday, where he did his laundry. Tom tried to tell him you don’t cram everything into the washing machine at the same time, but Paul said it would be OK. He forgot about his new dark red sheets. So of course all his white things came out pink. They spent the rest of the day trying to bleach them white again. Tom says it’s ironic that he and Kim moved to Price the same week that Paul left on his mission, and Tom started his new job in Heber the same week Paul came back. But Tom’s there on weekends, so they can talk about BYU football.
      I think I forgot to mention, a few weeks ago, that Monica and Neil moved into a house his parents have bought, there in Tucson. They get to house sit until the parents come there permanently, probably in December. Meanwhile, Ramona is enjoying the fenced backyard. She hunts caterpillars, and jumps up on the adobe wall. (Where in Utah would you ever find a real adobe wall?) If anybody needs Monica’s new address, I can get it to you.
      Tuesday I was up at the cabin, working on the railing on the new deck. It really looks good! When Tom came home from work, he helped me put up scaffolding on the east side, because if I can get some log siding on Friday morning, I’m going to try to put it up by myself on Friday and Saturday. And maybe finish on Monday, Labor Day. Dad will be there by then. (Right now he’s completely preoccupied with a high priests dinner he’s planning, for Saturday night. So he can’t come to the cabin on Friday.) Anyway, Tuesday night, after we put up the scaffolding, I still had to finish my work on the railing and skirting of the deck, and by then it was dark and late. So I decided to stay over. Tom built a bonfire and roasted hot dogs and green chilis from his garden. He wondered how many network supervisors could come home and roast hot dogs for dinner, over an open fire. I roasted marshmallows. And I burned up pieces of the thorny Russian Olive tree I cut down in front. (Those trees were so cute when they were little, but I’m taking them out now.)
      Speaking of Labor Day, Marla says she wants to come and see our cabin. I mailed her a map, so hopefully she can find it. If any of you want to come for Sunday night and Monday, we’ll be glad to have you there. But it sounds like almost everybody has other plans. Oh, well, Labor Day isn’t much of a holiday. Mostly, people work on their yards and houses.
      I hope you’re all doin’ great and lovin’ it! Love, Mom

Thursday, August 24, 2006

Dear Kids,
      Who would’ve thought, even though it’s the year for all the spinsters to get married (not Donna, not Monica–I mean real spinsters, like Annice and Shanna), who would’ve thought that LizBunkall would also find her perfect guy? (Remember, he had to be at least as perfect as her brother David.) But it happened. She’s getting married in two weeks. I was absolutely flabbergasted when I opened the announcement. Her mother said it was a whirlwind courtship. He looks like one of her brothers. Maybe that’s why he has the magic spark. I can’t wait to see him in person.
      Last Friday, Allen rode his bike all the way to Wendover, along with several of the other cops from Centerville. Only one of them dropped out. It’s 126 miles. Go, Allen! . It was organized by one of the other bike cops, and they do it every year. If I were in better shape, I’d ask to do a “ride along.” Right now, a trip to the library or the mall is plenty for me.
      Sunday night Dad and I drove Paul to Price, and helped him move his stuff into Sessions. I got a little nostalgic–how many times have we moved kids into Sessions, and this is the last year for us. Of course I embarrassed Paul by telling the RA that he was our 8th kid to live there. I’m sure Paul will have a great year, but he said it’s a little hard now. He’s taking an engineering class at night: Statics. He says he’s going to study all the time, and not watch any TV, unless a BYU game is on.
      Donna and I are having lots of fun trying out pastries from Sams Club, deciding what she should have for her wedding reception. We’re just finishing a box of mini cheesecakes, and starting a carton of eclairs. Dad is helping, too. It’s coming together. Oh, and Donna bought her wedding dress! She was downtown looking around, and it was a sample, from LDS Bridal, or someplace like that, so she got it for half price. And she brought it home on the bus. Of course the bus driver had to make a smart comment. It’s a really pretty dress, of course, but she needs to get it cleaned and do a few repairs. It was probably tried on by about 100 prospective brides.
      Nora says that Addie is now enrolled in a dance class. She has two recitals and gets to ride on a float in a Thanksgiving parade. That is about the ultimate thrill. I always wanted to ride on a float. I’m sure she’ll have a pretty little outfit, too. Go, Addie!
      Hey, Vanessa, Christy Montoya is going to be on America’s Funniest Home Videos, on October 1st, at 7pm. It’s something with their dog. Jeff is in it, too. I’ll have to tape it, because that will be the night of my missionary reunion. They might even win prize money! I visit teach Cathy Montoya, and she was pretty excited about it.
      Gotta go. I love you all! Mom

Thursday, August 17, 2006

Dear Kids,
      I’m sitting at the computer, typing this letter, and everything is very quiet. Dad is out doing night rides with his UTA students. Donna has gone to the Tetons with Bevan for a couple of days. Reggie is sitting in his cage, making noise. (In fact, last time Addie and Ben were here, Ben asked, “Why is Reggie always in time out?”) The cats are sprawled on the deck, trying to get cool, and look cool. It won’t always be hot, but right now it seems like summer will go on forever.
      Saturday night Dad and I went out to dinner with Donna, Bevan, and Bevan’s parents–you know, the traditional meet-the-parents outing. Mostly we ate (we were at Chuck-a-rama, after all) but Bevan’s mom, Beverly, finally directed our conversation towards wedding plans. She’s remarkably practical! She got us to make decisions about clothes, colors, food, scheduling–all that mundane stuff. You always need somebody practical on board! Meanwhile, Monica is making her plans, too. She wants to rent a big house in Park City so all their out-of-town guests can stay there, and have a barbecue. Sounds fun to me. This will be in August of ‘07. She’s not sure on the date, yet.
      Paul is coming home late tonight! Yay! For only one day. Boo! He’s just making a pit stop here for doctor and dentist appointments, and to renew his drivers license. Then Dad will drive him to Price on Saturday.
      Tom has settled in at the cabin, at least for weeknights. Friday afternoons he’ll head home to Price, and come back Monday mornings. After three days on the job, he says it’s all going very well. He wears a name tag around his neck–whatever they call those things. He bought a bunch of corn dogs and other easy-type foods to keep at the cabin, but he was shocked how much he paid for groceries at Smiths. From now on he’ll mostly buy food on weekends at Walmart, and he says he’s very grateful to Kim for doing all their grocery shopping these last 2 years. Monica says Tom will get lonely at the cabin, and he needs a cabin cat, but Tom claims he’s now allergic to cats. Humm. Bevan was going to bring Simba, the cat from Africa, when he moves in. Maybe it will still work out.
      Friday afternoon, Al is riding his bike to Wendover with the other Centerville police officers. Only he says there will be a car to pick them up if they don’t make it on their bikes. He expects to ride about half the way. Missy is driving there to spend the night, so we’ll be watching the kids. That will be fun. We haven’t seen them in a while.
      Grandma has finally left Orchard, and she’s at home! She decided she was ready to make it on her own. She has an oxygen unit and long tubing, so she can walk around the house. She says the carpet is a lot easier to walk on, with her cane, than the hard tile floors of Orchard. Dad and I visited her Sunday night, and it was nice to see her sitting in her recliner, just like old times. The Tregaskises showed up to fix Sunday dinner. I hope to start my regular Wednesday visits again, pretty soon. When my life settles down.
      Last Friday night we had a Relief Society retreat at our cabin. About 30 ladies came, and quite a few stayed overnight. The next morning I rolled out the Yerf Dog and invited some of them to take a spin. Imagine Amy Rasmussen (who’s 80) driving it down the road! And Sandra Rickett! Everybody had a turn, either driving or riding along. They said it was great fun.
      Life is good. I love you all. Mom

Wednesday, August 9, 2006

Dear Kids,
      The big news of the week, of course, is that Donna and Bevan are now officially engaged. Friday night Dad and I were having dinner with my brothers and sisters in the Joseph Smith building, when Donna and Bevan burst in, Donna with a rose in her hand and a ring on her finger. They had just had dinner at “The Roof,” and were on their way to the Faith Hill-Tim McGraw concert at the Delta center, and somewhere in there Bevan had officially proposed. Of course we suspected that they had planned the “proposal” weeks in advance, because Bevan bought the tickets a long time ago, and Donna did research on the internet to know what kind of sapphire to get (the stone in her ring.) But they looked very radiant, still. They’ve set the date for December 15.
      Other highlights of the weekend were the family reunion Saturday and Paige’s baby blessing on Sunday. First, the reunion–lotsa people, lotsa fun, lotsa sunshine and heat. There was supposed to be a bike parade, but Addie’s pink Barbie jeep (with a new battery, courtesy of ebay) was the only entry. Nevertheless, all the little kids had fun riding it up and down the sidewalk, with James running alongside, perspiring like crazy, since it was so hot. He was a good sport. The young adults played football, and Bevan joined in, like a good prospective son-in-law. I noticed he runs really fast. Maybe Trent will have some competition now. The rest of us huddled in the shade, eating each others’ food, and peering at each others’ name tags, to see what number we all were. Charles was there with a girlfriend, Julie, who’s tall and skinny like he is. Somebody asked her what her number was, and she said she didn’t have one yet, but hoped to get in under the 160 mark. (Projected for the end of the year.) Jamie was there with a girlfriend, too, named Andrea, from Vernal. She mixed right in, didn’t cling to him at all, so we like her. Jane and Joe were there from Boston. Jane says she’s a curse to all Jamie’s relationships–they always go south after Jane meets the girl. We hope it doesn’t happen this time.
      Paige’s blessing on Sunday was very nice. After the meeting we met at Nora’s house for a wonderful dinner of fake Café Rio, which actually tasted better than the real thing. And then we sat around for a long time visiting. Vanessa and Trent were there from Pocatello, so it was especially fun to talk to them. Little Meg is growing up! She would have seemed tiny if Paige hadn’t been new on the scene. And James’s Brother and Sister-in-law were there with their newborn son, a day younger than Paige, so there were plenty of babies to pass around.
      Monica bought a new car! (I didn’t talk to her, but Donna did.) Evidently it’s a 2002 Honda Civic, silver colored (that makes at least 5 of you that own silver cars) with a sun roof. She got a good deal, from some Mexicans. Hopefully it will run well and get good gas mileage! Monica also reports that she is shopping for her wedding dress, and is having more luck looking at bridesmaid dresses, since she wants something tea-length, and they’re cheaper than the regular wedding dresses. Donna is looking in the bridesmaid price-range, too. She says everything comes in white, besides all the other colors.
      Here’s some even more stunning wedding news: Dean Knighton is getting married!  Their wedding will be August 19th.
      Our house has started smelling musty; it’s really noticeable when you first walk in. I think it’s because of all the old coats, old sleeping bags, old blankets, and smelly pillows we have. So I’m going to go through every closet and get rid of everything smelly. If you have a favorite old woobie or sleeping bag or coat that’s here, please come and rescue it!
      Hey, Tom, they’re building Victory Ranch! They’re starting farther down the river, closer to the Jordanelle, than I thought, but today I drove by there, and they’re clearing a large area of land. We’ll have to keep a close eye out for Tiger Woods.
      That’s all the news! Lots of love, Mom

Wednesday, August 2, 2006

Dear Kids,
      The biggest news of the week is Tom’s new job! I’m sure everybody has heard by now. He’s going to be the network supervisor for Wasatch School District, working in Heber. Friday morning, while we were building the deck at the cabin, they called him on his cell phone to see if he could come in the next Monday for an interview. He said he was in the area, and could they do it that day? They could. He put on his preppy clothes and drove to Heber for the interview. Before he made it back to the cabin, they had called him on his cell and offered him the job. It’s a big jump for him in salary and responsibility, so we’re pretty happy that things worked out so smoothly. He starts on August 14, so he’ll be moving into the cabin. Kim will be in Price for a while longer, because of her job, and because they’re house sitting for a missionary couple. So they’ll be like Kim’s parents, who are shuffling between Price and Vernal. Or like Donna and Bevan, with their weekend romance. It’s been done before. Dad and I were separated for the first 2½ months of our marriage. Grandma and Grandpa Allen did it, too, when he was in the army.
      Speaking of Grandma Allen, her leg is finally starting to heal, because she’s seeing a “wound specialist.” In fact, once he started treating her, he was astounded at how fast her leg began healing. She didn’t mention that more than 150 people are praying for her to get better. I’m sure that helps.
      Before I forget, the family reunion is this Saturday, at the park by the Provo River. Not Provo Canyon, but in the river bottoms area. If you’re driving east in Orem on Center Street, (2 blocks south of Grandma and Grandpa’s house,) you go down the hill, and before you cross the river, you turn right into a subdivision, pass a few houses, and you’re at the park. I can’t find the address right now, because our internet is down. And nobody in my family is in charge of it, because Grandma is laid up. So it’s really informal. We have the park reserved from 11 am to 4 pm. Everybody’s bringing their own food. Laurie and Whitney are organizing games for the kids. That’s all I know. We haven’t even received an e-mail about it. That’s what happens when nobody’s in charge, but I’m sure it will be fun. When I find the address, I’ll e-mail or call you all.
      Nora and James and their kids had fun camping in the Tetons last week, and they hung out with Paul. They went hiking, picknicking, and adventuring. They said Paul seems to be doing great. The girls he works with in the T-shirt shop like to tease him, but he keeps his cool.
      Other family news: John is the new executive secretary of their ward. Lotsa meetings. Allen got a raise. Vanessa passed up a backpacking trip and went to a quilting store with her mother in law, instead. She said that’s what comes of having three kids. Donna is tired of working in a cubicle and wishes she were out in the open. Like in the Tetons. Sharon says it’s really hot in Michigan now. Unbearable. Good thing it was fairly nice when we were there.
      Little Paige’s baby blessing is this Sunday, at Nora and James’ church, at 11:00 am. I’m sure Nora has already contacted each of you that can come. I wish everybody could be there.
      Lots of love, Mom

Monday, July 24, 2006

Dear Kids,
     Dad and I are still in Michigan, so this letter is a continuation of my travelogue from last week. Last time I wrote, we were in the library in Palmyra, and that night we watched the Hill Cumorah Pageant. There are protesters at the entrance, shouting into bullhorns, but the Church drowns them out with primary songs, played really loud. It’s great. The cast members walk around in their costumes for a couple of hours before the pageant starts, so you can meet them and see their costumes close-up. King Noah and his wicked priests were wearing extravagant Mayan headdresses, and Alma wore a mushroom-shaped turban. Next year the McGettigans are planning to come to New York and be in the pageant, and I could just picture their kids walking around dressed up like little Nephites. Our favorite part of the pageant was she scene where Abinidi is burned with fire. It’s very realistic.
     The pageant only lasts an hour and 15 minutes (cut down from previous years) and we drove back to Buffalo that night. The next day we went to Niagara Falls. I can only say, there's a lot of water! Later on, we hung out at Amber and Cathy’s house. There was a rabbit in the front yard, and Charlie had lots of fun chasing him. We walked down the street to look at a cute little house that Cathy might buy. But she thinks it may be over priced, at $79,000. Most of the houses on the street are around $65,000, with some as low as 50. That night Amber and Cathy took us to eat Buffalo wings at the AnchorBar Restaurant, where they were invented. So if you ever wondered where buffalo wings got their name, it’s because, well, duh, they were invented in Buffalo. We ate a whole pile of them, and they were delicious.
     Now we’re back in Michigan, having more fun with Sharon and Seth and Charlie. Probably our best thing here was visiting the Henry Ford museum near Detroit. They have every possible kind of old car, along with bicycles, trains, and planes. You could spend several days in there. But there’s also Greenfield Village, outside, sort of like Pioneer Village at Lagoon, but lots bigger. It’s supposed to represent America in the early 1900's, so there are Model-T Fords driving around, people riding old-time bicycles, candy shops, workshops, village greens, and so much more! Dad’s top priority was riding in a Model T. I think he wanted to drive it himself, but he had to be content with asking the driver all about how it operated. Later on we watched an old-time baseball game, where they didn’t even have mitts! (I think they missed those fly balls on purpose.) And we walked through some of the workshops, where we watched glass blowing, pottery making, weaving, and old-time printing on those big old presses. We could have spent several days there, too. Sharon and Seth have “buddy passes” good for a year, so if any of you come to visit, they can take you there (both the museum and the village) for free! (This message is from Sharon.)
     Now, after all this fun, Dad and I have to fly home tonight. We have to face the real world again. Actually, I’m excited, because Tom and I are going to build a deck at the cabin, starting tomorrow. And here’s some exciting real-world news: Kim went to have .her ultrasound, and they’re having a girl! (Bentley slapped his forehead and said, “doh!” when they told him.) Hey, haven’t I been predicting a clean sweep of girls? Heather should be finding out next month, and Sharon soon after that.
     Life is so good! I love you all! Mom

Tuesday, July 18, 2006

Dear Kids,
     I'm sitting at one of the open computers in the public library in Palmyra, New York. Chuck and Sharon and Seth are browsing around, and Charlie is sleeping in his stroller. The Hill Cumorah Pageant starts in 5 hours, and some people go early to set up their lawn chairs and save their places, but we're happy here in the library, where it's air conditioned. But it's not as bad as yesterday. We felt like we were walking around in a steam bath. Chuck and I came out of the Sacred Grove about four in the afternoon, and we saw a nice-looking man sitting at a table under an umbrella, with his water bottle. He was one of the many volunteers who come here to help. He had a name tag that said he was "Brother Norton." I thought he looked familiar, maybe from high school, but Chuck figured it out right away. He asked the nice man, "What temperature will we get up to today?" Brother Norton said, "Probably 95 or 96, with 90 percent humidity." Of course it was Kent Norton, the TV weatherman. He and his wife are here for the week as volunteers.
     Chuck and I are here for the week, too, but we've been all over the place. Saturday afternoon, after my cousins' reunion at Sugarhouse Park, we flew to Detroit, where Seth picked us up at 1:00 in the morning. We slept over in Sharon and Seth's beautiful little townhouse, which they just moved into, and then Sunday morning we went to Church with them. I bypassed the grownup meetings and spent my time in the nursery with Charlie. I got lots of new ideas for singing time, for when I get home. It was great.
     Sunday afternoon Seth had to go to the university to monitor some experiments, but about 4 in the afternoon, we left for Buffalo, New York. The shortest route is through Canada, and it took way longer than we figured, but we finally got to Amber and Cathy's house about 10 pm. Their house was sweltering hot, like everywhere, but Chuck and I slept in the basement, on a blow-up mattress. Sharon and Seth and Charlie slept in the living room, with a fan blowing on them. Monday morning Cathy and Amber both had to go to work, but Chuck, Sharon, Seth, Charlie, and I drove to Palmyra. The most important thing we wanted to see was the Smith farmhouse and the Sacred Grove, so we went there first. And in spite of the heat, we really enjoyed it. Later on, we climbed up the Hill Cumorah, still in the sweltering heat, and I decided Moroni probably buried the plates at the bottom. No way would he have made that climb holding those heavy plates, unless maybe it was in the winter. Later, when it was starting to cool off, we drove to the temple and the Whitmer home, where I ate a green apple off one of the trees.
     We spent the night in a motel in Victor, about 12 miles from Palmyra, and this morning we went to the Grandin print shop (my very favorite place, except for the sacred grove,) and then to a park, where the Erie Canal passes through. We watched the locks open and close, to let a cruise boat through. I think that was one of Chuck's favoite things.
     There's a little eatery called the "Chill and Grill," or maybe it's the "Kill and Chill," or the "Kill and Grill." A sign outside says, "Welcome, LDS. We Have Fry Sauce." Yesterday we had the greasy-spoon specials, and this afternoon we ate ice cream there. With all the other Mormons. We've overrun the town.
     What else is happening? I've totally lost track of time and place, which you've all experienced when you go on a trip, so I can't even think of the news at home. I'll do better next time. I love you all!

Monday, July 10, 2006

Dear Kids,
      I’m way behind schedule writing my letter, or way ahead, since we’re already into a new week. But it’s July, and I’ve been at the cabin for days. Let’s see–last time I wrote, Nora was having her baby. Now little Paige is 11 days old and doing well. She has really long fingers and toes, but otherwise she looks a lot like Addie. She’s starting to learn the difference between day and night, which makes it a little easier for Nora.
      The night Paige was born, I was at Symphony Hall listening to the Bachauer finals, and Dad was home watching Addie and Ben. I called home at intermission, and Dad said Nora was getting close to delivery. So I went back in to listen to the first part of the last number, because it was the Tchaikovsky Piano Concerto. And I sat down by Marla! Which wasn’t really a surprise, since I expected her to be there. After about 10 minutes, I got feeling really jumpy, so I whispered to her, “I’ve gotta leave right now! Nora’s at the hospital having her baby!” Marla looked really startled, and I said “I’ll call you later,” and I ran out, and jumped on Trax. I was going to go straight to the hospital, but when I called Dad, he persuaded me to come home first and get Addie and Ben, and take them with me, so he could go to bed. So I did. That was fun. The baby was in the nursery when we got there, so James and Addie and Ben and I trooped down there so James could give her a bath. Addie and Ben were fascinated. Ben said, “We have to tell Mom about the baby!”
      The next day, Friday, I went to the cabin to do some work. John and his family were there, and I had agreed to tend the kids while he and Heather celebrated their anniversary, so I had a lot of fun doing that. I went home Saturday afternoon. The next Monday morning Dad and I drove to Heber for another load of log siding, and then on to the cabin. Tom and Kim and their kids had joined the cabin party by then–they were on their way home from Green River, Wyoming, where Jake and Dierdre had blessed their baby. They left soon after we got there, though. But the next day, the 4th of July, Nora and James and all their kids came, and we had a barbecue. And they left Addie and Ben, because I’d offered to tend them for a couple of days, while we worked on our projects. So Dad and I traded off. Then, Thursday night, Dad drove them back home, but Friday morning, Allen and Missy and their kids arrived for their scheduled weekend. And their friends started arriving too. So we had more fun. And ate more good food. I had packed enough food to feed myself and Dad for a week, but we hardly touched it, we had such a good time eating everybody else’s stuff. So at the end of Dad’s vacation week, we had eaten a ton, worked a ton, and watched a lot of kids. We came home exhausted. We need a vacation from our vacation.
      Sunday night Dad and I went to visit Grandma Allen. She’s been moved to Orchard Park, Justin’s care center. She can’t go home because her legs won’t heal. They bleed all the time, and when the nurses change the bandages, it’s just excruciating for her. She takes coumadin, a blood thinner, because her regular doctor thought she was in danger of a heart attack or a stroke. But the coumadin makes her bleed so easily, she’s had big hematomas (they look like big bruises) on her legs for a long time now. That’s why her skin broke through so easily. And why it won’t heal. They were going to have a conference with her doctors today, and she had about decided to tell them she wasn’t going to take any more blood thinners. I hope so. Meanwhile, she just has to lie in bed at the care center. It’s located at 780 North, 300 East, in Orem, if any of you want to go visit her. Grandpa’s usually there, too.
      Next Saturday afternoon, the 15th, Dad and I are flying to Michigan to visit Sharon and Seth and Charlie. We’ll be coming home on the 24th, late at night, but the next morning I’m going back to the cabin to work with Tom on the deck, and I’ll be there playing with his kids and working hard for the rest of that week. So if I write any family letters, I’ll just upload them to my blog at I sure won’t be around envelopes and stamps.
      Hope you’re all doin’ great and lovin’ it. I am. Lots of love, Mom

Thursday, June 29, 2006

Dear Kids,
      Nora’s at the hospital right now having her baby. I’m tending the kids. Ben is watching “Trucks and Big Machines,” and Addie is eating her lunch. She just described to me, in great detail, what the baby will be wearing when she comes home from the hospital, including the “jammies” and little socks. We’re waiting with great excitement and hoping everything goes OK.
      And of course, speaking of babies, we’ve also learned that Heather and Sharon are expecting, January 28th and February 14th. Congratulations! When all the babies are born and weddings take place, we’ll have 37 people in our family.
      Grandma Allen is doing a lot better. When I wrote last week, I thought she was doing fine, but she wasn’t. Her surgery went OK, but afterwards, somebody was lifting her onto an X-ray table, and they scraped the fronts of her legs against the bar. She bleeds really easily, and her skin is really thin, so she bled until she could get a nurse to come, and later on they needed a surgeon to work on her legs. It’s been terribly painful for her, sort of like how they treat severe burns, by scraping the exposed area. She was in so much pain she couldn’t get up for several days, so she got pneumonia. When Dad and I visited her last Saturday, her face was really gray, and she could hardly breathe. But now she’s doing better. Our prayers are being answered. In a couple of days, they might transfer her to Orchard Care Center, where Justin can watch over her.
      Bonnie said I needed to come and get Grandma’s cat, because he was suffering from loneliness and biting out chunks of his fur, but Grandpa said he’s OK. I think he keeps Grandpa company when he’s home alone at night. Normally grandpa likes to get rid of cats, so he must really like this one. They call him Henry.
      Jasmine is keeping her food storage (dead mice and birds) under the deck. It’s starting to smell. Yesterday I hauled out a fat decomposing mouse, and threw him over the fence. But most of them are farther in, and I can’t get them. Rat Cat and Xena are loving it, though, and I hardly ever have to put out cat food for them. Jasmine provides for everybody.
      Our ward had its Youth Conference last weekend, and they stayed at our cabin Friday night. There were 40 people, counting the leaders, but it worked out fine! It was really hot when they first got there, so they played water games out in back. Then, when it got dark and cooled off, they had a bonfire. They pitched tents in the very back for the boys, and the girls slept in the greenhouse, on camping mattresses. The leaders got the bedrooms. It was midnight before everybody went to bed, and Dad and I were sleeping out. I thought it would be pretty quiet, but the girls kept sneaking out of the greenhouse and pulling down the boys’ tents. At 6:30 in the morning Steve Jester stomped into the greenhouse and shouted at all the girls to get up. He made them fix the tents, even though they were just going to take them down again. The kids needed to do a service project, so I had them work on the sledding hill. It always needs work! Between the deer and the spring runoff, it’s always hashed. But they got it smoothed out, and they chopped away all the weeds. They cleaned the cabin, too, and left behind lots of their food, so Dad and I had no complaints.
      Last night Donna and I went to visit Grandma again, and she told us that Emily Allen is engaged to a boy named Hank, who’s from a family of 14 or 15 kids. Grandma said to Donna, “Her wedding date is the same as yours.” Donna said, “When’s that?” Grandma said “September 23rd.” That was news to Donna. We’ve heard rumors about December, but nothing about September. We all decided it must be somebody else in the family getting married on September 23rd, but we racked our brains and couldn’t come up with anything. Do any of you know about any other weddings coming up?
      I’ve gotta go. I love you all! Mom

Thursday, June 22, 2006

Dear Kids,
      When I wrote last week, I was going to be picking up the Russians at the airport that night. And I did. I stood where the passengers come out, holding a sign that said “Ulugbek Palvanov,” just like a scene from a movie. But I knew I would recognize them, because who could overlook two Russians? Ulugbek is very Mongolian-looking, with long black curls, dark skin, and big white teeth. Stasi, his teacher, is very European, with little round glasses. While they were getting their luggage, Ulug told me that Stasi won the Van Cliburn piano competition in 2001, and I was duly impressed. Then we waited while Stasi rented a SUV and Ulug smoked out on the sidewalk. I drove Ulug to our house, while Stasi followed later on. Ulug speaks hardly any English, but he’s fluent in Russian and German, so we spoke German. Stasi speaks Russian, English, and several other languages, so he and I spoke English. And of course Ulug and Stasi spoke to each other in Russian. So it was a 3-ring circus, with somebody always left out, nodding and pretending like they understood. The two of them slept at our house that night, and Ulug practiced on our piano the next day, but then they split and went to stay with their millionaire friend in Deer Valley. I wasn’t surprised. Then the Guest Host Director of the Bachauer called me, very upset, to find out why Ulug left. She said, “He can’t just run off to Park City! We have to know where he is all the time!” I was sorry, but these guys were grownups, after all!
      From all that, we have tickets to the Bachauer finals Thursday and Friday night, the 29th and 30th, but Nora might be having her baby one of those two days. She went in to see her doctor yesterday, and they scheduled her for the 29th, but the baby hasn’t dropped yet, so it’s sort of dependant on that. I’m sure she’ll keep everybody posted.
      I called Sharon on the 21st to wish her a happy birthday, and they were in the middle of packing and moving. They painted the week before, and they were pretty excited to get their stuff moved in. Besides, they had a deadline to get out of their apartment–it was that night. I’m sure they made it. Dad and I are going to be visiting them the week of July 16-23. I’m excited to see Michigan, Charlie, the townhouse, and of course, Sharon and Seth. We’re also planning to go to Buffalo, New York, to visit Amber and Cathy, if that works out.
      Paul has settled in at the T-shirt shop at Jackson Lake Lodge. He called Friday night with a list of things he needed, and since Dave Michelson was in Ogden for the weekend, and Nora and James were going up there for Fathers Day, I was able to send everything with them. (Only problem was, I was packing a duffle bag with Paul’s stuff, but when I put in his big size 14 Rockport mission shoes, I wasn’t sure I could fit in anything else. It worked, though.)
      Monica called on Fathers Day, and said it was 107 in Tucson. They only have a swamp cooler, so Ramona was stretched out very long, trying to keep cool. Monica might have her shaved again. Monica and Neal are going to move into a house that Neal’s parents are buying there in Tucson, but it’s too old for central air, so even there, they’ll still be using a swamp cooler. But the great thing about a place like Tucson, if you can make it through the summer, the weather is so fabulous the rest of the year.
      Grandma Allen had surgery for gallstones on Tuesday, but I need to call and find out if everything went OK. I’m sure it did, or we would have heard. I was at the cabin for two days, so my brain tuned out of everything.
      I love you all! Mom

Wednesday, June 14, 2006

Dear Kids,
      I didn’t write a letter last week because I saw you all, and besides, there was so much going on! Now things are a lot quieter, and a lot more boring. Sharon and Seth and Charlie left for home this morning. They spent a week in Upalco, and then they came here last night and partied at Nora’s house till late. At least Charlie partied. He had a lot of fun running after Ben. Addie lay on the floor and whined every time they stepped on her. I was asleep when they got here last night, but this morning I drove them to the airport. I assume their trip will be pleasant. Charlie ought to sleep the whole way, he played so hard while he was here.
      And Paul is in the Tetons! Monday morning I drove him as far as Ogden, where he met up with Dave Michelson, who was taking him along the rest of the way. Paul called that night and said he had a job working in the gift shop. A kid had just quit that day, so Paul was able to take his place. Paul had also been to his first family home evening. Go, Paul. He’s going to have a summer of adventure. I wish I could go to the Tetons and work. I’d like to play that big grand piano in Jackson Lake Lodge.
      Dad rode his bike to work on Monday. He said it took him 28 minutes to get to UTA, pedaling fast, and 30 minutes to get home, pedaling slowly. He took the bike again yesterday, but when I got up this morning, I saw he’d taken the truck. I hope it’s just a fluke, because he wants to save money and get lots of exercise. He invested in a helmet and two lights for his bike, so he has to at least save enough gas to pay for them. Donna nearly always takes her bike to work on the bus, and rides it home.
      Since Donna’s been home, she’s been working like a beaver on the house and yard. Did all of you notice all the flowers planted in front? She did that. Yesterday she cleaned off the deck and got ready to stain it, but then it rained. Hopefully she’ll be able to do it today. The cherries are already starting to fall.
      Our visitor from Uzbekistan is coming tonight. Actually, he’s coming from Missouri, where he’s been living, along with his teacher. The teacher will be staying with a friend in Deer Valley during the competition. I talked to him on the phone this morning. I really wanted to talk to Ulugbek, but he was “out.” I wanted to find out if he ever got my e-mail explaining that I wouldn’t be able to feed him and drive him around. The packet I received from the Bachauer competition explained that we should contact our competitors to find out their food preferences, so we could do all our shopping before they arrived. We were even supposed to find out what snacks they liked! Well, we’ll see what happens. The most important thing for the hosts to provide is a good piano for their competitors to practice on, and I’ve definitely got that!
      Gosh, I really don’t have much news this week. But I love you all!