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!

Thursday, June 1, 2006

Dear Kids,
      The big news, of course, is that Paul will be coming home tomorrow morning, and by the time you get this letter, he’ll already be here. The big question is, will he be his old normal self, or will he keep up the super missionary image? We’ll see.
      Here’s some more news: Monica is officially engaged! She has a ring that’s a topaz will two little diamonds on each side. She says the wedding will probably be next summer, possibly in August. Congratulations, Monica and Neal!! Monica’s other news is that she wrecked her truck, in the parking lot of Walmart. Luckily it was the other guy’s fault, so she’s driving a rental car, courtesy of his insurance.
      Sharon and Charlie came late last night, on a Frontier Airlines flight that arrived at 11:15 pm. Donna went to get them. They didn’t get home until nearly 2:00 am, because one of Sharon’s bags didn’t arrive, and Donna was calling around, trying to get some help. Hopefully the bag will get here today. Sharon thought Frontier would apologize, or at least act sorry that her luggage was lost, but they were very nonchalant about it.
      Vanessa reports that their retaining wall has finally been built! The rocks were dropped off last fall, but it was hard finding somebody to actually do the work. The crew that came did a really good job, but Sterling called them pirates. He said, “Mom, pirates are building our wall!” They didn’t wear shirts, had rags tied around their heads, and were chain smoking. Sterling was totally enthralled. He’s very much into pirates right now. Trent started his football season as a coach, to Vanessa’s great relief, but now he’s back out on the field, because his brother Troy sprained his ankle. Somebody had to take his place! Go, Trent! Vanessa sent some new pictures of Meg, and I’m going to put them up on today, if I have time.
      Jake and Dierdre had a baby girl on May 20th. Her name is Isabelle Mae, and she weighed 8 lbs. 7 oz.. They sent a picture with the birth announcement, but it’s hard to tell if she looks more like Jake or Dierdre. Hopefully Dierdre.
      We had a fun birthday party for Dad and Grandma Allen at the cabin last Saturday, only it was so cold, we were mostly inside, crouched around the fire. My pneumonia was still pretty bad, and I thought I was going to die that afternoon. Just stop breathing and give up the ghost. Later, in the evening, Dad and I went on a Yerf Dog ride, and it was cool and misty. I breathed in and out, really deep, and I started feeling better. Monday and Tuesday I was climbing up and down the scaffolding, like a monkey, all day, and that really helped. Who knows why? We got quite a few more pieces of siding put up, and you can see it on Tom’s photo gallery, on It’s the slide show called “Updated!!! Cabin work.” You can tell which siding we just did, because it’s lighter. Al and Missy and their kids were there from Sunday night until Tuesday morning, and Al helped Dad put up the third layer of scaffolding. So we were standing 18 feet off the ground. Which doesn’t sound very high, until you’re up there. Any, it was a lot of fun. And I feel a lot better than I did last week.
      Can you stand any more news about Jasmine? Rat Cat has shown her how to go out to the field, and she’s been hanging out with him on Bunker Hill. She came streaking into the yard yesterday, clutching a little mouse in her teeth. (It was still squeaking.) Xena came running to help with the kill. I just looked the other way.
      Does anybody want to feel old? We’ve received high school graduation announcements from Austin James, David Tregaskis, and Matt Allen. It doesn’t seem that long ago when they were all blessed on the same Sunday, wearing their little matching baseball outfits. How did they grow up so soon?
      I love you all! Mom