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