Tuesday, December 30, 2008

Dear Kids,
      I just swept up Christmas–so sad! Our beautiful tree had dried out, so I had to undecorate it and pull it out the front door. Of course it left a track of pine needles and little pieces of branches, so I just swept them up. While I was at it, I put away a the cat nativity and some of my other decorations. Last year I left everything up until March (except the tree) but this year it seems like we’ve had enough Christams. But it was wonderful while it lasted.
      Our Christmas music open house on the 22nd was a grand success. Probably the highlight of the performances was Spencer Fulton playing “We Three Kings” on a trumpet, with Jeffrey accompanying him on a drum. Everything else was great, too–singers, guitars, and lots of piano playing. We probably had 35 or 40 people in the house at once, but it held up OK.
      Paul came home Christmas Eve and helped us celebrate (although we didn’t hike Ensign Peak), but he had to be back at work Christmas morning, so Dad and I volunteered to drive him to Deer Valley. (It didn’t seem like the magical Sable could make it through a blizzard, with its summer tires.) We left at 5:30 am, and it was a very exciting trip. After that Dad and I drove to Heber, still in a blizzard, and at times we could barely tell where the road was. We were glad to get there! We spent most of the day with John’s family, and enjoyed their Christmas toys. (Dad and John took a drive to see John’s best new toy, but they wouldn’t tell me what it was. You can guess.) Later in the afternoon, when the storm let up a little, Dad and I drove up to the cabin. We had Christmas dinner that night with Donna and Bevan and Paul, when they got off work, and then the first sledding party was on Friday. Nora’s family came, and also John’s. The hill was great, with all that snow! Even Elouise Curtis’s grandkids were out there! Saturday was our second sledding party, with Dad’s cousins, Nora’s family still, and Allen and Missy and their kids. I fixed the same soup both days, and we had lots of other good food. And good fun. Dad’s cousins didn’t go sledding, but the rest of us had already been down the hill lots of times.
      Last night was Grandma and Grandpa’s 65th wedding anniversary, so my brothers and sisters met them at Thanksgiving Point, where we had dinner at the Harvest Room. You know how hilarious my brothers and sisters are! Rich and Jeanne were there, but not the other out-of-staters. Charlie and Andy and Richard are planning a bike ride from St. George to Logan in the summer of 2010. Richard says he needs that much time to get in shape. (He’s lost at least 50 pounds, and he rides his bike all the time, and he needs to get in better shape?) I told them to count me in, but I’ll be almost 63 by then. Maybe it’s wishful thinking.
      I hope you all have a happy new year! Love, Mom

Friday, December 19, 2008

Dear Kids,
      I’m sorry to report that Rat Cat died yesterday, on the floor in the kitty room. We knew he was ailing, and on Sunday Donna and Bevan pointed out how bony he was. By Monday he wasn’t eating or drinking, and he just sat on a plastic stool in the kitty room, with his fur puffed out and his eyes dilated. Now and then he yowled. I don’t know if he was seeing demons from one side of the great beyond, or angels from the other side. Maybe they were both calling to him. Anyway, we didn’t consider vet care, because he’s nearly twelve years old, and he never was a quality cat. I told him to “go towards the light.” He finally did. Dad dug a grave out in the garden, in the snow (it looked like a pioneer scene) and I carried him out in a size 14 shoe box. Now he’s at peace alongside so many other good cats we’ve had. Kara McGettigan is all ready for me to get another new kitten, but I told her that Oreo is all the cat I can handle now.
      My most exciting activity this week was getting a root canal. No kidding, I was counting down the days. My tooth was still hurting from a crown prep the week before, and it was getting more intense every day. Finally Dr. Condie agreed, but he couldn’t work me in for two more days. So all I did was take pain pills and wait. When I finally went in, they asked me if I wanted nitrous oxide to relax me. I said, “What for?” They said it would make me less nervous. I said I wasn’t nervous at all. I was excited. I couldn’t wait. I told them to bring it on. Now, of course, I’m still taking pain pills, but it’s getting a little better every day. I have a whole new life ahead of me, without tooth pain. I have resolved to eat less sugar and have dental check-ups more often.
      While I was in pain, I didn’t do much about getting ready for Christmas. Fortunately Donna and Bevan bought a tree and put it up on Monday. Remember how I always used to get you kids to put up the tree? I still like it when someone else does it. Then I can just sit down and smell that beautiful pine smell. Nothing else means Christmas like the smell of a real Christmas tree.
      Don’t forget my Christmas music open house, Monday night, if you want to come, from 7:00 to 9:00 pm. And Christmas Eve, if you want to hike Ensign Peak, let me know. And the sledding party is still on for the day after Christmas. What a great time of the year!
      Love, Mom

Saturday, December 13, 2008

Dear Kids,
      “. . . Outside the snow is falling . . .” Boy, is it ever falling! This is the blizzard we’ve been waiting for. I hope it drops a ton of snow in the mountains.
      Right now it’s a cozy Saturday morning, and Dad is replacing the sink in the downstairs bathroom–you know how corroded and scary-looking it’s been. Oreo is curled up in the basket chair. We still can’t figure out why he gets to come in–he just does. Paul is still asleep. He came home from Logan yesterday, and he’ll be home for a couple of days before he starts working at Deer Valley. I’m wandering from one task to another. I’ve been taking heavy drugs because I had a crown prep last Monday morning, and I think Dr. Condie drilled right into the nerve. He has supplied me with plenty of lortab, however, and I also have some tylenol with codeine that we brought home from Canada last spring. You take a couple of those and a couple of aspirins at the same time, and they work sort of like the old percodan that you can’t get any more. The lortab works great, too. I hope I’ll start feeling OK pretty soon. It’s not Dr. Condie’s fault, because I waited way too long between dental checkups, and I had some decay underneath an old crown. Bad combination.
      Donna was here on Monday and Tuesday taking her licensing test again. I sure hope she passed, but she won’t know for 8-12 weeks. What a racket! If you flunk, you have to pay a lot of money to even look at the test you took, and many more hundreds of dollars to take it all over again. So obviously they make it as hard as possible, and hardly anybody passes. But Donna has a great attitude. She’s willing to do whatever it takes. While she was here, she cooked up some pheasant that her boss, Dave, had shot. She fried it up like chicken nuggets, and Dad said it was really good. I was too sick to taste it. Oreo ate the leftovers, and everybody was happy.
      Donna’s back working at Deer Valley again for the winter. She and Bevan don’t have dental insurance, but she wanted me to ask Dr. Condie if he would trade four all-day passes for two checkups and cleanings. So I asked him, and he said, “I think I could go for that!” He skis with his three kids, and they’ve never been to Deer Valley before. He was pretty excited. I’ve never heard of anybody trading ski passes for dental work, but he thought it was a great idea.
      Gotta go. I love you all. Mom

Saturday, December 6, 2008

Dear Kids,
      Who would’ve thought we’d have gas at $1.49 a gallon (Holiday Sinclair,) or that I would be riding my bike to the library in December! Life is full of wonders. We’re all hoping for snow, of course–it’s pretty weird to have green grass outside when Christmas is coming up.
      So, speaking of Christmas, here’s a rundown of some upcoming family events:
      1. Sunday the 12th I’ll be cooking Sunday dinner. We’ll be eating at 5:00. Let me know if you want to come.
      2. The kids’ gift exchange is at Nora’s on Friday night, December 19th. The exchange list is on Kim’s blog.
      3. My Christmas music open house will be on the 22nd, the Monday night before Christmas, from 7:00 to 9:00 pm. Everybody is invited. It would be cool if you could sing something or play the piano or do anything else musical. Even if you don’t want to perform, you’re invited anyway. There will be punch and cookies.
      4. Does anybody want to hike Ensign Peak on Christmas Eve? I’d really like to do it, and I can probably get Dad to come, so if anybody else joins us, it will be even more fun. We can drive past the Christmas lights on Temple Square.
      5. The day after Christmas Dad and I will be at the cabin for our sledding party. I think Dad’s cousins will probably come. They’re always good for fun conversation and craziness. Come if you can, but if you’re too worn out from Christmas, that’s OK too.
      I can’t think of anything else, but I’m sure there’s more.
      Did anybody leave a dark blue wool coat in our closet? It’s Old Navy brand, medium long, with a plaid lining and a hood. Let me know if it’s yours. I’m getting into that “January cleaning-out throwing-away” mood already.
      We’re looking forward to seeing almost everybody at the upcoming events. If we don’t see you, I’ll be thinking about you anyway.
      Love, Mom

Saturday, November 29, 2008

Dear Kids,
      Thanks to all of you who came to the cabin for Thanksgiving, because you made it such a wonderful day. And those of you who weren’t there . . . we hope you had a great time, too. We missed you. The food was better than ever. Especially the 16 lb. turkey that Donna got free. It wasn’t tough! And everybody made their specialties, so it was all good. We even got to hike the loop (big loop for the big kids, little loop for the little kids), and we didn’t even care that it got dark before we got back to the cabin. Coming down the hill, we saw the cabin glowing in the dark, because the greenhouse lights were on. It looked magical.
      And it was magical the next morning when there was snow on the ground! It was only two or three inches, but the kids were able to go sledding. The hill became a combination of grass, snow, and mud, but at least the sleds went down! We’re looking forward to a lot more snow and a lot more fun this winter.
      And Christmas is coming up fast! Nora is planning the kids’ exchange Christmas party on Friday, December 19th, at 5:30 pm (although if you get there later, there will still be plenty of fun.) The exchange list is on Kim’s blog. For the adult exchange, I think Nora’s working it out. Sharon says that it always rotates the same way.
      The day after Christmas, I’m planning the sledding party at the cabin. I realize that a lot of people will be in a lot of different places that day, but if you can come, we’ll have our usual chili or sloppy jo’s, or something warm and comfy. I’ll invite Dad’s cousins. They said they always want to have our get-together at the cabin now, so it will be an all-in-one.
      Here’s some good news: Jake and Dierdre had twin boys on November 15th, named Dallin and Logan, I believe. They were in the process of moving from North Carolina back to Green River, Wyoming, so the babies were born in Ogden. Evidently everything went well. Tom said, “They’re up with us, now!” (Because that makes 3 kids for them. I’m not sure if Izzy is even three yet.)
      Life is good! Lots of love, Mom

Thursday, November 20, 2008

Dear Kids,
      Holy Cow! Allen and Bevan both turned 30 this week! Are we getting old or what? I still think of all you guys as little kids!
      Thanksgiving is coming up fast. Most of you who are coming have your food assignments. I’m getting excited for the good meal, and for seeing everybody, and for hiking the loop, if the weather is OK. It’s been dry and clear for a couple of weeks now, and I’m still riding my bike everywhere, but all that is supposed to change. Probably around Thanksgiving day. Either way, it will be good. Either we have nice weather and do some good hiking, or it will snow and we can stare at the mountains and hope the snow is piling up (like Tom used to do when he was a student at Granger High. He said he used to get distracted looking out the windows and wondering how much snow was up there.)
      My piano recital last Saturday was the best show ever! All my students did their songs nearly perfectly, and all Robyn’s, too. (Nora’s friend, Robyn Noel. We’ve been having our duet recitals together for three or four years now.) The grand finale was Tyler and Sam McGettigan and Adam and Jeffrey Fulton playing “The Battle Hymn of the Republic.” It was really spectacular. We’ve gotten into the tradition of a really grand trio or quartet for the finale, so if any of you want to come and play next year (usually the third Saturday in November,) let me know.
      So, all my big projects are over with now: My mission reunion, our trips to Albuquerque (half-way) and Michigan, the Relief Society auction, printing my ancestor book (twice), the election, speaking in church, giving a Relief Society lesson, and my duet recital. What do I worry about now? Nothing. My life is really boring. Just Dad and me and the cats and the bird. Good thing the holidays are coming up.
      Love, Mom

Saturday, November 15, 2008

Dear Kids,
      My piano recital is this afternoon, and then I’ll be done with all the stressful events in my life, at least for now. Our Relief Society auction Tuesday night was a big success, although there weren’t as many ladies there as we’d hoped for. Our stake musical had a rehearsal, and some of them were there. Other people? I don’t know, but lots of ladies donated services, even when they knew they couldn’t come. And for us that were there, we won lots of great prizes. I offered my snowboarding lesson again, and Jennifer Longhurst Halling bought it. Only problem is, she has little feet. So I have to get a pair of boots a size smaller than the smallest ones I have now. But the grandkids are getting up to snowboarding age, so I’ll need every possible size.
      Some of you have been asking how Monica’s doing with her MS, so I asked her, last time we talked on the phone. She’s giving herself injections every Thursday night, (I think the drug is Avonex) and then she has to take ibuprofin to get through the night. On Fridays, she feels a little hung over, and after that she’s OK. I also asked about Ramona. She has a new middle name: Hussein. And she knows it.
      Oreo is now a fine, big cat--bigger than Rat Cat, but not obese like Xena. You know how every cat has its own food cravings, like Scarlett with her peanut butter? Well, Oreo loves milk. If he hears you getting yourself some cereal, he comes running, and when you pour the milk he goes berserk. You have to toss him out while you eat it, or he’ll have his nose in the bowl. It’s supposed to be traditional that cats like milk, but I’ve never seen a cat so totally obsessed with it before.
      Thanksgiving is coming up fast! We’ll probably have dinner about 1:00 pm, like we usually do. If the weather is good, we can hike the loop afterwards to work it off. Let me know if you’re coming, and tell me what you want to bring.
      And Christmas is right around the corner. The toy catalogs are pouring in.
      Lots of love, Mom

Thursday, November 6, 2008

Dear Kids,
      We had a big snowstorm yesterday morning while Oreo was inside taking a nap on the couch. When the weather cleared up, I tossed him out. I knew he’d never seen snow before, so I watched to see what he’d do. He started pawing it like sand, piling it up in a little heap. Then he just stared at it. I guess he thought it was the coldest, wettest, whitest sand he had ever played with.
      Donna had an adventure of a different kind in the snowstorm. She was leaving the Sinclair station at the junction of I-80 and Highway 40, driving under the underpass while a snowplow came from the other direction, up on the overpass, on that curve that turns toward Salt Lake. The snowplow was going fast, pushing snow to the side and over the edge. You guessed it: a big pile of snow and ice fell down onto Donna’s windshield and shattered it. It’s lucky it wasn’t worse. Donna’s windshield is broken into thousands of pieces, but it didn’t cave in on her. Now she’s trying to get it replaced, but her Honda was made in Canada, which seems to be a problem. Meanwhile, she called UDOT, and they’re sending her some claim forms. I hope it all turns out OK.
      I had fun working at the election on Tuesday. I’m still a voting machine tech, and they assigned me to Valley Jr. High. We were out in the science building, in back of the school, so we didn’t have hordes of kids coming through, like at Granger last time. We did have lots of voters, though, especially when we first opened at 7 a.m. And, we got to have school lunch! I had the best sub I’ve eaten in a long time.
      Did you guys know that Allen is a college student again? He’s going to Columbia College, working on a degree in criminal justice. Columbia College is down near the University of Phoenix, another of those mostly-night schools that cater to working people. Al says he doesn’t want to be the only person in the family without at least a bachelor’s degree. Go, Al!
      Paul has signed a contract to work for APEX Security again next summer. I hope he does at least as well as he did this year! He probably doesn’t want me to give a report of his earnings, but it’s pretty impressive. (Call him for details.) He also says he might change his major to Environmental Engineering, from Civil. They work with contaminated soil, waste water--all that interesting stuff. Go, Paul!
      I’m fixing dinner this Sunday, November 9th. We’ll be eating at 5:00 pm. Let me know if you plan to come. Also, it isn’t to soon to be planning Thanksgiving! Dad and I will definitely be at the cabin. I’ll cook turkey, dressing, potatoes, gravy, and pies. Volunteers for other foods are welcome.
      I love you all! Mom

Friday, October 31, 2008

Dear Kids,
      I was just looking at my shopping list: bread, bananas, BreathSavers, butterscotch chips, burritos, bird seed, and rubber cement. If it weren’t for the rubber cement, I would think I was living in some giant cosmic Sesame Street (The letter for today is . . . “B!”)
      We finished up our trip to Michigan with a lot of fun events. We went apple picking with Sharon’s family–they drove us to a cider mill about 30 miles away, where we ate apples off the trees, picked some to take home, bought donuts, drank cider, and had a general good time. Then Dad and I made a trip into Detroit to find the grave of his 2nd great-grandmother, Christiana Hawes. We found the grave, but it’s in a very bad part of town (or maybe all of Detroit is bad.) There was trash at the sides of the road, potholes in the pavement, abandoned buildings, sewer gas in the air . . . let’s just say we left as soon as we were done. No sightseeing. The rest of the time, the last couple of days, I re-did Sharon & Seth’s kitchen floor with some press-on vinyl tiles from Lowes. It turned out really well (covered up the “cafeteria floor,” as Sharon called it.) Then, 24 hours later, Dad and I were back home, enjoying a party at Charley and Suzy’s. They have totally re-done their kitchen area, and it’s completely elegant. There’s travertine marble on the floor. It looked really good. But so did the press-on tiles at Sharon and Seth’s. It’s all good.
      After our week of vacation, it’s strange to come back to ordinary life. I forgot it was so hectic. Here’s what I have in the next two weeks: 1. My piano recital. 2. The Relief Society auction, which I’m in charge of, by default. 3. The election next Tuesday, where I’m a voting machine tech again. 4. Giving a Relief Society lesson next Sunday. 5. Printing 30 more copies of the ancestor book which I thought I was finished with. And there’s the fun stuff--chess club, 2 book clubs (plus Goodreads online, which I’m addicted to), visiting Grandma and Grandpa, house projects, cabin projects, family, the cats, and the bird. I’m spread way too thin, but I can’t give up anything.
      About the ancestor books: I’ve spent the last several months re-doing the stories of Grandpa Allen’s ancestors, adding pictures and indexes, printing 30 copies, and having them hard-bound at Schaffer bindery. I picked them up Monday, and made up a flyer for my cousins on Grandpa’s side, with pictures of the book. I sent them all the flyer, and now I have orders for way more books than I have. So it’s back to work on that. But I’m really glad people want the book. Next year I’ll do Grandma Allen’s side, and then a combined book with all the ancestors on both sides. I plan to have everything finished by Christmas of ‘09. On our web site I’m going to have a link to all the books I’ve done. People will even be able to order “The Ackerson Kids Grow Up.” You’ll all be famous.
      Lots of love, Mom

Thursday, October 23, 2008

Dear Kids,
      Dad and I are having a good time in Michigan, playing with Matthew and Charlie and Sharon and Seth. Yesterday we went to the Ford Rouge plant, where they assemble Ford F150 trucks. There’s a walkway up high where you can look down at the assembly line, and watch the trucks being put together. But it seems like the workers are on break most of the time. When they finally started things moving, we got to watch giant robotic arms put in windshields, and guys with armloads of wires stuffing them into the dashboards, and another robotic arm putting in sunroofs. It was all very noisy and fun. When the truck shell first comes into the plant, it’s already painted, but they take it apart and send the doors in one direction, the bed in another direction, and the cab off somewhere else. They work on all of them in different places, and they all meet up at the other end of the assembly line. It would be really funny if they were off by one or two, matching a mustard colored cab with a blue bed and red doors. But we didn’t’ see any mismatches. The tour was free because Sharon got us free passes. Yay, Michigan Thackers! Today we’re going to a farm where you can pick your own apples.
      Monday and Tuesday Dad did a brake job on the Thackermobile. He seemed to enjoy himself completely, making lots of trips to Autozone. I spent several hours putting together a Minnie Mouse dress for Sharon. We’ve also had some good walks through the autumn leaves, and we’ve been to the library and Walmart. This afternoon, Sharon and I are going to start putting new vinyl tile on her kitchen floor. Most of this is the same stuff we do at home, but it’s more fun doing it somewhere else.
      Oh, one thing’s different. Food. Seth fixes us wonderful breakfasts of pancakes or waffles or muffins or biscuits. Sharon fixes wonderful dinners of chicken or tacos or tater tots. We’ve really enjoyed the cuisine here.
      Saturday we have to head home, to the cats and the bird and our church responsibilities, and Dad’s bus driving and my piano students. Here or there, it’s all good.      Love, Mom

Monday, October 13, 2008

Dear Kids,
      I’m sure most of you have heard the sad news that Rachel’s baby daughter was stillborn on Friday morning. They named her Joycelyn Eva. Nora has all the details, because she called Rachel yesterday. There’s also a picture, which Nora was going to upload onto her blog. Dad and I were on our way to Albuquerque with Grandma and Grandpa, and we had spent the night in Monticello. Friday morning, just as we were getting ready to leave the motel, Amanda called us to say that baby had been stillborn, (you remember that Dan and Amanda live in Rachel and Chuck’s ward now), and that we should come to their house instead of Ben’s. We talked it over and decided we probably shouldn’t go at all. We knew how drained out they all would be, and totally taken up with all there was to do. So we headed home. It was very depressing, except that it was a beautiful morning, and there’s fabulous scenery heading north from Monticello. Grandpa and Grandma were grateful just to have a 2-day roadtrip, and get away from home overnight. Except that we arrived back at their house only 24 hours after we left. When I returned the rental car to Dave Noel, he only charged us for one day! Yay, Dave!
      So we had a very weird weekend. Some of the Harpers came down from Idaho, Tasha, and Tammy and her new husband Daniel. Tasha stayed here for a couple of days, meeting up with her old friends from the SLCC, while Tammy and Daniel headed south. But it was fun having company, and getting our minds off of what had just happened.
      Sunday morning, when Dad went into the basement bathroom, he found a surprise floating in the toilet bowl–a very large drowned mouse. It wasn’t one of your little field mice, but a big honker, probably 5" long. No, it wasn’t a rat. Just a very big mouse, very dead. We theorized that maybe Xena caught him way out in the field, and brought him in alive, but lost control, and he got away. They always head for the toilets, for water. (It has happened at the cabin.) So I lifted out the very soggy mouse and took him out to the fence and threw him as far into the field as I could. Later in the day, when we got home from Church, I had a hunch to look in the kitty room. Just a hunch. When I opened the door, all the cats were crouched, watching me. And on the floor was the same mouse, again! They had brought that wonderful present back for us to enjoy!
      Dad and I are heading out again Saturday morning, for Michigan. I’m sure we’ll have a great time with Sharon and Seth and the boys.
      Lots of Love, Mom

Tuesday, October 7, 2008

Dear Kids,
      What a beautiful fall day! I had to hop on my bike and go to the library, and when that wasn’t enough, I rode off and did other errands. Oreo has been playing in the leaves. The McGettigan kids made a pile of those crunchy dry cherry-tree leaves in our back yard, and Oreo gets his kicks out of jumping into them. Then he backs off, gets another running start, and jumps into them again. Is he really a cat, or something else?
      Wasn’t conference great? (Or “confrince,” as TAMN calls it.) I loved the talks, and I loved having lots of people around. It was raining at the cabin (and probably everywhere else,) but even that was great. All that good cabin dirt was getting saturated, and we were getting saturated with good advice from the church leaders. What could be better! Sunday night Dad and I went to my mission reunion, at the clubhouse of a ritzy neighborhood on the east side, and we had a great turnout. It was our 40th anniversary bash, (40 years since my mission president arrived in Germany) and our flyer had promised authentic German kartoffelsalat (made by me) and bratwurst, grilled by Dave Trimble (the resident of the ritzy neighborhood.) (He builds dialysis centers and leases them, if any of you want to know how to get super rich.) We had at least 35 people, some of whom had never come to a reunion, so it was a great success. Oreo was there, too, in his cage in a corner, because we were on our way home from the cabin. He quit yowling when I brought him some bratwurst.
      Earlier in the week, I had the fun of tending Macie for two mornings, while Vanessa was at a speech pathology conference downtown. Macie is so easy-going; she just sits and plays with toys, and smiles. She is also a good eater! I kept her happy with bananas and cookies and some bottled peaches that Vanessa brought. (I had forgotten how good bottled peaches taste! Especially when you’ve just pulled the lid off the jar!)
      Dad and I are hopefully leaving for Albuquerque Thursday afternoon with Grandma and Grandpa. We’ll be back Monday afternoon. Then, the following Saturday, we’re leaving for a week in Michigan. Can you believe two oldsters like us having so much fun?
      I love you all! Mom

Sunday, September 28, 2008

Dear Kids,
      It’s been crazy here! On Monday our new windows were installed, and that ran into Tuesday, but it was worth it. Our house practically looks new. And the windows aren’t foggy! We can open and shut them just fine! The weird thing is, they all open by pulling to the left. Our old windows were sort of random, so now some of them are backwards from before. Especially the upstairs bathroom window. Since it’s textured, you only see out of one side, and now I have a totally different view than I’ve had for the past 31 years. But that’s minor. The really weird thing is that they’re all so clean. (I quit washing the old ones several months ago.) Now I can see everything outside that needs to be done.
      I talked to Monica on the phone last week, and things are going pretty well there. Ramona’s fur is growing back for the winter, and she’s running amok, as usual. Monica’s taking a Spanish class in the evening, after work. We should all be so ambitious! My Spanish study involves getting the local newspaper “El Estandar” at the library every week and looking up the words I don’t know. I’m shocked at the stuff the Spanish-speaking political activists write. They definitely have an agenda for us.
      Dad and I were originally going to be in Albuquerque this weekend, with Grandma and Grandpa, but our plans changed when Charles and Julie had their baby a month early. Monica (Ben’s Monica, that is) needed to go help Julie, so we postponed our trip. We’ll be leaving October 9th, if all goes well, and coming back on the 13th. So instead of Albuquerque, we took Grandma and Grandpa to the cabin for some birdwatching. Of course lots of the birds have flown south for the winter, but we were still able to watch some mountain bluebirds and lesser goldfinches (are there greater goldfinches?) and some sparrows and a dove-colored bird we couldn’t identify. On Saturday they were having open-barn day at the alpaca farm, so we all went there, including Tom and Kim and their kids. And then we did the nature center at Rockcliff State Park. It was all fun.
      Nora spent four days in San Francisco with James, and I’m sure she’ll write about it on her blog. But she might not mention that it took at least eight people to take care of her kids while she was gone. (I know, I was one of them.) I guess that’s how you find out how important you are–how many people does it take to cover for you? Anyway, I had fun with Nora and James’s kids. I always feel like I’m playing house, when I tend grandkids.
      My new visiting teaching partner is Sally Rasmussen, Janae’s mom. Their son Jeff is Vanessa’s age, and he told me to say Hi to her. He wanted to know where she lived and what she was doing and how many kids she had. He has a cute wife and 2 cute kids, including a daughter named Adelaide. While we were talking to him, Janae came by, and she said to say Hi to Sharon. The Rasmussens are lots of fun. I’m glad we’re finally getting to know them.
      We hope to see at least some of you this weekend at the cabin, for conference. Let me know if you’re having Sunday dinner with us! Love, Mom

Thursday, September 18, 2008

Dear Kids,
      Saturday afternoon, I was raking rocks in front of the cabin, when Tom came out and pointed to a bald eagle circling overhead. I’ve never seen one in real life before! (Well, maybe at Eagle court-of-honors, where they come across as ornery vicious things, glaring at everybody around them.) Anyway, here’s this bald eagle circling our cabin, but why? Well, maybe because Oreo was on the front lawn chasing grasshoppers, completely clueless to predators. The eagle circled and circled, and we kept an eye on both of them. Bentley and Emma were on the lawn, too, so I didn’t think the eagle would dive. Finally Oreo ran under the deck, and the eagle flew away. Paul says that in the northwest, they’re known to carry off cats and small dogs. Jana McGettigan says they basically eat the same diet as a cougar, and that an eagle can crush your arm. Dad says the bald eagle is no longer an endangered species. Well, good. We still have the air rifle handy, and there’s plenty of ammo.
      Speaking of predators, I just cleaned out the shop downstairs, and I found a small dead bird, a dead dragonfly, a dead katydid, and lots of shriveled cherries from our cherry tree. So our own local predators have been bringing in their kills.
      We had a lot of fun at Sunday dinner last week! Thanks, all of you that came. It’s always fun to see you and your kids. Our next official Sunday dinner will be on conference weekend, October 5th, at the cabin. Like always, we’ll have dinner after the morning session. Let me know if you plan to eat with us!
      I have a ton of things going on right now. I’m sort of in charge of my mission reunion in 2 weeks, and I just mailed out 160 flyers. I’m sort of in charge of our Relief Society auction, too, until we get a new enrichment leader. I have to make flyers for that, too, and get them out. I’m handing out music for my fall duet recital (November 15th, ) and I’m working on the family history stories, trying to get out Volume I before Christmas. Then there’s chess club and book club and our yard and the cabin yard, and the cats and the bird and Dad . . . sometimes I just hop on my bike and take off. Thanks goodness we’re having beautiful weather right now.
      Life is good! I love you all! Mom

Friday, September 12, 2008

Dear Kids,
      I had fun playing with Grandma and Grandpa’s cat yesterday, when I visited them. He entertains them all day long, but he’s so wild and vicious, they both have cat scratches all over their hands. So at Walmart, Grandma and I bought the “kitten mitten.” It has fingers about a foot long, with metal splines in them, and a pompon at each end, so you can tease the cat and torment him without getting scratched. What a great invention!
      Another great invention is kitchen faucets with two handles on them, one for hot and one for cold. What, it isn’t new? You wouldn’t know it, to look at the faucets in Home Depot. Out of about 50 faucets, there were only two, the cheap one, and the one I bought. Our old faucet was broken, and we also needed a new sink and a new garbage disposal, so Dad and I bought everything at once, and Dad spent all last Saturday putting it together. But when he was done, I was delighted. Now, when I want hot water, or cold, I just turn on one handle, and I get what I want the first time. I’m so tired of those levers on most sinks, and jiggling them all around to try and get it right. Hooray for the 21st Century!
      My chess club at the Harman Senior Rec Center is going great! I put up flyers in the libraries, and had it added to the senior schedule in the newspaper, and the word is getting around! When we met last Wednesday, there were six of us, which doesn’t sound like much, but it was better than just two of us, like the week before. People could switch around more, and play more games, have more fun. And when everybody finished their games, they just sat around and talked, until they kicked us out. (The center closes at 3:00 pm). One new guy who came said he tried to get it going there years ago, but gave up. He was in the Chess Club at BYU, and I’m looking forward to playing him. This is lots better than frittering away my time playing online. (Except when I’m playing Bevan or Paul.) And I can pat myself on the back for doing “community service.”
      Remember I’m cooking dinner this Sunday, the 14th. Let me know if you’re coming!
      Love, Mom

Saturday, September 6, 2008

Dear Kids,
      Life is good! The weather is cool! How come the start of school always makes me feel like my life is moving forward, even though I don’t go to school? Or send any kids? (Paul doesn’t count. He sends himself.) It’s fun seeing halloween candy on the promo aisle in Walmart, instead of beach gear.
      Last Saturday I went gliding (or soaring, they call it) with John. What a thrill! A tow plane pulls you up a few hundred feet until you catch a thermal, and then you circle up from there, just like a hawk. I guess we were in a really massive thermal, because John was so excited about it. Me, in the back seat–I was looking for a barf bag. I’ve never been carsick or airsick or seasick before, but then, I’ve never bounced around in a glider at 12,500 feet. But the view was fabulous. And it’s very safe. You don’t have to worry about engine failure, because there isn’t one. You could land practically anywhere, if you had to. But I wasn’t worried about that. We circled over Midway, where Swiss Days were going on, and then we circled over Heber. We circled over the airport, where Dad was pacing alongside the runway. All this time we were going down, naturally. John asked if I wanted to catch the thermal and go up again, but I’d had enough fun. I want to do it again sometime. But I’ll definitely take drami-mine first.
      Dad and I were spending the weekend at the cabin, and we went to church in Francis 2nd ward on Sunday. What a cool ward. Bevan and I went into primary, because Donna and some of the other primary staff were introducing themselves, and we found out that everybody in the ward lives on their grandparents property. Everybody graduated from South Summit high school, or North Summit (in Coalville.) The women have names like Billie Sue and Bobbie Jo. They own horses and dogs. I didn’t know that rodeo was a verb. (“. . . in high school, I rodeod.”) It was all very interesting. If I ever thought I was a hick, I can see now that I don't even come close.
      But the best part of Sunday was that Donna cooked goose for dinner! (Complete with buckshot in some of the pieces. That’s part of the goose experience.) (She got it from her boss.) She marinated the goose, and cut it in pieces, and wrapped them in bacon. Then she grilled them with onions and green peppers. Heck, you would have thought it was beef, with that disguise! It was very good.
      I just came home from Nora’s book club, which was also at the cabin. We talked about Louis L’Amour, and my favorite book of his, Mojave Crossing. There’s nothing like talking about western books, sitting around a campfire, with stars overhead. Loved the atmosphere!
      Remember I’m cooking Sunday dinner next week, the 14th. Dinner’s at 5:00. Let me know if you want to come. Love, Mom

Friday, August 29, 2008

Dear Kids,
      What a great week we’ve had! Paul came home last Friday morning, and he was excited about the fresh mountain air. It seemed sort of muggy to me, (the really great mountain air is at the cabin), but I guess that compared to North Caroline, West Valley City is downright invigorating. Now Paul is back in Logan, with the magical Sable, starting off his new school year.
      And Nora’s Triathlon on Saturday was a great event. Well, great for the athletes. Nora and her girlfriends seemed to be having a wonderful time. Those of us who were spectators walked around on the rocks and dirt and weeds and tried to find shade so the kids wouldn’t get too sunburned. We finally settled down in the shade of the ambulance, but it soon left with the first victim of triathlon fun. (Luckily it was hypothermia, and not drowning.) But hey, it was worth it to see Nora and her friends finish. Dad and I were tending Meg and Sarah, and we had a lot of fun with them. They’re troopers!
      I spent yesterday in Orem, mostly playing with grandma and grandpa’s new kitten. He’s fluffy and orange (well, sort of blonde) and wild as a spook. Grandma thinks he’s getting long and leggy, but he’s downright petite compared to Oreo, who is writing the book on long and leggy. Anyway, I had a lot of fun with the kitten. I tossed him out the back door when he bit me one too many times, and he got very interested in the birds. He even climbed the tree a couple of times. Grandma was worried that he would fall, but he jumped down just fine. Alley cats rule!
      Would you believe I would listen to a door-to-door salesman? Well, I did. A lady came around saying she was a contractor and they were replacing windows in our neighborhood, and we could get a discount because our house would be advertising . . . you know the schtick. (Heck, Paul heard it all summer. He probably said it himself a few times.) Anyway, I could see she wasn’t any contractor, but we do need new windows. So I told her to give us an estimate. A couple of nights later, Steve Lloyd came to the door. You know the Lloyds, parents of Gina Lloyd, Christy Lloyd, Levi Lloyd, Ben Lloyd–their kids are all the same ages as you kids. Anyway, he’s a partner in the business, and their prices were really good. So our fine old 1977 house is going to have new windows! (I know, we did them ourselves at the cabin, but I’m way too backed up on my projects.) I’m looking forward to having somebody else do the work for a change.
      I’ll be cooking Sunday Dinner on September 14th. Let me know if you plan to come! Love, Mom

Wednesday, August 20, 2008

Dear Kids,
      I’m holding Oreo on my lap as I write this. I just brought him home from his operation, or two operations, I guess. He was neutered and declawed. So now he’ll be a fine gentleman and a good inside-outside cat. He used to love to rip into our carpets, and he tried it just a few minutes ago, with disappointing results. (For him.)
      Here’s some news from the Allen family reunion that I forgot to put in my last letter: Andy and Renae have moved! No, they haven’t left Brigham City. They haven’t even left Beecher Street. They moved about a block east, to a bigger house on the other side of the street. If you’re wondering why an empty-nest couple needs a bigger house, it’s partly Renae’s business, which is huge. (They could probably use a warehouse.) Also, Renae said, they need more room for their married kids to stay when they come home. Makes sense. They don’t have a cabin to send them to.
      We’re looking forward to Nora’s triathlon at the Jordanelle this Saturday. She and her friends did a trial run last week, which you can read about on her blog. They came by the cabin beforehand, so Nora could borrow a bike, and they looked very professional, decked out in their athletic gear. Our Relief Society retreat was just ending, which was a great success. (We had the most participants from the old 16th Ward. Those ladies really know how to have fun!) On our way home, going up the hill out of Kamas, we were run off the road by cop cars, roaring towards us in our lane, with their lights flashing and their sirens blaring. They were followed by motorcycle cops, who stopped by each car and barked at us to stay behind the line, because a bike race was coming. It turned out to be Larry Miller’s “Tour de Utah.” 300 bikers came whooshing down the hill, like a river. They were all coasting, with their heads down, but they were doing at least 40 mph. It was worth getting pulled over, just to watch it. After the bikers there were about 50 chase cars, with bike racks on the top. Go, bikers! Kamas Valley has more than its share of bike races.
      We have a new family in our ward, and the mom, Shelley Earl, came to our retreat. She said her husband has taught math at Westlake forever. We said, “Mr. Earl!” He’s still teaching there. I know at least some of you had him. His wife is really nice. They live on Starwood St.
      I started a chess club at the Harmon Home, where all the seniors hang out. We meet Wednesdays at 1:00 pm. If any of you know of someone who wants to play, send them over! It’s lots of fun. Anyway, I can call it community service, and it’s better for my conscience than just playing on the internet all the time.
      Take care. Dad and I are doin’ great and lovin’ it. Mom

Sunday, August 10, 2008

Dear Kids,
      Boy, summer is really winding down. You can feel that fall is in the air. We’ve had a couple of good rainstorms. It gets dark earlier. And it isn’t so hot! Pretty soon I’ll be griping that it’s too cold.
      The fun is winding down, too. But it’s been great while it lasted. I really enjoyed the birthday party for me last Sunday. 28 people for Sunday dinner, 16 of them children. What a blast! Thanks for all the wonderful presents and cards! You kids are all so thoughtful!
      The family reunion at Riverwoods park yesterday was a blast, too. I think there were about 100 people there, 95 of them children. (Just kidding!) I had a lot of fun on the water slide, but my levis never did dry out. I loved the water-balloon catapult that Charles and Julie Allen brought. It was fun to see all the neices and nephews and their kids, all of whom are lots older than I thought. Steven Allen was dropped off at the park by some friends, and they’d asked him, “So do you have a lot of family here in Utah?” He said, “No, not really.” When they saw the gang at the park they were amazed. Grandpa and Grandma Allen just sat there in their lawn chairs enjoying it all. I brought a picture of a cabin bird for Grandma, the yellow bird she and her sisters were watching last June, when they had their retreat. The bird and its mate raised a batch of baby birds at the top of the utility pole, so we saw a lot of them. Tom took a picture of the female with a telephoto lens, and I made a copy for grandma. She was delighted! (I never realized Grandma was such an avid bird watcher, until this year.) It wasn’t a meadowlark, like she thought. When we went to their house later, she looked it up in her bird book, and found out it was a Western Kingbird. Grandma thinks Tom should become a nature photographer. Tom says people are always giving him suggestions of what he should get into.
      Sharon had a great adventure on Thursday. She was on her way to the cabin in our Windstar, driving up Parleys Canyon, when the car died! Her cell phone was almost ready to die, also, but she called me in a panic. (Wouldn’t you panic with semis whizzing by, two small children in a stalled car, in the noonday heat?) I called a towtruck, and I called the cabin to see if Kim could go rescue them (Yay, Kim! Thanks so much!) and I called the Highway Patrol to see if someone could keep an eye on Sharon until help came. They did! (Yay, Highway Patrol! Our tax dollars at work!) It all turned out fine. Kim rescued Sharon and the boys, and they were even able to make a stop at the outlet stores on their way back to the cabin. The towtruck brought the Windstar home to us, and Dad fixed it that night. (Bad alternator.) Life can be so adventurous!
      Lots of Love, Mom

Saturday, August 2, 2008

Dear Kids,
      I’m way off schedule for writing my family letter, because all the fun during July totally reformatted my brain. Also, the hot weather. When it’s over 100 outside, any sense of purpose disappears from your life. (Except for Monica and Neil, who deal with it all summer long.) Anyway, it was all fun. On the 22nd, Sharon and Seth and Charlie and Matthew arrived. (Seth has since gone home, but Sharon and the boys are still enlivening our house, when they aren’t off somewhere else.) On the 24th, Donna and Sharon and Bevan ran the Deseret News 10k, and had respectable times. Only we lost Bevan at the end of the race, even though he was there in plain sight. Later on, at the cabin, we had a great barbecue, and then I had the urge to hike the loop. It was the hottest (average) day of the year, and the hottest part of the day, and I wanted to see if we could do it. Nora and Kim joined me. We carried spray bottles and kept spraying our faces and arms, and we drank lots of water. Still, it was a crazy thing to do. The next day, Dad and I drove to Burley for the Spudman “night before” activities. What fun to see Monica and Neil and Eve as we drove into the parking lot! And to eat dinner with Vanessa’s family. We camped across the river at an RV park, and slept in Donna and Bevan’s mesh tent. The next morning, we had fun watching our favorite athletes. (Vanessa, Monica, Eve, Adrien, Bekah, and Dave.) Jarom Webb was there as a spectator, and he kinda thought he’d like to do it next year, until he watched them pull that guy out of the river. Sad. Vanessa had a great time: 2:33. Almost half an hour better than last year. Monica stayed with Eve most of the time, and came in a little after Vanessa. Eve was elated that she finished! Go, family.
      And of course the family reunion at Lava was a blast. It’s a great destination! John and Heather are in charge for next year. Our tentative date is Saturday, August 1st. (My birthday!) John and Heather will decide where. I’m sure they’ll listen to your input.
      And since we’re talking family reunions, don’t forget the Allen reunion this Saturday (August 9th) at Riverwoods park, from 10 am to 3 pm. Bring your own lunch, and make sure your kids have swimsuits. Maybe you adults will want to wear swimsuits, too. I’m going to, if it’s hot.
      So July is over now, and also the fun I had working at the cabin. I went back for three more days, after the reunion, and I got a lot of good work out of Bentley, by paying him about $1.00 an hour for helping me shovel dirt. He helped me mix cement, too. I lost track of how much money I paid out, but he always knew when he was ready for another dollar. Oreo the cat had lots of fun, too, running through the weeds and jumping out at people. He is long and thin now, a “tubular” cat. Sad that he’s not a kitten any more, but he’s still very social, because he’s had so much attention.
      Hope to see lots of you on the 9th! Lots of love, Mom

Monday, July 21, 2008

Dear Kids,
      I was at the cabin all last week, working on the cement foundation for our bunk house. Tom and Kim were gone to a family reunion, so it was pretty quiet. Just Donna and Bevan to liven things up in the evening. But I got lots done! I finished digging the trenches for the footings (42" down) and then Bevan and I started mixing cement. 40 bags, just for 8 footings. The next day, Dad came with more cement, and we poured the 8 columns. (71 bags of cement, all together.) It all turned out great! But who’s going to admire my project? Once the trenches are filled in, only the tops of the columns will stick out. (And I’ve painted them with a camouflage pattern of spray paint, so they won’t be so noticeable from the road.)
      Bentley has a great plan for keeping the magpies away from the cabin–he’ll shoot them with a slingshot. He and Tom saw a couple of slingshots in Walmart, but Bentley doesn’t have any money. So his plan was to borrow $5.00 from Tom, shoot a magpie, turn in the carcass and collect the bounty, and pay back Tom. What an ingenious kid! Tom didn’t go for that idea, so instead, Bentley is going to shovel dirt back into my trenches. I’ll pay him well.
      Saturday afternoon I was driving home from the cabin with Oreo in the cat carrier, and he started to meow with that awful tone Ethyl used to use, sort of a “Maaahh” sound. I thought he was dying from thirst. So we drove in to Park City, to the Mavrick, and I carried him inside and tried to get him to drink from the sink. He wouldn’t. So I made a big, soft ice cream cone from the machine. (It was very soft, starting to collapse.) Sometime, just for fun, try holding a cat on your arm, and a soft ice cream cone, and try to get money out of your purse! I got the money, but couldn’t pick up the change, so I had to set the cone down . . . you get the picture. Then we went outside and sat under a tree and Oreo helped me eat the ice cream. He really gobbled it. Right down to the bottom. With me helping. And we had fun watching the Park City people driving by in their SUV’s. (Donna says only the Mexicans drive fuel-efficient cars.) After that, Oreo was fine for the trip home.
      We’re really looking forward to all the fun in the coming week–Sharon and Seth arriving tomorrow, the 10k on Thursday, the Spudman on Saturday in Burley, and Lava Hot Springs on Monday! It will be great.
      Here’s a message from Katie about the Allen Family Reunion on August 9th: “Just a reminder, we will have a waterslide and wading pool so bring your swimsuits and water guns! We''ll bring our own lunches as was mentioned earlier. I am getting name tags and markers. I think bringing your scrapbooks or family pictures would be fun too. The older I get, the more this get together means to me because even though I don't see you all that much, I love and care about all of you. See you in a couple of weeks! Love, Katie”
      I guess that wraps it up. Lots of Love, Mom

Saturday, July 12, 2008

Dear Kids,
      Ah, life at the cabin! I just realized it’s Saturday morning, and I still haven’t written my letter for the week. Our Ward’s youth conference is going on here, but it’s early morning and the kids are still asleep. Out in the greenhouse, Oreo the cat is curled up next to one of the girls. He's had the time of his life this week, with Tom’s kids and Nora’s kids, and now the young people of our ward. He’s been carried around and pampered, and he’s had two evenings of barbecued chicken. He won’t want to go home, to the competition of the other cats.
      I’m fixing Sunday dinner tomorrow, the 13th. Let me know if you’re coming.
      Sam McGettigan has a poem in the current issue of the “Friend.” Here it is, in case you don’t take the Friend:
      You should always pay your tithing,
      One-tenth of what you've earned.
      Pay your tithing before you go buying,
      And that is what I've learned.
Jana says he can write a poem in about 10 minutes. He just whips them out.
      Paul is still going great guns in Fayetteville. He did 20 installs in a week, with 5 in one day. He worked at one house where there were about 40 cats and 10 dogs. (And they need an alarm system?) I told him that John has given us ADT stickers for our windows, and he says he’ll give us an Apex sign for our yard. All that, plus three guard cats, should keep us from ever getting broken into.
      I’m getting excited for the family reunion in Lava Hot Springs, two weeks from Monday. I’ll call each of you in the next week or so and work out food assignments. And don’t forget your 3 trivia questions and one charade. If you need ideas, look in the green book.
      Also, don’t forget the Allen family reunion on August 9th at Riverwoods park. It will be fun to see who comes.
      Lots of love, Mom

Friday, July 4, 2008

Dear Kids,
      Last night Dad and I went bike riding in the dark. It had been terribly hot during the day, but once the sun went down, it was perfect bike-riding weather. We scoped out an accident at the intersection of 40th West and 4100 South, where three cars were smashed up. Then we rode over to Bangerter and rode up over the overpass, and we stopped in the middle to look down at all the cars. (Remember the overpass on Redwood Road, and making the trucks honk at you?) Then we rode around the parking lot of Granger Medical Center. It was a great night to be out. Lots of Mexicans out and about, too. You’ve gotta love West Valley on a summer night.
      Today Dad and I are having a very quiet 4th of July here at the cabin. Tom and Kim and their kids have gone to Jacob’s Lake to visit Kim’s sister, McKenzie, who’s working there. Donna and Bevan are “house and dog” sitting at Donna’s boss’s house (where the dogs love Bevan). John and his two boys came by earlier in the day to borrow our truck to go buy a swing set in Salt Lake. I haven’t heard any magpies squawking at all. I guess the sight of Bevan running across the yard with a pellet rifle has scared them away. Whatever. I offered a $5.00 bounty for any magpie carcasses, but so far nobody has brought any in.
      Yesterday I visited Grandma and Grandpa, and since I was coming from the cabin, I had Oreo the cat with me. First Grandma pronounced him one of the ugliest cats she had ever seen. Then she and Grandpa spent the next couple of hours watching him play in their back yard. He jumped around in the ivy, crawled under the deck, climbed the tree, and chattered at birds. They were totally entertained. I think they really miss having a cat, and even an “ugly” one is a treat for them. (Personally, I don’t agree that Oreo is ugly. His back legs have gotten really long, and he has that “stringy” look of a young cat, but I think he’s delightful. Kara McGettigan still likes him, too.)
      There’s going to be an Allen Family Reunion on August 9th. Here’s some information that Bonnie sent out: It will be at the same park as last year (across from the Riverwoods Mall) We have the park from 10:00 to 3:00 so bring your lunch and maybe a dessert to share with everyone and plan on just relaxing and enjoying each other's company. We will set up the water slide again, so kids can bring swimsuits. I hope you all can come if possible, even if you can just be there for a little while it would be great to see everyone!
      I’ll be cooking Sunday dinner on July 13th. We’ll eat at 5:00 pm. Let me know if you want to come!
      Lots of Love, Mom

Friday, June 27, 2008

Dear Kids,
     I’m at the cabin today, and I’ve been working outside with Bentley and Emma. We’re digging a big hole for the foundation of the bunkhouse. Does anybody remember the summer of 1984, when I excavated the basement of the add-on to our house? John, you’ve gotta remember pulling the wheelbarrow up the ramp with a rope, don’t you? This is deja vu for me. Except that the hole will only be half as deep. Originally Lonnie Yeaman was going to bring his equipment and excavate for us, but last time I asked him about it he was very vague about when he might be able to come. Family vacation, and such. So, always being a digger at heart, I thought it might be fun. So far it’s going OK.
      Here’s some information about the family reunion: It will officially start Monday, the 28th of July, at the main pool at Lava Hot Springs, at 11:00 am, when the pool opens. (You can find it on google earth at 42°37'17.45" North, 112°00'53.31" West.) If anybody wants to come to Pocatello on Sunday, Vanessa will find a place for you to stay over. (Dad and I are going Friday, so we can watch the Spudman in Burley on Saturday.) We’ll be giving out food assignments, and Dad and I will provide the makings for hoagies. The pool is open until 8pm, so you can stay as long as you want. There are big grassy areas by the pool for family reunions, so we hope to stake out a good place. We’ve gotta have some fun family reunion activities, so could every family think of three “Ackerson Family” trivia questions (sample, “How did Mr. Knightly die?”) and prepare one charade from our family’s past, to act out. (Such as John trying to sell you something. You get the idea.) It should be lots of fun. I’m really excited to have our first official Ackerson family reunion.
      Monica, Lopeti Misinale said to tell you Hi. He’s a tech for the cardiologist I went to see.
      Paul is still busy and working hard in North Carolina. Last Saturday, he did 4 installs in one day.
      I’m going to start a chess club at the Harmon Home, you know, the senior citizens center at the corner of 4100 S. and 3600 West. I figure that’s more productive (community service!!) than just playing chess on the internet, and losing all the time. We’re going to start the first week in August. 1pm, on Wednesdays. (Just so it didn’t conflict with Bingo). It should be lots of fun.
      I’m looking forward to see you all soon. Love, Mom

Friday, June 20, 2008

Dear Kids,
      Dad and I are hanging out at the cabin, doing a little bit of work, mainly watching for magpies. There’s a ham hock as bait, out on the wellhead. Tom is broadcasting magpie squawks from his ipod, through speakers out the greenhouse window. The air rifle is pumped and ready to go. We’re just waiting for them to show up. I’m offering a bounty of $5.00 per magpie carcass, and I’m ready to pay. Anybody else want to come here and take a shot at them?
      It’s my second trip to the cabin this week. Wednesday I came with Grandma Allen and her sisters, and we all had a great time. On our way here, we stopped in Heber to have lunch at the Dairy Keen. Naturally I had a train burger. They all ordered shakes. Then we drove up here, and Nora and Heather were here with their kids, so I had fun going on a hike with them, while Grandma and the Aunties watched a movie. Later, the four of us grandmas went to dinner at the Gateway Grill in Kamas. Then, back here at the cabin, we sat in the greenhouse and watched birds through the binoculars. One elegant yellow fellow sat still for at least an hour, preening his feathers. We were delighted. But the next morning, when I went out to spray weeds, the same bird had three magpies after him. I think he got away, but those horrible magpies have to go. We’re ready to take them out. (Oh, there’s one out there now. He came to investigate the ham, and now he’s flying back out to the bushes on the hill.)
      Cathy was here for three days, for her friend’s wedding, but she’s flying out this evening (to another wedding.) It was fun talking to her and catching up on her life.
      Paul’s job is going really well. Last time I talked to him, he had done 15 installs for the week. But the end of June, they’re packing up their whole office and moving to Fayetteville (North Carolina.) Sort of like when the missionaries have worked over an area completely, and move on. Apex security does that, too. Go, Paul!
      I heard a rumor that John was selected as young optometrist of the year, but I googled ackerson and young and optometrist, and I didn’t find anything. Dad was the one who talked to him. I’ll have to find out more.
      I have a new church calling, as a result of our 4-ward shakeup. I’m 2nd counselor in the Relief Society, and Marie Searle is president. We’re going to have lots of fun! And I’m being released as ward organist, after four years. I’m not crying one bit. Our chapel got a new organ, and I hate it. I haven’t been able to make it sound good, no matter how many settings I’ve tried. So I’m glad to move on.
      Our family reunion is coming up next month, and I’ll write what I know next week. Lots of love, Mom

Thursday, June 12, 2008

Dear Kids,
      Yesterday morning it was snowing in the mountains, but I think today it’s finally spring. I’ve been planting our garden here a little, and there a little, and I needed some more seeds for bush beans. Funny, our Walmart didn’t have any. Or the Walmart in Orem, where I took Grandma and Grandpa today. So I asked the garden guy, “Where are your seeds?” He said, “Oh, they’ve been recalled.” I said, “You mean they were bad??” and he said, “No, it’s seasonal. They’ve all been sent back.” So, planting season is over? Hey, this it Utah. Springtime in the Rockies. The pioneers planted corn on the 24th of July, when they first came into the valley. Lucky they didn’t have to get their seeds at Walmart.
      On Sunday, we met with our new ward for the first time. It was lots of fun. All those people in our neighborhood that used to be in 16th Ward . . . they all came trooping in, and there was lots of hugging and back-slapping. We were introducing each other in Relief Society, and I found a new-snowboarding friend! (Peggy Hall) She said she needs help with her heelside turns. I’m delighted. We had no Relief Society president, but two second counselors (Marie Searle is one!) and a secretary. There are lots of piano players! In young women, they had 14 new girls come in. (I think they were down to about 4, before). So overall, its’ going to be very good. I know they have at least one good organist (LaRene Carlson,) and they’ll need her, because I think my time is about up. Our chapel got a new organ, and it makes some electronic buzzing noise that drives me insane. Brian Parker said maybe it can be fixed. If not, somebody else will be playing it, not me.
      What’s this Triathalon frenzy that’s hitting our family? Nora is planning to do the “Jordanelle Triathalon” on August 23rd. Anybody heard of that one? They swim half a mile in the Jordanelle Reservior, ride bikes up the hill to Kamas and back, and then run around the Rock Creek State Park. Dad and I have seen the bicyclers in Kamas, in past years. They rope off the whole town. (Doesn’t take much rope.) I never knew it was part of a Triathalon.
      For Fathers Day, this coming Sunday, Dad and I will be mostly home, except for a couple of hours at Nora’s house for dinner. So if you want to call Dad or come by, you’ll know where to find us. With Fathers Day coming right after his birthday, it’s always a challenge, but I just bought him a new bike lock. I think there’s no end to biking gear. Richard calls it “the vortex.” It sucks you in. (But not me. I’m a bare bones cyclist. Probably bare skinned, if I hit the ground one of these days.)
      I love you all! What a family we have! Mom

Thursday, June 5, 2008

Dear Kids,
      They reorganized our 4-ward area into 3 wards, and the boundaries were exactly what we predicted. The old neighborhood (Ricketts, McGettigans, Kilburns, etc.) was sliced off and added to 8th Ward. The other side of our neighborhood, which used to be part of 16th ward, was added on to us. 16th Ward was dissolved, and everything on the other side of Bangerter is now 6th Ward. Chick Little is now bishop of 8th Ward, and Mike Higginson, who was bishop of 16th Ward, is now bishop of 6th Ward. Our bishop is Ken Wilde. 8th Ward goes to the Lighthouse church, so we won’t even see McGettigans in the hall any more. Dad and I will have to make lots of bike rides down to that neighborhood to visit our good old friends. Jana McGettgan called yesterday, and I didn’t recognize her voice right away, because the microwave was running. She said, “You forgot me already?”
      Last Saturday, Monica did the Deuces Wild Triathlon in Show Low, Arizona. It’s just a stone’s throw from Snowflake, where Grandpa Allen’s grandparents met and fell in love. In fact, lots of our ancestors lived in that area. You guys probably have lots of third and fourth cousins there. Well, anyway . . . . the Deuces Wild Triathlon advertises a swim in “beautiful Fool Hollow Lake, surrounded by fresh mountain air and Ponderosa pines.” In reality, the lake has so much algae, according to Monica, that you wouldn’t want to put your face in the water. She mostly swam the butterfly. Then there’s the bike ride: “Hop on your bike for a one-loop ride around the outskirts of Show Low.” There was so much mud, Monica says, that her tires were lugged down. Then, the website says, “Finish with a run through the pines.” Monica said she was grateful just to finish. Period. I guess there were lots of hard-core triathlon nuts there who loved the challenge. Monica loved when it was over. Go, Monica!
      I spent Tuesday and part of Wednesday at the cabin, working mostly on outside projects. Of course it rained. The place is so green, it looks like Ireland! Donna and I have about 150 pots of wildflowers to plant. So, besides being green, there could be a riot of color, too.
      I’m fixing Sunday dinner this coming Sunday, June 8th. We’ll eat at 4:30 pm, or thereabouts. Let me know if you’re coming!
      Lots of Love, Mom

Thursday, May 29, 2008

Dear Kids,
      Dad and I have settled back into our non-vacation at-home lifestyle again. Right now Dad is fixing the dryer, and I’ve been chasing that wretched little cat Oreo, trying to lock him up in his little cage. He’s at that unpleasant in-between stage where it’s all about fighting and biting. Kara tells me he’s not a kitten any more, but a young cat. We need to get him vaccinated so I can toss him outside with the other cats. He’s already had a lot of boxing matches with Xena, through the patio door. That’s with the door closed. They fight anyway. Such tough kitties.
      My sister Barbara has changed her wedding date to Saturday, June 28th. It’ll be at 11:00 am in Nancy’s back yard. She’s not sending out formal announcements, so consider yourselves invited.
      Sunday, June 8th, I’ll be fixing Sunday dinner. We’ll eat about 4:30 pm. Let me know if you want to come.
      Jake and Dierdre are expecting twins! It used to be a secret, but now Dierdre has posted the ultrasound pix on her blog. I forgot when the due date is.
      Oreo just showed up here at the computer, and now he’s biting my fingers as I’m trying to type. Remember when Tom was a little kid, and he asked, “What are cats for?” I wish I knew.
      Last time I wrote about Paul, he had been transferred from Jacksonville, Florida, to Ft. Lauderdale. Now he’s in Wilmington, North Carolina, soon to be transferred to Fayetteville. He has put lots of miles on the Sable and has spent $600 on gas. Go, Paul. He keeps getting transferred because the sales reps aren’t selling enough to keep the installers (like Paul) busy. There’s more crime in Fayetteville, however, so let’s hope the grass is greener there.
      Last Sunday, in church, Bishop Little announced that next week there will be a special meeting of four wards (5th, 6th, 8th, and 16th) where they’ll slice us apart and put us back together into just three wards. So of course now everybody’s speculating where the new boundaries will be. And crying. There’s probably no chance that McGettigans will be in our new ward. Or Ricketts, or Kilburns, or anybody from that neighborhood. We think they’ll be sliced off and added to 8th ward. All the bishoprics will be changed. I probably won’t be playing the organ any more. But I’m sure they’ll keep me in nursery, wherever we end up. We’re speculating that our neighborhood will be put back together. It’s been 29 years since they sliced us apart. There are some great people over there. I just wish we didn’t have to lose any of the old-timers.
      Ah, life goes on. I love you all. Mom

Wednesday, May 21, 2008

Dear Kids,
      Dad and I are having a great time on our vacation. Saturday morning we left Great Falls, Montana, and drove up along the east side of Glacier, and who knew it would be an Indian reservation! In the town of Browning we saw a Subway, and it was lunchtime, and we were hungry, so we decided to take our chances. Even through the glass door was cracked, even though it was STILL LOCKED! They unlocked it for us, but we should have worried, being the only customers so far that day. Their toaster oven didn’t work, or their microwave, either, and their meats looked like they had been sitting out for a very long time. But we were hungry, so we ordered anyway. And took our food and ran. We drove to a wide spot in the road that was littered with beer bottles, and we ate our food. And waited to get sick. But we didn’t. Miraculously! We crossed the border into Canada, and drove to Cardston, so we could go to the temple. It’s one-of-a-kind! Lots of dark wood inside, very different. Of course we enjoyed it a lot. And then later we drove on the Calgary, where we’ve been having a great time at Rich and Jeanne’s house.
      Sunday morning we went to Church, which is pretty much the same everywhere, except that Richard is the 1st counselor, and he was conducting. Then, after dinner, we took Jack (their Jack Russell terrier, he looks like “Wishbone”) to the dog park! As soon as Richard let him loose off his leash, he shot off like a bullet, running wide circles around us. The rest of the dogs were walking sedately by their owners, but Jack went crashing through them. He hates wiener dogs, and he knocks them over. We walked 2½ miles, and Jack probably ran 20. When we got home, we all had long naps. Even Jack.
      Monday was a holiday, Victoria Day, and Richard was off work, so we drove up to Banff. All I can say is, it’s the Canadian Rockies. Lots of snow, and spectacular high peaks. In the town of Canmore, (it's like Park City) we walked through a condo project that Richard’s company is building. Farther up, in the park, we went to the old castle-like hotel, Banff Springs. It looks like Hogwarts. We ate lunch in a medieval-looking room, with big windows overlooking the river. Later, we walked down to the falls. And it rained on us. After all, it’s springtime in the Rockies. We drove to Lake Louise, and it was still mostly frozen over, but we wandered through the hotel. There were people from all over the world, and lots of orientals wearing face masks. It’s a strange sight. Richard says Banff has probably the cleanest air in the world.
      Back in Calgary, Richard took us to see a condo tower they’re building. Only now it’s just a hole in the ground. It was 70 feet down, till they started filling it in with parking levels. It’s going to go up 27 stories. You can see Richard’s company does things in a big way. He's the senior vice president there.
      What else? Yesterday afternoon Richard took Dad and me on a bike ride along the river. It goes for miles, but we only did 12. I rode Jeanne’s road bike. OK, I’m converted. I wanted to go back today, but it’s raining and blowing.
      We’ve eaten lots of great meals, slept a lot, taken lots of walks, and ridden lots of miles. We're heading home tomorrow.       Love, Mom

Saturday, May 17, 2008

Dear Kids,
      I’m writing from a motel in Great Falls, Montana, because Dad and I are on our way to Canada! We left home yesterday morning, after taking the bird to Nora’s house and the kitten to McGettigans, and leaving food and water for our two big fat cats, to fend for themselves. We drove to Pocatello and visited with Vanessa and the kids, and had a delicious lunch there. Then we drove up through Idaho Falls into southern Montana. We weren’t much impressed with the scenery until we got to Butte, but from there up through the mountains to Great Falls, it’s absolutely gorgeous. Yep, “A River Runs Through It.” This morning we’re going up past Glacier (where we’re bound to see more gorgeous scenery,) to Cardston, where we’ll be going to the temple, and then driving on up to Calgary, where Rich and Jeanne live.
      Meanwhile, back home . . . oh, yeah, Paul called last Sunday, to wish me a happy Mothers Day, and boy have things changed for him! He’s been sent down to Ft. Lauderdale, because they simply didn’t have many installs in Jacksonville. At least five of their salesmen were fired, and two more just left in the middle of the night, and drove straight to the airport. So Paul and another guy, John, drove down to Ft. Lauderdale, where they’ve had more work. At least, that was the situation last week. Paul says that while he’s so far south anyway, he wants to drive the Overseas Highway from Miami to Key West, like Dad and I did last fall. I totally recommend that drive! Especially the 7-Mile Bridge!
      Let’s see, what else is going on at home? At the Cabin, it’s open season on the Magpies! They’ve driven off the other birds, and they fly into the garage and rip open the garbage. They even flew into Kim’s car, when she left the door open for a minute, and tore into some crackers. They’ve gotta go! Dad located his air rifle, that he used as a kid 50 years ago, (still in perfect working order!) and Tom’s looking on the internet for ammunition. When he finds it, look out magpies! If anybody else wants to get in on the fun, it’s OK with me!
      Dad and I are taking off from this motel in just a little while. When we get into Canada, we’re going to be turning off our cell phones, because the roaming cost is 40 cents a minute. If you really, really need to get a hold of us, you can call Rich and Jeanne’s house at 403 695 0370. We hope there are no serious emergencies while we’re gone! We should be home again late Friday night, the 23rd.
      Lots of love, Mom

Friday, May 9, 2008

Dear Kids,
      We have a new kitten! Kara and I picked him out on Tuesday. His name is Oreo, because he’s black and white, and you can see him in the cat gallery at the bottom of Ackerson.org. He’s not a “shelter cat,” because there wasn’t much of a selection there. I had written down a couple of addresses from the ads in KSL.com, so we found one nearby, in Magna. There were four kittens up for grabs, and Kara chose the one she liked best. We have no regrets. You’re all invited to come and see him, while he’s still little and cute. Kara comes every day.
      My sister Barbara is getting married on June 21st, to her long-time boyfriend J.J. Schulter (pronounced Shoe-ler.) Her bishop is going to marry them, but she doesn’t know yet where it will be. She says it will be low-key and casual, “come if you want but no big deal.” She doesn’t think she can even talk him out of wearing levis.
      Paul is doing OK in Florida. He and his friends were delayed a little bit, moving into their apartment, because of lice. The place had to be de-loused, so they hung out with some of the other guys. I haven’t heard much about his installing job, yet. Five of the salesmen were fired just before they got there, because of “bad things,” so hopefully there will be enough new salesmen to keep the installers busy. If not, Paul always has the option to go out and sell. They get $400 a pop.
      In my last letter, I said John’s birthday is July 28th. How could I be so flaky? I ought to know he was born July 27th, because it was one of the greatest days of my life.
      July 28th is my sister Katie’s birthday, and it was a very big deal when we were young. By the way, I’ve been sorting through Grandma’s pictures, and I just did 1954. There’s one picture of me as a geeky 7-year-old, in my glasses, playing chess, with a cat slung over my shoulder. What could have been more prophetic?
      Dad and I are driving to Canada next Friday, May 17th, to visit Richard and Jeanne and Megan. Too bad Grandma and Grandpa can’t come with us, as we originally planned, but it would be too long for them. We’ll be gone about a week. I know it’s probably cold up there, but it will be a great vacation. I’ll post some pictures on our website after we get back.
      Lots of love, Mom

Thursday, May 1, 2008

Dear Kids,
      Paul took off for Florida this morning, in the magical Sable, driving together with a couple of other guys in their cars. I’m sure he’ll have a great summer. I’m sure it will be warm in Jacksonville. Around here, it will always be winter. How stupid were we all, to take off our Blizzak tires? Tom and his family drove over Parley’s Summit in a snowstorm yesterday afternoon. I drove to Orem in a snowstorm this morning. It will never warm up.
      Well, at least it was nice last Friday afternoon, for our bike ride on Antelope Island. It wasn’t warm, of course, maybe in the fifties, but Al declared that it was perfect bike riding weather. There were just five of us: Dad and myself, Donna and Bevan, and Allen. We saw several buffalo, and one really mean looking guy decided to race us. He was maybe 50 yards off the road, running alongside us, and then he cut over onto the road and stopped in front of us. There was a car stopped by then, taking pictures of him, so we rode gingerly around. We saw antelope, too, and a couple of coyotes. All in all, it was a great ride. We rode the 11 miles down to the Garr Ranch, and then we started back, but the sun was going down by then, and a couple of us were pretty tired, so Al and Bevan rode back to get the truck. I think they raced each other. It was a great sight, seeing that truck coming to get us. Sort of like the handcart pioneers sighting the rescue company. Well, maybe not that bad. Next year we’re going to do the ride on a Saturday, which might be easier if some of the rest of you want to come. Anybody who doesn’t want to ride can hang out at the picnic area. It could be lots of fun.
      Monica called a couple of days ago to let us know how things are going for her. She’s having injections of Avonex, a MS medication, but there were delays because her company changed insurance. She says Ramona is as bad as ever. She’s been shaved for the summer, and that seems to unleash the wild animal in her. She dumped out all the catnip and romped around in it.
      When I visited with Grandma today, she was talking about having a family reunion this summer. It won’t be the week after our reunion, like I told some of you, because Katie’s family has a conflict. Instead, it will probably be Saturday, August 9th. Ours, of course, is going to be Monday, July 28th (John’s Birthday!) at Lava Hot Springs. The Saturday before that, Vanessa and Monica are going to be in the Spudman Triathalon in Burley. So we have all that to look forward to!
      I’m cooking dinner this Sunday, the 4th. We’ll be eating about 4:30. Let me know if you plan to be there!
      Lots of love, Mom

Thursday, April 24, 2008

Dear Kids,
      Today I sent in our scholarship money to CEU. Thanks to all of you who were so generous! I asked Brad King to send us a bio of the student we’re going to support. (One of you kids asked me, “What if they have a car? Will we cut them off?” Well, I never thought about that.) Anyway, it should be interesting to find out who we’re paying for. If we get an e-mail address, I can send encouraging notes to our student, telling him or her to keep up their grades or else! (Just kidding!) I’ll let you know when we find out more.
      Nora’s friend Marissa was the official photographer at Monica’s wedding, and finally we have all her pictures, reduced into jpeg’s, if any of you want a disk. (I’m already sending them to Monica and Vanessa.) It’s been fun to look back through them, and remember how great everybody looked (especially Monica and Neil) and what good food we had, and the tents, the bluegrass group, it was all a great adventure. I hope I can ever get the cabin yard looking that good again.
      I spent Tuesday at the cabin, walking around the property, seeing how much damage the deer and elk and rabbits did to our shrubs over the winter. From now on, anything I plant has to be guarded by tall cages with a layer of chicken wire inside. Most of my junipers I’ve planted in the last seven years were ripped to shreds by the elk. And most of the smaller pine trees were shredded by the rabbits. Anybody like to shoot varmints? I would gladly look the other way.
      Our bike ride tomorrow on Antelope Island is going to be freeeezing! I’m going to carry my ski bibs in my backpack, and put them on if I get too cold. Last year, this same week, it was really hot, and the bugs chewed us to death. That won’t happen tomorrow. There might even be snow in the higher elevations. But I’m still excited to go. It’s such a beautiful ride! Dad brought home a brochure about the island, and it has a month-by-month report on the wildlife. In April, we’re supposed to look for Bison calves, avocets, stilts, sanderlings, eared grebes, phalaropes, and peregrine falcons. I think I could recognize a bison calf or a peregrine falcon, but I have no idea about the rest of them.
      In May, I’m going to cook Sunday dinner on the 4th, because the week after that is Mothers Day, and Dad and I will probably be visiting Grandma Allen. So, let me know if you’re coming on the 4th. I think I’ll make lasagne again.
      Lots of love, Mom

Thursday, April 17, 2008

Dear Kids,
      There’s not much happening around here these days. If you read everybody’s blogs, you can see that all the rest of you have more interesting lives than Dad and I do. Let’s see–Dad just came home from the pinewood derby, which they held in the hall of the Church, because there’s a new wood floor in the gym, and they didn’t want anybody to go in there yet. Now that’s news.
      Last Friday night we went to see the new movie “Emma Smith–My Story” and it was surprisingly good. I wasn’t expecting much. Our friends the Haneys, who live in Liberty, Missouri, were here in town, and we wanted to do something. And Dad had a gift card for Megaplex Cinemas. And Kara McGettigan plays “little Emma” in the movie, so I thought we should go see it. And we were pleasantly surprised. It was really touching. They have most of the same actors from the Joseph Smith movie. And Kara is really cute, too. Good acting by everybody. I really recommend it.
      The dirt in our front yard is still causing comments. I’m waiting for spring, to plant my special grass seed, and we’ve had the weirdest weather! One day I’m riding my bike around town, and the next day there’s snow on the ground. On my bike rides, though, I’ve seen a lot of yards where the sod has been cut away. So I’m part of a trend. Except that we’re not going to have rocks and cactus when I’m done.
      If you’re going to contribute to the CEU Ackerson Family Scholarship, there are still four more days to get your money to us. If you’re planning to send it and need another day or two, let me know. I’ll wait.
      I’m really looking forward to our Antelope Island bike ride on the 25th, a week from tomorrow. If the weather isn’t good, we’ll probably put it off for another week or two, but we definitely want to go before it gets too hot, and before the bugs are out in force.
      Donna and Bevan are in Michigan, visiting Sharon and Seth. I’m jealous. My only excitement, besides riding my bike and raking dirt in the yard, is playing chess on the internet. Dad is still working on our taxes. (He filed an extension.) Boring, boring, boring.
      But life is good. I love you all. Mom

Thursday, April 10, 2008

Dear Kids,
      The neighbors are asking about our front yard. It’s total dirt–no grass at all. I killed it last fall, and now I’m waiting for warmer weather to plant my special low-water, low-growth fescue seed. Meanwhile, I go out and rake it almost every day. (Playing like I’m at the cabin.) George Coombs, Jeremy’s grandpa, who hasn’t talked to us ever, in the 25 years they’ve lived there, was so curious that he stopped his car to ask me what I was doing. He thought maybe I was going to make a desert landscape. That’s what Barry’s doing, next door. His grass is gone, too. I just tell everybody to keep an eye on our yard, and eventually it’s going to look really good.
      Conference at the cabin was really wild, and lots of fun. (Check out the pictures on Kim’s and Nora’s blogs). Besides the conference sessions themselves, the next most interesting thing was watching a fox try to break into Matheny’s chicken coop. The fox was almost as big as a coyote, with a big bushy tail, and he kept lunging at the chicken wire, trying to break through. The chickens would flap and squawk. Finally I called Matheny and told him what was going on. I didn’t want to see the carnage if the fox actually broke through. We all know how unhappy Matheny was when his favorite duck, Afflack, got eaten by Rosie, (who, herself, has been sent to the spirit world.) Always exciting stuff at the cabin. I’m looking forward to doing more work there, now that snowboarding season is officially over.
      Last year, the end of April, we had a really great bike ride on Antelope Island. So we’re tentatively planning to do it again, on April 25th, which is a Friday afternoon. Allen and I thought we ought to get started about 4:00 pm, so we can ride down to the ranch and back again before it gets dark. If we meet at the entrance to the park, we can put our bikes in Dad’s truck and all ride in together, and not have to pay so much. Let me know if you want to come. I’m really excited to do it again.
      It’s getting closer to April 21st, when we need to mail in our contributions to the Ackerson Family CEU scholarship. Yeah, I know some of you don’t think you ought to contribute, but for those of you who think it’s a great idea (and want a tax deduction, too) make sure we have your money by then. Dad and I are happy to make up the rest.
      I’ve been watching Kara McGettigan on Monday and Tuesday mornings while Jana’s been having radiation. The treatments are over now, but Kara says she wants to keep coming, especially when we get the kitten. She pointed out to me that for one hour, two days a week, I’ve been half of a mom. Hey, I take what I can get.
      Lots of love, your full-time, real, Mom

Thursday, April 3, 2008

Dear Kids,
      It was fun seeing so many of you at Allen and Missy’s last weekend, and at Vanessa and Trent’s in Pocatello. Grandma and Grandpa said that when you added together both parties, they pretty much saw our whole family. (Except, of course, for the Michigan Thackers and the Tucson Prendergasts and Paul) All the food was great and the kids had fun playing together. I wondered if Grandma and Grandpa could hold out for two solid days of visiting with our family, but they did great. They were OK on the road, too. It was sort of a trial run to see if we can take them to Canada next month. Grandma says she’s still thinking it over.
      I visited them today in Orem, and they’re settling back into their house. But I saw an unwelcome sight on their kitchen counter–a brochure that said “Welcome to Comcast,” or something like that. I nearly screamed. Comcast!!?? They had Comcast before they moved to the Seville, and every month they were overcharged, and Bonnie went through h*** to get them disconnected. I thought we all hated Comcast! But Bonnie said there was no other cable company they could get. They had been connected for a week, but they weren’t getting a signal. A lady on the phone was trying to talk me through their setup, and when she told me to disconnect the box, I did it gladly. And I told her that I was bringing it back to them. And I convinced Grandma that they don’t need cable. (Grandma and Grandpa have had cable for so long, they thought they would still need to pay something to get Channels 2, 4, and 5. I reminded them that this is America, and those channels are free)
      Then I visited the Comcast office to give them back their box. Of course they gave me a song and dance about Grandma and Grandpa being responsible for the installation and a week of service. I reminded them that they had a history of ripping off elderly people. (I was shooting in the dark, but it hit.) So they cancelled all the charges and disconnected the service. Meanwhile, Grandma’s TV is still getting all the cable channels. Odd.
      I’ve been e-mailing Brad King about setting up our family scholarship, and talking to some of you about whether you want to pay twice a year, or just once. I think everybody agreed on just one payment. The total, for tuition and fees for a year, is $2233.22. That seems like a real bargain. They need to have the money by May 1st to award the scholarship, so those of you who want to contribute, why don’t you send your checks to us by April 21st. Make them payable to CEU. Then, your cancelled check (or the online image, whatever) can be your receipt for taxes. It’s a charitable donation, like tithing. You can itemize it. Dad and I will pay the balance. I wouldn’t even mind paying it all, I’m so grateful to CEU for giving so many of you such a good start in life.
      I’m looking forward to the party this weekend at the cabin, where we’re supposedly going to watch conference. Well, we all know we can watch the reruns and read the talks in the Ensign. It’s all good.
      Love, Mom

Thursday, March 27, 2008

Dear Kids,
      I thought I was done snowboarding for the year, but we had a pretty good storm early this morning, so I went to Snowbird with Bekah Davis, and we had a great time on the bunny hill. Of course I wished it could have been Brighton, and after today Bekah is definitely ready for a bigger hill, but that will probably be next year. Still, it was a great day. Bekah also likes to golf, and she asked me if I wanted to start, but I remember how Tom said that golfers are often angry and unhappy. They’re mad about their last round or their last drive or their last putt. But you never see unhappy snowboarders. Everybody has fun. So I think I’ll hold off on golf.
      Dad and I are looking forward to the weekend, the Saturday party at Allen and Missy’s, and our trip to Pocatello for Macie’s baby blessing. Hopefully we’ll have Grandma and Grandpa Allen with us at both events. I don’t know how many of you have noticed that Grandpa seems really confused sometimes–it seems to come and go. My brother Mark sent out this e-mail, and he wanted us to pass it on to our kids. So here it is: “I'm going to spare you the technical details and give it to you straight, Les has a moderate to severe case of a condition known as "vascular dementia." The bad news is that there isn't any effective way to stop its progression. If it follows its normal course, it's very likely that within 1-2 years from now he'll have a hard time recognizing even close family. I hope I'm wrong, but I think you should know this isn't just wild speculation on my part. As of now, his cognitive abilities fluctuate quite a bit, which is unfortunately a bad sign, because it most likely means that his brain has poor perfusion (blood circulation) in addition to his corroded blood vessels, and so his mental abilities fluctuate with changes in his blood pressure. We've got to start thinking about the ramifications of this now.”
      So there you have it. Grandpa and Grandma have moved back into their house, so it’ll be a challenge for them to keep things going normally. As always, Bonnie is coordinating everything for them.
      I just saw the news in the paper that Ryan Thomas is stepping down as president of CEU, after seven years. They quoted Brad King as saying that everybody was waiting with great anticipation for the announcement of the new president. He said, “I don't even know what kind of president they'll be looking for. Thomas has definitely left the woodpile higher.” What do you guys think? Who’s probably the best qualified person to be the new president of CEU? I’m putting my money on Brad.
      Speaking of which, I think we’ve pretty well decided what kind of student we want to sponser at CEU, somebody with good high school grades, who might not have done spectacularly well on the ACT. I haven’t talked to all of you, but most of you seem to agree we don’t want a super scholar, since they get taken care of anyway. I need to e-mail Brad about our preferences, and then I’ll let you know when our money needs to be in. I’m excited that all our family has done so well, that we’re finally in a position to help someone else. I told Jana McGettigan about our plan, and she’s hoping Tyler will go to CEU. Maybe we’ll be sponsoring him one of these years! That would be cool.
      I love you all! See you soon! Love, Mom