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