Sunday, December 30, 2012

Dear Kids,
          Dad has only three more days of work until he retires! And then we’ll have the retirement party Friday night. Friday will be his last actual day of working, so the timing is perfect. Nora is cooking up a plan for her family to ride the bus with him on his last run that afternoon, and some of the rest of us might join in. Call Nora for details. The party will be at 6:30 pm at the Golden Corral on 35th South, about 3400 West. If you’re reading this, you’re invited. Try to think up some little anecdote about Dad’s bus driving days, and you’ll get your chance to shine. I’ll tell a couple of stories, too. Maybe we’ll even let Dad talk.
          Sharon and Conrad are coming for the party, and naturally Sharon has a whole weekend of fun planned out. We’re looking forward to their visit.
          Christmas was fun while it lasted. Our hike up Memorial Hill on Christmas Eve was pretty cold because the wind was blowing. Anna had the best time because she was sealed into her baby jogger with its plastic windshield. The rest of us were thinking of the Donner Party an the handcart companies. Julie was surprised to find out that her ancestors’ cousins were in the Donner Party. It’s in the big brown ancestor book: just look in the table of contents.
          Christmas morning Dad and I swung around to Tom’s house, John’s house, Donna’s house, and Grandpa Allen’s house. We kept on schedule until Andy and Renae showed up to visit with Grandpa, and then of course we had to stay and talk to them. So we were late to Nora’s brunch, but she said it didn’t matter, because it was Christmas morning and we were all being very relaxed. That was news to me. Bill Mair and Grandma Audrey were there, and we had a delightful time visiting with them. I’m very impressed with Audrey. She takes absolutely everything in stride.
          The sledding party on Wednesday was lots of fun, too. I never even went out on a sled, because I was having so much fun talking to people and winding down from Christmas. Thanks for all the extra food you brought! The only person who didn’t enjoy the party was Oreo. He glared at the children from inside his kitty house. I think everybody else had a great time. Some of you asked about Dad’s cousins. Carla called me yesterday and filled me in on their news. She asked about all of you, too. We both regretted that we couldn’t get together, but it’s hard for them to get around now.
          I hope you’re all doin’ great and lovin’ it! See you Friday night! Love, Mom

Sunday, December 23, 2012

Dear Kids,
          Dad and I had a great time at the family party last night. I love ice skating, and it was fun to watch all of you kids and also the grandkids, having their own kind of fun on the ice. Thanks, Nora, for all your planning, and thanks to everyone for all the good food. Thanks especially for the gifts you gave Dad and me: the barbecue and the gift card to HCT. I plan to keep the barbecue on the new deck just outside the greenhouse, all set up for anybody who needs to use it. Thanks again!
          We were especially excited to congratulate Paul and Stefanie and to admire the ring! It’s absolutely beautiful. If you haven’t heard yet, the wedding is April 13th in the Logan Temple at noon. There will probably be a wedding luncheon right after, and a reception in Logan that night. We’ll keep you posted when we know more. I’m thinking of having Mike Rogers do one final picture of our entire family, probably the afternoon (or evening) before. I asked him last time how many people he could fit into a family picture, if we came to his studio. He said about 50. We’re getting close to that. He said, after that, you just go to a park and have somebody take the picture. So this will probably be our list visit to Mike Rogers, if we decide to do it. Let me know what you think. Tom will be the wedding photographer, of course, and he will probably line us all up outside the temple for a group picture.
          Now, back to Christmas, I can hardly believe tomorrow night is Christmas Eve. Let me know if you want to come to the hike at Memorial Hill. We’ll probably go to somebody’s house afterwards for hot chocolate. Dad and I will be visiting some of you on Tuesday, and then Wednesday is the sledding party. I’ll do sloppy jo’s, potato chips, etc., so just bring your leftover Christmas goodies and other food. We should have really good snow. There’s a 70% chance for a big storm tomorrow.
          The next big party after that is Dad’s retirement bash, January 4th, 6:30 pm, at the Golden Corral on 35th South. I reserved the entire party area, and Dad’s retirement bonus will pay for everybody’s dinner. Try to think of some little anecdote you can share about Dad driving his bus. It will be like testimony meeting.
          The only other news involves Oreo and Tomcat. I thought the problems were resolved, but last night, when it was time for the catfood machine to go off, Tomcat popped in through the kitty window and dashed over to eat the food. Oreo sat at the door of his kitty house, guarding it. I chased Tomcat away, but Oreo still preferred to guard his house rather than to eat.
          Merry Christmas to everybody! Love, Mom

Sunday, December 16, 2012

Dear Kids,
          Big news!  Paul and Stefanie are engaged!  More later!  Now to the letter I wrote earlier:
          We’re getting psyched up for Christmas here at the cabin! I’m sure all of you (and all of your children) are plenty wound up too. Dad and I are looking forward to the family Christmas party next Saturday afternoon. We’re supposed to meet at the Kearns Oval at 3:30 pm for ice skating. I remember how much fun we all had there last year. After the skating we’ll get together at Nora and James’s house for the rest of the party. If you have any questions about which kids give to which kids, or what the adult exchange is, call Nora. She sent me the lists as a facebook message, but I never got it. I’m sure we’ll all have plenty of food and plenty of fun.
          As for the rest of Christmas, we’ll have our Christmas Eve hike at Memorial Hill in Midway, probably about 7:00 pm. Call me if you have a better suggestion, or if there’s a better time for you. Christmas morning Dad and I will swing around Heber Valley to see what Santa brought the various grandchildren. Then we’ll head down to Nora’s for a Christmas brunch, at 11 am. She says anyone is welcome to come. She’s inviting Bill Mair and his new wife Audrey. I’m anxious to meet Audrey. She must be quite a woman to take on Bill.
          Christmas night Dad and I will be back at the cabin, getting ready for our sledding party the next day. Any of you who want to come to the cabin Christmas night and sleep over are more than welcome! We’ll even warm up the bunkhouse if we need to. Food for the sledding party is sloppy jo’s with chips and veggies. Why don’t you all bring your leftover Christmas treats–things like the plates of goodies your neighbors brought you, or any other leftovers that you want to have eaten. The sledding hill should be in good shape. We haven’t had as much snow as they had in Salt Lake and Provo, but we’re expecting more. Anyway, if people can sled on mud and ice and grass, like they did here at Thanksgiving, we’ll have all kinds of fun on real snow.
          Other news . . . is there anything else going on besides Christmas? I keep negotiating with the people at Fieldstone Homes about whether or not we’re going to have them build a house for us, but we still haven’t come to an agreement. When I said we definitely wanted the furnace in the basement, not on the second floor, that was a big hurdle for them. And all their houses come with black appliances, unless you want to pay more money for stainless steel. I wonder if they’ve ever heard of white? Generations of women have been happy with white appliances. I am, too. We’ll see if we can iron out our differences.
          Oreo and Tomcat are still squabbling, but Oreo has learned the schedule of the catfood feeder, and he’s always there to get the food first. Then, when Tomcat sees that he’s been shut out of the food, he leaves big poopers in the litter box, just for spite. So much fun!
          I hope you’re all doin’ great and lovin’ it! Mom

Sunday, December 9, 2012

Dear Kids,
          Our lighted Christmas tree is shining away in the corner by the front door, where the fake green pine trees usually sit. Yep, it’s artificial! $35 from Walmart. You can’t beat that. It’s white, with white lights. I’ll be bringing ornaments from our house to decorate it, and hopefully I’ll soon be putting presents under it. We won’t have a Christmas tree at our house in West Valley at all, since we’ll be here at the cabin here the whole time. And an artificial tree is so easy! You just pull it out of the box and put it up. While Dad was assembling it, I was talking to Sharon on the phone, and they were putting up their first real Christmas tree ever. How things change!
          Yesterday Dad and I helped move Tom and Kim to their new house. They had quite a crew assembled there! Of course the elders were moving fast, hauling out the big things. John was among them. Donna was cleaning, and I helped for a while, and tended Anna for a while. Grandma and Grandpa Bentley were tending Tom’s littler kids. That’s the best job for us decrepit grandparents! Moving the actual stuff went really fast, but of course the putting away is the biggest job. Over at the new house, Bentley showed me his bedroom, with lots of room for all his stuff. The girls’ room is right next to it. It’s a wonderful house. I wish Dad and I could find something like that in Kamas Valley to buy. We’ve been talking to "Fieldstone Homes," a mass-market builder that puts up cracker-box houses in places like Lehi. But there’s a development by Hilltop Road where they have built a couple of houses, and maybe they can build a house for us there, too. I don’t know. It’s hard to get any straight information out of them.
          The big action here at the cabin is an ongoing fight between Oreo and Tomcat, the wild orange fellow that has hung around here for years. Things were fine when we had the old feeder, and he could sneak in and help himself to a meal any time, with no loss of food for Oreo. But now the food is carefully metered from the new machine, and there isn’t enough for two. On Friday I noticed that the feeder had been pulled away from the wall, as far as the cord would allow, and there was orange cat hair all over it. So I made a stand of 2x6's and 2x4's that’s really heavy. I screwed the feeder to the stand, and we’ll see now if it will go anywhere. (On the "Super-Feeder" website they show all kinds of ingenious things people have done.) Sometimes Tomcat hangs out in the kitty house all night, so he can have first dibbs at the food when it rolls out. Oreo hides under the sleds and hisses at him. Yesterday morning they had a big fight under the cabin, and it sounded like they were both killing each other. Lots of thumping and screeching. We’ll see how things finally work out .
          Lots of excitement! Lots of fun! Lots of love, Mom

Sunday, December 2, 2012

Dear Kids,
          Our big excitement this week was the arrival of Oreo’s cat food feeder. (Originally it was going to be Xena’s feeder, but it arrived here at the cabin, and she’s in West Valley.) Anyway, I had lots of fun assembling it. It must have been designed by Germans, because they thought of everything. There’s a big hopper on the top for the kibble, and a chute it comes down, and a roller that dispenses the food. You use it with a timer. The motor makes a grinding sound when it turns on, and the first time I activated it, Oreo was terrified and ran away. Now he comes running when he hears it. I have it set to go off every four hours, with pretty small portions each time. Oreo says it isn’t enough to keep a large hunting cat going. Exactly. Maybe he’ll start eating some of his kill. And maybe he’ll quit inviting the big orange cat to come in and eat with him. I figure what we’ll save on cat food will easily pay for the feeder.
          Tom and Kim finally own a house! The problem is, they can’t move in yet, because the former owner is still there. She can’t move until she closes on her new place. Still, Tom and Dad and Bevan were able to move boxes into the basement. That’s a start. I don’t know if Tom and Kim will really believe it when they’re finally in the house.
          Charlie was baptized yesterday, and I wish we could have been there. Most of the Thackers came. I’m jealous! It will be nice if Sharon and Seth and their kids are able to move west and be closer to us all, but on the other hand, we’ve had such great vacations visiting them! It’s a toss-up!
          Does anybody take a newspaper these days? Last year Donna and Bevan supplied me with paper to start my fires, but they aren’t taking the paper any more. If you’re getting a paper, could you save them for me? I’ll come and pick them up! It’s a sad day for print journalism when the best thing about a newspaper is having something to start a fire with.
          Our stake Christmas program is next Sunday night, the 9th, at 7:00 pm in our stake center. You can hear Dad and me sing the Hallelujah chorus. We’ll have treats here at the cabin afterwards. Let me know if you can come!
          Lots of love, Mom

Sunday, November 25, 2012

Dear Kids,
          Thanksgiving was a blast, even with only three families of kids here. There were only ten children, but it seemed like enough. They went sledding on the hill, even though it’s only half covered with snow . The other half is mud, ice, and grass. There were injuries, but everyone had fun. Wednesday night, there were nine people sleeping in the bunkhouse, and all the bunks were filled. We stayed plenty warm with the heater going. Our dinner on Thursday was fantastic, and most of us ate too much. We hiked the little loop three or four times, but we never did the big one. Some of the people who couldn’t have Thanksgiving dinner with us came by later. John dropped in Thursday night, to get away from the noisy kids at his house, but he only exchanged one group for another. On Friday, Donna and Bevan brought Anna, and we had a little birthday party for her. On Saturday Allen’s family came. Remember, on Conference weekend, when Allen was talking about the weight-loss competition in his department? Well, he won the $400.00. You don’t want to know how, but he did it. He’s only gained back a few pounds since then.
          Nora says that the cousins’ Christmas party will be Saturday, December 22, at her house. We’re going ice skating at the Kearns Oval again. I’m very excited about that, because I love skating. Dad and I had plans to keep doing it last winter, but then I moved to the cabin. Anyway, you can all mark your calendars for December 22. I’m sure Nora will give us more details later on.
          I can’t think of any other news. This week went by so fast, and it was all Thanksgiving!
          I love you all! Mom

Sunday, November 18, 2012

Dear Kids,
          I scheduled the Golden Corral on 35th South for Dad’s retirement party, on January 4th, at 6:30 pm. When the guy asked me "One tab or separate tabs," I said, "One tab!" Dad’s retirement bonus will pay for everything. We’re hoping most of our family and best friends will come. (Sharon and Conrad are even planning to come for the event.) If you’re reading this post, you’re invited! We hope you’ll be willing to share your memories of "Dad driving his bus."
          We’re looking forward to Thanksgiving this week, and to having lots of fun with those of you who come. And, of course, Christmas is breathing down our necks. Sunday, Dec. 9, at 7:00 pm, is the Kamas Community Christmas program, at our stake center in Marion. Dad and I are in the choir, and we’ll be singing the Hallelujah Chorus, among other things. If you want to come, we’ll have treats at the cabin afterwards. Then, I’m pretty sure Nora will be hosting the cousins’ Christmas party for the kids again, but I haven’t heard of a date yet. As for Christmas itself, Dad and I will be here at the cabin. I’m going to buy a fake Christmas tree and set it up in the corner. Christmas Eve is a Monday night, and we’re planning to do the hike up Memorial Hill in Midway again, or Ensign Peak, whichever you guys prefer. Christmas Day Dad and I will drive around and visit some of you. We’ll probably mooch Christmas dinner somewhere. Wednesday, the day after, will be our sledding party here at the cabin. Be there or be square!
          Yesterday Dad and I went to a session in the Provo Temple. It was very busy. Lots of 19 and 20-year-old girls are getting endowed so they can leave on missions. There were four of them in our session! Later, Dad and I drove to Orem to visit Grandpa Allen. He seems to be doing about the same. He always seems to know who we are, which is nice, and he always asks Dad several times if he’s still driving a bus. Now we can say he’s retiring, so that’s something different. Bonnie came by and filled us in on the latest news. Adrien Webb is expecting twins. Jamie and Andrea are moving back to their house in Provo, and Katie Brooke and Kevin are moving in to take care of Grandpa. Katie has her CNA and does home health care, so they figure they’re up to it. My hat’s off to them! While we were visiting, we got to see Jamie and Andrea’s new baby boy, Jack. He’s long and lanky, with gigantic hands. His hair and eyes are dark, and his forehead is always creased with a worried look.
          Xena has been shipped back to our West Valley house because she was pooping in all the wrong places. She seems to be glad she’s home, although she’ll be alone a lot. Oreo is glad she’s gone. I ordered a super expensive automated cat feeder to try out. Xena has the bad habit of eating all her food in one day and starving the rest of the week. I’m eager to see how the cat feeder works.
          Life is good! I love you all! Mom

Sunday, November 11, 2012

Dear Kids,
          Big news! Dad and I are expecting again! (No, not that!!) We’re expecting grandchild  #29! Little baby Hawkins is due June 2nd. Dad noted that it will be the tiebreaker. (14 boys and 14 girls so far.) Congratulations to Donna and Bevan!
          As of Thursday afternoon, we were still having delightful fall weather. Donna came by to borrow the air compressor and the staple gun, but she had to wait while I did the finishing touches on my deck project. She pruned the top of the tall pine tree while she waited, and Anna watched in wonder. We knew it was our last good day of fall! By Friday morning it was raining, and by Friday afternoon, I was already shoveling snow off the brand new deck. It’s weird to finish a deck one day, and shovel snow off it the next.
          Since then, we’ve had a ton of snow! There were 16 inches by yesterday noon, and we’ve had more since then. Yesterday afternoon Donna and Bevan brought us lunch, and then Donna tromped out the sledding hill with snowshoes. We all (including Anna) took a few runs. Then John arrived with his kids, and they all went sledding, too. Besides that, the kids had a lot of fun running around the yard and throwing themselves into the snow. I had forgotten, that for kids, snow is something you PLAY in. It’s not just something you have to shovel.
         11 more days till Thanksgiving! Please call me for a food assignment if you’re going to eat with us. It looks like we might not be hiking the big loop, but we’ll have a lot of fun sledding and playing games and eating. (And there will be midnight shopping at the outlet stores, too, I’m sure.)
          Lots of love, Mom

Sunday, November 4, 2012

Dear Kids,
          Thanksgiving is only 2 1/2 weeks away! We’ll be having dinner here about 1:00 pm, so people can get to other places afterwards, if they want to. We’ll have pie sometime in the early evening, after some of us have hiked the big loop (if there isn’t too much snow.) If you’re reading this letter, you’re invited. I’ll be cooking turkey, dressing, gravy, and pies, at least. If any of you want to volunteer for rolls, mashed potatoes, yams, veggies, or anything else, let me know.
          John and his family spent last night here, and they just left so they could get home for church. Since today is the day we "fall" back an hour, we all thought we’d be well-rested. Now I can hardly keep my eyes open. I’ll have to drink a pepsi on our way to church. I always have a problem staying awake while I’m playing the piano in Primary. Once, back in 5th Ward, I fell asleep playing "Book of Mormon Stories." I woke up a few seconds later, and I was still playing, at the right spot. So it’s no joke that I can play some of the songs in my sleep. But I don’t want to do that every week.
          Tuesday morning I was outside loading up the car for my trip home, about 4:00 am, when a herd of elk came stampeding through our field. You hear about "a thundering herd," and you think it’s a figure of speech, but they shook the ground. The cats were huddled inside the greenhouse. There’s a little pine tree they destroyed about 5 years ago, (they go berserk during mating season) and I had replanted it and kept a cage around it ever since. This year it was busting out of the cage, so I took it off. So guess what tree the elk destroyed. Next year I’ll have to get another tree and a bigger cage.
          Last Tuesday afternoon, when I was home in West Valley, I decided to ride my bike to the library, probably for the very last time. The temperature was 70, the sky was blue, a light breeze was blowing, and it was absolutely beautiful. I was thinking, "so why exactly do we have to move?" But during my ride I got several lungfuls of bad emissions from cars and trucks that passed me, and I remembered why I don’t live there anymore.
          My phone is broken after being dropped too many times. I can still dial calls, and I can still read the outside screen, sometimes. But the inside screen is always black. So if you call me and I don’t pick up, I can’t see that you called. I check my messages several times a day, though, so leave a message, if you can. I guess I have to get a new phone.
        So many big changes! But I’m still doin’ great and lovin’ it, and I hope you all are, too.
          Love, Mom

Sunday, October 28, 2012

Dear Kids,
          It’s winter here at the cabin. We have a fire crackling in the stove. (Thanks, Donna and Bevan, for all the firewood!) We’ve already had our first blizzard, and naturally, I was driving over Parley’s Summit when it struck. Thankfully Dad had put the Blizzak tires on the Sienna the day before. We’ve had our first power outage here at the cabin, but I already know the number to call to report it. ( Last year, I practically had the number memorized.) I made a special heated kitty house for the cats, big enough for two, but they’re having more fun fighting over it than sharing it. One will sit just inside, blocking the entrance, and the other one will finally settle on the roof, where there’s another blanket. Dad thought I should make a second kitty house, but that would ruin the fun for them.
          Yesterday Dad and I were in Heber, and Tom took us on a tour through the house they’re going to buy. It’s very nice! The layout reminds me of Nora and James’s house, but the basement is unfinished. Naturally, Tom and Dad and I looked over the basement very carefully. We’ve already volunteered to help Tom finish it. I only wish Dad and I could find a house that perfect to buy for ourselves, here in Kamas Valley. I love it here at the cabin, but we need a real house where I can get back to doing some real work. (Yard work and remodeling don’t count.) (Piano teaching and family history printing do count.)
          Dad and I went to our ward’s trunk or treat last night. I dressed up like a witch and Dad was a vampire. It’s funny, back in 5th Ward we never went to trunk or treat, because I figured the kids could just as easily walk around our neighborhood Halloween night and collect their candy. Here it makes more sense, because our ward is spread from one end of the valley to the other. (I drive 17 miles to do my visiting teaching.) It was fun seeing all the kids (and some other grownups) in their costumes, and the whole thing was over with in about 20 minutes. Not counting the supper beforehand, of course.
          I just checked the calendar, and Thanksgiving is only 3 1/2 weeks away! Crazy! I will be cooking a turkey here at the cabin, of course, and whoever comes, comes. I’ll be anxious to give out food assignments, of course, so let me know what your plans are. If the snow isn’t too deep, some of us can hike the big loop.
          So much fun! Love to all! Mom

Sunday, October 21, 2012

Dear Kids,
          Everybody is on the move. Well, it seems like everybody. Tom and Kim are going to buy a house about two streets north of where they live now, on the corner of 720 East. Dad and I haven’t seen it yet, but you can be sure the next time we go to Heber we’ll want to have a look at it! John has been talking again about building their dream house. James has applied for a job in Logan, and hasn’t heard anything about it yet, but Nora has pointed out they they’ve lived in West Jordan ever since they were married, more than fourteen years ago, and a change would be good. Her calling as Young Women president is dragging her down, and that would be a convenient way to get out of it. Seth has applied for a fellowship at the University of Utah, and if he gets it, the Thackersons will probably have their free year at the cabin, starting in July. We’ve heard a rumor that Neil has also applied for a job at the U, but I don’t know anything more than that. Maybe it’s only a rumor. Meanwhile, Dad and I have a probable buyer for our house in Salt Lake. It’s in the early stages now, so I’ll let you know if and when it’s more definite. They are the absolute best people we could possibly sell the house to. And now Dad and I find ourselves in exactly the same state we were in back in 1976. What house are we going to live in? What will Dad’s job be? We have enough money that he doesn’t have to work, but he’ll be a lot happier if he has something to get up and go do, where he’s hopefully driving and getting people where they need to go. That’s what he’s done for almost 37 years, and he’s enjoyed it very much. It would be ideal if something could work out at for him at Deer Valley.
          We’ve had a long, mild fall here at the cabin, and my projects have gotten a lot farther than I expected them to. I’m almost done with the deck in back. My ring of rocks (my "planter") out in front is done, and Donna arranged for me to get 12 yards of sifted topsoil to fill it. (I’m going to need more, however, because I want to mound it up in the middle.) Meanwhile, Xena considers it a giant 25-foot litter box. She’s very pleased. The deer have walked thorough it. I’m looking for a life-sized moose or elk to put in the middle. There was a roadside display down in Heber, but I missed it because we were gone to Boise. If any of you see one of those displays anywhere, please call me! I could buy a life-sized bronze moose from Luna Bronze, across from John’s office, but it would cost $70,000. That’s a little steep.
          There’s a magpie out on the top of the swingset, surveying his territory, looking very arrogant. He’s probably one of those three ungrateful wretches that I rescued in the greenhouse. All the quality birds have flown south for the winter.
          Love you all! Mom

Sunday, October 14, 2012

Dear Kids,
         Dad and I had a great time in Boise. I had fun going over Katie’s life story with her. We had practically the same childhood, so that was really interesting. Our teen years couldn’t have been more different, so that was even more interesting. Dad and I left for home Thursday morning, very reluctantly. It was so warm there! Here at the cabin, it’s practically winter. There was snow on the mountains yesterday morning. It has rained a ton here, with some snow, which didn’t stick, but our deck project has come to a standstill because it’s so muddy. The deer go back and forth and back and forth, clueless about where they’ll hole up for the winter. There were a lot of gunshots yesterday, because of the elk hunt. The deer know they’re next.
          John cleaned our carpets Friday night with his magnificent machine. Dad helped him, and I holed up in the bunkhouse, where I stayed until 1 am. John and Dad were both asleep then, and the carpets were still damp, but there was a roaring fire going and it was 80 in the kitchen. By morning, everything was nearly dry. Nothing eats humidity like a wood-burning stove. John’s machine cleans so well that the carpets look practically new. He said he’s going to send Jacob and Aaron out to clean people’s carpets when they get a little older. They won’t charge much. Sounds like a great deal for everybody.
          Dad’s still very excited about his retirement, and he’s learning all about Medicare and Social Security. Yesterday we drove through Wild Willow, the subdivision by our church, and he showed me exactly which houses he liked. None of them are for sale right now, but I’m sure the right house will appear when we’re ready for it. Dad is especially excited that he only has 11 more weeks to work. He has always loved bus driving, but he’s looking forward to the change. Naturally I’m not going to let him slow down. After our trip to Hawaii, I’m thinking he could work for Deer Valley, because of our great connections there. I think he can choose his own days, so we can keep up with chess club and the piano classes on Wednesdays. Dad’s last day of work will be Friday, January 4th, and I think we’ll have his retirement party that night. Everyone who’s family, even remotely, is invited. We’ll let you know the time and place when we decide for sure. And of course we’ll pick up the tab. Dad’s retirement bonus will easily cover it.
          As most of you have noticed, I’ve started sending birthday presents through Amazon, because we’re not close enough to visit grandkids personally on their birthdays. (Not to mention that there are a heck of a lot of birthdays now.) Sometimes I get behind, because I forget to look at my chart. The disadvantage of sending presents, instead of giving them, is that I don’t always know that they arrived. I only assume it. If you could have your kids acknowledge their presents by a phone call, or a card, or a facebook message (though your account, of course) I would feel a lot better about it. Have them tell me they like the present, even if they don’t. It’s good training.
          Ah, life! Isn’t it fun! Love, Mom

Tuesday, October 9, 2012

Dear Kids,
          Dad and I are having a great time here in Boise, visiting with Katie and working on her life story, talking to Heather and Carly, admiring Hadley and Carly’s cat Louie–it’s been lots of fun so far. We’re staying with Katie in the very nice one-room apartment that she moved into just a few weeks ago. Needless to stay, we stayed up late watching a movie and slept in late this morning. Today we’re going shopping, and then we’re going back to Heather’s house to work on the life story some more. Heather has the best computer set-up, so we’re doing everything there. The climate here is very mild, and it’s lots warmer than Kamas Valley. There are still flowers blooming! There’s lots of smoke residue from all the fires, though, and I’m using my medications and nebulizer full force.
         Some of you might not have heard Dad’s big announcement: He’s going to retire January 4th! We moved up the date when we realized there was no good reason to wait until May. And, get this, Dad and I are going to Hawaii to celebrate! He’ll be having a family retirement party too, but we haven’t set the date yet. We’re thinking we might all meet at Golden Corral or someplace where we can eat as much as we want and have our own banquet room, where we can tell stories and celebrate Dad’s 37 years of perfect driving for UTA. We’ll let you know more when the time gets closer.
         Conference weekend was great, and thanks to all of you who came to the cabin! The talks were very inspiring, and we were delighted with the announcement that missionaries can go out at a younger age now. Especially the girls! Some of the grand kids could be on missions lots sooner than we expected! I wish I could have gone when I was 19. I wouldn’t have been so cynical and worn out when I got home.
          Conference weekend was also great because we got to try out the cabin’s new kitchen. Even though the stove hasn’t been put back in, and we don’t have a dishwasher yet, we were able to fix lots of food on the new counter tops. I can see it’s all going to work very well.
          Life is good! I love you all! Mom

Sunday, September 30, 2012

Dear Kids,
          I just chased off three deer who were chewing on our aspens out in front. I always thought deer were lazy and just ate what they found at eye level, or on the ground, but these deer were stretching their long necks up above the tree cages, chewing the leaves. I’m sure they sense winter is coming, and they’re trying to buff up. We’ve had mild weather so far this fall, but you can tell winter is knocking at the door. I’m hoping to finish the greenhouse deck before it snows, but we had some rain last week, and it turned my excavation into a mudhole. So much fun!
          Monday night I went to see The Piano Guys with John’s family at the new high school in Heber. The piano guys were doing a benefit for the Heber Railroad, and they had a backup video showing them performing on a flatcar, riding along the Heber Creeper route. (You can see it on Youtube). You wouldn’t guess how many funky things they can do with a piano and a cello! It made me want to go home and practice the piano, even though I’ll never play like Jon Schmidt in this lifetime.
          Yesterday, Dad and I drove down to Salt Lake for a UTA meeting Dad had, and then we changed into nice clothes and went to the temple. But it was closed! I think they all closed early in the day because of the Relief Society broadcast last night. No matter–we figured the Lord would give us credit for trying. So we drove to Orem and to visit Grandpa. Bonnie was just leaving, and she said we picked a good time, because was very clear-headed right then. We had a great talk with him. He misses grandma a lot, of course, and wants to be with her. It’s funny, when I think of Grandma now, I don’t even remember that she was an old woman. I see a young, blonde woman standing in front of a quonset hut holding two little girls by the hand. And when I look at Grandpa, I see past the old man sitting there, to a handsome young army officer with dark wavy hair. Their bodies wore out, but they’re both the same beautiful people they’ve always been.
          We’re looking forward to seeing lots of you next Saturday and Sunday, for conference weekend. The cabin’s looking forward to seeing you, too. It’s renovation isn’t finished, but it feels way better with new cabinets and countertops. Oreo and Xena are not looking forward to seeing you, and they’ll probably both be hiding under the cabin the whole time.
          Lots of love, Mom

Sunday, September 23, 2012

Dear Kids,
          Dad and I are on our way to the Brigham City temple dedication. We’re really curious as to why church was cancelled for everybody in Utah today. There have been so many temple dedications, and they’re always during the week, and you can go if you want to. Is there going to be some important announcement during the service? The second coming? I’m not joking. There must be some important reason why they’re doing this for the first time.
          News of the cabin: We have counter tops! They look fabulous! And we have a kitchen sink! You might not think that’s so wonderful, but when you’ve been without a sink for three months, you realize what a luxury it is! Dad worked on it all day yesterday, and made three trips to the Ace Hardware in Kamas for parts. I wasn’t surprised about the three trips. You never know what you need for a sink until you get to that part of it. When the nice countertop guy was here working, he did the cutouts for the sink and the stove, and he said the sink installation should be pretty easy. I was very surprised. Since when has a sink been easy? I still remember that when I was a young adult, I brought my friend Willi (yes, that one!) to our home to meet my family. Grandpa was under the kitchen sink working on something. Willi said, "Your father is a professor, and he works on the plumbing?" Yes, Willi, I could have said, working on a sink is harder than being a professor. Then there’s the joke about the plumber working on a doctor’s sink, and charging him an outrageous amount of money. The doctor says, "I’m a doctor, and I don’t even earn that much!" And the plumber says, "Yes, when I was a doctor, I didn’t earn that much either."
          Well, the temple dedication is over now, and it was really nice, but there wasn’t anything unusual about it.
          Conference weekend is in two weeks! Let me know if you’re coming for dinner on Sunday.
          Love, Mom

Sunday, September 16, 2012

Dear Kids,
          My biggest excitement this week was finding three magpies trapped in the greenhouse. Actually, I heard them before I found them. They were crashing themselves into the windows, making a terrible noise, knocking themselves silly. Both doors were open, and in spite of the great intelligence they’re supposed to have, they kept hitting the windows. They they’d fall to the floor, stagger up, and start it all over again. Xena was trotting back and forth, from one to the next. Finally they were all so dazed I was able to throw a dishtowel over each one and carry them out. There’s nothing like having a magpie screeching at you and cursing you while you’re carrying him to safety. I know, I’d rather have them dead, but I can’t help rescuing animals in distress. Even magpies.
          Our kitchen remodel is still moving along! A guy came to measure for the counter tops, and he’s going to install them next Thursday. On Saturday, Dad’s going to put in the sink! After that, I’m hoping the stove and dishwasher will go in OK. I don’t know how long that will take, but I’m sure we’ll be done before conference weekend, October 6-7. We’re hoping to see at least some of you then. Let me know if you want to reserve a bedroom or a bunk in the bunkhouse. They guys can go to priesthood meeting with Dad Saturday night, and I’ll be fixing Sunday dinner after the morning session on Sunday. It will be fun to have a real conference weekend again!
          Dad and I held our second annual chess retreat Friday night. We were sorry Bevan couldn’t come. His parents received a mission call to Cove Fort, and they were having a celebration party that night. (Those of you who’ve read the ancestor stories and know about our connection with Cove Fort would think twice about celebrating, but I’m sure they’ll have a great adventure there.) Anyway, Donna and Bevan couldn’t come to our retreat, but we got Mark Hoyt, from the ward here, to take his place. (He was bishop when some of you kids lived here.) We also had Addy Shuppy from the ward, and the rest of our participants were from the Harman Center Chess Club. We had a riotous time and went to bed very late. Chess always fills me with adrenalin, and I can’t sleep. Richard Gerlach, who flies jet aircraft, was wondering how chess could be that exciting. He wouldn’t understand. Incidentally, I’ve volunteered to help supervise the chess club at South Summit High. Right now all the chess players are doing cross country, so we’ll start next month. I’m sure it will be lots of fun.
          Life is good! Love to all, Mom

Sunday, September 9, 2012

Dear Kids,
          Today is Grandma Ackerson’s 100th birthday! Wow! Too bad she isn’t here so we could have a big party, but I know she’s better off where she is.
          Nora and Robyn did the LOTOJA yesterday, (Logan to Jackson bike ride) and evidently they finished in great time. I haven’t been able to contact Nora yet, but Donna said that as of 7:00 last night, they were only ten minutes from the finish line. That meant that they still had more than an hour of daylight to finish the race. There’s a short story by one of the Russian writers (Tolstoy? Cherkov?) about a man who can have all the land he is able to walk around in a day. Just as the sun is sinking, he finishes his last lap, and falls over dead. That’s the worst case scenario, of course. We’re glad Nora and Robyn made it!
         At the cabin, our kitchen cabinets have been installed, and they look beautiful. After all our weeks of frustration, we finally have a kitchen again. Well, we don’t have a counter top or a sink or a stove or a dishwasher, but we have cabinets! I’m starting to put things in them, and hopefully I’ll find all the things I’ve lost in the last few weeks. We should have a counter top in about two more weeks, and hopefully the rest of the kitchen after that. We’ve been working on this remodel so long (since January) that it’s unbelievable that we might ever finish it.
          Naturally I’ve started other cabin projects, including a deck on the west side of the greenhouse. We’ll be able to put the barbecue there, and not always haul it in and out of the garage when we need it. I’ve had to do a lot of excavating, and naturally the area is all rocks. So much fun!
          I’m having trouble uploading this letter. We’re in the stake center, and stake conference just ended. Dad and I were in the stake choir. I’m probably the worst singer in the group, but I'm coming along.
          I’m still trying to get on the internet. Now we’re sitting by the stake clerk’s office. Hey, I have a signal! Love to all! Mom

Sunday, September 2, 2012

Dear Kids,
          We enjoyed seeing so many of you at Emma’s baptism yesterday! We especially enjoyed meeting Paul’s girlfriend, Stephanie. (Dad says he’s able to remember her name by thinking of the movie "Short Circuit.") We’re looking forward to getting to know her better!
          Dad and I had volunteered to work at the information booth at Frontier Days yesterday, but we didn’t volunteer for the storm that came up. I’ve always wanted to be in a hurricane, and I think it came close. (It would have been one of those dark red cells on Our canopy was staked down really well, but all our merchandise got soaked. We had put a plastic bag over our cash register, so it was OK. So when the storm got really fierce, we held onto our stuff and to each other, Most of the vendors were trying to close up their booths, but they should have just waited it out. We got at least an inch of water in about 10 minutes. When it finally blew over, we mopped up everything with a towel, and we were open again. We sold tickets to the rodeo and the barbecue, besides T shirts and candy bars and pop. We also sold Volkers bread, which is very dry, and way overrated. When our shift was over, we went home instead of staying around for the rodeo. Instead, we’re going to the Battle of the Bulls and the Ring of Fear tomorrow.
          Other news of the week: We finally have kitchen cabinets! They’re not installed yet, of course; they’re just stacked in big boxes in our living room. They were delivered on Thursday, almost on schedule. Except that the company sent a semi to bring them, and it jack knifed on the second hill. Dave Matheny’s wife was waiting to go down, and the driver panicked and pulled to the right, and skidded in the gravel. That made the back end of his trailer swung left, into the ditch. Nobody could get past for about three hours. All the neighbors stood around trying to figure out what to do, and the driver, who looked very young and very scared, stood around, too. Finally Vaughn Stanley brought his backhoe and pulled the trailer’s wheels out of the ditch. Then the driver wanted me to get a truck and take my own cabinets up the hill. I told him I’d paid for delivery to my house, and he needed to get them there. Bob Thomas, a neighbor, solved the impasse by bringing his truck and a trailer, and he hauled my cabinets up the hill. While the driver was bringing in the cabinets, I talked to Bob. I’ve known him since we first moved in there. He remembers our cabin being built, and says a high school shop class built it, along with the smaller cabin to the west of us. Bob is a stone mason, and I asked him what he thought of the stone wall I’m building in front. He said I could go for my license any time.
          Life is good. I hope you’re all doin’ great and lovin’ it. Mom

Sunday, August 26, 2012

Dear Kids,
          I’m picking cat fur off my laptop as I write. I keep the laptop on the table in the greenhouse, and Oreo has taken to sleeping on it, or next to it, and he always leaves me a memento of his presence. These aren’t random hairs, either–they’re whole chunks that he pulls out of his back and drops in various places. How lucky I am.
          Emma will be baptized this coming Saturday, September 1, at 10:00 am, in Tom and Kim’s church, the same building where Eli was blessed. If you’re coming into town from the north, and you turn left at Smiths (500 North), it’s the second church. There will be a get-together afterwards at Tom and Kim’s house, and you’re supposed to call Kim if you want to bring something.
          I found a small blue t-shirt in the greenhouse, nicely folded, size 3T, with Thomas the Train on the front. If any of you know who it belongs to, I’ll gladly return it to its rightful owner.
          Sharon and I had fun taking her kids to the Brigham City Temple open house last Tuesday. There were shuttle busses taking us from the old K Mart parking lot to the temple, and that bus ride was the most exciting thing for the kids. Plus the cookie and bottle of water we got at the end of the tour. But they were impressed by the temple, too. As Lucy and I were walking around the baptismal font, she kept calling out, "Look, more cows!" She stopped to admire the deer on the mural in the instruction room. The temple itself is very unique, with peach blossoms in the carpet, the wallpaper, and the upholstery. The outside walls are concrete, but they shine in the sun. (I wonder if somebody broke up their china to put in the cement?) It was a great day, and I’m glad we went.
          My cabin projects are moving forward again, after a long break for the family reunions. Our cabinets are supposed to come this Thursday! Could it really happen? Outside, I’m working on my rock wall and I finished planting lots of grass in various bare patches. What is it about wet ground and new grass that attracts animals? I don’t mean worms–I mean dogs and deer and cows. They positively tromp through it. Yesterday I found fresh moose tracks in the soft mud. They made holes about 6" deep. I hope the grass is hardy enough to fill in all the holes.
          Fall is coming! Life is good! Love, Mom

Sunday, August 19, 2012

Dear Kids,
          The most exciting event of my week was going to the Kamas pool with Sharon and all her kids and Anna, too. I mostly tended Anna, but sometimes I also watched Conrad while Sharon chased after Lucy. At one point, Lucy was wading in the 1' deep area, when she suddenly took off and ran toward the lap pool. Sharon screamed at her and started running to get her, holding Conrad, while the life guard sat there watching. (You’d think those teenagers could be useful once in a while!)    Lucy put one foot into the lap pool, but then, she suddenly turned and ran alongside the pool. The other life guard blew her whistle at her, which made Lucy run faster. Finally she slipped and fell, and Sharon caught up with her. Lucy wasn’t hurt, thank goodness. Sharon decided at that point that we’d had enough fun, and we packed up everybody and left.
          The family reunions are over with, and the cabin held up very well. Nobody seemed to mind that we don’t have a kitchen, and everybody seemed to have fun. I learned a lot, watching the different family groups. I wish I could have bottled up some of the excitement and saved it for the long boring days that are coming up here at the cabin, with fall and winter coming on.
          But the excitement isn’t quite over yet. Sharon and her kids are coming back here tomorrow, for one more day, and Mandy’s coming too, with her 2 1/2 boys. Then, Tuesday morning, Sharon and I are taking her kids to the Brigham City Temple open house. I had no idea you needed to get tickets, and I’m glad Sharon was on the ball. I’ve heard since of people who couldn’t get them. I’ve heard that the new temple is one-of-a-kind, and I’m excited to see it.
          I caught a cold from Dad, and naturally it has settled in my lungs. Luckily I’m all prepared with my nebulizer (like a smoking machine) and plenty of albuterol. Dad said he was having lung trouble, too, so I let him smoke a joint. I think he just wanted to experience it for himself. Anyway, I don’t expect the kind of trouble I had last time my lungs were infected. Just to help things out, there was a huge fire yesterday off Highway 40, so intense that they closed the highway between Heber and the Park City turnoff. Both Donna and Allen called to warn me about it, but of course we had plenty of smoke at the cabin, and we could see where it was coming from. Allen said, "Where’re you going to run to now?" I thought of driving to the high Uintahs, but the smoke thinned out later, and I think the fire is out now.
          Life is so much fun! I love you all! Mom

Sunday, August 12, 2012

Dear Kids,
          The family reunion at Bear Lake was a blast, wasn’t it? Thanks so much, Al and Missy! Everything fit into place so well! The food was good and the activities were fun. I know it isn’t easy to plan such a big event for so many people, so thanks again! We’re already looking forward to next year. Vanessa was talking to Monica about the Sawtooth Mountains and the Windrivers, so maybe we’ll be camping again!
          Our cabin has also been filled with activity! The Thackers were here last week, and Dave Michelson’s family was here from here from Wednesday night until Saturday noon. I can tell you, the Michelsons really know how to have fun! Day or night, they’re up for it! Friday night at 9:30, in a pouring rainstorm, they all left for Kamas for the "Under the Moon" 5k. (Dad and I were sedately crawling into bed.) They even took some of the kids! Randy was 2nd in his age group, and a nephew was 4th in his. At 12:30 they were home again, and they built a fire in the fire pit and partied most of the night. They also had a lot of fun on the Yerf Dog, until Dad, who was home in West Valley, got a call from Vaughn Stanley, who said the Yerf Dog was speeding, spinning, and doing donuts. I have no idea how the Yerf Dog could do a donut, but I passed on the complaint when that particular group got back. They didn’t even drive it again, even though they had bought four gallons of gas for it when they went into town.
          The Bentleys’ family reunion starts this afternoon at the cabin, and I’m sure they’ll also have lots of fun. The cabin is up for it!
          Dad brought Xena back to the cabin Friday night. I figured it was easier for him to bring one cat than two, and she could ride in the rigid, non-collapsible carrier. Dad survived the trip OK. Meanwhile, I’d been working on installing a pet door for the greenhouse. Until now, I’ve just propped the window open, but then the rain blew in. So now I have this deluxe pet door installed, but it’s a little smaller than the one at home. Xena can get through OK, at least from the inside to the ouside, because there’s a ledge inside, but from the outside to the inside it’s a 18" jump up from the ground. So Dad got a step stool and put it under the window for her. I would rather have had her jump, to trim down that fat body of hers, but Dad didn’t want her to suffer the least little bit.
          It’s been a week and a half since my birthday, but I still want to thank all of you for the great presents and chocolate and gift cards you gave me. Now that I live at the cabin, I don’t have my stock of thank you cards on hand, but I want you all to know I really appreciate your thoughtfulness.
          Life is good! Love, Mom

Sunday, August 5, 2012

Dear Kids,
          It’s Sunday morning again, and I’m sitting in the greenhouse typing my letter, again. What could be more normal, right? Wrong. We were supposed to be home in West Valley this morning, because the Thacker reunion is going on at the cabin right now. I thought it might be a good idea to spend two weeks at home (minus the three days at Bear Lake) and see how well I could breathe, now that my lungs seem to be doing better. That way, the people having family reunions here could have the cabin to themselves. Good idea, right? No, baaaad idea! The air in Salt Lake was murky, and by the third day, the pressure was building up in my lungs. Good thing I have a nebulizer there, because I needed it. Finally Dad and I packed up and came back here to the cabin. The Thackers were very gracious, and let us barge in on their fun. It was all so well organized! (Sharon was in charge, and she delegated, she said.) They’d had morning hikes, a program, olympics, a treasure hunt, and swimming at the Kamas pool, and while we were here in the afternoon they did a craft, a fish pond, and Yerf Dog rides. I just sat and enjoyed breathing the clean air. It was a good experiment, trying to spend two weeks at home. It just didn’t work. If I had any doubts that we need to sell our house, I have my answer now. We’ll keep it until Dad retires next May, and then it goes on the market!
          We left Xena and Oreo back at the house, because we took off in such a hurry. Besides, they don’t travel well. Xena yowls the whole time, while Oreo hisses at her. And Xena can’t even travel an hour without pooping in her carrier. When we bring them back to the cabin, it will be their last ride. They’ll be here for good! By the way, we had to buy a second cat carrier, so I thought I’d try a collapsible mesh one from Walmart. It was designed by an idiot! Of course the cat will claw and rip at the mesh, and the whole thing will collapse on her. Add some smelly cat poop, and you have a real mess. Nuff said.
          Last night I Sharon sat down with me and planned out every day of the rest of their visit. (They’re driving our car, so we needed to coordinate.) It’s funny that the cabin is her base of operations, instead of the house in West Valley, but she likes it way better here! They’re escaping from the notorious D.C. heat, so why should they suffer in the Salt Lake heat? It’s actually cold here, in the early morning. She couldn’t even remember the last time she was cold.
          Dad and I are looking forward to the drive to Bear Lake this afternoon. We’ll bring plenty of firewood! There will be plenty of fun, and plenty of food. See you all there! (Except for poor Paul, of course.)
          Lots of love, Mom

Sunday, July 29, 2012

Dear Kids,
          Two more days of working on cabin projects, and then, anything that isn’t done, isn’t done. Dad re-installed the downstairs toilet, however, which was the most important unfinished project. Everything else takes second place to that. We’ve really missed it, while it was out in the garage, upside down. Nora called me on Wednesday and said she was bringing kids to the cabin Thursday, and was that OK? Of course I said sure. She mentioned that she had all Vanessa’s kids, too, so there would be ten. Was that OK? Sure. And her friend Amber was coming too, with her kids. Sure. So here were 15 visitors, and no downstairs toilet. There were lots of trips upstairs. Tom and Kim and all their kids joined us too, along with Donna and Bevan and Anna, and we had lots of fun. (I called it a "flash party," because it seemed to occur spontaneously.) For the next big event, however, people will be able to use the downstairs toilet. Go, Dad!
          And Home Depot has actually ordered our cabinets! I’ve already had a call from Kraft Maid, the manufacturer, scheduling delivery for August 30th! Is it possible we’ll have a kitchen again?
          I keep finding clumps of cat hair in the greenhouse. (Don’t worry, you people who are allergic. There’s none in the cabin.) So I was wondering about this cat hair, and here came Oreo, walking through the greenhouse, biting clumps of fur out of his back and dropping them on the floor. It was very odd. I got a brush and brushed him, but he’s still doing it. He has another bad habit–killing baby bluebirds. The first one flew into the greenhouse and got trapped, and Oreo just batted him down and killed him. Now he stalks the field for them. I wish he would take on the magpies instead.
          A week from today Dad and I will be leaving for Bear Lake. We’re really looking forward to seeing so many of you there. (Everybody but Paul, I think.) I’m sure we’ll all have a wonderful time.
          Love, Mom

Sunday, July 22, 2012

Dear Kids,
          I’m sitting in the greenhouse, typing my letter. Outside on the utility wire, where my meadowlark used to sit and watch me, there’s a whole line of little birds with light grey bellies. I guess they’re already congregating to get ready for their trip south. It must take them quite a while to round up everybody. Like when we used to go places with our whole family. It was hard getting everybody ready to go, and even harder when it was time to go home, trying to round up everybody. Now it’s simple: Dad and I just get in the car together and go.
          Which we will be doing two weeks from today, when we leave for the family reunion. Sure, we’ll have our camping stuff to get together, and the firewood, too (if there isn’t a ban on campfires) but it will be amazingly simple. So, you young families, don’t lose heart. Someday it will be easy to go places, and your own kids will be struggling with their own kids.
          Oreo is still totally in charge of the cabin (although he can’t go inside) and all the surrounding property. He likes to climb up in the garage attic, and he knocked down a piece of insulation and left it hanging to the floor. I told Dad we needed to pull it all down, because it was full of rodent dropping and nesting materials. When Dad started pulling it down yesterday, he found a petrified rat, still in its nest. I guess Oreo wanted us alerted to the situation. Who knows what else is up there?
          Home Depot is slowly getting going on our cabinets. It has taken them 2 1/2 weeks to measure and sort of draw us a design. Now we have to make some changes, finalize it, and pay them some money, and then maybe the process will really get going. Maybe. You shouldn’t have to tell them that base cabinets need drawers at the top, for utensils and things, should you? Shouldn’t they know that? Or their computers, at least? When I met with the kitchen designer, I was shocked at their out-of-date software. I expected to see a virtual rendering, and even do a virtual walk-though. But their graphics look like something out of the 90's–line drawings that don’t show you very much. I was hoping for more.
          But life is good. We’ll be leaving for church in an hour, and the primary kids are singing pioneer songs in sacrament meeting. I get to play the piano for them. It’s lots of fun. Being this close to pioneer day, I’m naturally going to wear my cowboy boots. I won’t be the only one.
          Lots of love, Mom

Sunday, July 15, 2012

Dear Kids,
           A week ago today, I was expectantly waiting for our kitchen cabinets, not even caring that they would be installed on Sunday, because we would have a beautiful new kitchen ready for the people coming here for family reunions. By that night, my dream had evaporated. When the cabinets came, they were only half done, and one unit wouldn’t fit into the house, one was 5 inches too wide and had the wrong number of drawers, one cabinet door wasn’t like the others, and so on and so on. By the next day I had agreed with the cabinet maker that he would take everything back and refund our deposit. I’m glad there was no serious dispute. I don’t think he even wanted to make them in the first place. It was all so odd!
          Now I’m trying to arrange for Home Depot to do our cabinets, which was my original plan. A guy has to come and measure first, and he’s very busy, etc. etc. I seriously doubt that we’ll ever have a kitchen again!
          But everything else is great. The Allen family reunion yesterday was a blast. I was so glad to see so many of you there, although I spent most of my time talking to my brothers and sisters. I was hoping to hear about some exciting new scandal, and I saw Suzy and Laurie with their heads together, (and a couple of daughters listening in) but they were talking about their cars! Dang! Maybe we’re all getting too old for scandal.
          I hope you all got the invitation Al and Missy passed out, with all the details for our Ackerson reunion at Bear Lake. I got excited just reading it. We’re going to eat well and sleep well and have lots of fun in the water and out of it. We’re even hiking the Limber Pine trail! Remember how we used to do that hike on Sundays when we were at Bear Lake. Anyway, it’s all coming up fast. Dad and I are taking the truck, because we’re bringing firewood, and we’re leaving Sunday afternoon. If any of you have anything we need to haul, and you can arrange for us to get it, we’ll have room for it!
          Oreo has now made himself king of the cabin and all the territory surrounding it. When I came back to the cabin Thursday morning, after my stint in Salt Lake, he was sitting proudly in front of the big pine tree, ready to welcome me and lead me in. He caught a mouse and left it in the garage for me after. One thing he can’t face down, however, is the big "doolie" that Donna drives for her work. She brought it to the cabin Thursday night loaded with firewood, and in the dark, with all its lights and threatening sounds, Oreo couldn’t stand his ground. He dove for cover in the field. But thanks, Donna and Bevan, for the wood! It will be a warm winter here at the cabin. (Even if we still don’t have a kitchen.)
          Lots of love, Mom

Saturday, July 7, 2012

Dear Kids,
          Our cabin is now minus all its cabinets. Dad and I took them out on Thursday, and we finished the job in 5 hours! I thought it might take us a couple of days, but demolition is always easier than construction! Dad did the wrecking and I piled all the debris in the back of his truck. Our new cabinets are supposed to be installed tomorrow, which is Sunday, and it’s OK with me. Ox in the mire and all that. Dad will stay home from church the first two hours, because I can’t miss Primary, and then I’ll come home so he can go to sacrament meeting. Anything is OK if the cabinets get put in!! The nice guy from Chris and Dick’s is coming Monday to measure for the counter top, and with luck, it will take less than 2 weeks. And that will still leave a week for Dad to reinstall the sink, stove, and dishwasher, not to mention the fireplace and the downstairs toilet. Our final and total deadline for everything is August 1. After that the family reunions start.
          So while Dave Michelson’s family is at our cabin, we’ll be at Bear Lake! Dad and I are bringing plenty of firewood! We all have the option of driving there Sunday night (August 5) or arriving Monday, the 6th. I haven’t seen the agenda, but I’m sure it’ll be plenty of fun.
          And, of course, the Allen reunion is this coming Saturday, July 14, at Riverwoods Park. Bonnie says we have the pavilion from 9 am until 3 pm, but she figures most people will get there between 10 and 11 am. Dad and I will probably be there at 10. I’m really curious to see who shows up. We’re supposed to bring our own lunches, and there will be the usual water slide on the hill, and a fishpond for the kiddies.
          Oreo and Xena are settling into their new home very well! Oreo spent his first two days under the cabin, and on the third day he marched out proudly with his tail in the air, to take control of his new domain. He hunts mice and grasshoppers in the fields, and at night, he climbs onto the roof of the garage and yowls at us to let him in. He can get within a few feet of our bedroom window, but it isn’t doing him any good. We’re into watching old episodes of "Bonanza," and we don’t pay any attention to him. Xena lounges around all day, sometimes under the cabin, and sometimes in the greenhouse. For a special thrill, she rolls in the dirt.
          On Thursday, Dad and I drove down to Utah Valley to go to the temple, and then we visited Grandpa Allen. Justin and Ali and their five kids were there, on their way to a Richins family reunion. The kids were running around and making lots of noise, and grandpa was delighted. All those rumors to the effect that kids bother him are just rumors. Not true. He will soon be moving to a care center near his house, a small place with only a few residents. I’ll let you know his new address soon.
          So much going on! I love you all! Mom

Sunday, July 1, 2012

Dear Kids,
          Dad and I have parked ourselves at Tom and Kim’s house until the crowd gets here after the block. Eli had a very nice blessing in Sacrament meeting, and then Dad and I cut out. Since I’ve been in Primary, I’ve gotten out of the habit of sitting through Sunday School and Relief Society. Plus, we’re both really sleepy. I have no better excuses than that!
          One reason we’re so worn out is that Dad brought both our cats to the cabin. Don’t worry, you people who are allergic to cats! They won’t be stepping even one paw into the cabin. They’re living in the greenhouse and outside. Right now, they’re both mostly under the cabin, most of the time. In fact, yesterday afternoon I heard a horrible screeching of magpies. Several of them were gathered around the hole leading under the cabin, scolding Xena, who was trying to come out. They plan to make life plenty miserable for both cats. But the cats are definitely better off at our cabin. At home, they were alone nearly all the time, sometimes for as long as three or four days without a human there. Here, they’ll at least have me most of the time.
          Don’t ask Dad what it was like bringing the cats, though. He staggered in Friday night with both of them in carriers. First off, he didn’t know that when you put a cat into a carrier, you shove it in behind first. So he had a real circus getting them loaded up. Then, they both howled the entire trip, and Oreo panted like he was dying of the heat, even though the AC was on high. Dad was a wreck, so the cats will be staying at the cabin for a long time. He’s not anxious to re-do THAT trip any time soon.
          Our cabin remodel is still going really well. We’re about 2/3 done with the tile, and our new cabinets are supposed to be installed this coming week. I was getting nervous, because the cabinet guy wasn’t returning our calls, but he finally called us and said he was working on them. I’ve already arranged for Chris and Dick’s to do the countertops, and hopefully everything will go off without a hitch.
          Don’t forget the big Allen Family Reunion in Riverwoods Park on July 14th. I don’t have much information, because I’m never home to check our e-mail, but if I find out more, I’ll pass it on. If you have any questions about how to find the park, call me. I know there’s going to be a fish pond for the kids. Bonnie seemed to hint that this would be the last of its kind. I think it’s just too hard to organize, with Grandma Allen gone.
          There are wildfires all over Utah, and the air is filled with smoke. I’m using my inhalers all the time, and the nebulizer, too. Thank goodness for modern medicine.
          Lots of love, Mom

Sunday, June 24, 2012

Dear Kids,
          The air here is filled with smoke from a fire in Saratoga Springs, at least 70 miles away. I thought the air here at the cabin would always be pure and clean, but I didn’t know that a wildfire in Utah county and high winds could bring us bad air and smoke. Luckily I have a nebulizer that I borrowed from Heather in April, my last period of bad breathing, and I have 64 vials of albuterol from Dr. Newbold. I quit seeing my pulmonologist, Dr. Ahmed, because he wouldn’t prescribe anything radical. His solution for all my breathing problems was for me to call his office for an appointment "in a couple of days or so." But trouble can come up really fast when your lungs are deficient, like last night, when the plume of smoke came over the mountain. I was all ready for it, hooked up the nebulizer, and puffed on it until I could breathe again.
          With all the power tools I use, who could imagine that I could have an accident with a drill? But I was using a large bit, and somehow it caught my work glove, twisted it up, and started chewing my hand. It wouldn’t stop, but I finally thought to hit the reversing button. When I untangled everything, I was missing a piece of skin on my wrist about the size of a quarter, besides other little wounds. I didn’t know how to treat missing skin. I called a couple of nurses I know, but couldn’t get anybody. Finally I soaked my wrist, scrubbed it, and bandaged it. After a couple of days it didn’t seem to be closing up, so I took off the bandaging, and now it’s infected. Donna said I should have found the piece of skin and tried to set it back on, but it was in the trash with the glove, I guess. If I’d been at home, I probably would have gone to Instacare. But here in the mountains you have to take care of yourself. I’ll probably have a big scar, but my hands are ugly anyway.
          These are the days when it’s freezing at the cabin in the morning, and 85 in the afternoon. On Thursday, the summer solstice, I had frozen water lines in the morning. And a wild hot wind in the afternoon. Gotta love the mountains.
          Allen and his kids stayed over her Friday night, because they were going fishing Saturday morning. It was fun to have company!
          We’re looking forward to Eli’s baby blessing on Sunday, July 1, a week from today. Hope to see a lot of you there!
          Love, Mom
P.S.  Does anybody have  a badminton net they're not using?  The one at the cabin is in tatters.

Sunday, June 17, 2012

Dear Kids,          
          First off, here are some upcoming events: Baby Eli’s baby blessing will be Sunday, July 1st, at Tom and Kim’s church. If you’re coming from Salt Lake, when you get to Heber you turn left at 500 North, and go to the second church. (The white church, Tom says.) Sacrament meeting starts at 9:00 am, and Tom says we probably ought to do the whole block, since it’s so early. If anybody doesn’t want to do it all, they can hang out at Tom and Kim’s after sacrament meeting. If you want a food assignment, call Kim. Or Tom.
          Secondly, Dad thought I should remind you all of the upcoming family reunions. The Allen family reunion, the one we always have in that park by the Provo River, is on July 14th this year. (A Saturday) I know it’s usually the first Saturday in August, but they moved it up this year.
          Then, of course, there’s our own Ackerson family reunion at Bear Lake, August 6-8. That’s a Monday, Tuesday, and Wednesday. Allen mentioned that we could come Sunday evening, the 5th, if we wanted to get an early start on the fun. I think Dad and I will be doing that. Allen and Missy will be giving us more information when it gets closer.
          Dad and I are still working hard on the cabin remodel. It’s only six weeks until the first of the events that are scheduled there. Yesterday I laid 24 more tiles. That doesn’t sound like much, but the tiles are heavy, and it’s a good day when I can lay that many. I’ve laid 324 tiles now, so I’m well over half way. Dad started painting the ceiling yesterday, and he’s moving really fast. Dad’s always willing to paint, and he does a really good job.
          My friend, the meadowlark, still calls to me every morning. My outside project now is the area around the bunkhouse, and I’m hoping to plant grass there before the end of the summer. The meadowlark is wondering why I abandoned my territory in the front yard. He never abandons HIS territory. When a magpie comes near his nest, he dives at it with his very sharp beak. The magpies get the message. There are some very tiny birds nesting in the pine tree by the back door, where I destroyed the magpie nest. I don’t know what they are. This really makes me miss Grandma Allen, who knew every bird, and if she didn’t, she always looked it up. I have her bird books, but it isn’t the same.
         Life is good! Lots of love, Mom

Sunday, June 10, 2012

Dear Kids,
           Today I’m uploading my letter from our stake center in Marion. Dad’s in a stake priesthood meeting (that started at 7:00 am,) and when it’s over, we have an appointment to have our temple recommends signed. If we were at home in West Valley, Dad would have walked to the priesthood meeting, and later we would have walked back to see the stake presidency, but here, distances are so far, that we drive everywhere together, and one of us waits for the other.
          This stake center is sort of historic, by the way. You kids probably don’t remember the Singer-Swapp shootout back in 1988. It started with the shooting of John Singer, a polygamist who lived in a compound in the hills behind here. One day when he went out to the road to get his mail, policemen tried to arrest him, and he ended up dead. A couple of weeks later, his family blew up this very stake center. Then, when the lawmen arrived, there was a shootout that ended up with policeman Fred House getting killed. (The police academy at the point of the mountain is named after him.) At the time, they were talking about Marion, and I wondered where it was. Now I’m sitting in the very stake center they blew up. (Rebuilt, of course.) That proves you never know where life will take you.
          Next Sunday is Fathers Day, and if you want to visit Dad in the afternoon or evening, we’ll be down in Orem visiting Grandpa Allen from about 4:30 to maybe 6:00, and after that, we’ll be back at the cabin. Of course you can call him on his cell any time. We’re in church from 11 am until 2:00, but the rest of the day, he’ll be available.
          My cabin projects are coming along very well. I finally planted the very last section of grass in the front yard, with the supervision of my friend, the meadowlark. I still have lots to do in the back yard, however, so he can keep watching my work. Inside the cabin, I’m still laying tile and spreading grout and painting walls and patching the ceiling. It’s all fun!
          Lots of love, Mom

Sunday, June 3, 2012

Dear Kids,
           Today I’m uploading my letter from . . . (roll of drums) . . .the Primary room in Francis 2nd Ward! The primary president is doing sharing time and I have a few minutes. I’m sitting at the piano, which hides me from the kids, so nobody can see what I’m doing.
           Dad and celebrated our 40th wedding anniversary yesterday by driving to Idaho for Sarah’s baptism. We had Nora and some of her kids with us, so it was especially delightful, and the weather was beautiful. The sky was blue and the hills were green. We saw lots of cows. We made it to the church a little late, and they were all ready to start. The baptism was beautiful, of course, and both Sutton grandparents gave great talks. (I played the piano and Nora led the music and Dad said the closing prayer.) The most striking part of the service was right after the baptism, when Sarah came back out wearing a nice dress and Trent came out wearing a suit coat and white shirt and tie, and khaki cargo shorts. (His suit pants were at home on a hanger.) The bishop said that was OK and Trent was completely worthy to confirm Sarah. It all went very well!
           There was an after-party at Trent and Vanessa’s house: a barbecue with great food and lots of fun talking with the Sutton side of the family. They’re always entertaining!
Back here in the wonderful Kamas valley, I’m having a day off from laying tile. Thank goodness for Sunday! I’m weary in every bone! I’ve figured out exactly how many tiles I need to lay each day, and how much grout to spread, and how much work on the walls and ceiling I need to do, in order to be done by the end of July. I pray every day for strength and energy, and that I won’t hurt my back or have something else happen to me. It’s good that we have a deadline, or this project could carry on forever.
           And as if I didn’t have enough to do inside, I’m also getting ready to plant the last section of grass in the front yard. There’s a meadow lark who greets me every morning when I come out to rake dirt. He sits up on the utility wire and calls to me. I answer him back, but my meadow lark impersonation isn’t very good. He corrects me, and I try again. He bobs his head like Reggie used to do. I think he has a family down in the shrubs that he’s watching over, and he gets a little bored, so he likes to converse with me. If only my language skills were better!
          Life is good! I love you all! Mom

Saturday, May 26, 2012

Dear Kids,
          We’re having wretched Memorial Day weekend weather! Dad went to the air show in Ogden with John’s family, and I think Nora and her family are camping at the Spruces in their pop-up trailer, and they’re all getting rained and snowed on. Vanessa says they didn’t plan anything at all. Memorial Day is nearly always cold! I had called Vanessa to find out about Sarah’s baptism–it’s next Saturday, June 2nd, at 2 pm, at Vanessa and Trent’s ward: 42 Princeton Street. (Same place as Sterling’s baptism, Luke’s blessing, etc.) There will be an after-party at Vanessa’s house, and food, of course! I’m looking forward to a trip to Idaho! Dad and I haven’t been anywhere for a long time. June 2nd is also our 40th wedding anniversary! I was hoping we could do something fun to celebrate, and this fits the ticket exactly! It’s hard to believe we’ve been married 40 years, but with John turning 39 in July, it guess it’s been long enough.
          I really don’t have any other news, so, to fill out my letter, here’s a bio of Dad and me that I wrote for our ward newsletter. (We’re still considered "new," even though we’ve been here almost a year. I wondered why there was so little turnover, but Dad pointed out that it’s really hard to move when you have horses and cows.) Anyway, here’s the bio:

Family Bio for Chuck and Christy Ackerson
          Chuck was born in Arlington, Virginia, and Christy was born in Glendale, California, but grew up mostly in Utah County. They met at BYU, where they were in the same ward, and even in the same home evening "family." They will be celebrating their 40th wedding anniversary in June. They have nine children ranging in age from 27 to 38: John, Nora, Vanessa, Tom, Allen, Monica, Donna, Sharon, and Paul. They now have 28 grandchildren.
          Chuck has been a UTA bus driver for 36 years. He is currently #3 in seniority out of hundreds of drivers, and he trains many of the new drivers. He is often featured in the media-- most recently in a KUTV2 feature on March 31. Christy has been a piano teacher for 25 years, and she has also done a lot of writing, editing, and tutoring. They both enjoy snowboarding, playing chess, and going on long bike rides together. In addition, Christy likes big construction projects, and Chuck is always willing to help out. Chuck likes trap shooting, fiddling with the computer and reading books on his Nook.
          Interesting tidbits about the Ackersons: Christy once babysat Kurt Bestor. When she was in high school, she wrote a masters thesis for the BYU football coach. She has read the Book of Mormon in four languages, and she knows how to use a transit and a laser square. Chuck is a backyard auto mechanic, has a degree in nondestructive testing, and has earned his "3 Million Mile Safe-driving" award from UTA. On one of those miles, his bus was used as a "getaway car" for a robbery, without his knowledge.
          Chuck and Christy have lived in West Valley for 35 years, and they bought their second home in Woodland 10 years ago as a "cabin. At the present time Christy is having some lung trouble, and she can breathe a lot more easily in the clean air of Kamas Valley, so she’s living here practically full time. Chuck is here on weekends, so it has worked out very well for them to become members of the ward. They are really enjoying their new friends here!

          I hope you’re all doin’ great and lovin’ it! Lots of love, Mom

Saturday, May 19, 2012

Dear Kids,
          We were all thrilled by the birth of baby Eli on Monday morning. He surprised us by coming early! Tom called me at the cabin at 5:00 that morning (of course I was awake!) to see if I could come and help with their kids. I was glad to hop in the car and go. Trieste and McKenzie came a little later in the morning, and we all went to the hospital to see Eli when he was just a couple of hours old. He’s very cute, of course. I’m sure you’ve all seen the pictures on facebook.
          One more May birthday! It’s such a great time of the year to have a party! There will be a birthday party for Dad on Sunday, the 27th at Donna’s house in Midway. We’ll be having hamburgers, and we’ll probably start eating around 5:00. Be there or be square! If you’re up for a food assignment, call Donna. I wish I could host a party at the cabin, but it’s looking its very worst right now. The dark before the dawn! Dad was so sick of chopping out tile that he decided to finish in one long marathon. He took Friday off work, and started early in the morning. He worked furiously in a cloud of red dust. (We went through lots of N95 dust masks!) He was sort of crazy, and he wouldn’t stop until it was done. That was about 4 in the afternoon. I was amazed. Of course it will be weeks before we get rid of all the red dust, and many years from now, we’ll still be finding things covered with it! Meanwhile, we ordered the cabinets from Donna and Bevan’s friend’s dad, Kent Winterton. His bid was less than half of what Home Depot would have charged. He says he’ll have them finished and installed inside of six weeks. Here’s hoping it all works out!
          I moved my hispanic piano class to Wednesdays, Dad’s day off, so Dad could go pick up kids, and drive them home again, and I wouldn’t have to sit in the car breathing all that exhaust in the late afternoon traffic. It makes a long day for us: my piano class at the Harmon Home in the morning, chess club after lunch, and then the hispianic piano class, but it’s nice to have it all in one day. Besides, Dad helps set up the tables. And he even helps teach the beginners. (OK, they’re practically all beginners, even after two years!) One little kid, Jonathan Mask, said he wants Dad to ALWAYS be his teacher! Donna and I have worked so hard, (and Kara, too) for so many months, and this kid prefers Dad! You never know.
          Hope to see lots of you on the 27 th! Love, Mom

Friday, May 11, 2012

Dear Kids,
          OK, so I’m a murderer. I destroyed a magpie nest! I should have gotten a clue when the same magpie flew away from our big pine tree every time I stepped out the greenhouse door. Finally, this morning, I got suspicious, and set up a ladder and climbed up to see. I knew immediately when I saw all the twigs up there. But I’ve never examined a magpie nest up close and personal. Inside all those twigs, there’s a real nest of mud and rocks. (We knew all along they had no class.) There were seven eggs in the nest, and I threw them down into the parking lot. (Luckily they weren’t baby birds, because I wouldn’t have had the heart to kill them.) Then I started flinging the twigs down, but I had to get a crowbar to break up the nest. It was practically cemented to the tree. When my work of destruction was done, I raked up all the twigs and carried them out into the field. Meanwhile, the magpie was watching. When I left, she flew into the tree and jumped from branch to branch. She was very confused. Finally she flew off into the field where her mate was waiting. ("Yo, Robert, our nest is gone! We’re free!") And they flew off together. I told Dad my story, and he said I should get $35.00 in bounty money for killing seven magpies.
          Speaking of Dad, I found out he knows practically zilch about the Dr. Seuss books. I thought everybody in the world knew them all by heart. We had gone to see "Seussical" at Valley Jr. High, because Spencer and Elise Fulton were in it. It was a great production, but Dad didn’t get it. About the only Seuss he knew was "I do not like green eggs and ham" and the Grinch. I started talking about Horton and the Whos and the King’s Stilts and Bartholomew Cubbins, and he hadn’t heard any of it. Luckily all the books are on Amazon, so I’m ordering them one by one, and we’re reading them for home evening. I started with "The King’s Stilts," and I have "Bartholomew Cubbins and the 500 Hats" coming. Maybe those earliest books aren’t so familiar now, but they were the best ones. I’ll take them all to the cabin when I’m done with them. There’s so much more to Seuss than green eggs and ham!
          I’ve been very busy at the cabin laying tile. I’ve done about 100 square feet, and it’s starting to look really good. I went looking at kitchen cabinets, however, and discovered that you sometimes have to wait five or six weeks for them! (That’s from Home Depot.) I have to get everything done by the end of July, so I have to make up my mind and order them soon! Donna and Bevan’s friend’s father, who has his own cabinet shop, is coming to give us an estimate tomorrow. Why are cabinets so stressful?
          But life is good! I hope you’re all doin’ great and lovin’ it! Mom

Friday, May 4, 2012

Dear Kids,

          I’m uploading from the Kamas Library today, and there’s not much going on here. If I were in the deli at Food Town, there would be lots of people around me eating corn dogs, and maybe there would be free samples from the bakery, but there would be lots of distractions, too. On the other hand, maybe I need some distractions today. Oh, well, I’m here.

          We’re looking forward to seeing lots of you at Ellie’s baptism tomorrow. I put up the address last week: Redwood Road at 1100 North in North Salt Lake, 2600 South in Woods Cross. I just looked it up on our GPS. It’s an hour and five minutes from the cabin.

          Paul arrived safely in Sacramento yesterday. He says he has a nice apartment and a nice lead tech, so what more could he ask?

          Dad and I have definitely decided to sell our house in West Valley (cry cry.) I have lots of projects I want to finish there first, and I was dragging my feet, but we’re going to put it on the market at the end of the summer no matter what. This back-and-forth life is too hard, and I feel like I don’t have a home, even though we have two of them. We did find a house we’re interested in buying, and it’s only 10 minutes from our cabin. I had thought we didn’t want to buy a real house in Kamas Valley, but the air is even cleaner there than in Heber and Midway, and there’s even less traffic. The owners of the house we like aren’t in any hurry to move, so we’ll probably talk with them again when our old house is sold.

          I have so little time when I’m in West Valley, and so much to do, that I decided to drop my last three piano students: Kara McGettigan and Elise and Spencer Fulton. These three were the hardest of all to give up! I don’t usually cry unless I’m feeling sorry for myself, but I shed a few tears when it was time to talk with their moms. Even if I start teaching piano again when we get moved, I’ll never have such good students again!

          Well, I’ve got to get back to the cabin, because I’m all ready to start laying tile. I’ve put down about 150 square feet of wonderboard–enough to at least start laying tile on top of. Dad still has about 100 feet of old tile to chop out, and it’s the worst of all, but he’s gradually getting it done. Life moves on!

          I love you all! Mom

Friday, April 27, 2012

Dear Kids,
        First off, Ellie’s baptism is coming up really quickly! This information is from Allen: The baptism will be Saturday, 5-5-2012, at 10am at the Foxboro Stake Center. It's on 1100 North just west of Redwood Road. (1100 North NSL and 2600 south Woods Cross are the same street). The cousins will sing 3 versus of I Am a Child if God (normal arrangement). A lunch will follow at our house. Hope to see you there. Al.
       Dad and I are also looking forward to seeing lots of you at the baptism. Right now we’re settling back into our Utah life, after lots of fun in Maryland. I don’t miss the humidity, but my hands were really smooth by the end of the week, and the cracks in the ends of my fingers had healed. Now they’re cracking open again, but it’s all good. I started breathing better while we were in Maryland, that I’m still doing pretty well, so life is good.
       Last night Dad and I went to the wedding dinner for Katie James and Kevin Cheesman, which was held at the La Jolla Groves restaurant, near the park where we always have our family reunions. Dad and I sat with Jane and Brendan, a table over from Charley and Suzy and Andy and Renae. Katie and Heather and Zane were here from Boise, and most of the rest of my family was there, except for Grandpa Allen. (I think he’s coming to the temple today, for the sealing.) It was fun to see the Cheesman family, too. I knew Ross, father of the groom, pretty well in high school. We were lab partners in chemistry and we broke lots of test tubes and beakers together. He’s got a lot of brothers that I knew, too. (All of them tall as church steeples!) They’re a great family, and they’re glad to be getting such a sweet daughter-in-law. Bonnie and Curt are glad to be getting such a nice and handsome and talented son-in-law. (Kevin played the guitar and sang a song for Katie at the dinner.) So it was a great occasion. Naturally we all missed Grandma Allen, because she always loved wedding events. I’m sure she’ll be at the temple today, even if we don’t see her.
       Paul is leaving next week for Sacramento, where he’s going to be an installer again. He’ll be here in town for a couple of days before he leaves, so we’ll look forward to visiting with him.
       Love ya all! Mom