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