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