Sunday, June 30, 2013

Dear Kids,
          There are hundreds of magpies squawking and fighting in the back yard. Since Donna and Bevan moved, nobody has been interested in shooting them, and they have multiplied way out of control. If anybody wants to come and shoot them, the bounty is still $5.00 per carcass. Any grandson (or anybody else) who’s a good shot could earn $500, easy.
          Donna wanted me to remind everybody of Dallin’s baby blessing next Sunday. It’s at 9:00 am at her church in Midway. There will be a dinner at noon at her house. Anybody who doesn’t want to go to the whole block can hang out there beforehand. The church address and other details are on an e-mail that Donna sent everybody. Dad and I are really looking forward to seeing some of you, and a family party is always fun.
          It’s been really hot here lately, and even hotter in Salt Lake. Dad and I are used to being cold, not hot, so when it hit 86 here the other day, we thought we were roasting. But then Dad reminded me that back in West Valley, we used to set our air conditioning thermostat at 82 or 83. It’s all relative.
Donna and Bevan invited us to go to Mirror Lake with them yesterday afternoon, to get out of the heat. I’ve always felt like we lived in the mountains already, but I’d forgotten what it’s like to really be in the mountains, say, 10,500 feet. It was gorgeous. Of course everybody else was there, too, escaping the heat. We hiked around the lake while Bevan fished, and we cooked hot dogs and made smores. Anna got marshmallow in her hair and fell in the river. (It’s very shallow there–mostly big rocks and dead fish.) Watching Anna, I’ve come to understand myself better. She’s so much like me. All I ever really wanted was to be outside and try new things. It hasn’t been that long since I had marshmallow in my hair, and just two years ago I fell in the Jordan River, on one of my bike rides. It’s fun to see bits of ourselves in our kids and grandkids.
          Our chess club at the Wasatch Senior Center is getting off the ground, and we’ve had three different people show up to play chess. One is an 80-year old lady who lives alone in a cabin in Timberlakes, at 8,000 feet. She burns wood to keep warm. I always knew chess people were adventurous.
          We hope you’re all doin’ great and lovin’ it! Love, Mom

Sunday, June 23, 2013

Dear Kids,
          I’m not writing much, because I have a brace on my wrist and it’s hard. Still, I want to say Hi. The brace is because I have a swollen "carpal meta-carpal" joint, at the base of my thumb. I first hurt it while we were moving, probably because I used the tape gun so much. (8 rolls of tape.) It never healed, so I have to wear a brace and not use it for 3 or 4 weeks. No piano playing, no shoveling dirt, no using pliers, etc. etc.
          Donna and Anna and Dallin stayed overnight with us Friday, because Bevan was running the Ragnar, and Donna had volunteered to work at an aid station Saturday morning. She had to be at her post by 6:30 am. It was a turn-out on Hwy 32 going up past the Jordanelle. When Dallin woke up, I had to take him to her to nurse. He was a good sport and only bawled for part of the drive. By the way, I thought the idea of the Ragnar was really stupid, until I saw all those hundreds of people running. Now I wish I could do it.
          Our wood pile has been infested with prairie dogs, but Oreo isn’t doing anything about it. I guess I’ll leave them alone. At least they’re not under the house chewing the insulation, or under the well head chewing the wires. Besides, they didn’t ask to be born prairie dogs.
          Love you all! Mom

Sunday, June 16, 2013

Dear Kids,
          Dad and I had fun helping Nora and James move yesterday. We didn’t actually haul anything, but we cleaned windows. I was remembering our nightmare of a move from the house on Stillwater Way, and I was afraid they couldn’t get all their stuff out, but they were much more prepared than we had been. Nora’s secret? Hundreds of boxes. Absolutely everything but the furniture was boxed up. They’ve rented a storage unit in Woods Cross, and on Friday they had taken an entire moving truck full of these boxes to the storage place. Yesterday they were taking everything else to the house they’re renting. It’s a house owned by Dave Michelson’s brother, who has moved his family to Arizona for his job. It’s funny that people don’t seem to sell their houses any more–they just rent them out, and move to another house that’s being rented out. I asked Nora if they might ever move back to the house in West Jordan, and she said that’s always a possibility.
          Cabin Wildlife Report: Dad just saw two sandhill cranes circling over our cabin. They’re enormous. I wish they’d carry Oreo off and teach him a lesson. Last week there was a terrible smell in the greenhouse, and I searched around until I found a decomposing rodent in the bark by the window. I removed it with a large spoon. It was like a large mouse with a furry tail. Some kind of a prairie dog? Who knows. A generic rodent, that was all. Oreo and Xena looked on. A couple of days ago, some small birds were building a nest in the hole that the woodpeckers made in the side of the bunkhouse. I drove them off and put new duct tape over the hole.
          Last week I wrote that Dad and I are starting a chess club at the senior center in Heber. We’ve eaten lunch there a couple of times already, and we’ve been guests of honor at the front table. There’s a homeless, toothless man with a bushy beard who plays jazz on the piano sometimes, while people eat. The director said he was looking for other lunchtime entertainment besides the jazz, and I mentioned that I like to play background music. So I wasn’t surprised when he called and asked if I could play on Thursday. I didn’t know that I was supposed to play a concert, after people had eaten. What’s more, he called John and had him invite all his Heber siblings to come have lunch and listen to me play. So, just before the meal started, here came John, and then Donna and Tom and Kim. Heather came in later. I wasn’t expecting that much attention, so naturally I  made a lot of mistakes, but it was fun to visit with everybody. Our chess club didn’t get off to a rousing start–there was just one guy there besides the two of us, but we had fun. Meanwhile, the kids’ chess club at the library across the hall had great attendance! Aaron and Jacob were there. Why is it that kids love chess, but when they get older, they’re scared to play? It’s one of life’s deepest mysteries.
          Lots of love, Mom

Sunday, June 9, 2013

Dear Kids,
          The world is absolutely beautiful this morning. Dad and I just drove the whole length of the valley to the stake center. Pine trees, blue sky, green hills . . . I can’t imagine living anywhere but here.
          There’s an early-morning priesthood meeting for the guys, so I’m hanging out in the Relief Society room till it’s over. Then we’ll drive over to our church for our block. It isn’t like West Valley, where it was a 3-minute walk to the church and a 5-minute walk to the stake center. We have to plan our Sunday transportation now. I have more empathy for Sharon and Seth, and their Sunday trips to church.
          At the cabin, summer has brought new wildlife. Oreo killed a rat and left it for me in the greenhouse, by the computer table. He sat on the ledge above it, waiting for me. When I saw it I shrieked, without even thinking. He was pleased. We’ve had a skunk in the greenhouse, and a raccoon. Our moose keeps watch in the front yard. Most people are probably used to it by now, but a few days ago, a car stopped on the road, and the passenger window went down. A white dog stuck his head out the window and stared at the moose, maybe for a minute. Then he pulled his head in, the window went up, and the car drove on. At least the dog was on the passenger side, so I’m pretty sure he wasn’t driving.
          Dad and I are starting a chess club in Heber, at the senior center. (There’s a chess club for kids in the Library, but it only runs six weeks or so, in the summer.) We’re planning to do this for the long haul. We’ll be there on Thursday afternoons, so if you kids in Heber Valley need us to do anything for you on Thursdays, let us know. The best part of the senior center is lunch, because they have a real kitchen (no food service deliveries) and the cooks are the former owners of the Wagon Wheel café. Each meal is a masterpiece. I definitely won’t be bringing my own lunch, like I do at the Harman Center.
          Our new house is moving along, but it’s been a nightmare. Every evening when the workmen go home, Dad and I walk through it, and we nearly always find something that’s wrong. I call the supervisor, he makes excuses, and then agrees to meet us there early the next morning. We show him the problem, and he finally agrees to have it fixed. So far there have been problems with the outside grading, the framing (twice), the heat ducts, and the wiring. The electrician is being called back for the third time. I write notes on the floor and the wall studs. He obviously can’t read. Now I try to anticipate what the subcontractors will do wrong, but you can’t figure these guys out. Every day is a new adventure.
          Meanwhile, life is good. We love you all! Mom

Sunday, June 2, 2013

Dear Kids,
          Nothing can top the birthday party we had for Dad last Monday! Of course the food was good, and it was a beautiful day, but when Donna started seriously into labor, we knew Dad was going to get the best birthday present of all. Donna held out until we had cut the birthday cake, but then she knew it was time to head for the hospital. The rest of us sat around texting Bevan to see how it was going. It went fast. Baby Dallin was born at 7:34 pm, weighing 8 lbs 5 oz. The timing was so perfect that Donna was all composed and ready for visitors so that people could drop in on their way home from the barbecue. I could see Grandma Allen’s hand in all this. After all, it was her birthday, too!
          Dad and I helped watch Anna until Thursday morning. (Donna had to stay in the hospital an extra night because she had an infection and needed antibiotics.) Anna kept us on our toes. When the weather was nice, it was easy to tend her outside. I could do all my digging and planting and she just toodled along. She even used her own little trowel to dig in the dirt. You can tell she’s helped Donna a lot outside. The last morning, it had rained, and it was freezing cold, and her sandals were covered with mud, and she had no socks left. She’d had all the fun she could have at the cabin, so we took her home.
          Dad enjoyed using the new barbecue, but he didn’t clean off the grease, and an elk attacked it during the night. We found it tipped over in the mud, the tank pulled away, its brand new cover on the ground, and pieces scattered all around. Dad put it all back together and washed it down on the gravel. We didn’t know who the attacker had been until the next morning, when we saw a doe elk licking the gravel. She went over every stone thoroughly. It don’t know if this is a fluke, or if all elk have a thing for barbecue grease. We need to find out more.
          Dad and I have been married 41 years today. I don’t know where the time has gone. We aren’t doing anything spectacular to celebrate, because 41 isn’t one of those landmark numbers, and because we’ve already had so much excitement lately. Life is good!
           Love, Mom