Sunday, December 28, 2014

Dear Kids,
          There never was such a Christmas! Dad and I have really enjoyed all the get-togethers and dinners and presents and food at everybody’s houses. We really enjoyed having Paul and Stefanie last weekend, and Sharon and Seth and their kids on Christmas Eve and part of Christmas Day. Santa found them here! It was fun having little kids around, opening presents. Adults simply don’t get that excited. Oh, but speaking of excitement, I’m really happy about the Willie Holdman picture! Thanks to all of you who went in on it! It will be perfect on the wall next to my piano. Right now it’s still at Donna’s house, because I haven’t wanted to bring it home in the bed of the truck, but as soon as we can get it here, I’m putting it up. That will inspire me to finish the rest of that room.
          Now that the Christmas fun is over, I have my usual January urge to tear up the house and remodel something. (Remember the great remodel? As soon as the Christmas tree was down, Allen kicked out the wall.) So, Dad and I ordered cabinets for our office, and a new vanity for my side of the master bathroom. Our builder really skimped on our vanities, and each one is just a little too small for the spot that it’s in. So I ordered a really big one for my side of the master bathroom, and we’re moving all the rest of them down the line, ending up in the basement bathroom we haven’t built yet. Yesterday John helped us with the plumbing for the first vanity that we moved. He and Dad only had to make two trips to Ace Hardware, and they were done in record time. I hope the rest of the project goes as well. We’re also hoping to have the framing on our basement started pretty soon, but Scott True is still working on John’s basement, plus, he took a week off for Christmas. But of course there’s always plenty else to do.
          Dad and I had a party with my brothers and sisters at Bonnie and Curt’s new house last night. The house is indescribably elegant. You just have to see it. The yard, which Donna designed, is covered with snow, but Bonnie is really proud of the way it turned out. We’ll have to go back in the spring and see it. The dinner was great. Most of my brothers and sisters were there, except Charley, who got sick on the way, and Jane and Mark, who skyped with us from a restaurant in Massachusetts. We ate a lot and talked a lot. There are new babies on the way! Some of the family think they can catch up with our number of grandchildren, but I don’t think it can happen. Let them try!
          The new year is coming! Can it be as good as 2014? Lots of love, Mom

Sunday, December 14, 2014

Dear Kids,
          Yesterday I drove down to Utah Valley to finish my Christmas shopping. I know there are hundreds of thousands of people in that valley, and at first I thought they were all at Walmart. Then it seemed like they were all at Cabelas. And then, when I got to Costco, there they all were again! I ran into John, just as I was looking for a present for Jacob. He got it for me. I ran into Laurie Jacobson, who works there! I ran into many hundreds of other people I didn’t know, but at least I finished my shopping! It’s a great relief.
          Last night was our first performance of the Messiah, and I’m looking forward to doing it again tonight. For most of the practices I’ve been sitting next to a lady who knows every word and every note perfectly, and she was helping me get it right. Then, yesterday morning at the dress rehearsal, they started moving us around. Since I’m tall I ended up on the back row. (My good angel is short and ended up in front.) But since they put me in the center of the back row, I’m next to Tom now! That’s a big help, because the altos nearly always come in afer the tenors, and Tom is right on with the tenor part. He’s been sick, though, and he had a stash of cough drops in the leg pocket of his cargo pants, and he kept pulling them out. (Hey, Napoleon, gimme some of your tots!) But he was able to sing really well at the performance. The whole thing went pretty well. It would be nice if we had a better orchestra and better direction, but if it were a first-rate production, we would have had to try out, and I wouldn’t be in it. So it’s all good.
          Tuesday morning I had the surgery for trigger finger on my right hand, 4th finger. I just had the middle finger done in February, so I knew what to expect. What I didn’t expect was violent nausea that afternoon, with chills, fever, and a murderous headache. I figured out later that I had probably come down with the flu at the same time. It wasn’t fun, but I’m better now.
          Once more, here’s our Christmas schedule:

1. Monday, December 22, is the cousins’ gift party at Nora’s house.,

2. Wednesday, the 24th, Sharon and Seth will be hosting a Christmas Eve supper at our house. Afterwards we’ll hike Memorial Hill in Midway, and then have hot chocolate and cinnamon rolls at Donna’s house.

3. For Christmas Day, Dad and I don’t have a plan yet. Does anybody want to invite us to Christmas dinner? I’ll bring whatever you want. Or, does anybody want to come to our house for Christmas dinner?

4. Friday, December 26, will be the sledding party at the cabin. I’ll be making sloppy jo’s, and you can bring your Christmas leftovers.
          Life is good! There’s a little snow on the ground now, and Christmas is coming.
          Love, Mom

Sunday, December 7, 2014

Dear Kids,
          We really enjoyed Ali’s baptism yesterday, and the fun time afterwards at Tom and Kim’s house. We all admired the bedrooms Tom has finished in their basement. (Bentley moved into his the minute it was done!) Dad and I have been following Tom’s project for almost a year now, and I was totally inspired to finish our basement myself, every inch of it. But then I saw John’s basement, which has been finished in practically no time, with the help of paid experts. John brought his friend Scott True over to our house to look at our basement. Scott said he could frame it in two days. Not two years. Or 20. I was dumbfounded. I think we’ll hire him!
          Meanwhile, we’ve been moving all the stuff out of our basement, back into our garage, where it started out a year ago. Bevan and Dad moved a lot of the heavy things on Monday, and then on Friday the missionaries came over and moved the rest, for a service project. I found even more things that we need to give away. First, we have all those snowboards and boots. Now that we live so far from Brighton, I don’t think we’ll ever be having those big snowboarding parties again. So I’m offering the boots and boards to all you kids, one of each per family, for the first go-around. (I’ll just keep the two boards and two pairs of boots that Dad and I might use, if we go again.) You’ll have to come to our house to pick them out.  There are too many for us to take them on the road.
          I asked Nora about the cousins’ gift exchange party, and she said they’ve moved it back to Monday, the 22nd. There just isn’t another day that works. Call her for details!
          Sharon and Seth and their kids will be arriving a week from Wednesday. We’re very excited to see them!
          The Messiah is coming up in just one week. I’ve worked really hard to learn the Amen chorus, although I still think Handel was nuts to write it. Sunday night there will be an after-party at Tom’s house, with hot chocolate. Thanks, Kim.
          So, as you can see, life is good! Love, Mom

Sunday, November 23, 2014

Dear Kids,
          It snows, and it blows away. And it snows again. And blows away again. This is shaping up like last year. But it’s OK. We won’t have to shovel much. And if we want to play in the snow, the cabin is only 5 minutes away.
          Things are shaping up nicely for Thanksgiving. Dad and I bought our turkey at Winco last Wednesday, where it was 57 cents a pound, if you spend $50 on other groceries. That’s easy these days. Let’s see . . . a 10-pound chub of hamburger for $30. Three bricks of cheese, $20 more. You’re there. I bought lard for the pie crusts, and pumpkin, and bread for the stuffing. It’s all pretty easy, after so many years of doing Thanksgiving.
          John is getting ready to lay some tile in his basement, so Dad and I went there on Friday to take our wet saw and dish out advice. We were astounded that all the rooms are sheetrocked. I think it happened in just a couple of days, because John hired people to do it. How’s that? You can hire people? We’ve been following Tom’s basement project for several months now, and we admired his great sheetrocking job, and I was all excited to do our own basement. I still am, but maybe we’re getting too old to hoist up sheetrock. It’s been more than 30 years since I did any of that.
          Three weeks till the Messiah. I’ve been trying to learn the "Amen" chorus, since we didn’t do it last year. It’s impossible. Handel should have quit while he was ahead.
          I’m doing sharing time in Primary today, the one about forgiveness where you tie a bag of rocks to somebody’s ankle and have them walk around like that. It’s supposed to represent carrying grudges. Luckily we have plenty of rocks, and I gathered up some outside yesterday morning before it started snowing. I have two small bags, so I can use two kids for that. It makes me wonder why any of us carry around our bags of rocks. Maybe I’ll try to drop some of mine, now that we’re celebrating Thanksgiving and Christmas.
          I love you all! Mom

Sunday, November 16, 2014

Dear Kids,
          Dad and I always eat our meals upstairs, at the library table, where we can look out at the field across the street, and down into the Provo River valley. Right now there’s a little bit of snow and a lot of brown dirt and trees. A deer just ran by, all by herself. She must have been looking for the herd. A couple of nights ago they were all out there, 15 or so, when Dad and I got home from Salt Lake. One of our neighbors is absolutely obsessed with deer, and he’s always out driving around at night, looking for them, shining his headlights on them when he sees them. There was a big buck one night, just standing out there, letting everybody admire him. Mostly it’s the silly little does, though.
          Thanksgiving is practically upon us, so it’s time to look ahead to Christmas. Here’s what we have on the docket so far: 
          1. Dec. 13 and 14, a Saturday and Sunday night, Dad and Tom and I will be in the Messiah in Heber. Saturday night it’s held in the Timpanogos Valley Theater, and last year there were refreshments afterwards. Sunday night it’s in Tom’s church, and we might have an after-party somewhere, if any of you want to come.
          2. Monday, December 22, tentatively, is the cousins’ gift party at Nora’s house. More details will be forthcoming.
          3. Wednesday, the 24th, Sharon and Seth will be hosting a Christmas Eve supper at our house. Afterwards we’ll hike Memorial Hill in Midway, and then have hot chocolate at Donna’s house. She might even make cinnamon rolls.
          4. Christmas Day . . . I don’t have a plan yet. Does anybody want to host a Christmas Dinner that other people can go in on? If no one else wants to, I will, here at our house.
          5. Friday, December 26, will be the sledding party at the cabin. I’ll probably make sloppy jo’s, and you can bring your leftover Christmas goodies and whatever else you want people to eat up.
          So that’s the schedule so far. It will all be lots of fun.
          Last night Dad and I went with John and Heather to watch Julie in "The King and I" at Wasatch High. Julie was a servant girl, so she just stood there, except for the scene where they’re all down praying to Buddah. It was a very good production. After all the years of watching you kids in musicals, we’re now excited to watch all the grandkids. (We already saw Ellie in "Sussical," a couple of years back.) Life gets better and better!
          Love, Mom

Sunday, November 9, 2014

Dear Kids,
          We’re still having nice weather here! Friday afternoon Dad and I drove down to Rock Cliff, the nature preserve where Nora did her triathalon in 2008. The nature center was closed, but what I really wanted was to find the trail that we’d seen so often from the highway. It’s there, and it has a name: the Jordanelle Perimeter Trail. It takes off from the parking lot and goes for 13 miles around the reservoir, ending over at Keatley. Dad and I set off hiking, and we were the only people on the trail. The sun was warm and the sky was blue and the water was sparkly. What are the chances you can do a hike like that in this area, almost the middle of November! We only went about two and a half miles, because it was late in the afternoon and we hadn’t brought any water. But next time we plan to go farther. By the way, it would make a nice family home evening hike for anybody in the area. On our way back, we finally ran into somebody, and it was Phares Gines, from our ward. Dad wondered what were the chances of running into a ward member there, and I said probably 100%, especially since we were still in our ward boundaries.
          We’re still working on our playground, way longer than we expected to. On Monday we put together our swing set, the one from the back yard of our house on Stillwater. Then Dad put together the airplane teeter-totter. (Like the one John has.) It matches our swing set! Dad assembled it on the driveway, and then we managed to carry it out to the playground and set it down there. I wish we could keep going, and put down our railroad ties and install the sand digger, but we’re supposed to have snow on Monday, and much colder temperatures after that. So our long pleasant fall weather is finally going to end.
          Last night Dad and I went to a baptism in the Spanish branch. It was sort of a last-minute thing, but very nice, anyway. It was a man, his wife, and their 8-year-old son. After the baptism I had to give a little speech welcoming the boy to primary. Then of course there was food! Lots of it! They don’t do it at home, like we do, but there in the Church. It’s lots of fun.
          Two and a half weeks till Thanksgiving! If I haven’t called you yet, I will. Or you can call me.
          Lots of love, Mom

Sunday, November 2, 2014

Dear Kids,
          Winter keeps knocking at the door, but it hasn’t crept in yet. My phone tells me that it’s supposed to start snowing at 9am MDT, but there’s no MDT anywhere, because we went off daylight saving time at 2 am. So maybe winter is locked in the twilight zone, like MDT. We’ll find out at 9 am.
          Since we bought our Sienna almost four years ago, we’ve been annoyed by its constant honking. Every time you turn off the engine, it honks. When you lock the door, another honk. When you unlock it, another honk. If you look at it wrong, the burglar alarm goes off, and there’s no end to the honking. We finally decided we’d had enough, and we took it to the Toyota dealer to deal with it. A special automotive security system had been installed "aftermarket," and for a price, they were willing to take it out. We agreed, gladly. They pulled out a box that had innumerable wires dangling from it, and they charged us $120.00. It was worth every penny. Dad kept the box. If any of you want it for your Siennas, you’re welcome to it.
          I learned something interesting driving home from Food Town yesterday. How do you haul away a dead cow? (I’m sure Seth knows this.) You scoop up the cow with the bucket of your tractor, and then you drive it over to your pickup and dump it in. I don’t know where you take it from there. I’ll have to ask Seth. I’m sure there are places where they take dead cows.
          Three and a half weeks until Thanksgiving! Everybody who wants to come to the cabin is welcome. I’ll probably call each of you and find out your plans when the time gets closer, and make food assignments. I know for sure that I’ll be making the turkey, dressing, and pumpkin pies. 
          I hope you’re all doin’ great and lovin’ it! Mom

Sunday, October 26, 2014

Dear Kids,
          I’ve been craving licorice taffy, which is impossible to find. I know, because I’ve been looking at all the candy displays now that Halloween is getting close. You’d think that candy corn flavored taffy would do it, since it’s fall, but it’s the licorice flavor that I crave. In desperation I went on Amazon, and of course they have it! I had lots of choices, and I bought a three pound bag for $15.00. Sure, that’s pricey, but I paid with points! And the fed ex guy brought it to our door two days later! On the Amazon home page there were some funny comments from people devoted to Amazon Prime. One man wrote, "As soon as Amazon prime offers ramen noodles, I’ll never have to leave my house again. Oh, wait . . . !"
          We’ve had yet another week of nice weather here. I’m still working in the yard, raking up rocks for next year. Dad and I have made two trips to A&K Railroad Supply on Redwood Road for railroad ties, which we’re going to put around the edge of the playground. Since we’re not ready to put them down yet, we stacked them on boards to keep them out of the mud. They average 100 pounds each, so it was no easy job. I asked Dad why two 67-year-old people would do such a project, and he said we don’t act our age. Dad has been spending lots of time at the cabin, working on the Yerf Dog. I think it’s finally ready to roll.
          Last January I had surgery for trigger finger on the third finger of my right hand, and now the fourth finger is giving me trouble. It rolls up, and when I try to unroll it, it jerks back. I have an appointment with the same doctor who did my third finger. I wish he could do something about my thumb, which has arthritis at the base of it, but he said he it’s not bad enough yet. Still, I have to open bottles with my left hand, and it’s hard to put clips in my hair. I wish I could have a whole new hand, with no problems. Maybe a transplant. Maybe from a concert pianist who died suddenly in a car wreck. Maybe my piano playing would improve, too. Just thinking.
          Life is good! I hope you all have a fun Halloween this week. Love, Mom

Sunday, October 19, 2014

Dear Kids,
          You know you live in Kamas Valley when . . . the high priests are asked to help load hay for one of their own who just had knee surgery. This was last Monday. Dad and several others went to pick up some hay that Jack Johnson had bought. They loaded it onto a flatbed trailer to take back to his barn. Dad said the hay bales only weighed about fifty pounds, and nobody seemed to have any problems tossing them, not even the man Dad rode with, who walks with a cane. Farrell Knight, who’s in his late eighties, had the easiest time of all. They stay tough, living here.
          I’ve been working hard to finish my dry creek bed before winter, and now it’s finally done! There are lots of rocks left over, and I’m giving them to our friend, Doneen, the lady with the tractor. She and her dog came yesterday and loaded quite a few, but there are lots more. I’m sure the sweat-equity people working up the street would be glad to have them. They are doing absolutely horrendous landscaping with rocks in their yards. The copy-cat dry steam beds aren’t too bad, but in one spot, there’s a whole berm of rocks. Just a pile. Just like ours, before I started using them. I wouldn’t have known they did it on purpose, but I saw several people "working" on it together. One of the houses is a ghastly green with pink stucco. You’ve gotta’ love the government getting into projects.
          Yesterday morning Donna came by with her kids to use my sewing machine. Donna’s dining room curtains had shrunk, and she had to let out the hem and add ribbon to make them longer. The kids watched Baby Mozart. It’s funny to see Dallin sitting on the couch, his legs stretched out in front of him, watching TV, just like a real kid. Donna was alone with the kids because Bevan had gone on the deer hunt with his dad. They took three days worth of food. I guess Beverly Hawkins was entertaining herself, too, because Dad and I saw her at the Hale Center Theater in Orem with a girlfriend. Dad and I had discount tickets from the senior center in Heber, and they were doing "Damn Yankees," so we couldn’t miss that. It was a great production.
          I was thinking of doing Sunday dinner on November 2nd, but that’s the first practice night for the Heber Messiah, and there would definitely be a time squeeze. By the way, it would sure be fun if any of you were to come and sing with us (Tom, Dad, and myself). Last year I loved having Nora sit next to me. Anybody up for it?
          Meanwhile, life is good. I love you all! Mom

Sunday, October 12, 2014

Dear Kids,
          More rain! Supposedly it’s just for today. We’ve gotten used to the big clear sky these last few days, and it’s been really nice. There isn’t a better month than October! Nora says there’s something about the light. I would add the blue sky and the yellow and red trees and the huge white clouds. Dad and I have been making the most of these good days. Dad has been painting the cabin with stain, and I’ve nearly finished my dry creek bed. People are still stopping by to comment on my work. One man said he’d never seen anybody sort through a pile of rocks so carefully. I said that’s why it’s taking me so long.
          Meanwhile, Oreo is having a territorial dispute with a black cat. When we were the only people out here, he had all the fields to himself, but now there’s competition. They’re especially competing for Hilltop Road, and crossing rights. That worries me a lot, because there’s a lot more traffic down the road now. Yesterday a car barely missed Oreo, and honked at him. He looked at the car very disdainfully and sauntered away. I hope his luck holds out.
          We enjoyed seeing so many of you on conference weekend! Let’s see, the next cabin event is . . . Thanksgiving! It’s more than six weeks away, but it will be here before we know it. So will winter. I’m almost looking forward to it. I think we’re tired of working in the yard.
          I really don’t have any news, but I hope you’re all doin’ great and lovin’ it!

Sunday, September 28, 2014

Dear Kids,
          We’ve had a ton of rain here, just like everywhere around. My dry creek bed is full of water, and the spot we excavated for our playground looks like a swimming pool. Yesterday morning Dad’s friend Ken Christiansen went out to walk his dog while it was just sprinkling, but by the time he came past our house it was pouring. Dad drove both Ken and the dog home in his truck. Nora’s family did the same thing–they went out for a hike during the "lull" in the storm, but they were drenched before they got back to their car. We’re grateful for all the rain, but I know there’s been a lot of damage from flooding. I’m glad it’s not us.
          Last weekend, however, it was absolutely beautiful for our trip to Idaho. We drove to Rexburg Saturday and met the Harpers at the temple there. After we did a session, we drove out to their house in Newdale. It was a gorgeous evening, so we walked around town - - twice. (Three streets in each direction, so you can’t go far.) Chris showed us the new baseball diamond in the park, and the house where her mother grew up, and the house where her father grew up, and where all her aunts and uncles had lived. We walked by her mom’s house, and Chris watered the carrots in her garden. I’ve always wished I had grown up in a really small town, but our little part of Kamas Valley is the closest I’ll get now.
          Sunday morning Dad and I drove from Newdale to Pocatello, and we met Vanessa’s family at their church. After the block we had a great lunch at their house, even though the power was out. The barbecued pork in the crock pot was still warm! Later we walked up the hill on a dirt road, but the police had followed a drunk lady up there (she had hit two cars in town) and we couldn’t get past all the cop cars. It was plenty exciting for the kids, though! On our way home Sunday night we stopped at Nora’s house so she could give Dad a haircut. It was fun visiting there, too.
          Next weekend is conference! On Saturday, Dad and I will be watching conference here at our house, and any of you guys who want to go to the Priesthood session with Dad can meet here beforehand. I’ll definitely have ice cream for afterwards. Anybody else is welcome to come, too. I don’t know if there’s a plan for a Café Rio dinner beforehand. Nora’s family will have a couple of Vanessa’s kids with them, (Vanessa’s doing the St. George marathon on Saturday) so Nora wasn’t clear about their plans. Sunday Dad and I will be at the cabin for both conference sessions, and we’ll have dinner there about 1:00. Let me know if you’re coming!
          Lots of love, Mom

Sunday, September 14, 2014

Dear Kids,
          We’ve been using a low-quality toaster ever since we moved into our house last year. Why didn’t we get a good one? I thought they were all pretty much alike, so the $7 cheapo at Walmart ought to do us just fine. But it would toast one side dark brown, while the other side stayed white, and it burned the edges, besides. Most mornings, our whole house smelled like burned toast. A few mornings ago I was really fed up, so I went on Amazon to see which toaster people liked best. Strangely, there are no 5-star toasters. But I ordered the one at the top of the list, the best-seller. It came two days later, and we’re delighted with it. What a difference a good toaster makes! I love Amazon! I also love Walmart. This is America. There’s a place for everybody.
          Dad and I are making the most of our last good days before winter hits. Dad is working at the cabin, stacking wood and painting on a new coat of stain. I’m still digging in the yard, here at our house. I’m ready to lay down the rocks in the next section of our dry creek bed, after two weeks of digging. People who walk by are really nice, and they always compliment me for working so hard, and they say our yard is looking good. Well, it’s looking better. BTW, there’s a copycat of our dry creek bed at the new house two doors down, but they used a bobcat, and the rocks are covered with dirt. Besides, you can tell they didn’t have the benefit of a professional landscape designer, like we have.
          Next weekend Dad and I are driving to Idaho for a very quick vacation. On Saturday we’re going to the Rexburg Temple with Harpers, and then we’ll stay overnight at their house. Sunday morning we’re driving to Pocatello to go to church with Vanessa’s family, and then we’ll probably drive home late in the afternoon. It’s a great time of year to go somewhere!
          Lots of love, Mom

Sunday, September 7, 2014

Dear Kids,
          I’ve had it with people dying! We walked into the Heber senior center Thursday morning, and there was a big picture of Steve Mahoney, the director, on a poster. Under his picture were his birth and death dates. I thought, "What the . . . ??" I was just going to look for him in his office and talk to him about a couple of things. Naturally his office was empty. He died last Sunday, after falling down. He was 81. That makes three people we knew really well who died within a few days of each other. Part of it comes from hanging out at senior centers, but that doesn’t explain Dennis Nordfelt’s death. Nora and her family are coming for Sunday dinner today, and Nora said she’d find out why he died. I’d heard a couple of months ago that he wasn’t doing very well. We didn’t go to the funeral, because I knew there would be thousands of people there, besides my lungs not liking extra trips to Salt Lake.
          Sharon is in charge of the family reunion next year, and she has already booked the same campground, Huber Grove. I couldn’t be more delighted. We’ll only be camping two nights, July 31 and August 1, (Friday and Saturday) but there will probably be a Timp Hike on Thursday and a grownups’ get-together Thursday night. Then the real fun will start Friday morning at Deer Creek, and we’ll check into the camp ground that afternoon. It sounds like a great plan to me. Anybody who needs a place to stay Thursday night can go to the cabin, or to anybody’s house who lives around here, which is most of us.
          I’m cooking Sunday dinner this afternoon, and again next month on Conference Sunday, October 4th. We’ll have that dinner at the cabin.
          It hardly seems like fall could be here already, but the oak brush is turning red on the hillsides. We’ve had so much rain that the fall colors should be beautiful this year. We’re lovin’ life, and hope you are, too.
          Love, Mom

Monday, September 1, 2014

Dear Kids,
          McGettigans just left for home, but we had a great time while they were here. We had lunch yesterday afternoon at Hi Mountain Drug (best burgers in Utah) and then we stopped in to Food Town for a few groceries. Then we packed up our stuff for the rodeo and drove over to the park. There was country music blaring really loudly, and the usual t-shirt vendors, and the usual rodeo-type people in the stands, except that we know more of them now. I sat next to Jana because I wanted to hear her comments. She took lots of pictures and videos with her phone. There isn’t a crazier rodeo anywhere, including wild cow milking and saddled cow riding, along with the usual buckin’ broncos. We enjoyed it immensely, except that the wind kicked up and the metal seats were cold. Kara and I finally walked home about 9:00, because we were freezing, although it wasn’t so cold once we got out of the stands. Dad and Jana and Glenn came home later. Next year we’ll definitely bring blankets to put on the benches and wrap up in. McGettigans want to make the Frontier Days Rodeo an annual tradition, and we’re up for that! This morning they came to church with us, and later we had dinner and sat around talking, while Jana played our piano. We didn’t want them to leave, but they had to get back to the real world. Luckily Dad and I live outside of reality.
          At church, we thought we might run into Paul and the Riebens, because they’re over at the cabin having a family reunion. They were misled by, though, and came to an earlier ward. Paul says they’ve had fun hiking (the beaver pond and rocky point), going to the Polar King for ice cream, and hanging out in general.

I wrote about our chess club retreat last weekend. One of the men who couldn’t come (Ross Oseguera) died last Friday morning. Luckily we didn’t find out until we came back. What a downer! He died peacefully in his sleep. That’s three fatalities for our chess club! What can I say to people? "Join our chess club and die!" Maybe it just comes with getting old, but I don’t like it.
          BTW: we just heard that Dennis Nordfelt passed away. So sad!
          Otherwise, everything here is great. Don’t forget: Sunday dinner here next Sunday afternoon at 4:30, or thereabouts.
          Lots of love, Mom

Sunday, August 24, 2014

Dear Kids,
          We’ve had a ton of rain here! The ground is sinking in places around our house where it wasn’t tamped down well enough. You’d have thought it would have happened last winter, but I guess we didn’t have enough snow. I didn’t even figure that the ground hadn’t settled yet when we built the window wells. Unfortunately, one of them is now tipping away from the house. If it gets any worse, we’ll probably have to tear it out and build another one there. Dad says he’s willing to do the demolition. Needless to say, I’m very discouraged.
          Otherwise, things are going very well here. We had our chess club retreat Friday night at the cabin, and people came from three different senior chess clubs. (Sandy, West Valley, and Heber) We had a double elimination tournament, which worked out really well because we had exactly eight people playing. Originally we were short one person, because a lady with back trouble wasn’t able to come, but I talked Donna and Bevan into coming, and Bevan made up the extra person. It was fun having Dallin and Anna running around, and they entertained us all. Besides that, there was good food and lots of good chess. I tied for second place. The man who won is no way the best player among us, but that’s how things worked out. Nobody really cared. We were all having fun, which doesn’t always happen during our weekly chess club get-togethers.
          Charles and Julie Allen were camping nearby Friday night, up the canyon from Oakley. They were in a tent, and the rain absolutely pounded it, but they stayed dry. Yesterday afternoon, on their way home, they stopped to visit us at our house. Their kids played with little people in the play room, while we talked. They’ve just barely gotten into camping, and they were wondering about the best places to go. Maybe some of you can give them suggestions. Where can you just walk in, without making a reservation? Their phone number is 801 319 8271.
          I’ll be fixing Sunday dinner in two weeks, on September 7th. We’ll probably eat around 4:30. Let me know if you can come. Any requests for the menu? There are lots of things I haven’t fixed in so long, I’ve probably forgotten about them. Dave Michelson used to come if I was making meat loaf. That was so long ago! Do I even know how to make meat loaf any more?
          Life is good! I love you all! Mom

Sunday, August 17, 2014

Dear Kids,
          That wonderful family reunion is just a memory now, but I keep imagining I’m back in that beautiful campground waiting for the next meal. Thanks, Donna and Bevan, for all your planning and preparation. We all had a great time. When it was over I was glad to get home to my projects, but it was nice having such a pleasant break. 
          Did I already write that I ordered a sand digger for the playground we’re making? There are ordinary backyard sand diggers in the $50 price range, and then there are the professional playground sand diggers that you cement into the ground. We won’t talk cost here, but I ordered the professional one. Also, I had debated whether to use wood chips on the ground, with some sand around the digger, or to put sand everywhere. When I saw all the little kids at the reunion playing in the horseshoe pit, and having so much fun with that little bit of sand, I could see what I needed to do. Donna says you can get whole truckloads of washed sand from the topsoil people. I wondered how to get the dirt and rocks out of the playground area, since we’ve had such poor luck with excavating people, but I have a great new friend, Doneen, who owns her own tractor. Not only that, but she knows how to use it! When we were giving away rocks last week (a whole ‘nother story) she came with her tractor and took them all. She said we could hire her to do any leveling or excavating we needed. So she’s been excavating our playground, and moving the dirt to the low areas in our yard. She could put Mike Leavitt out of business if she wanted to, but her regular job is teaching kindergarten in Park City. What a wonderful world!
          I don’t have any other news. Dad and I will be having a chess club retreat this Friday night at our cabin. There are people from both our chess clubs coming. You can’t find such nutty and wonderful company anywhere! Francis Frontier Days, including the rodeo, is Labor Day weekend. McGettigans are coming for that. Jana has a great rodeo heritage, and we’ll have a lot of fun. The Riebens have reserved the cabin for the same weekend, and I hope they have a good time. Our poor cabin hasn’t had its usual attention and maintenance, but Dad and I have finally eliminated all the mice (I think) who took up residence there. Oreo could have had a field day, but we used bait instead. It worked.
          Lots of love, Mom

Sunday, August 3, 2014

Dear Kids,
          Dad and I had a lot of fun helping Paul and Stefanie move to St. George. Dad drove the rental truck, I drove our van, Paul and Stefanie came in Paul’s car, and Stefanie’s parents and aunt came in their car. Dad and I haven’t been down that stretch of I-15 for several years, and it was nice to be going somewhere. Of course it was hot, but not as bad as it could have been. Paul and Stefanie’s house is less than a block from the temple, and it’s very roomy! There’s a big living room-dining area, a master bedroom, a guest room, and a large family room–plenty of room for guests, it seems to me. I’m sure a lot of us will be planning to drop in on them, especially in the winter.  Paul started his new job last Monday, and he said he likes it fine. Stefanie has employment opportunities, if she wants them. I’m sure they’ll be happy there.
          We’re looking forward to the family reunion starting on Thursday. Dad and I won’t be doing the Timp hike or the cave, but we’ll be at the campground Thursday night, and from then on we won’t miss a single thing. Thanks in advance to Donna and Bevan for planning everything!
          The 24th of July parade here was a very big event. I had no idea. Our "float" was an old farm wagon pulled by a tractor, but most of the other wards had big metal trailers pulled by very large, very shiny trucks. A couple of them were pulled by horses, which were the last of the floats. Then came all the kids on bikes, and then all the kids in pony carts.  Last came the kids riding their own horses.   We went two blocks down Main Street, and then we turned around and came back. Dad and I wore cowboy clothes and we walked behind the Spanish Branch’s float, because we had two boys on bikes who wanted to stay with their own group. (All the kids on bikes had to have "walkers" with them.) We waved at people on the side of the road. We knew lots of them.
          Later in the day we drove up to Wolf Creek pass where there’s a campground, and a sheep road going along the top of the mountains for several miles. It’s a beautiful hike. You’re on top of the world! I want all of us to do that next 4th of July. Put it on your calendars!
          Oreo hardly ever eats his cat food now. Yesterday morning he was chasing a baby squirrel through our yard. He doesn’t bring us mice any more–he just eats them. He’s very lean. I think we should all be eating bunnies, baby squirrels, and mice.
          Lots of love, Mom

Sunday, July 20, 2014

Dear Kids,
          I’m wearing cowboy boots to church today, in honor of Pioneer Day. I don’t know how it will go over in the Spanish branch. It was always OK in our regular ward, because there are so many cowboys and farmers. The boots will also help me advertise the children’s parade on Thursday. Our "float" is a hay wagon being pulled by a tractor. I asked the kids to dress like cowboys or pioneers, so that should be easy. Our primary meets together with Kamas 1st ward, and their float has a "beach party" theme. Those kids are supposed to wear bright colors and sun glasses. How does that go with Pioneer Day? Some of the Kamas 1st kids want to cross over and be cowboys. I don’t blame them.
          This week, our "River Bluffs" rock was delivered by Delta Stone. It looks really cool. The delivery guy helped us set it in place (it weighs 1700 pounds), and after that we brought out the two metal deer that Oreo hates so much. He hoped we would throw them over the edge of the hill, but we anchored them by the stone with deep stakes and metal cables. I think they’re secure enough. The neighbors have been very interested. Some of them have actually stopped in their vehicles to look at the deer. They’re very life-like. But not enough to fool the real deer, who cross our property without giving them a second glance.
          Dad and I are looking forward to helping Paul and Stefanie move next weekend. We’re going to Logan Friday morning to help them load the truck, and we’ll be staying overnight at the Riebens.’ Saturday morning we’ll all leave early for the drive to St. George. We’ll probably get there in the early afternoon, help them unload, and stay over that night. Sunday morning we’ll drive home. It sounds like a lot of fun to me. Dad and I haven’t been south for a long time. Paul is looking forward to his new job. Last week I wrote that it wasn’t exactly the kind of work he wanted, but he says that it is. 
          Donna has sent out the info for the family reunion, and it sounds like we’ll have a great time. There’s no stoppin’ the fun!
          Lots of love, Mom

Sunday, July 13, 2014

Dear Kids,
          We really enjoyed Paige’s baptism yesterday! It was a beautiful day, and so many of our family (and James’s family) were there! We also enjoyed the after party: ice cream sundaes! I wanted to hike up the hill across from Nora’s house, but it was pretty hot, and besides, Dad and I needed to make stops at Walmart and Home Depot on our way home. And we wanted to get back to working on our yard while there was still some daylight left. We have trenches dug in the front yard, and tomorrow Donna is coming to show us how we should install the sprinkler pipe and heads. It’s all different from the way I’ve done it before! Hopefully, having the advice of a professional will give us a very professional-looking yard, but I’m estimating at least two years, and maybe three, before we’re done.
          Most of you have probably heard that Paul has taken a job in St. George. It’s not exactly the kind of work he wanted, but hey, it’s a job! They didn’t string him along, like other firms have done. They actually offered him a job, and he accepted. He and Stefanie are moving on July 25th, and Dad has been enlisted to drive the big moving truck. Naturally he’s excited about that. I’m going along in our Sienna, to help haul things, and to bring Dad back home. It should be lots of fun.
          I’m still enjoying the Spanish branch, but here’s something you don’t experience every day: I was asked to be a visiting teacher, and I talked to my new partner about it. She said she was glad to have me, because her former partner is in jail. I had already heard something about that–a fiasco involving car insurance fraud. They were buying old cars, insuring them from four or five different companies, crashing them, and collecting all the money. The husband, Diego, was the mastermind, but evidently his wife was in on it, too. She used to teach Gospel Doctrine, besides being a visiting teacher, and I really enjoyed her lessons. How does that work?
          We hope you’re all enjoying summer, which is going by way too fast!
           Lots of love, Mom

Sunday, July 6, 2014

Dear Kids,
          Most of you probably heard the sad news that Miss Strassburg passed away. Sharon called me on the morning of the 4th of July and said she had just died that morning. There was a facebook page that said she was really sick, and anybody who wanted to send her a note or a letter needed to do it right away. I’m hardly ever online so I didn’t know about that. She had such a great impact for good on all you kids! Even when she was talking about leaving Westlake, she said she wouldn’t go until all the Ackerson kids had moved on. I’m glad you all had the chance to know her.
          Paige’s baptism is next Saturday, July 12, at 2:20 pm at Nora and James’s church, 2050 North Main in Centerville. There will be an after-party at the house. It will be a great occasion! I always look forward to these events, and going to your homes afterwards to visit and look around your neighborhoods, and (at Nora’s house) hike up the hill. Our neighborhood is still so desolate, that it gives me hope to see other places that have grass and trees and flowers.
          We’ve been working really hard in our yard, but you can’t see much change. Hopefully our River Bluffs stone will be delivered this week. We have two metal deer to set next to it (as if there weren’t already enough deer in the area) and I’ll soon be digging trenches for sprinkler pipe. Eventually we’ll have grass and flowers, but it’s very discouraging right now.
          My senior citizen piano class in Heber filled up so fast that I’ve added a second class the hour before. There are already two people signed up for it. It’s funny that Heber valley, for all its small population, has so many people that are devoted to music. Donna says there are seven piano teachers in her ward. And there are lots of people who always wanted to play the piano, but never had the chance for lessons. So it’s a great place to teach seniors.
          As you can see, we’re doin’ great and lovin’ it. We hope you are, too! Love, Mom

Sunday, June 29, 2014

Dear Kids,
          We enjoyed visiting with everybody who came to the family reunion yesterday! Charley volunteered to be in charge of the next one, which will be in two years. Let’s see what he will cook up! Whatever the agenda, it’s always fun to see people and catch up on news and gossip.
          After the reunion, Dad and I followed Tom and Kim to Daynes Music in Salt Lake, to "help" them look at pianos. Dad and Tom and I took turns watching the little kids while Kim talked to the sales people and tried out different pianos. They finally decided on a 5'8" Essex piano, made by Steinway, but inexpensively, by robots. The demo model had been sold and was going to Wyoming, so they have to wait a week or two for theirs to come in from a warehouse. That’s going to be exciting. To me, nothing else is as much fun as playing a really good piano.
          Last week I went to Delta Stone in Heber and ordered a new rock that will say "River Bluffs." (They old one was hauled away by Ferell Knight, who said he could use it.) I was thinking of having a picture of a river under the writing, and I didn’t like anything they had, so I looked up Suzette, who is a really good artist. She lives in Midway, right by the Homestead. The picture of the river didn’t work out, but since she’s always driving around looking for things to paint, I told her to come up to our house and paint the view. The next evening she showed up. She set up her easel and umbrella right on Hilltop Road, and started painting. People stopped to ask her what she was doing. Dad and I were raking dirt and hauling rocks in the yard, but we kept walking over to see the picture. When she was done, she gave it to us. She said she’ll probably come back here to paint again.
          Oreo hasn’t been interested in cat food lately. Could it be the little bunnies we’ve been seeing by the edge of the road? They’re so cute! He can’t be eating them! Hopefully he’s finding rats and mice instead. Since they graded our yard, he has to go farther away to hunt, but I think he’s finding better prey now. Xena just sits in the garage on her box all day long. She’s 14. We don’t know how much longer she’ll last.
          We’re looking forward to Paige’s baptism July 12th. Hopefully we’ll see a lot of you there. Love, Mom

Sunday, June 22, 2014

Dear Kids,
          I finally got some guys to come and grade our yard, but they did a terrible job. I was all excited the night before when we came home from Salt Lake and the backhoe was parked in our yard, and I was thrilled the next morning when it started chomping into our dirt and spreading it around. One guy worked the backhoe while the other one used a bobcat, but it wasn’t long before I saw that they didn’t really know what they were doing. They just moved dirt. No way did they get it level. They worked for six hours and said it was all they could do, because of the rocks. I told them the ground wasn’t level, and they said sorry. Their bid had been lower than I expected, so I paid them off and was actually glad to see the last of them. What can we do now? I guess Dad and I will finish off the yard gradually, leveling each section as we go, with a good old fashioned shovel and rake, and using the wheelbarrow to move the dirt where we want it. (And to move the rocks where we don’t want them.) What else can we do? Nobody else was willing to come and do it. I’ve been telling people how much I like working outside, and I would actually be disappointed if our yard were completely finished, but I was hoping to get a better start than this!
          Dad and I really enjoyed Carly and Levi’s sealing yesterday in the Salt Lake Temple. Several of my brothers and sisters were there, along with a few cousins. (Including Donna and Bevan, from our family.) It was especially nice having children come into the sealing room! The baby, August Gordon, is only a few weeks old, and he cried during the ceremony, but of course it didn’t matter. The sealing is valid, whatever!
          Don’t forget the Allen family reunion next week in Provo at Riverwoods Park! I’ll probably be calling everybody, to make sure nobody missed hearing about it. And don’t forget Paige’s baptism July 12. The nice thing about having a big family is that there’s always something coming up!
          I’m still enjoying the Spanish branch in Kamas. Today I had a lot on my plate: Dad and I went to church first at Elk Meadows, the local care center, where we were in charge of the music. Then I had to give the opening prayer in Sacrament Meeting (not a big deal if it had been in English) plus hand out a notice I made (in Spanish) to all the parents of the primary kids. Oh, yeah, I led the music, like always. I try to memorize the hymns in advance so I look like I know what I’m doing. Then I had to do sharing time in Primary. When I was ready to breathe a big sigh of relief, the branch president assigned me to be in charge of the branch’s float for the 24th of July parade. I told him that wasn’t really mt thing, and he said it wasn’t his, either. Of course I agreed to do it. The children’s parade is a big deal in a small town. It will be fun.
          Do I sound tired? I am. Off for a nap! Love, Mom

Sunday, June 15, 2014

Dear Kids,
          Yesterday Dad flew in the B25 that’s on tour at the Heber airport. John paid for it, as a birthday and Fathers Day present. It’s mild to say that Dad was both excited and terrified for the flight. When I saw that old rattletrap on the runway, I was terrified myself. When it revved up, it sounded like 100 lawn mowers, and it belched out clouds of toxic airplane exhaust. I had to run to a field about 100 yards away to get away from the smoke, and it still got into my lungs. Dad said it was surprisingly smooth taking off and flying, but so loud they had to wear earmuffs to muffle the noise. The passengers (probably 8 people) got to take turns going up into the cockpit during the flight. They were only up about 20 minutes, which seemed plenty long enough. When the plane touched down, we were all immensely relieved. John and his family were there, and Jacob kept begging for a ride, but John said it cost too much. Jacob said the B25 is his favorite bomber. He’s been flying it on a video game.
          A couple of weeks ago I forwarded Bonnie’s e-mail to you about the Allen family reunion on June 28 (Saturday). If you didn’t get the information, we’re meeting at the same park as always (Riverwoods), you bring your own lunch, and there will be lots of fun and activities. All of us Ackersons are supposed to wear blue, but it doesn’t have to be a solid color. Our pavilion is reserved from 9 am on, but Bonnie guessed the reunion wouldn’t really get going until about 10. 
          And besides that, Paige’s baptism is coming up! It will be Saturday, July 12, at 2:20 pm, at Nora and James’s church (2050 North Main) in Centerville. (Same place as McKay’s blessing.) There will be an after-party at Nora’s house, of course.
          Since Dad and I finished building our window wells, our landscaping has come to a halt. I’ve had a terrible time finding somebody to come and level our yard. There are big dirt hills and bumps and dips, and we can’t possibly make it look good until it’s level. But all the excavating companies are busy right now, and they don’t return calls. I finally found a guy who was going to do it yesterday, but he called the night before with a song and dance about his truck breaking down. I think that just meant he hadn’t finished the project he was doing somewhere else on Friday. He said he might get to it this coming Thursday or Friday. It’s very frustrating, after working so hard, to come to a standstill.
          But life is good. The air is clean here. Our cats are well and obnixous. How can I complain?
          Love, Mom

Sunday, June 8, 2014

Dear Kids,
          Last weekend was fabulous. Thanks to all of you that fed us and entertained us and delighted us with your wonderful children. We really enjoyed Meg’s baptism in Pocatello. It’s always fun to get together with the Suttons, and they all bring such wonderful food to the events we share! All the Sutton grandchildren look like ours, and there are even a few actual clones! 
          Dad and I spent Saturday night in Brigham City, along with Donna and Bevan and their kids, who were traveling with us. Andy had planned a party for my brothers and sisters, and most of them were there, even Katie from Boise! Of course I don’t have room for all the news and gossip and wild tales that went around. The best news is that Carly and Levi are being sealed in the Salt Lake Temple on June 21. They sent out an e-mail invite along with a facebook invite. Dad and I will be there for sure. We attended their original wedding in Boise in 2005, in the garden of the old territorial prison. What a party that was! This will be even better.
          Back to our travels: Sunday we drove to Centerville for McKay’s blessing. It was a wonderful meeting, and the after-party was great, too. Great food, great people. I hiked up the mountain with Trent and Vanessa. I never can keep away from that trail when we’re at Nora and James’s new house. Also, we really enjoyed playing their new piano. I can’t keep away from a good piano, either.

Yesterday morning Dad and I finished our last window well. I can’t believe we did all that! While I was laying the third to the last block, Oreo and Xena came to investigate. They sat down to watch me. When I laid down the strip of mortar, Xena walked over and stepped in it. I called Dad to come and get them away. It reminded me of when children used to watch me do my projects.
          On Monday Dad and I celebrated our 42nd anniversary by having lunch in Heber at Chick’s Café. (Thanks to those of you who went in on the gift certificate for Dad’s birthday!) I can’t believe we’ve made it 42 years! Of course we have the children and grandchildren to prove it!
          Lots of love, Mom

Monday, May 26, 2014

Dear Kids,
          First off, here’s the information about Meg’s baptism and McKay’s blessing: The baptism is Saturday at 10 a.m. at Troy and Kara’s church in Pocatello (their son Tyson is being baptized, too.) The address is 225 Oakwood Drive, in the older part of town. With GPS you’ll be fine. The after-party will be at Vanessa and Trent’s house. If you want a food assignment, call Vanessa. The baby blessing is Sunday at 12:50 pm at Nora and James’s church, 2050 North Main in Centerville. Nora said she’ll be calling around to invite people and see what you want to bring. If anybody wants to stay in Brigham City Saturday night, rather than drive all the way home and all the way back to Centerville the next day, Andy says you’re welcome. Just let him know.  My siblings will be having a party there Saturday night, just by coincidence. I hope I can keep my food assignments straight.
          Stefanie had her appointment with the neurologist on Thursday. According to a text Paul sent me, the doctor showed them the MRI and discussed how her Chiari isn’t severe enough for surgery. That’s good news and bad news, because when you have a medical problem, you always want something to be done about it. At any rate, Stefanie seems to be doing a little better. I’m in the same boat with my neck pain. It’s been off and on for several weeks now. I saw the neck doctor who did my surgery in 2000, and he sent me for an x-ray, nothing more. It didn’t show anything. But they never do, unless you’ve broken a bone or swallowed a paper clip. Since my neck pain isn’t getting any worse, he said to wait two or three months, and then if it’s still bugging me, I should have a MRI. So I’ll wait and hope it gets better.
          Last Sunday night we had a reunion with our old study group–remember when we always went to study group one Sunday night a month? We were so regular, and we kept it going for nearly 30 years. But then we started to slack off, because everybody was so busy with their families and other things. When Mark Ulrich was made a bishop, we stopped totally. Now he and Laura have been called to Manchester, England, where he’ll be the mission president. So Diane Smith planned a farewell party, and we met at Spencer’s house in South Jordan. It was fun seeing everybody again, but of course there was way too much news to remember it all. Dad and I spent the night at Spencers, since my neck appointment was the next morning. We got to stay in Chris’s old bedroom, which is decorated really nicely now. That’s the first time we’ve stayed overnight in Salt Lake in more than a year, and my lungs didn’t like it at all. So I’ll have to plan more carefully in the future. But we sure had fun.
          Love, as always, Mom

Sunday, May 18, 2014

Dear Kids,
          Ten new houses are being started in our neighborhood. They dug all the foundations this week. They’re those government-mortgage sweat-equity homes, where you commit to doing hundreds of hours of work, and you save about $10,000, according to Tom. Tom and Kim looked into that program when they were house hunting, and they decided it wasn’t a very good deal. So did Donna and Bevan, which makes me wonder, where did they find ten families that would go for it? Especially here in Kamas Valley, where there isn’t much growth. Maybe they’re just starting the houses and hoping somebody will be interested in them. They’re sort of cracker-box types with no basements. Well, at least our neighborhood is filling up.
          Yesterday Donna came to give us more help with our sprinkler system. The hardest part is the beginning, where you have an anti-backflow valve and a blowout valve and the sprinkler valves. We’re just doing what Donna tells us to do. It’s lots of fun. We’ve dug out lots of rocks. Dad and I are also still working on our window wells. The second one is almost done. While I was laying block, the wind kicked up, and I got a piece of grit in my eye. It didn’t bother me much until my mortar was gone and Dad was cleaning off my tools. Then I realized it really hurt. I called John and he said to come in right away. He was still in his office, just finishing up for the day. He put some dye in my eye, which highlighted the grit, and he got it out very easily. He said it had scratched my eye. In third world countries, he said, people sometimes go blind from something as simple as that. I’m glad for our good medical care, and for John’s great service to our family.
          Remember the baptism on the 31st and the baby blessing on June 1st! I’ll put addresses and times in my letter next week. Also, we got an update from Barbara about the Allen family reunion on June 28th. She would like all the families to dress in the same color. We’re blue. She said it doesn’t have to be a solid color, and the clothes can be any version of that color. I think we have the easiest color because we’re the biggest family. Mark and Kate have Teal, and Jane and Joe have orange/peach. So we’re lucky.
          So much fun coming up! Lots of love, Mom

Sunday, May 11, 2014

Dear Kids,
          Another snow storm this morning! We’ve had one right after another, which is great for the water levels, but sort of discouraging if you’ve already started working in your yard, and you want to keep going. We’re part way into our sprinkler system, and we have a footing for our second window well, but this week has been a bust for outdoor work. Hopefully we’ll be able to do more in the coming week.
          Meg turned eight yesterday, and she’ll be baptized on Saturday morning, May 31st. There will be an after-party, but I’m not sure where. Meg’s cousin Tyson is being baptized too, so all the Suttons will be involved, of course. I’ll have more details of time and place later on. Then, the next morning, McKay will be blessed at Nora and James’s ward in Centerville. Their sacrament meeting starts at 12:50 am. Since it’s a long drive from here to Pocatello, and also from here to Centerville, Dad and I will be staying over Saturday night at Andy and Renae’s in Brigham City. I checked with Andy, and he said there’s room for lots of people in his house, so if any of you Heber Valley people don’t want to make the long drive home, and then back to Centerville Sunday morning, you’re welcome to stay at Andy’s, too. My brothers and sisters will be having a party there that night, and I’m sure you’ll be welcome to crash it.
          Dad and I ought to have our heads examined, but we went on another senior citizen bus trip to Wendover, mostly because we wanted to explore the Army air field there. It’s a great place! There’s a control tower you can climb up, six stories tall, on thin metal stairs. The view from the top is the same as the bottom: all desert. There’s an old transport plane you can climb into. There’s a museum with lots of photos and World War II memorabilia. There are broken down barracks and other buildings you can climb around in, but you have to be careful. During the height of the war, there were 20,000 people stationed there. Now it’s really desolate. I’m glad we went, but we won’t be going back again, ever. There’s cigarette smoke everywhere in Wendover, even outside. (I didn’t even go into the casino for the buffet.) There are cars and trucks and busses pumping out noxious fumes. It’s not a lung-friendly town. Nuff said.
          Bonnie sent out the following reminder about the Allen family reunion this summer:  The date is June 28, at the park we always go (to Riverwoods.) Bring your own lunches, and if you have ideas for games or activities, contact Barbara. We have the park reserved from 9-3, but most start arriving at 10:00. Love, Bonnie
          It’s hard to believe June is coming up so soon, but we’re looking forward to the upcoming fun! Love, Mom

Sunday, April 27, 2014

Dear Kids,
          Dad and I have practically finished our first window well. It looks very sturdy, but it’ll look much better when it’s plastered over. We’re also getting ready to start our sprinkler system. Donna is helping us plan it out, and she went with Dad to Home Depot yesterday to buy parts. One thing they brought home was a giant drill bit to use with the hammer drill, since we need to put a hole through our basement wall. That will be for the water line going out. None of this is making our house or yard look any better, at least not yet. I’m still staring out the window at the same rocks as always, minus the ones Al’s scout troop gathered up, plus a few new ones that we’ve dug up. Oh, well. Our whole (future) neighborhood is torn up, and the house next door is still under construction. If we had a nicely landscaped yard, it would look out of place.
          Some of you have probably heard that Stefanie has been having headaches and double vision. She had a MRI on Tuesday, and Paul texted me some information about what they found. I couldn’t understand the medical mumbo jumbo, but evidently there’s a kind of blockage of the cerebral spinal fluid, a possible Chiari I malformation, which is pretty rare. It’s not a tumor. Stefanie made an appointment with a neurologist, but he couldn’t work her in until June, although she’s on the cancellation list. Long story short–we’ll all need to keep her in our prayers.
          The first Sunday in May is coming up next week, so I’ll be cooking Sunday dinner. We’ll eat around 4:00, or whenever you can get here. Let me know if you’re coming, OK? Any food preferences? John used to always ask for fat pizza. I’m not even sure I remember how to make it now. There never was a recipe.
          Our piano class at the Lighthouse Church is still crazy. Two weeks ago we set up for 20 people, and we only had seven. So last week we set up for only sixteen, and every spot was taken. Hopefully things will settle down pretty soon, and we’ll have a good idea what to expect each week. My piano class at the Heber Senior Center is already filled up. I can only handle four people, at least until Donna can come and help me, which probably won’t be until the end of the summer. She’s working full time now that Bevan is off. She has a new boss who’s actually organized. It makes her job lots easier.
          Life is good! Life is busy! I love you all! Mom

Sunday, April 20, 2014

Dear Kids,
          The Easter bunny was very good to us. Dad and I found dove chocolate, iced cookies, and a milk chocolate Peter Rabbit on our table this morning.
           We really enjoyed the Easter picnic at Nora’s house yesterday! I was so intrigued by the hiking trail across the street that I couldn’t even wait until after the Easter egg hunt to go climb up it! So Dad and I missed watching the kids find their eggs, although we did look down on them from the top of the hill. (We figured that mob of kids had to be ours!) Later I climbed back up the trail with Nora. With moving in and having a baby and all the rest, she hadn’t been up it since her birthday last fall. It seems to me that life is practically perfect if you have a mountain to climb right by your house. That’s what I miss about not living at the cabin, although Dad and I still drive over there a couple of times a week to go hiking, and make sure mice and raccoons haven’t broken in.
          I’m looking forward to the Easter program in Church this morning. Since I started going to the Spanish branch here, I really have to pay attention to what’s being said, or I don’t understand much. So I get more out of the meeting. How’s that? You understand more when you understand less? Somehow it works.
          On Friday, Dad and I poured the cement footing for our first window well. We had borrowed Jim Curtis’s cement mixer, but there wasn’t room for it (and us, too) in the window well, and if we used it up top, we had no good way to get the cement down to where we needed it. So we’re mixing the cement in the bowl part of our wheelbarrow. It’s Dad’s job to get the cement bags down to me and open them up, and my job to mix it (the easy part) and shovel it into the forms. In less than two hours, we did 14 bags of cement! Of course they were 60 pound bags, not 80. We know our limitations! Yesterday we brought home a load of concrete blocks from Home Depot, and hopefully we’ll start laying them tomorrow. How could I be so excited about doing the same project I did 35 years ago?
          Life is good! I love you all! Mom

Sunday, April 13, 2014

Dear Kids,
          There’s snow on the ground, but we’re looking forward to Easter next weekend. The Easter egg hunt and picnic will be at Nora’s house, starting at noon. We’ll eat first, at the house, and then hunt eggs in the park. (After the Easter bunny leaves the eggs in the park, we’ll have to station somebody there to guard them until the kids come over. We always used to do that at Grandma Allen’s Easter picnics.) Donna will call you about food assignments, and you’re all supposed to bring eggs for the hunt, approximately 10 per each of your children, according to Donna. I’m glad we’re doing this! When you kids were little, we always loved going to the Allen Easter picnic, and now we’re doing the same thing. I have such great pictures of you kids and your Easter baskets!
          Dad and I finished excavating our window wells and now we have big piles of dirt and rocks around our house. It looks worse than before, but at least it looks like something is being done. Dad took off the old window wells and we put them out in front for people to pick up. I’ve been smoothing out the dirt in the bottom of the holes and watering it down. We were planning to use decorative retaining wall block, but the ones we like are so heavy and so expensive that I’ve had second thoughts. Now we’re planning to make the same kind of concrete block window wells we had at our old house, with a row of decorative block on top. It will be a lot cheaper and easier. The concrete blocks only weigh 35 pounds each, not 67. Trouble is, I’m more than twice as old as I was before. We have Jim Curtis’s cement mixer, so I won’t have to mix the cement for the footings in the wheelbarrow (some of you kids used to watch me do that), and I have Dad to help me now. It should go OK.
          Just because Dad and I don’t have enough to do, I started a piano class at the Heber senior center. We meet Thursday mornings at 11, just before lunch and our chess club. It’s exactly the same schedule as Wednesdays in Salt Lake. I had two people for my first class last Thursday, but there will probably be more when the word gets out. At least it’s fun and rewarding. Now there are three piano classes and two chess clubs we’re in charge of.
          We hope to see lot of you on Saturday at Nora’s house! Lots of love, Mom

Sunday, March 30, 2014

Dear Kids,
          All five of Nora and James’s kids are here at our house right now. Actually, since it’s early morning, they’re just waking up. Last night Nora brought the kids here, and then she and the girls and I went to the General Women’s Meeting at our stake center. When it was over, Nora left straight for home. None of us wanted her to be driving home late. She and James are going to the hospital sometime this morning (maybe right now!) to deliver little baby Mair. (We’ve heard the name McKay Allen Mair mentioned.) Meanwhile, Dad and I will be taking the kids to church. Later, Donna’s bringing dinner. She’ll take the two girls back to her house tonight. We have everything planned out until Tuesday afternoon, when Dad and I will drive the kids back to Centerville and have a look at the new baby. I’m sure he’ll have a familiar face.
          We’ve had a couple of spring-like days here, so Dad and I have been moving ahead with our yard work. We torched our bonfire on Monday, and everything burned except the big cottonwood trunk that was the point of it all. It just lay there and smoldered for a couple of days. A nice old codger from our ward, who came to excavate our window wells, used his backhoe to drag the stump over to the next lot. The guy who was responsible for taking it away is building a house there. (We’ve also found giant chunks of asphalt that he buried in our yard, and those are also going to end up on his property. He was the developer of this whole area, and obviously he took some shortcuts.)  

The nice man from our ward mostly excavated the window wells, but then he broke a hose and had to go repair it. Dad and I started digging out the areas right next to the house, where he couldn’t reach. We pulled out dozens of big rocks to use in our dry creek bed. No wonder everybody here landscapes with river rock!
          The highlight of our week was the trip to Wendover on Thursday. Our bus left Heber in a snowstorm, and by the time we got part way up Highway 40, cars were off the road and the bus was spinning its tires. Imagine Dad as a passenger, sitting near the back. Needless to say, he didn’t do well. Thankfully we got past that area and out of the storm. Most of you have been to Wendover, or through it. The casinos are magnificent, and full of smoke. Of course you have to walk through the smoke to get to the buffet. And then you have to walk through smoke to get to the bathrooms. And back out again. My lungs did as poorly as Dad on the bus in the snowstorm, and I wasn’t even smart enough to bring an inhaler. We walked around town in the cold windy air, and we found the airport. Wendover was an important air field during World War II, and there’s a museum there, along with some broken down barracks. We were out of time by then, and had to go back to the bus, but if we’re ever crazy enough to do the Wendover trip again, we’ll spend most of our time at the museum!
          Hope you’re all doin’ great and lovin’ it! Mom

Sunday, March 23, 2014

Dear Kids,
          Nora and James will be having their baby a week from today, unless the baby decides to appear earlier. Their kids will be at our house from Saturday night until Tuesday, except that Adelaide and Paige will be at Donna’s for part of the time. Nora was delighted when her doctor agreed to move up the delivery date, which makes her pregnancy three days shorter. Everyone agrees that the baby is BIG, and he needs to get out and into the world. Naturally we’re praying that everything will go well.
          Conference is two weeks from today, and we’re making a few modifications because of the new baby. I don’t think we’ll be able to do the usual Saturday night Café Rio dinner, but if any of the guys want to go to the priesthood session with Dad, let me know, and we’ll have an ice cream party at our house afterwards. If anybody wants to stay over at the cabin on Saturday night, that will be fine. Dad and I will be watching both sessions of conference at the cabin on Sunday, and we’ll be having dinner there, probably around 12:30. Please let me know if you’re coming, so I’ll be sure to fix enough food. Maybe the Mair family and the new baby will be there, too!
          Our new friends at the Heber senior center have thoroughly corrupted us–they got us to sign up for their Wendover trip this coming Thursday. The bus ride is free, and so is the buffet, so it’s a heckuva’ deal. When I said we didn’t gamble, they said there are lots of other things to do in Wendover. Like what? One lady says she walks around town with her camera and takes pictures of flowers and lizards. I finally said we’d come, but I’m bringing a chess board, and I expect people to play chess with me on the bus. Dad is very excited to be going somewhere different. I guess I am, too. Especially if it’s warmer than here!
          But spring is coming. Dad and I have been working in our yard. Last weekend Allen’s scouts did a service project here, tearing down the posts of the barbed wire fence, hauling rocks, and piling up wood for our bonfire. We have a gigantic cottonwood stump to burn up, so I had the scouts pile all the extra wood around it. We bought two gallons of diesel fuel to pour on it. Maybe tomorrow we’ll torch it.
          Lots of love to all! Mom

Sunday, March 16, 2014

Dear Kids,
          Can you guys picture Dad addicted to Sudoku puzzles? He was talking to our doctor about aging, Alzheimers, and other issues, and the dr. suggested that he get into Sudoku to help keep his mind active. So he bought a booklet at Walmart, and he’s always working on the puzzles. I have to tear him away if we need to go do something. I can’t complain because he’s having lots of fun. The doctor also suggested that they have a look at his kidneys, since there was some kind of a flag in his blood results. He had an ultrasound Friday at the Death Star, and they found a cyst (13mm, he said) on one kidney. But when they looked at images from five years ago, it was already there, and it hasn’t grown any since. All this, besides Grandpa’s death, has reminded me that mortality is a terminal condition. As Grandpa used to say, "Nobody gets out of it alive."
          It was so nice seeing all of you at the viewing and funeral! It was such a happy time! I think people’s prayers were sustaining us. We have two older Hispanic friends at the Harman center, both of them Catholics married to Mormon women, and they both told us they were praying for us. I could feel those prayers, and a lot more besides. I walked around in a happy cloud for several days, but now it’s back to the usual daily challenges. But Grandpa wouldn’t want us to mope. He was always fascinated by those daily challenges.
          Our prayers are still with Monica and the loss of their baby. We hope she recovers physically and mentally and spiritually. What a terrible blow that was.
          Our piano class at the Lighthouse Church is now bursting at the seams. Our Hispanics had dwindled down to practically nothing, so we asked the new stake president (Mike Higginson) if we could simply become the Stake Piano Class, and have the bishops put it in their ward bulletins. He happened to be at the stake center filming a video (which the ladies will see in the conference on March 29) and he came in to have a look at our class and our materials. We explained that the stake needs more organists and pianists, and not just in the Spanish branch. He okayed the project, and now we’re overrun with new people, which we’re very happy about. We have two new teachers, too. And we’ve requested more keyboards from the Church music department. All this is a wonderful distraction from daily life.
          And of course life is good. I love you all. Mom

Thursday, March 6, 2014

Dear Kids,
          Here is the information Bonnie sent out about the funeral:
          Grandpa Allen’s funeral will be at 11:00 am on Monday, March 10th at the Orchard stake center (Nancy's stake) 600 North 800 East in Orem . There will be a viewing (and mini reunion I'm sure) at the Walker Sanderson mortuary (646 east 800 north) Sunday evening from 6 to 8. We will have a nice display of grandpa’s things, and a video of his life. We will also have a shorter viewing Monday morning from 10:00 to 10:45. For the family prayer (casket closing) we will invite ALL adults in the family to stay in the room. Unfortunately we cannot have the children under 18 due to the size of our family, and size of the room. It will be a tight squeeze as it will be all of the adult children, spouses, grandchildren and spouses. but we wanted to include the grandchildren this time. We will have a luncheon after the graveside back at the stake center and all are invited.
          Barbara is in charge of a musical number, and she wants all grandchildren and great grandchildren 8 and over to sing. Please be prepared to sing "Armies of Heleman.. Call Barbara or me if you have any questions about this. Thank you for all of your support at this time, we have such a wonderful family and I love you all!
          Love, Bonnie

Sunday, March 2, 2014

Dear Kids,
          Such a sad weekend! There’s so much to fast and pray for today. We’re feeling for Monica and Neil, and the tragic loss of their baby that would have been born in July. I’m praying constantly that they’ll make the best possible choices in this situation. And then there’s Grandpa Allen, whose life is slowly ebbing out. Dad and I visited him on Friday, and when I looked at his worn-out tired old body, I had to make myself look up at the picture of him with Grandma Allen, on their wedding day, in front of the Arizona temple. That’s who they really are! Grandpa has a blood clot in his leg, along with pneumonia, and he’s so weak he can’t get up by himself. Hospice is coming in to help take care of him. Nancy and her family are doing the rest. And Bonnie, who oversees everything. We’re so grateful to them! 
          Last month we were fasting for "moisture" (we really would have preferred snow) and thankfully, we’ve had lots lately. Vanessa says they’re getting it in Idaho, too. It’s mostly been rain and "mizzle" here at our house, but there’s been snow at the cabin. The sledding hill still looks good! I’m grateful for all the moisture we’ve received, and I hope there will be more. I’ve never seen the Jordanelle so low.
          Last Monday I had the surgery on my hand, and everything would have been fine, except that the resident who was helping out bandaged my hand too tight. My fingers started swelling as soon as we got home, but I thought that was normal. Then my hand started hurting so much I could hardly stand it, and I figured that was the surgery, too, and I just kept taking percocet. Finally, through the fog, I realized it was the side of my hand that hurt, not the middle, and I could see that the edge of the bandage was cutting into my skin. So I immediately undid the bandage, and it started feeling better. Within a couple of hours the pain was nearly gone. It will take a while to heal completely, and I haven’t been able to play the piano or use power tools this week, but there’s always plenty to do. There are still 24 hours in a day.
          The strange house being built next to us has come to a standstill. I remember now that the first day the framers came, they spent a long time looking at the plans, and then they left. Next day they were back, and they framed. But now maybe the builder himself has taken another look. I hope it gets fixed. I don’t want an empty house sitting next to us for the next 20 years.
          I enjoyed talking to all of you yesterday, even though it wasn’t good news.

          Lots of love, Mom

Sunday, February 23, 2014

Dear Kids,
          Tomorrow I’m having the surgery on my right hand, for "trigger finger." It will stop my middle right finger from curling up and locking in place. It’s very inconvenient. You can’t play the piano or use power tools with your middle finger locked up. The surgery is merely an outpatient procedure, and I’m not even supposed to need pain meds when it’s over. I used to always be the worst case scenario with any kind of surgery, but I haven’t had any medical disasters for a long time, so I’m expecting the best possible outcome.
          About a month ago I started attending the Spanish branch in our stake, and last night they had their first party. Dad’s always up for a party, so we had a good time there. They played the newlywed game, and Dad and I were chosen for the panel, even though we’d been married the longest of anyone there. Unfortunately, we never do very well at "newlyweds," and last night we came in dead last. Fortunately, the last-place prize was the best one of all--a gift certificate for $25.00 to the new Mexican restaurant in town. (It’s across from the Gateway Grill, the place that keeps changing owners and names. But it’s supposed to be really good now.) The idea is that we’ll go on a date and get to know each other better. I hope it works! We’ll definitely enjoy the free meal! 
          A new house is going up just north of us. It’s a rambler, so it won’t block our view very much, and it’s being built by Rusty Webster, who was the original developer of this whole area. (Fieldstone Homes has left the area altogether. Yay!) The weird thing about this house is that it doesn’t seem to have any bedrooms. There are three rooms that you could possibly put a small bed in, but definitely no master bedroom. And this is supposed to be a spec home! When we have Sunday dinner here next week, maybe some of you can walk through it with us and help us figure it out. 
          Speaking of Sunday dinner, we’ll be eating at 4:00. Please let me know if you’re coming! I’m cooking king ranch chicken.
          Lots of love, Mom

Sunday, February 16, 2014

Dear Kids,
          Lots of us were involved in helping Nora and James move to their new home. And what a home it is! You have to see it to believe it. I can only say it’s very elegant. On Friday morning Dad and I took a truckload from the cabin, and we met James at the house. We had a tour first, and then we unloaded boxes into the garage. Then a big truck pulled up to deliver the refrigerator, so we pulled out. We’ll miss having Nora and James and their family close by, but I know they’re happy to finally settle in, after almost a year of moving around.
          So, of course, the cabin is open for weekenders again. Same rules as always: Let me know in advance, so I can put it on the calendar; donate toilet paper or plastic plates or garbage bags, etc., leave everything really clean, and here’s one more thing: if you’re bringing friends, just one family at a time, please. Everybody’s kids are lots bigger than they used to be, including friends’ kids.

I found my missing Dr. Seuss books! They were here at our house, under the bunkbed, back towards the wall. I asked Donna if Anna likes to hide things under beds, and Donna said yes. I know Anna herself likes to hide under beds, because I’ve pulled her out more than once. Anyway, the books are found and the mystery is solved.
          Remember, I’ll be fixing Sunday dinner here on March 2, just two weeks from today. Let me know if you can come. When we get into spring and summer, I’ll probably do some Sunday dinners at the cabin again. Conference weekend, especially. It just wouldn’t be the same at our house.
          I hope you’re all doin’ great and lovin’ it! Mom

Sunday, February 9, 2014

Dear Kids,
          Finally, finally we’ve had some snow! Naturally it wasn’t as much as they predicted, at least not here at our house, but I can see now that we’re in an unusual spot. The wind blows up the bluff from the Provo River, and it blows all our snow into Kamas. Or into the mountains. Or wherever. Yesterday it snowed most of the day, but it was all coming sideways, and drifting who knows where. Dad and I went over to the cabin so Dad could change the water filter, and while we were there, it started dumping great big flakes of snow. I hurried us home to see those wonderful snowflakes at our own house, but they didn’t come with us. Well, at least there’s some snow on the ground. The ugly rocks are finally covered up.
          Two weeks ago I said that our family reunion was going to be August 1-2, but that’s wrong. It’s the next weekend, August 7-9. I know that Donna has already reserved the campground in Midway. It’s closer than we think!
          Allen called me from Seussland, at Universal Studios in Florida! Their family was there on a vacation, and freebies paid for some of it (I think their hotel room) because they were willing to listen to a time share presentation. Go Al and Missy! Anyway, at the Seussland store they had every possible Dr. Seuss book, and Al wanted to know if I’d found my two missing ones. I haven’t, but they’re cheaper on Amazon anyway. It’s the oddest mystery, where they went. They are Horton Hatches the Egg and The 500 Hats of Bartholomew Cubbins. I’m sure you’ve all checked for them already.
          My home decorating has gotten to the point that I’m ready for photos on the walls. I need an 8x10 photo of each family. (I’ve had to abandon the grandchildren-only setup. There’s no place for it.) If each of you could email me a jpeg of your most recent picture, I’ll just have them printed at Walmart. Most of you had family pictures on your Christmas cards–those would be great. Otherwise, just have somebody take a snapshot of your family, OK? The Mike Rogers days are behind us, unfortunately. I asked him once how many people could fit into his studio for a family picture, and he said 50 at the most. We’re there. He said that after that, you just go to a park and have somebody take the picture. Anyway, if you can send me the jpegs, I can get my wall of family pictures set up.
          Life is good! I love you all! Mom

Sunday, February 2, 2014

Dear Kids,
          It’s Groundhog Day, and here in Kamas Valley the groundhog will definitely see his shadow, because it’s a beautiful sunny day. I think the sunshine is supposed to mean that we’ll have six more weeks of winter, which is very good. We need even more than that to make up for our deficient snowfall so far. We had a pretty good storm Wednesday night, with maybe three inches, and we’re grateful for that. But we’re still praying for more.
          John had his back surgery Friday morning, and it went really well. If you didn’t hear, he had a bulging disc that was pressing on a nerve, and he’d been in terrible pain for several days. He was able to keep seeing patients by taking lots of ibuprofin, and then lortab, but we were relieved when he went in for the operation. I had been asking what we could do to help, and John finally said we could go buy him a new bed. (His old mattress was somehow damaged when they moved.) So Dad and I drove the truck to Murray, to the Costco right next to the Death Star, (where John was out of surgery by then) and we met Heather at the entrance. Heather and Dad went to get the bed while I checked out the samples. It was two days before the Super Bowl, so there were lots of hot wings, pistachios, sausage balls, and all types of guy food. Dad and I have been considering changing from Sams Club to Costco, and I was almost convinced to make the switch, until that night, when all the greasy and spicy food caught up with me. Well, we still might change. Costco has a wonderful assortment of leatherbound books at Christmas time. And a much better collection of chocolates, too!
          So, back at the Death Star, John was ready to go home by evening, and by then Dad and I had driven the new bed to his house in Heber. We needed Julie and Jacob to help us haul in the mattress, it was so gynormous, and then Julie and I put on the sheets and blanket and quilts. It was all ready when John got home. The next morning he called and said he and Heather had slept very comfortably for ten hours, and he was up and walking around, with no pain! We’re so grateful it went well!

Dad and I are looking forward to Sunday dinner this afternoon, with lots of you coming. Our next official Sunday dinner will be four weeks from today, March 2nd.
          Lots of love, Mom