Sunday, August 27, 2017

Dear Kids,
          The eclipse was everything I hoped it would be. Dad and I ended up camping at Craig and Rachel’s, a little west of Idaho Falls in a beautiful rural area. We found the house OK, and heard kids yelling in the back yard. Macie was driving a riding lawn mower, pulling a wagon. Craig was barbecuing, and told us to grab a plate. Kids were swimming in a big pool, jumping on two trampolines, and running around. Somebody else was driving a 4 wheeler. There’s a shooting range and a grove of at least 100 tall pines, because the place was once a tree farm, where they never sold the trees. There are chickens and a sheep and a fat mama cat and kittens. (Not hers.) There’s a canal out back. What a place!
          We pitched our tent in a grassy area, with Vanessa’s and Nora’s families, and lots of other friends and relatives. We ate and talked to people, and when it got dark, Dad and I went for a long walk along the canal. It would have been a great party, even without the eclipse. I had worried it would suddenly get cloudy Monday morning, but it was beautiful and clear. We got very excited for the eclipse, which came on slowly. We were all ready with our glasses, and we stared at the sun, as the moon cut its black circle into it. It got darker and colder. At the last minute, I was worried that NASA was wrong, and we were too far south for totality, but suddenly there it was: dark sky, stars, and a beautiful corona around the black sun. We yelled and cheered. I’ve never seen anything like it, and it won’t happen again in my lifetime.
          Our car was already packed for the trip home, and Dad had parked it on the street, headed south. As soon as totality was over, we jumped in and took off. I was glad we did. We got onto the interstate OK, and it was slow and go at each onramp, but in between we sped along. Behind us, the traffic got thicker and thicker, and then slowed almost to a stop. Nora said it took her four hours to go the 45 miles from Idaho Falls to Pocatello.
          And our new cat, Solar Eclipse Ackerson, was traveling with us. He was one of the four kittens at Craig and Rachel’s. (Vanessa has one of the others.) He’s orange, lively, and very sweet. He purrs. He’s growing about an inch a day, and his back legs are probably growing two inches. Tina hates him, and screeches deadly yowls at him, but he doesn’t pay any attention to her.
           Now the parties are over. Sharon’s family packed up yesterday morning and moved their operations to Nora’s house. They’re flying out tomorrow. We’ve had a wonderful time with them. Now it’s back to real life.
          But real life is good. I love you all. Mom

Sunday, August 20, 2017

Dear Kids,
          Dad and I won’t be home tonight. We’ll be somewhere in Idaho, hopefully at Craig and Rachel’s in Idaho Falls, and hopefully not stuck on the interstate in a gigantic traffic jam, like the news media is gleefully predicting. We’re leaving home right after church, and I think that will give us plenty of time. Vanessa’s and Nora’s families will be camping at Craig and Rachel’s too, and probably lots of Suttons. Idaho Falls is in the "path of totality," but not in the center of it. Still, there’s supposed to be more than a minute of "totality." Hopefully there won’t be any clouds blocking the eclipse. The forecast keeps changing from sunny to partly cloudy and then back to sunny again.
            As you can see, I’m plenty excited about the eclipse. I’ve dreamed about it the last two nights. But surprisingly, people I talk to are very nonchalant. They’re not going because of the crowds, or because they don’t have anyone to stay with, or just because. But I figure Idaho is big enough for anybody who wants to be there. The really cool thing is that it will be President Monson’s 90th birthday. Maybe a comet will come by and swoop him off. Maybe it will even be the second coming. What better time, because everybody will already be looking up into the sky!
          Sharon and her kids are here at our house now, it’s one nonstop party. She keeps telling her kids the fun is over now, but people keep planning things. Yesterday it was Donna cooking buffalo burgers at the cabin, with Mandy and Eddie and their kids. Tonight, I think there’s going to be a sleepover at our house while we’re gone. The parties will probably continue nonstop until Sharon’s family flies home, on the 28th, I think. But it’s really fun having them here.
          One person isn’t enjoying Sharon’s family, though. That’s Tina. She’s making herself very scarce. It’s funny, because a couple of days ago she faced down four magpies, and after that, the neighbor’s dog, a Siberian husky. The dog was inside his fence, but she still touched noses with him and hissed. All that–but she doesn’t have the courage to face down four children, because three of them are boys.
           Hoping you’re all doin’ great and lovin’ it! Mom

Sunday, August 13, 2017

Dear Kids,
          The reunion was fabulous! Thanks to all of you for all your preparations, and for your wonderful meals! Thanks especially to John, for planning it so well! I think the highlight was the go-cart track, followed closely by the rope swing at Bloomington Lake. So many of you were so gutsy, swinging out over those rocks and dropping into that ice-cold lake! Where do you all get it from? (Not Dad and me. We enjoyed all our fun from the sidelines.) 
          Bear Lake itself was wonderful too. It's never been higher, when we've been there.  We couldn’t have had better weather at the beach! I hope you all can get the sand out of your kids, eventually!
          And now back to real life. Oh, yeah, the eclipse is a week from tomorrow. Donna and Sharon are taking their kids to Vanessa’s house the night before, I think, and then driving into the zone early Monday morning. Nora and Vanessa’s families will be camping at Craig and Rachel’s house in Idaho Falls. I’m still not sure what Dad and I will be doing. I want to be as close to the center of the zone as possible. John still has a few eclipse glasses, but they’re going fast.
          Our cat Tina had a luxurious time while we were gone. I’d accidentally left the door ajar between the mud room and the garage, so she had the run of the house. One of my fake trees had a couple of branches torn out, and the stuffed black bear on our bed had been savaged. She wasn’t at all glad to see us when we got home. She walked away from me and switched her tail in contempt.
          I can’t think of any news. It all happened already. There isn’t a single thing on our calendar for the coming week! I guess I’ll go back to raking rocks.
          Lots of love, Mom

Sunday, August 6, 2017

Dear Kids,
          Wasn’t that fun yesterday, helping Paul and Stefanie move? What a riotous after-party, celebrating Josh’s second birthday! Thanks, Paul and Stefanie, for the good food and the fun! I think they’ll be really happy with that nice big house, (four bedrooms!) and yard. By the way, Paul said that the amortization schedule for his 30-year mortgage showed that the last payment would be made on August 1, 2047–my 100th birthday! What a party we can have that day!
          And then there’s the excitement for our family reunion this week! You can refer to John’s schedule (posted here on my blog) or contact him if you have any more questions. It will be nonstop fun. Thanks, John, for planning this. Our reunions keep getting better and better.
            Friday night Dad and I went to the Snow Park amphitheater at Deer Valley for the 1812 Overture (played by the Utah Symphony) with real cannons going off at the end. It was spectacular! Thanks to those of you who went in on the tickets for my Mothers Day present! We had reserved seats, a new luxury for us. (A couple of times before, we’ve sat on the grass with the "wine and cheese" crowd.) Actually, there was quite a bit of wine and cheese around us, including the guy next to me who drank a whole bottle during the performance. He evidently wasn’t expecting the cannons to go off at the end, because he leaped up out of his seat when they started to fire. That was the best part of the program! The guys who fire off the cannons used to dress like mountain men, but now they wear George Washington costumes. It’s all great fun!
           We’re gearing up for the eclipse two weeks from tomorrow. Dad and I are definitely going to Idaho, but I’m not sure where. Nobody knows how many people will be up there. I talked to Stefanie’s friend Anne’s husband yesterday, because they live in Rexburg, which is in the absolute center of the eclipse path. He said they have their eclipse glasses and their food storage. (For all anybody knows, there might be a million visitors, and they might buy up all the food in the stores.) I bought a 10-pack of eclipse glasses from Amazon, but John has plenty for sale in his office, for $1.00 each. I was reading a little booklet in Lowes, and it said that only one person in 1,000 has ever seen a total eclipse of the sun. It should be spectacular.
           On with the show!  Love, Mom