Sunday, December 30, 2018

Dear Kids,
         We’re officially “done” with Christmas.  I enjoyed all the parties and fun and presents, but I always like to get back to a normal schedule again. 
         Thanks to Vanessa and her family for hosting such a great sledding party!  I wished I could have gotten on a sled, but it wouldn’t have worked with my cane.  But I’m glad everybody else had so much fun.  I’m hoping to be totally well by next year, and go sledding and ice skating and do everything else, to make up for this wretched year. 
         There was a wishbone sitting on our kitchen windowsill, good and dry, left over from Donna’s Thanksgiving turkey, and I decided to break it with Dad.  He knows what my biggest wish is, and he said he wishes the same thing, so I figured whichever of us won, I’d get well.  But when we each pulled our own side, the top popped off, leaving us each with sad, broken ends.  So I probably won’t get my wish any time soon. 
         Friday night we got together with my brothers and sisters (and spouses) at Charley’s house for a party.  After we ate, we sat in a big circle and we were each supposed to share a Christmas memory of Grandma and Grandpa Allen, or say something inspiring. And we had a new rule, put out by Bonnie–we couldn’t interrupt if someone was telling a story.  So everything was much calmer than usual.  Charley talked about having the blood clots in his lungs and water on the brain, so he should have been dead.  He was a lot more subdued than usual.  Most of the rest of us told Christmas stories.  Katie talked about the year she and I got ice skates, and Grandma Allen drove us to Vivian Park on Christmas day to try them out.  I told about the year Grandpa Allen painted his metal tool box green and filled it full of clay and glue and construction paper and other craft supplies.  It was my best present ever.  All of my bothers and sisters were there, and all the spouses except for Monica.  Ben drove by himself from Albuquerque!  We took pictures with everybody’s cell phones. It’s miraculous that all eleven of us are still alive, and we don’t know how long we can stay lucky.
         By the way, among all the great Christmas presents I received, John gave me a vintage hardcover copy of The Fire Cat.  He found it on ebay.  He said it was in honor of his “fire kittens,” who I saved from the cabin fire.  They wouldn’t have been killed by the flames, but their little lungs could have been damaged by the smoke.  I was delighted by the book, and read it through right then.  It was all so familiar!  I practically had it memorized, from reading it to you kids about a gazillion times.  Anyway, the book is on our coffee table, so you and your kids can read it when you come by.
         I hope you all have a happy new year.  I’m going to color my hair bright pink for the occasion.
         Lots of love, Mom

Sunday, December 23, 2018

Dear Kids,
         What a wild and wonderful party we had last night at Nora’s house!  I think the cousins’ gift exchange is the craziest thing we do all year.  Allen was very brave to bring his girlfriend, Jen, but I was glad to finally meet her.  She certainly saw our family at its wildest.  Nothing can surprise her after this. Christmas is nearly here!
         Tomorrow, Christmas Eve, Dad and I will be home all day.  We’ll be watching Christmas movies (especially “Christmas Eve on Sesame Street”) and eating Christmas goodies (and healthy soups, too,) so come and join us, if you like. Donna is bringing her wonderful rolls around noon, so that will be our unofficial starting time.  I have one set of aerial fireworks left over from summer, and I plan to set them off as soon as it’s  dark.  I know Christmas Eve isn’t one of the authorized holidays for fireworks, but Francis City doesn’t even have its own police department and any officers from the county will be busy with more important things.  (Hopefully home with their families.)
         On Christmas Day,  Dad and I will be out and about, visiting some of you that are close.  (Sorry we can’t make it to Maryland or Wisconsin.)  If you want us to come by your house, let me know, and we’ll be there.
         Thursday we’ll have our annual sledding party, this time in Pocatello, at Vanessa’s house.  There isn’t much snow right now, but we ought to have a storm sometime in the next couple of days.  Even without snow, we’ll have a great time.  I’m bringing sloppy jo’s and potato chips, and if some of you bring your leftover Christmas goodies, we’ll have plenty of food.  There’s a possibility for a trip to Lava that evening.  The fun goes on and on.
         Our younger kitties visited Arcadia clinic on Monday for their booster vaccinations, their declawing, and their “fixing.”  John’s kittens were there at the same time!  When Jacob took them in, he saw our kitties (with their poor bandaged paws) and recognized them right away.  We picked them up on Tuesday, and they yowled all the way home.  Since then, they’ve been licking and biting their paws, and generally going crazy.  Our Christmas tree is a mess, from their shenanigans.  Yesterday morning while I was playing the piano they had a big fight for my benefit: leaping and diving, front flips and back flips, and lots of biting and rabbit kicking.  When the fight finally ended I noticed blood on the floor and spattered on the walls. One of Scout’s toes had broken open, and he didn’t even care!  Dad and I cleaned up the mess, and then we calmed them down with good doses of their pain medication.  After that, they slept all day under the Christmas tree.
         At this time of year, I’m especially grateful for all of you, and the wonderful things you do!
         Lots of love, Mom

Sunday, December 16, 2018

Dear Kids,
         We really enjoyed the Messiah last Sunday night at Tom’s church. It was short and sweet.  Tom and Bentley were in the choir, and the rest of us sang along.  Next year I’m going to be in the choir no matter what.  Even if I’m still hobbling with my cane.
         That same night, Sharon and Seth went to the Messiah at the national cathedral in D.C.  Sharon got cheap student tickets, and they were in the balcony, looking right down into the orchestra.  Sharon said the music was fantastic, and of course the audience didn’t sing along, like we did.  I asked Sharon how they could not sing along with the Hallelujah chorus.  She said some people did.  They man behind them was belting it out.
         Christmas is getting really close now!  If anybody wants to go in on a present for Dad, call or text me.  It’s something he’ll love.
         The cousins’ exchange party is next Saturday afternoon at Nora’s.  Ice skating will be from 12:30 to 2:30, at the rink in Centerville.  Dinner is at 5:00, and if you don’t have a food assignment, call Nora.  The wild present-opening free for all will be after that.
         Christmas Eve, Dad and I will be home.  If you want to come by any time during the day, or in the evening, I’ll have soup and rolls and a few goodies.  It could be your lunch or your dinner.  Christmas day, Dad and I will probably drive around and visit some of you.  If you especially want us to come to your house, let me know.  We can admire your presents and eat your leftover goodies.  I won’t be doing the “Grinch challenge” like last year, but if anybody wants to recite it, I’ll listen.  Maybe we’ll even hand out $5.00 bills like last year.
         The sledding party will be Thursday, the 27th, at Vanessa’s house in Pocatello.  Lots of us are looking forward to the road trip!  You can call Vanessa for a food assignment when it gets closer.  I might make my traditional sloppy jo's.  Vanessa says there’s a possibility for a trip to Lava that evening. 
         Our kitties will be in for a bleak surprise tomorrow morning.  They’re going to have vaccination boosters, get “fixed,” and be declawed (front only), all in the same veterinary visit.  I’m so sorry for what’s coming up that I’ve been letting them come in the house a lot lately, and I've been playing with them.  Sonia thinks our Christmas tree has been put up for her pleasure and entertainment.  She jumps for all the ornaments that she thinks are low enough, and she’s knocked some of them off.  Scout tried to climb the tree, and he bent one of the lower branches all the way to the floor. (He’s built like a boxcar.  Sonia is dainty and delicate.)  I’ve been tolerating all their misbehavior.
         This time of the year is so fun!  I love you all.  Mom

Sunday, December 9, 2018

Dear Kids,
         We really enjoyed Isaac’s baptism yesterday, and the wonderful after-party at Nora’s.  Thanks to Nora for the pork sandwiches, and for everybody else who brought food.  Dad tells me it was all good.  I can’t tell, because except for tasting the pork, I just ate the desserts.  My odd digestive tract gives me a good excuse for just eating cookies and brownies, and other compact sweets, like chocolate chips and Dove dark bars and chocolate pudding and . . . . . 
         Oh, yes, I need to list the fun events coming up:
         (1) The Messiah is tonight at 7 pm at Tom’s church, the brown one just past Smiths and the elementary school on 500 North.  There’s a before-party dinner at Tom and Kim’s at 5 pm.  Be there or be square.
         (2) The cousins’ gift exchange party will be Saturday, Dec 22, at Nora’s house.  There’s ice skating from 12:30 to 2:30 in the afternoon, (Call Nora for the location and cost.) Dinner will be at 5 pm.  If you don’t have a food assignment yet, you can call Nora for that, too.  Each year I think I’ll do the skating, but it looks like I’ll pass this year, unless I can ice skate with my cane?  Maybe next year.
         (3) Ditto for our traditional Christmas Eve hike up Memorial Hill.  I doubt I could do it with my cane.  If I could, I’d be so slow that Santa would already be down our non-existant chimney, and gone again, before we got home.  So instead of that, Dad and I will be home on Christmas Eve, and you can come and see us.  If you want to come during the day, that would be great, too.  I’ll have soups and rolls, and maybe some goodies, too.  If you have any neighbor treats that you won’t get around to eating, you could bring those.  Usually we eat those at the after-Christmas party at the cabin, but . . . .
         (4) The cabin, of course, is still out of commission, although they’ve torn off some sheet rock inside, and taken out some carpet.  So instead of sledding at the cabin, how about sledding at Vanessa’s in Pocatello, on Thursday the 27th?  Vanessa says  a trip to Lava that night would definitely be an option. So many fun things lined up!  So many great people in our family to have fun with!
         Lots of love, Mom

Sunday, December 2, 2018

Dear Kids,
         Anna’s baptism yesterday was very nice, and the after-party at John’s was great fun.  It’s always lots of fun when our family gets together, and we always know the food will be good, and there will be plenty of it.  So, speaking of parties, oops, I mean baptisms, Isaac’s will be next Saturday at 3 pm at Nora’s church, 2050 North Main in Centerville. It’s the same building where Paige and Stuart were baptized.  I’m pretty sure the after-party will be at Nora’s, and you can contact her for a food assignment.
         The Messiah in Heber will also be next weekend, on Saturday and Sunday nights at 7pm at Tom’s church.  (It’s also John’s church now.)  I really wish I were singing in it, but it wouldn’t have worked out.  But we can go hear Tom and Bentley, and a lot of other wonderful singers.  It looks like we’ll be going Sunday night, because of the baptism Saturday.  There’s a before-party, actually a dinner, at Tom and Kim’s, and you can call Kim for a food assignment.  There have been so many wonderful events lately, when Christmas comes along it will be just be one more great event.  The Ackerson family Christmas party will be at Nora’s on Saturday, the 22nd , and I’ll have more details later.  If you’re not sure who your kids are giving to, contact Nora.
         Tina and the little cats are learning to tolerate each other.  When I open the door into the garage at 6 am, they all run in together.  Dad gives Tina her special canned cat food in the garage, and I give a little bit to Sonia and to Scout.  They also get plenty of kitten chow, but they eat Tina’s adult formula cat food when they’re in the garage.  Tina eats the kitten chow.  Out little cats had their first vaccinations last Monday, and they’ll have boosters, plus their “operations,” on the 17th.  Poor kitties, I hate for them to learn that life can be unpleasant.
         A couple of weeks ago I started a new medication, symbalta, that’s supposed to be absolutely miraculous for people with nerve-end damage like mine.  I was afraid it wouldn’t be miraculous for me, and so far, it hasn’t been.  I appreciate our kind doctor trying every possible medication on me, but I guess this is just something I’ll have to suffer through.  When they work out the guidelines for medical marijuana here in Utah I’ll certainly try it, but it probably won’t be miraculous, either.  I’m sorry for complaining, and I really appreciate all your prayers for me.
         Lots of love, Mom

Sunday, November 25, 2018

Dear Kids,
         First off, Anna’s baptism will be next Saturday morning (December 1) at 10:30 am at Donna’s church in Midway.  The address is 250 East 200 South.  (It’s the same building where Dallin, Drew, and Tommy have all been blessed.)  The after-party will be at John’s house, and if you want to help with the food, call Donna for an assignment.  This will be one more great family event, followed the next Saturday (December 8) by Isaac’s baptism at Nora’s church.  I’ll have details on that in my next letter.
         Our Thanksgiving was a blast, and for those of you who went elsewhere, I hope you had a great time, too.  This is the first Thanksgiving that we’ve eaten at our house, and not at the cabin, which is totally emptied out, with no utilities, and cold as a refrigerator.  Vanessa’s family normally stays there, but they stayed at our house instead.  That was really fun, and I appreciated Vanessa’s help in planning where to seat everybody for Thanksgiving dinner.  I had thought some people could sit at the table, and the rest could just hold plates on their laps, but Vanessa was adamant that everybody needed a place to sit at a table, just like at Grandma Allen’s.  So she pushed the sofas and coffee table to the side of the room, and turned the dining table 90 degrees, and made room for two banquet tables from the cabin. That made places for 24, and since we were expecting 25, it worked out fine.  The food was fabulous, since everybody made their specialty, and Donna did the turkey.  (I knew it would max me out just making the pies.)  Thanks to everybody who helped out!  It was a wonderful day.
         The only mishap came in the evening; Nora lost her car key when she and Donna and Vanessa were over at the cabin hiking the loop.  It was hopeless, since the key had obviously fallen into the snow, but they searched in the dark anyway, with their headlamps.  Finally they had to give up.  Nora and James drove our car home, and Nora brought it back the next morning, after stopping off at the outlet stores.
         Vanessa’s family was here for two days and three nights, and her kids held Scout and Sonia nearly nonstop.  So now we have two very spoiled young kitties who don’t know what to do with themselves if they aren’t being held.  They mostly fight with each other, and when they’re inside, they rip away at the carpet.  Naturally I toss them out immediately.  Tina doesn’t run from them any more.  She just growls at Scout, and he growls back, and they take swipes at each other.  Sonia keeps her distance, with her back up and her tail puffed.  It’s very entertaining.
         Dad and I will be sending out Christmas money this week.  Everybody seems to like my new plan, so I don’t even have to feel guilty for not shopping.
         Lots of love, Mom

Sunday, November 18, 2018

Dear Kids,
         I’m really looking forward to Thanksgiving, even though it won’t be at the cabin.  We can easily accommodate everybody here at our house.  And for those of you who are going somewhere else, I hope you have a great time, too.  If I haven’t told everybody, we’ll be eating about 1 pm.  Then we’ll have pie and other desserts about 5. That leaves time for us to let our dinner settle, and also a nice window of opportunity for Vanessa and the other hardy souls to hike the big loop.  I wish I could hike it myself.  Can’t you just see me with my cane, hobbling along, trying to keep up?  Well, there will be other years for me, hopefully better years.
         Speaking of the cabin, all the furniture is out, and everything is off the walls.  Dad brought home some of the nick-knacks, and also the sheets, towels, mattress covers, blankets, and pillow cases for me to wash.  He said he was afraid they would use some perfumy detergent, and I would just have to wash them all over again.  Good thinking!  So I’ve been doing massive amounts of laundry.  Some of the bedding has such a strong smoke smell that I have to wash it twice.  I’ve already used up a gallon of bleach!  Our furniture has supposedly been taken to a facility where they fumigate it with ozone to get the smoke smell out.  I hope it works.  This week they’re supposed to start tearing sheet rock off the walls, but nothing happens on schedule with this crew.  Dad goes over there practically every day to supervise, and I suspect he’s been helping them, too.
         I’m still having quite a struggle with my “post-herpetic neuralgia.” (after-shingles nerve pain.)  I can’t take the hard drugs, just Tramadol, which is better than nothing, but not by much.  Last spring, after my cancer surgery, my colon doctor let me take 2 tablets every four hours, and that went on for several weeks.  But I tried to get our family doctor to prescribe the same amount, and he said it was over the legal limit.  He said lots of doctors don’t even know the limits, or care.  I wish he didn’t know or care.  So then I asked him about medical marijuana.  He said Utah hasn’t worked out the details yet, and there aren’t any standards for how much “hemp” is in it.  He said it might be a good option for down the road.  For me, “down the road” means the 3-hour drive through Vernal to the Colorado border, where there’s a dispensary in the tiny town of Dinosaur.  It’s a great temptation, and one of these days Dad and I might make the trip.
         Have a great Thanksgiving week, everybody!  Lots of love, Mom 

Sunday, November 11, 2018

Dear Kids,
         Luke’s baptism in Pocatello yesterday was a great event, like all baptisms.  The most memorable moment, however, was when Sterling was just lifting Luke up out of the water, and Dallin blurted out “I don’t want to get baptized!”  Hey, this is the kid who wanted to be baptized in the river!  He sure changed his mind fast!  But he’ll be fine when his turn comes. When I was six and Katie was seven, Grandpa Allen took us both to see a baptism.  I was terrified at the sight.  But when I turned eight, it was fine.
         Anna’s baptism is still on for December 1st, but Isaac’s has been changed to December 8th, so it won’t be on the day of our family Christmas party, after all.  There will be more details coming on both of those.  I’m just glad we can celebrate these wonderful events, not to mention the wonderful food we always have, and all the fun of visiting with everybody.
         Our kittens have grown so fast, they now qualify as junior cats. And cute as they are, they’re definitely alley cats.  Their back legs are longer than their front legs, all the better for climbing up people’s pants or jumping up on the table.  They also climb into the dishwasher while I’m trying to load it, so they can lick food scraps off the plates and utensils.  Can you imagine a purebred Siamese or Persian cat doing that? Never!  They harass Tina whenever they can, and she yowls and hisses at them, and then runs away.  But she has reclaimed her favorite spot in the garage, so that’s a sign of hope.
         I had planned to sing in the Messiah, and I wrote in here that we wouldn’t be home the next few Sunday nights, but we’ll be here after all.  I just don’t feel good enough to sing.  Besides, I walk with a cane now (I was falling down too much) so it would be awkward to get up and down the steps.  And people would feel sorry for me, and I don’t want that.  It’s funny–last year I bailed out of the Messiah because I’d just had the first skin cancer surgery on my forehead.  That was the beginning of my year of misery.  I hope I’m not headed into another one.  Please keep up your prayers for me, and your kids’s prayers, too! I really appreciate it.
         Love, Mom

Sunday, November 4, 2018

P.S. to my letter below: The address 2281 East Terry Street might not be accurate.  It’s the same building as all the other Sutton baptisms, at the corner of Princeton and Terry Streets.  You can see the building from the interstate.  My program shows the address as 42 Princeton Street. 
Dear Kids,
         First off, Luke’s baptism will be next Saturday morning at 10 am at Trent and Vanessa’s church in Pocatello.  The address is 2281 East Terry Street..  I know it’s short notice, and everybody’s really busy, but at least some of us will be able to go.  Dad and I haven’t been to Idaho since the eclipse, so we’re looking forward to the trip.  Nora’s family might be going the night before.
         Then, on Saturday, December 1st, Anna and Isaac will both be baptized in Midway.  I don’t know if Donna’s church is the stake center–probably not, so I’ll let you all know which church when it gets closer.  I know for sure it won’t be in the Provo River.  Dallin already has plans for his baptism, and he insists it’s going to be in the river.  Too bad his birthday is during the peak runoff season. 
         Our cats are keeping us well entertained.  Tina still hates the kittens, but that doesn’t bother them at all.  Scout likes to chase her.  She always yowls when she sees him, probably in terror.  Then she takes off, with Scout close behind, and Sonia running after them.  When Dad feeds Tina her special meals, I have to keep the kittens away.  On Sunday nights John usually brings the fire kittens, and they romp around the family room with Scout and Sonia.  Tina sits at the back door and glares and hisses at them all through the glass.  She’s very brave when there’s a door between them.
         Some of you have been asking about any progress on repairing the cabin.  So far, nothing has happened.  A disaster crew was supposed to have cleaned up the debris by now, but it hasn’t happened.  An electrician was supposed to check the wires and make sure they’re all snubbed off.  That hasn’t happened either.  An engineer is supposed to come and check the rafters, and he hasn’t been there.  I’m expecting the rebuilding project to take a long time and be very frustrating. If anything goes smoothly, I’ll be very surprised.
         Come to think of it, hardly anything ever goes smoothly.  But we learn a lot from our troubles.  It’s called life.
         Lots of love, Mom

Sunday, October 28, 2018

Dear Kids,
         John has nicknamed his cats “the fire kittens,” (after Pickles, the fire cat in the book) and he’s been telling people the story of how I rescued them from the cabin.  In the meantime, I got a black eye by sliding off our bed (one night when I was seeing double) and hitting my eye on the corner of the windowsill.  My face is also bruised, because it hit the wall going down.  So I look terrible.  John told the story of the kittens to Cora, the cook at the Wasatch senior center, and she came in to the music room on Thursday to talk to me about it.  When she saw my bruised face, she gasped, because she thought I got that in the fire.  So I realized I could really be embellishing the story, maybe telling how a burning beam fell down and hit me on the head as I was running out with the kittens.  Heck, I could really be making a great story out of it!
         But our cabin fire was already dramatic enough.  Now, this week, we’re starting to deal with inspectors and assessors and the insurance company.  The inspector came first, probably to make sure it wasn’t arson.  The pieces of triple wall pipe from the chimney were on the ground, and she noticed that on one piece, there was creosote between the inner pipe and the next layer out.  She said that meant that the pipe had probably failed, and was letting heat and smoke up the second ring of pipe.  So there wasn’t enough protection  between the heat and the outer wooden chimney.  It had probably failed a long time ago, so it wasn’t “if,” but “when.”  I’m glad it didn’t happen at night, while people were in the cabin.  It could have been really bad.  We were lucky.  Another thing that saved our cabin was that it has three layers of siding, put on by different people who lived there.  It was taking longer than usual to burn through all of them, and gave the fire department time to get there. The inspector said the last two cabin fires in our area left nothing but piles of rubble, so there again, we were lucky.
          People have been asking when the cabin will be rebuilt, and we don’t know. The restoration company, Disaster Master (or Service Master is probably their real name) will start cleaning out the damage later this week.  Then an engineer will evaluate the rafters and see if any of them need to be rebuilt.  Then the rest of the work can start.  But it might all take a really long time. Maybe spring?  But eventually, the cabin will be its old self again.  We’ll have many more fun times there!
         Thanksgiving is coming up!  If you want to come to our house, you’re welcome!  I’ll call each of you when it gets closer.
         And tonight will be our last Sunday night otter pops and gummi bears party for a while, because Messiah practices start next week.  The Messiah itself will be December 8 and 9, at Tom’s church.  I’ll have more details later.
         So much going on, like always!  Love, Mom

Sunday, October 21, 2018

Dear Kids,
         Of course the big news this week was the fire at the cabin.  Thursday afternoon John’s family arrived there for their fall break, and John started a fire in the wood-burning stove, so the cabin could start heating up.  (And boy, did it!)  Then they left for their adventures in Salt Lake.  A while later Donna’s pest control friend arrived to check his mouse traps, and texted Donna a picture of the cabin on fire.   She forwarded the picture to us (the one you’ve all seen, where the chimney area is burning.) Luckily a neighbor had already called the fire department, because by the time Dad and I got there, we could hear the sirens coming.  But a lot of the east end was burning by then.  I called John to let him know the cabin was on fire, and Heather answered.  She told me their three new kittens were in the greenhouse.  The firefighters were all busy by then, so like PeeWee Herman in the movie, I ran in to rescue the kittens.  There was a lot of smoke in the greenhouse, but it wasn’t burning.  I found the kittens under the stack of tables that leans against the wall.  And like Pee Wee Herman, I ran out holding them up high.  Of course the firefighters didn’t care–they were busy putting out the fire.  I tossed the kittens into our car, and then Terry Galmore found me a box for them.
         Meanwhile, the firemen were putting out the fire.  Boy, they use lots of water! When it was finally safe to go inside, the fire chief walked us in.  Most of the damage is in the moose bedroom, but luckily, none of the furniture burned.  The balcony is gone, and we could see blue sky through the eves.  John came up about then, and shook hands with the chief.  It looked like they knew each other already.  John said, “You know I’m the scoutmaster.  I know how to start fires.”
         There will be an investigation, probably to make sure it wasn’t arson, and then we’ll walk through with the insurance assessor, to discuss how it will be rebuilt.  In the meantime, it’s been boarded up on the east side by a disaster crew.  I don’t know how long the rebuilding will take, or even when it will start.
         I said I ran in to get the kittens, and I really did!  It’s funny what adrenaline can do to you.  Here I can barely walk, because of my numb left leg, and when I’m outside, I need to lean on someone.  But all alone, I ran into the greenhouse.  The adrenaline effect lasted all day, and I haven’t felt that good in weeks.  Now, of course I’m back to the same old pain.  I saw Dr. Newbold on Monday, and he tweaked my medications, which helped a little.  I asked him to tell me honestly how long this stage lasts, and he said 3-6 months.  For most people.  Sometimes it stretches into years, but I couldn’t be that unlucky.  I really appreciate all your prayers.  I definitely still need them.
         Lots of love, Mom

Sunday, October 14, 2018

Dear Kids,
         If I really really really hated somebody, I might arrange for them to get shingles.  The rash at first isn’t so bad, but after that, you can get  “post-herpatic neuralgia,” which is almost-constant pain from the effects of frayed nerve endings.  I’m taking a drug (gabapentin) that’s supposed to help with it, but there doesn’t seem to be any relief in sight. In fact, it seems to get a little worse every day.  Night time is the worst of all, when I have abdominal cramps that are like being in labor.  During the day, it’s sometimes almost OK.  The pain is always there, but I can distract myself by doing interesting things, like playing the piano or sewing.  I finally made myself find out more about “PHN,” and the news isn’t good.  It can last for months, or even years.  Can people really suffer that long?   I don’t see how.  I really appreciate all your prayers for me.  And your children’s prayers.  Please keep them up!  I may need them for a long time!  And please, please, if you’re 40 or older, get the vaccines!  (2 of them, 2 months apart.)  If my warning can cause even one of you to avoid this, it will have been worth it.  I keep thinking about Jesus, and how he suffered indescribable pain for all of us.  It’s very real to me now. 
         Our new kitties are providing me a little distraction.  They fight and bite and race and chase.   The oreo kitten, the girl, is named Sonia.  The boy, the gray one, is Scout.  I moved them to the garage the second or third day they were here, and they’re having fun exploring their new domain.  But they try to get in whenever they can.
         John’s family has kittens now too–three of them!  (One for each child at home.)  They’re tiny little things, much younger than ours.
         Conference was great, wasn’t it?  I’m still rejoicing over the prospect of a 2-hour block.  Of course it doesn’t start until January, but it will be great to put in two hours and then go home, not feeling guilty.
         In spite of my pain, I hope you will all keep visiting us, when you can.  We’ll always have plenty of oreos and gummi bears and otter pops.  And now you can play with our kittens!
         Life is good. Love, Mom

Sunday, October 7, 2018

Dear Kids,
         Having shingles is wretched. My symptoms change every day.  Friday night it was terrible abdominal cramps, but when I went to the ER, they couldn’t find anything wrong.  Now my left leg is numb, and I stumble when I walk.  The drugs I’m taking make me groggy, and I can’t think.  Worst of all, it doesn’t get gradually better.  I’m worse off now than a week ago.  But enough of that. There’s lots good going on.
         We have kittens!  Nora brought them last night, when they came for our conference party.  They don’t have names yet, but we’re working on that.  One is grey, and I think it’s a male.  The other is a little Oreo cat, probably a female, but their behinds are so furry it’s hard to tell.  Tina is furious, of course.  But in time she’ll have fun playing with them.
          Vanessa’s family came by last Sunday with their new golden doodle.  They bought him in Heber, and he’s a total family dog.  He made himself right at home in our house and outside. He barked at the neighbor’s dog.  He’s used to playing with kids, so he came to the right family.  His name is Chevy.  Or is he a her?  Come to think of it, I can’t exactly remember.  It’s the drugs I’m on.
         Dad worked all week to install a new garage door opener at the cabin.  The code is still 6403, and then you hit “enter” to get in.  To close it, just hit “enter.”  There’s a new gate code, too, 0612.  But it doesn’t work yet. For now, just use the old code, 7281.  It’s probably best for now to try both of them.
         How about the conference announcement, the new 2-hour block?  It was on the top of my list, for rumors to be true.  And maybe they’ll have more changes to announce today. We’re certainly going to be watching and listening!
          It’s all good!  Lots of love, Mom

Sunday, September 30, 2018

Dear Kids,
         I thought I’d had my quota of pain and suffering for the year, but now I have shingles! It started with weird red blotches on my leg–that was Tuesday morning.  I thought they were strange, and they’d be gone in a day.  The next morning the blotches had little blisters on them.  By Thursday morning they were spreading, and they hurt.  On a hunch I googled “shingles rash,” and there it was, horrible pictures of rashes like mine.  I couldn’t believe it! John has been bugging us to get the new shingles shot, and Dad was a good boy and did it.  (Actually, it’s two shots.  And they’re expensive.)  I was just waiting, because I didn’t want to have anything more to do with the medical world for a while.  Besides, we’d  both had the old shingles shot, and IT was expensive, and IT was supposed to work.  Excuses.  I called John to see if I should get the shots anyway, and he said no; I should see my doctor immediately.  That day!  There’s an antiviral drug that controls the rash, and I needed to start it asap.  So we saw my doctor that afternoon.  (Naturally Dad came along. He’s always fascinated by my medical troubles.)  I got the drug–it’s called valtrex, and this is my third day of it.  The rash has slowed down, but it still hurts plenty.  Besides that, I have aches in my back and my legs.  I limp around like an old farmer.  I should probably google “shingles” and find out how long it’s supposed to last, but I don’t want to know.  I just figure it’ll be a little better every day.
         And of course I’m still planning on enjoying conference next weekend.  We’ll still have the soup dinner here Saturday night, at 5 pm.  I’ll call around and see who’s coming, and what you want to bring.  And I’ll find out if you want to do a Sunday dinner between sessions.  I’m looking forward to the talks, and to find out if all the rumors about drastic changes are true.  There’s a meme floating around, a picture of the first presidency laughing it up.  They’re saying, “Then we’ll spread a rumor of a 2 hour block . . . they’ll all watch conference.”  Well, we can hope.  At least we’ll enjoy conference!
         Here’s some good news, for me at least: the Ghirardelli chocolate bars I love are called “Evening Dream” (60%), “Twilight Delight” (72%), and my favorite, “Midnight Reverie” (86%).  But now there’s a brand new one, “Moonlight Mystique” (92%). It’s the best of all!  One bite of it, and you mostly forget your troubles.  Two bites, and you can face anything.
         Life is good, in spite of all the challenges.  I love you all!  Mom

Sunday, September 23, 2018

Dear Kids,
         It’s not as smoky as last week, but the fires are still burning.  You can see one up by Bald Mountain, glowing at night, and a pillar of smoke by day.  (Sounds biblical!)  Planes and helicopters have been dropping fire retardant.  Yesterday afternoon I was raking rocks in the back yard, and I stopped to watch a helicopter go over.  It was the kind that has blades at both ends, and it was trailing a long cable with a bucket.  Then it occurred to me that I could actually SEE the details of the helicopter!  When I had my cataract surgery three weeks ago, they put a distance lens in my left eye, but I didn’t think much about it.  But now that my eye has healed, it amazes me what I can see at a distance.  And I have a close up lens in my right eye, from the surgery I had twelve years ago.  So I’m good to go, right?  Well, not exactly.  In between is a problem.  When I play the piano, I can barely see my music, and I have to really squint.  So I’ll have to get new piano glasses from John.  And organ glasses, for Sunday.
         Yesterday morning Dad and I drove to Centerville to help Nora’s family haul rocks.  There’s a strip at the back of their property, just before it drops down to the new house behind them, where it’s been built up to keep it from washing away.  It needed to be covered with cobble.   Donna had ordered the cobble from Staker Parsons (because she could get a discount) and it was sitting in a pile on Nora’s driveway.   We used four wheelbarrows, and Nora’s entire family helped.  Ben shoveled the cobble into the wheelbarrows, and blew his trumpet in between to entertain us.  Everybody else pushed wheelbarrows and helped put down the rock.  Some of the rocks got away from us and flew down below, so we had to station a kid down there to carry them back up.  It all turned out really well!  We were done in no time, and we sat in the shade and admired our work.  Then James went off to do his on-line class at the library.
         Dad and I talked to Kristen Danielson while she was working with her crew at the Heber Library on Thursday morning.   She says she’s OK to talk to people now.  Her sentence is up in a couple of months, I think she said, but she looked very happy where she was.  Nancy said she’s made a lot of progress, and I’m sure she’ll make a good life for herself when she gets out.
         Conference is in two weeks!  I’ll be contacting everybody personally about the soup party Saturday night.  Ladies rule!  We’ll all be going off to the session while the men babysit. Tom said that sounded good to him!  We’ll see if we want to have a dinner on Sunday, too.  I’ll be asking about that, too.
         Hope you’re all doing great! Love, Mom

Sunday, September 16, 2018

Dear Kids,
         If you step out our door, your lungs fill with smoke.  Sometimes the wind blows it away, but then it comes back.  There are fires burning all around.  The worst one is down near Spanish Fork Canyon.  My sisters and I had our annual retreat here at our house Friday night, and Jane thought she’d be getting up out of the smoke. (She lives in Springville.)  Katie was coming from Laurie’s house in Mapleton, and she had the same hope.  But there was a fire burning north of Kamas when they got here, and ash was collecting on all our cars. 
         But the smoke didn’t stop our fun. We drove to Heber to eat at the Dairy Keen, and we went to John’s office to try on frames. Then we came back to Kamas to shop at the New West store, where I bought a new cowboy hat and Jane bought a Don Weller cowboy print.  We bought our dinner at the Food Town deli and brought it back to our house to eat, and then we watched “Coco.”  None of them had seen it!  I have to thank Donna for introducing me to that wonderful movie.  And Anna, for all the times we’ve watched it.
         Saturday morning we shopped at the outlet stores, where the sky was mercifully clear of smoke,  and we ate at the Red Rock café.  And talked and talked and talked. Yes, I heard a lot of gossip, but nothing specific I can pass on.  It seems like nobody’s expecting babies right now, and everybody’s pretty settled in what they’re doing.  Still, nobody tells good stories like my sisters.  I enjoyed every minute of it, and I was sad when they all had to go home.
         Three weeks till conference!  We’ll be having the Saturday night soup and bread party here at our house at 5 pm, and then all of us ladies (and girls over 8) will go off to the women’s session, while the guys babysit.  Of course we’ll have brownies and ice cream afterward.  Sunday, does anybody want to watch conference here, or at the cabin?  Do we want to have a Café Rio lunch at the cabin, between sessions?  I’m willing to help, if somebody else will plan it.  Let me know.  Now, about conference itself, there have been lots of rumors swirling around.  Everybody’s saying that the last conference was only the tip of the iceberg.   My favorite rumors are  (1) The 2- hour block, (2) Members don’t clean the chapel any more, and (3) Stake conferences will be cut down to an hour and a half.  Others I’ve heard are that the boys’ mission age will be raised to 19, all missions will be cut down to 18 months, and everybody getting married will have a civil marriage first, and then go to the temple.  It’s all interesting stuff.  Maybe none of it will be announced.  Maybe it’s all just rumors. 
         Anyway, there’s always excitement ahead.  I love you all!  Mom

Sunday, September 9, 2018

Dear Kids,
         We had a blast with the McGettigans at the Frontier Days rodeo.  Jana noticed on the schedule that there was a children’s rodeo in the morning, so we walked over and watched the sheep riding (some of the kids rode backwards) and the steer riding (they actually rode calves that were barely big enough to have horns) and some foot races.  Lots of the kids in our ward were there and it was really fun watching them.  Jana said it brought back lots of good memories from her childhood.  She grew up in Clawson, down in Emery County, and rodeo was really big.  She did it all.
         In the afternoon we went back for the bull riding, bareback riding, and saddle broncs.  Most of those cowboys are professionals, not local boys at all.  Every time they got thrown (and sometimes trampled) I cringed.  Their poor necks and backs!  But they only called in the ambulance once.  We totally got our money’s worth!
         On Wednesday I had cataract surgery on my left eye.  It’s been ten or twelve years since I had my right eye done, and things have changed a lot since then.  For one thing, it was a total surgical setting.  I had to put on a hospital gown, which was really hard–not the gown itself, but the whole atmosphere of surgery. I’ve done that at least six times in the last few months.  I had an IV.  They gave me a “sedative,” which was some kind of general anesthetic, because I was unconscious most of the time.  (General anesthetics destroy brain cells–I’m sure of it.)  In spite of all that, the surgery was a total success, and just two days later I had 20-20 vision in that eye.  Hurray for modern medicine, even with its hospital gowns!
         It’s only four weeks until October Conference.  They’re doing the Saturday night session differently now: In October, it’s the women’s session, instead of the priesthood session!  That means if we have our traditional soup dinner here, all of us women will go off to the conference session and the men can stay home and watch the kids!  Of course we’ll still have ice cream and brownies afterwards.  It will be an interesting change.
         I hope you’re all doin’ great and lovin’ it!  Love, Mom

Sunday, September 2, 2018

Dear Kids,
         Most of you have seen Vanessa’s post about next year’s Ackerson reunion: Rendezvous Beach at Bear Lake. (Yay! I love that place!) It’ll be July 25-28.  We’ll be celebrating John’s and Jackie’s birthdays there, but missing Seth’s by a day.  I’m already excited about going back to Bear Lake, even though all of our reunions, everywhere, have been fabulous. 
         Dad’s colonoscopy on Wednesday went really well.  Dr. Bossart didn’t find anything wrong at all.  Not even a polyp. Thank goodness.  I can’t stand for anything more to go wrong with either of us. 
         McGettigans are coming this afternoon and staying overnight, and then we’re going to the Frontier Days rodeo tomorrow afternoon.  Usually we’ve done the Saturday night rodeo together, but Monday afternoons they do bareback riding, broncs,  and the battle of the bulls, so we wanted to watch that for a change.  We always have a great time with the McGettigans, so we’re looking forward to having them here again.  And if any of you are planning to come visit us this evening, they’ll be delighted to see you.  They know you all! 
         The mountains have been calling to me.  Last week Dad and I hiked part of the Shingle Creek trail, and this week we went all the way to Mt. Baldy.  The main trail is really steep and rocky, of course, and there’s no shade, but we took the side trail that goes to Meadow Lake and Clyde Lake.  Not that we hiked  that far–we probably only went a couple of miles, but it satisfied my need to hike in the mountains.  Until the next time they call.  Now that I’m feeling really good, I can’t sit home while there’s such beautiful scenery all around us.  It’s really great to get out in the open air again.
         Love to all, Mom

Sunday, August 26, 2018

Dear Kids,
         I’ve been over to the cabin a few times since Al moved out, sorting and rearranging things.  The front closet is stuffed with jackets and coats, so obviously some of them will have to go to the DI, to make room for real visitors’ coats.  Each of you ought to look through them, if you get the chance, and see if any of your long-lost favorites are there.  There are lots of stray single socks, from under the beds and inside the bedding.   Should I just throw them away, or should I start a lost and found bucket?  So many decisions!  Al did an amazing job of keeping things tidy while he was there, but he didn’t throw any of your stuff away.  I don’t want to either.  Oh, by the way, there’s an Epson projector in a black bag sitting by the high chairs. Anybody? Anybody? 
         Dad and I visited Al at his new place in Centerville. It’s surprisingly roomy!  There are three bedrooms, two bathrooms, and a comfortable living space.  His rent is very reasonable, too, for the area.  He seems to be settling in very well.  Best of all, he’s close to work.  No more hour-long commutes at all hours of the night.  I’m very glad about that.
         I had fun helping Abi, Ali, and Anna do new streaks in their hair last Sunday night.  (I have tubes of red and blue now, besides pink and purple.)  When they first asked me, I said I was very tired, and it was my bedtime.  (It was.)  They said it wasn’t their bedtime, and they weren’t tired at all.  So we did it.  I combed in the color and rolled up the strips, and pinned them with clips.  But I haven’t seen how any of the colors turned out yet.  I’ll be interested to see how well the color took.  There’s a big difference in girls’ hair–some of it sucks up color, and some resists it totally.
         Yesterday afternoon Dad and I drove 10 miles up the Mirror Lake Highway to the Shingle Creek trail, and we started up it.  But it’s way too long to do in a short afternoon, especially if you’re already tired from working in the yard.  We’re planning to go back when we have a whole day, and take a lunch.  It’s 12.5 miles round trip.  Now that I feel good, there’s no stopping the adventure!  Dad’s cool with it.
         Speaking of Dad, he’s having a routine colonoscopy on Wednesday.  That’s because it’s been 10 years since he had one before, not because he has any danger signs.  I’m totally confident he won’t have the awful experience I had after mine.  And I’m not even done yet.   My colon doctor still wants to see me every three months, and my oncologist, too.  So much fun!  Besides that, we both have to see our dermatologist again, and Dr. Condie (our kind dentist), and I have to see a podiatrist because one of my toenails is full of fungus.  Oh, yeah, and I’m having cataract surgery on September 5th. No stoppin’ the fun.
         Love, Mom

Sunday, August 19, 2018

Dear Kids,
         The fun is mostly over, and Sharon and her kids have gone home.  The house seems terribly empty, with just Dad, myself, and Tina.  But I’m looking back fondly over everything that happened in the last three weeks: the Allen reunion, Lucy’s baptism, the party at Paul’s, the family reunion, Tour of Utah . . . it was all great.  So it’s been hard getting back to everyday life.  Yesterday afternoon I was feeling so let down and starved for adventure that Dad and I drove up to Mirror Lake.  The whole world is up there!  Literally.  We walked around the lake, and we passed people of every possible color and nationality.  And the scenery was so beautiful, we kept stopping just to look around at where we were.  Life can never be boring, when you live so close to the mountains.
         I know how well I’m doing physically since I could walk all the way around that lake (2.8 miles) after a morning of working in the yard.  Just two weeks ago I wasn’t able to hike to the top of the mountain at Snowbasin, with all you kids, but I bet I could do it now!  Some Saturday afternoon this fall I want to drive back there with Dad, ride the gondola again, and then climb to the top.  Anybody want to come along?
         I’ve gradually transitioned back to going to church in our own ward, but I still miss the Spanish branch terribly.  There’s a big hole in my heart.  Still, I’m getting with the program again.  I play the organ once or twice a month, and last week I taught Gospel Doctrine again.  Dad, who is still Sunday School president, wants me to switch to teaching Gospel Essentials, so I’ll start that next week.  There are such wonderful people in our ward, and they’re so kind to me!  So many people have told me how glad they are that I’ve recovered from my cancer, and that I’m back in church.  So many of them fasted and prayed for me, and for the others who were sick at the same time.  It feels really good to be there again.
         I guess all your lives are settling down, too.  I know most of the grandkids will be back in school this week.  Julie is all settled in a new apartment, and I think her classes have already started.  Fall is coming on, and more adventure will come our way!
         Lots of love, Mom

Sunday, August 12, 2018

Dear Kids,
         Who can keep track of all the fun we’ve had the last couple of weeks: the Allen family reunion, and Lucy’s baptism, and Josh’s birthday party, and then the marvelous Ackerson family reunion at Pine View.  Tom commented that it was the most fun we’ve ever had, and I agree.  Until next year.  Tom said the fun keeps escalating because the kids are getting bigger and more adventurous.  Probably true. 
         This afternoon we had Tour of Utah come right past our house, twice.  Usually they go down Highway 32, on their way to Heber or Midway, but this is the first time they’ve actually come past our house along Hilltop Road. They came the back way, from Democrat Alley to Lambert Lane and Hallam Road, and I didn’t see how they could keep from crashing on those 90 degree turns. (Or running over cats.  Or chickens.  Or cows.) I was talking to the marshal assigned to stand out on our corner, before the cyclists came by, and I asked him how they were going to do those turns.  He said most of these guys have cycled all over Europe, and they’re used to narrow roads and hairpin turns.  He was really nice,  and he knew almost exactly when they’d come by.  Tom’s family was here–barely.  As they were driving up the hill to Francis, just before they came to the hairpin turn, a truck pulled out in front of them and stopped all the traffic.  So they did a U-turn and went down to Lower River Road, went around and up the dugway, and through Francis, and around to our house.  I was glad they made it. Sharon and her kids were here too, and Mandy and her kids.  It was pretty exciting when the pack of cyclists finally came by.  Lots of cops on motorcycles, flashing their lights and blaring their sirens, and lots of police and highway patrol cars.  Then the bikes, all in a group.  Then the chase cars with all the extra bikes on their roofs.  Then two ambulances.  When the whole pack had gone by, we went inside for lunch, and just half an hour later, they were back again, going the other way.  By then they had split into groups.  It was still exciting.  You could tell how fast the cyclists were going because the chase cars were speeding to keep up, way faster than we ever drive along Hilltop.  Then they were gone.  It was lots of fun.  I hope they come by here again next year.
          Sharon has been using our house as her base of adventure the last couple of weeks, but we haven’t even tried to keep up with all her doings.  She says she has to pack in all the fun she can while they’re in Utah, to make it worth the trip.  Last night she and her friends Holly and Tim and all their kids went to the cabin for an overnighter. So it’s been spookily quiet here.  Tina came out of hiding and graced us with her company.  She wants us to have a normal schedule agian, but it’s going to be dang boring.
         Love to everybody, Mom

Sunday, July 29, 2018

Dear Kids,
         As if the Allen family reunion wasn’t spectacular enough, Lucy’s baptism in the Provo River topped everything.  I couldn’t have imagined a more beautiful setting (we owe a huge debt of gratitude to Jann Leffler for that), and there were so many wonderful people there! (At least 60.) And the ordinance itself was beautiful.  Lucy was very gutsy to climb down into that river, and Seth did a wonderful job with the baptism.  I know every baptism is a wonderful event, but we’ll always remember this one.  (Dallin says he wants to be baptized there, but his birthday is at the height of the spring runoff, and that would be a totally different experience.)
         We owe a huge debt of gratitude to Sharon for hosting the wonderful after-party at our house, and for everyone who helped.  Which means everyone.  Thanks for the wonderful food you all brought!  Thanks to those who set up the pop-ups and set out the chairs.  We had plenty of seating, for all those people.  Thanks especially to those who cleaned up!  At one point I staggered upstairs and fell asleep on my bed, while the little teenage girls were gathered in our master bath, coloring their hair.  When I woke up, they were gone.  When I woke up again this morning and went downstairs, I was delighted to see that everything was put back and cleaned up.  I can’t thank you all enough.
         So today the fun continues at Paul’s house, with Joshua’s birthday party (and mine) at 4:00 pm.  Paul’s address is 1042 Lindi Way in Layton. I’m sure it will be a blast.
         And after that, the fun will pick up again at our Ackerson family reunion at Pine View, starting late Thursday.  Thanks to Nora for taking charge, and for posting the plan.  We’ve read it over, and we’re really excited for all the events and activities.
        See you all this afternoon, and again starting Thursday!
        Love, Mom

Sunday, July 22, 2018

Dear Kids,
         All the fun events are getting really close.  The Allen reunion is next Saturday, the 28th, at the same park (Riverwoods) from 9 am until 1 or 2 or so.  All the details are in my last two letters.  Be there or be square!  Then, that same day, Lucy’s baptism will be at 5 pm in the Provo River.  Pretend you’re going to the cabin, but when you’re on Lower River Road, don’t turn right at 1000 East.  Keep going a couple more miles to 3544 East (you’re on Hwy 35.)  You’ll know you’re there when you see a cougar on top of a tall tree trunk.  Turn right just before the cougar.  It’s not really a driveway, just a track. There will probably be somebody standing there to direct you. You’ll drive past the house and through a couple of pastures, and somebody will show you where to park.  It will be a great event!  Yes, there’s plenty of water there.  It’s at least waist deep, according to the locals.  Rick Gunnerson, the bishop of Woodland ward, will be presiding, because it’s in his ward’s boundaries.  The after-party is at our house, and Sharon will probably be giving food assignments.
         And the next day is Josh’s birthday party, and mine, at Paul’s (1042 Lindi Way, Layton) at 4 pm.  Be THERE or be square.  It will be hamburgers and hot dogs, and you can bring a side dish, if you want. Then, just four days later, our Ackerson family reunion will start, at Pineview Reservoir.  It goes from Thursday afternoon to Sunday morning.  Nora’s getting out the schedule.  After their trip to Mount Rushmore, she and the girls went right to camp, and they just got home yesterday.  Go, Nora!
         We had Charlie and Matthew here from Tuesday to Friday, and it was lots of fun. I couldn’t do much, but they totally entertained themselves.  On Thursday I had to be gone all day, so Dad took them swimming at the rec center, and to lunch at the Food Town deli.  Friday we drove to Heber where I had an eye appointment (I’m going to be having cataract surgery on my left eye), and Dad took the boys to Midway to pick up Stu, Isaac, and McKay, who had been staying at Donna’s.  Then we all drove to Centerville and dropped the boys off at Nora’s house, where James was in charge.  I’m sure the fun continued there.
         In just a couple of weeks, Allen will be moving to a condo in Centerville.  It miraculously opened up for him!  It’s in the same complex where I picked up Tina a couple of years ago, so you know it’s a magical place.  And what a short commute for him!  It’s only a couple of blocks from the police station.
         Life is good. I love you all!  Mom

Sunday, July 15, 2018

Dear Kids,
         There’s so much fun coming up, I’ll try to give you all the details.  The first thing is the Allen family reunion July 28, and besides last week’s information, here’s more from Bonnie: “I wanted to just add a few things to update you all on the upcoming park reunion! It's looking like it will be hot, so I decided to rent an inflatable slide that will have water running on it (hopefully!) to keep the kids cool. If you want to contribute to the cost of that, you can just give me $20. We will have a water cooler, and other drinks, but bring sunscreen, toys like bikes, footballs, frisbees, etc  And if the kids want to play on the slide, clothes that can get wet. Does anyone know who brought the volleyball net last time? It would be great if someone could bring that again as well. With a crowd this large, its hard to plan a lot of structured activities? So mostly we will just be visiting with each other, which is the best part!”
         Then, of course, Lucy’s baptism will be that evening at 5:00 in the Provo River.  I’ll write the directions in my next letter.  It’s about ten minutes further than coming to our house, so you can plan the time.  The after-party will be at our house, and I think it will be a dinner with hamburgers and hot dogs.  Sharon is planning it.
         Then, the next day, July 29,  is Josh’s birthday party at Paul’s house in Layton (1042 Lindi Way) at 4 pm.  Again there will be hamburgers and hot dogs, along with cake and ice cream.  You can bring a side dish to share.  We’ll sort of be celebrating my birthday, too, since it’s the same day as Josh’s. 
         Nora’s getting together the agenda for our upcoming Ackerson reunion (August 2-5).  If there’s a particular meal you want to fix, text her and let her know.  I asked about bathroom accommodations at our campground, and they’re sort of primitive: pit toilets, running water (but not warm) and a garbage dump.  If you want to shower, Nora’s house is only 35-40 minutes away.  She said anybody who wants to stay overnight there is also welcome.
         Andy and Renae came by our house to visit on Friday.  They’ve been home from their mission less than two weeks, so they’re still in culture shock.  They’ve been serving in Dad’s part of Virginia for the last 18 months, so the three of them had fun comparing places and roads.  I asked Andy what the strangest thing was about coming home, and he said people in Brigham City are too white and too old.  Hummm.
         Here’s something that never happened to me in Salt Lake: Claren Palmer, my only piano student that comes to our house, showed up Monday morning for his lesson.  He said he had a present for me, and then he stuck a huge rainbow trout right in my face. He’d been down at the Jordanelle since 6 am fishing.  (Left his home in West Valley at 5.)   I told him he could keep his fish, so he asked for a plastic bag to stash it in.  Then he had his piano lesson.
         Lots of love to you all!  Mom

Sunday, July 8, 2018

Dear Kids,
         Here’s a message from Bonnie for all of you:  Our "every other year in the park" Allen reunion is approaching, and the date we have chosen is Saturday July 28th!  It will be held at the same place as always, in the Provo Riverview park.  (4620 N 300 West, Provo, UT) We have the pavilion from 9:00 to 2:00 p.m.  Please make this a priority since we only do this every other year, and for just a few hours. It is always fun to see how large and amazing this family has grown and for cousins to reconnect!  Bring your own lunch and we will have a few fun games and activities planned. If anyone wants to help with activities, please let me know.
          I’m really excited for this reunion, and for Lucy’s baptism that evening at 5:00.  We’re in the middle of a drought, and the river is really low now, but Jan Lefler said the water is always waist deep in that one spot.  If I had a backhoe I would go dredge it deeper there, just to make sure, but of course it will be fine.
          Because of the drought, there’s a total ban on fireworks in Summit county, so Dad and I went to Centerville for the 4th of July.  Nora’s neighborhood was also part of a ban,  but Allen told me that Main Street was OK.  So went went down to the church just below their house to set off our fireworks.  I had half of a Costco pack that John split with me, and James had his own collection.  (We had already done sparklers and snakes and poppers up at Nora’s house, while it was still light.)  We waited until it was totally dark, and then started setting things off.   My aerials were totally spectacular.  (McKay had his hands over his ears, but he was totally stupefied.)  Then, just as we were finishing, a kid came running up with two giant bags filled with more aerials.  He lit a punk from our lighter, and then started setting them off.  Of course he needed us for an audience, and we totally enjoyed his show!  Besides that, the whole valley was alive with fireworks.  What a night!  Dad and I slept over, because it was way too late to drive home.
         There’s no major medical news from us this week, but I’ve made one giant improvement.  For the last three months, ever since I had radiation, I haven’t been able to even look at dark chocolate.  (Who could have believed it?)  But now, suddenly, I’m loving it again.  I’ve tackled the stack of “Midnight Reverie” I collected on Mothers Day, and relishing every bite.  So life is really good again.
         Lots of love, Mom

Sunday, July 1, 2018

Dear Kids,
         My only medical news this week is that I had a tooth pulled.  It was nothing, compared to all the other medical procedures I’ve been through.  Dad was there holding my hand, of course, and Dr. Condie worked out the tooth in two different pieces.  (After several shots to numb me all around.)  It was a back molar, and it had been failing for a long time.  I won’t even have an implant to replace it. With the type of food I eat now, I may never use my molars again.  Chocolate pudding and pumpkin cookies–who needs molars for those?
         Thursday afternoon Dad and I had eye exams at John’s office, which is always fun.  We love to watch John on the job.  And of course we admired all his state-of-the art equipment.  He showed us pictures of exactly what’s going on in our eyes.  Dad got new prescriptions for his glasses, but I have to wait.  I have opposite prisms in my eyes, which causes me to see double. That sometimes happens if one eye has had cataract surgery, and the other hasn’t.  So I have to see an opthamologist about having the other eye done.  Julie made the appointment for me–Julie, sitting at the front desk, looking totally professional.  I remember how odd it seemed the first time John examined my eyes, to think my little boy was grown up, and did I trust him to put drops in my eyes, and now here’s my granddaughter sitting at the front desk!  Yes, I feel old, but it’s wonderful to have all of you kids and grandkids turning out so well.
         Later that afternoon we drove over to Woodland to scope out Lucy’s baptismal site on the Provo River.  It’s the same spot where Mark and Tamry Allen’s son was baptized a couple of years ago, and Tamry’s aunt showed us around.  We’ll have to drive through a couple of pastures to get to the site, but she said she’d move the cows before then.  The river is really low now, mostly rocks, but there’s a spot near the far bank where it’s always waist deep.  Luckily it’s not high water, and we won’t have to tie a rope onto Lucy to keep her from being swept away.  In an e-mail to me, she wrote, “I hope when I fly out I get to be baptized. I hope when Dad leaves me down in the water I can feel the spirit inside me.”  Yes, Lucy, I hope we’ll all feel the Spirit.  It will be a wonderful day.  (July 28.)  Sharon will be sending out cards with directions and information about the baptism. And since the Allen family reunion will be that same morning at Riverwoods Park, I’m sure Bonnie will be sending out information on that.  I’ll pass it on to you as soon as I get it.
         So much fun! So much to be grateful for!  Lots of love to everybody! Mom

Sunday, June 24, 2018

Dear Kids,
         Yay, it’s Sunday, a day of rest!  I’ve probably been overdoing it, and I’m always exhausted, so I’m glad that the Lord commands us to slow down and take it easy once a week.  Then I’ll be back out into the yard again.  I can’t help it.  I’m not digging dirt or hauling rocks, just pruning and rearranging sprinkler tubing and watering the dry spots on the lawn.  But it’s glorious, being outside in this wonderful June sunshine. Every day is like no other.
         Last week I went back to church for the first time in many weeks.  In the interim, I’ve either gone to Elk Meadows up in Oakley, where the entire service is only half an hour long, or I’ve asked for the young men to bring me the sacrament.  But last week I finally felt good enough to attend sacrament meeting. Today I’ll add in Sunday school.  I can’t believe how nice people are!  Members I barely know have told me they’ve been praying for me.  In fact, all four of the ward invalids were in sacrament meeting last Sunday: Eric Willis, who had a kidney transplant, Marc Hermansen, who had esophageal cancer, Devlin Tychson, who broke his leg in two places, and me.  I won’t say we all looked in the peak of health, but we were all there.
         Andy and Renae are finishing their mission already!  They’ve been serving in northern Virginia, Dad’s old stomping grounds.  They’ll be leaving this week and driving home over three days.  Renae said their mission itself has been lots of fun, and their only hardships have been other things like their grandson Lennox’s cancer, and Andy’s back trouble, when they first arrived.  They’ve been teaching the self-reliance program, and I’m sure they’ve helped a lot of people.  But it will be nice to have them home again.
         My new piano students at the Heber senior center are doing really well.  I have three one-hour classes in a row, which is exhausting now, but it will get easier as I get my energy back again.  It’s so rewarding to teach good students, that I’ve probably jumped back in a little too fast, but it energizes my spirit.
        Don’t forget the upcoming events: The Allen Family reunion and Lucy’s baptism on July 28th, and our own Ackerson reunion at Pine View August 2-5.  So much fun! I can’t wait.
         Hope you’re all doin’ great and lovin’ it! Love, Mom

Sunday, June 17, 2018

Dear Kids,
         Yay! I have no medical news this week! I’m doing better and better, and Dad’s neck has completely healed up.  I’m feeling so good that we went on a walk down Hilltop Road yesterday afternoon.  It was glorious.  Just being outside in the beautiful clean air, with the fabulous view down onto the Provo River, gave my spirits a big boost. We walked too far, and I was too tired to walk back, so I sat down to rest and sent Dad back to get the car.  A nice guy who was pulling his boat into his back yard said he was glad to see me up and around, and asked me if I wanted a drink of water.  People are so good!
         It’s less than six weeks till July 28, that wonderful day for the Allen family reunion and Lucy’s baptism.  The reunion will be at Riverwoods Park, where we always have it, probably about 9 am.  I’ll send you more info when Bonnie gets it out.  And then, at 5 pm, Lucy will be baptized in the Provo River!  What a courageous little girl!  I’d thought we might have the afterparty there at the river, but Sharon pointed out that Lucy will be cold and wet.  (Seth, too.)  So we’ll come back here to our house for the dinner, probably hamburgers and hot dogs.  Sharon is in charge.  It will be a wonderful evening. Then, August 2-5 will be our Ackerson family reunion at Pineview.  We’ll be camping over for Thursday, Friday, and Saturday nights.  Nora will be sending out more information when it gets closer.  We’re really excited about that!  So much fun coming up.  I’m so glad to be getting well again!
         I’ve got a regular hair-coloring studio going here! Last Sunday morning, when Nora was here with her kids, Paige added some more pink to her ends.  Then, Sunday night, when the rest of our visitors were here, I put a streak of purple in Anna’s hair.  Then Kim did purple streaks in Abi and Ali’s hair.  These little girls were very excited about it.  We tried to get Julie to color her hair, and she said she wanted to, but she works in John’s office and Heather’s dress code is very specific about that.  My own hair color varies from week to week, from purple to pink and back again.
         Thursday mornings, when Dad and I go to the Heber senior center, we often see crews from state corrections working on the library grounds.  Last Thursday morning Kristen Danielson was in the group.  She was sweeping the sidewalk, and it looked like she was having fun.  The crew were all girls, with matching pink t-shirts.  Kristen said she wasn’t allowed to talk to us–she could only say hi. 
         Life is good. I love you all!  Mom

Sunday, June 10, 2018

Dear Kids,
         My medical troubles go on and on.  Last week I wrote that I was feeling better and better (and Dad, too) but I spoke too soon.  Just a couple of hours after I posted my letter, something really weird happened–my stoma prolapsed.  (If you google it, you can see how icky it is, but I don’t recommend it.)  I called my doctor’s answering service, and got his partner, Dr. Dean, who told me it wasn’t a big deal.  He said that I could easily wait another day (since it was a Sunday morning) and make an appointment to see my regular surgeon, Dr. Bossart.  So I spent the day mostly lying down, trying not to aggravate it.  By evening it was swollen and bleeding and looking awful.  I called in again, and Dr. Dean told me to go to the emergency room.  The weird thing is, Donna and Bevan were here fixing us dinner, (bless their souls) exactly like the Sunday night six weeks ago when I had to go to the emergency room.  So we left in the middle of dinner (again) and Dad drove me down to the ER at LDS Hospital.  After they checked me in, they called Dr. Dean and he came and looked at my stoma.  He got a packet of sugar from the break room and sprinkled some on, because he said he’d seen on the internet that it might make the stoma shrink and go back inside.  Funny–I’d just read that same article.  Is that how our doctors know what to do, they just google it?  Well, of course it didn’t work.  They called in Dr. Bossart, and he started fiddling with it, and was eventually able to push it back inside.  (I’m really sorry this is so gross.) But of course it wasn’t going to stay, so they put me on the surgical schedule for the next day.  And they moved me up to the sixth floor, my old haunt from my last two visits.  I even had the same room I had the first time!
         The operation was really simple, and Dr. Bossart said some people don’t feel any pain from it.  But of course I’m not “some people,” and I’ve had a lot of pain.  But luckily the pain from my incision in the back has practically gone away, so I only have my front side to worry about now.  And I think it will heal lots faster than the back.
         I have to get better quickly because I’m taking on new piano students this week–adults, of course.  Tomorrow Claren Palmer is coming from West Valley, to have a lesson here at our house.  I used to teach him in our Lighthouse piano class, and then he took over the class when Dad and I had to bail out.  He said he wants to come here for lessons, and to fish in the Provo River while he’s at it.  He’s going to pay me with this fabulous fruit cake that he bakes.  Then, on Thursday, I’m starting a new session of my senior piano class in Heber.  So now I’ll be teaching there from nine to twelve every Thursday morning.  It isn’t work, though, because my students are so wonderful. 
         Since my letter is totally about me this week, I’ll add one more thing. I changed my hair color again, from pink to purple, and this isn’t the discreet purple highlights I’ve had before.  It’s bright!  It turned out way brighter and more purple than I imagined.  Maybe I’ll post a picture.
         Meanwhile, I love you all and hope your lives are going well.   Mom

Sunday, June 3, 2018

Dear Kids,
        This beautiful spring weather goes on and on, and Dad and I are feeling better and better.  Dad’s neck hardly bleeds at all now, and his wound is closing up.  He can cover it with a bandaid and not get blood on his clothes now.  I think I’ll build a fire in the firepit this morning and burn up all his old bloodied garment tops.  Nora’s family is coming for a visit, and maybe they can help me with that.  They’re on the late Sunday schedule now, and this will be their second Sunday morning visit in two weeks.  It’s been lots of fun.
         My life is getting lots more normal, too.  Yesterday Dad and I worked in the yard.  He mowed and trimmed, and I planted a new potentilla bush.  I sprayed some Roundup on our weeds and re-buried some of my sprinkler tubing that has popped up.  It just felt wonderful to be outside.  I’ve already missed out on most of this beautiful spring, but I don’t plan to miss out on any more of it.
        It was great having so many of you here Sunday night for Dad’s and Dallin’s party.  Thanks for Donna for preparing so much of the food, and thanks to the rest of you for the things you brought.  Thanks to all of you who went in on the snow blower.  Dad is absolutely thrilled with it.  It doesn’t bother him that there’s no snow now.  He can tinker with its parts.  It’s really a beautiful machine. 
        I mentioned a while ago about the ads that show up on your phones, and how they reflect what you’ve googled and what you’ve bought.  A couple of months ago I was getting ads for brown sandals, and then for cheap colonoscopies, and then for lawyers doing wills and estates (creepy!).  But what’s this: now I’m getting ads for criminal defense lawyers!  Maybe I did something terrible while I was high on pain pills.  Who knows?
        Here’s a thought for the day: The scriptures say “weeping may endure for a night, but joy cometh in the morning.” (Proverbs 30:5)  Why doesn’t it say “joy in the night and weeping in the morning?” Just wondering.
        I hope you’re all doing great!  Have fun with all your summer plans!
        Love, Mom

Sunday, May 27, 2018

Dear Kids,
         Happy Birthday to Dad and Dallin!  We’re looking forward to seeing a lot of you at the party this evening.  It’s supposed to rain around noon, but it’s also supposed to clear out by early evening. We can have a lot of fun whatever.  Thanks to all of you who went in on Dad’s present!  He already knows about it; in fact, it’s in our garage right now.  He goes out and visits it several times a day.  Thanks to Bevan for finding it!
         Our medical news is getting better.  Dad’s neck has nearly stopped bleeding, and it’s mostly closed up.  I’m doing a little better, too.  I’m feeling a little less pain, and   Dad says my incision is starting to heal. (I can’t see it myself, so he gives me regular reports.)  I’m grateful for any progress at all, and I thank you for all of your prayers.  I know that’s helped.  My troubles have gone on for a long time, but your prayers have helped me feel better about my whole situation.  I talked to my radiation doctor a couple of weeks ago, and he said that when I’m all healed up, I should meet with a medical oncologist and have him look at my films–something about the nerve endings being close to my tumor, and evaluating the “pathology” of it all.  I didn’t quite follow.  He said they might recommend a “little bit” of chemo.    I hope they won’t find anything more.  I don’t want to cross any more bridges when I come to them.
         We’ve had beautiful weather this week, and on Friday Dad and I turned on our sprinklers.  We only had a couple of breaks in our drip lines, but nothing major.  It was just fun to be outside working in the yard again.  Yesterday I spent about half an hour raking dirt, and I’m hoping to be able to handle more as the days go on.  It’s funny–I’m OK  moving around, but if I stand or sit, I’m in a lot of pain.  So church is a problem.  Last week I went to the first part of sacrament meeting (in Francis 2nd ward, because my beloved Spanish branch has been dissolved) but I had to leave right after the sacrament.  It was too hard to sit.  Today I’m hoping to make it longer.
         It’s hard to believe summer is here!  It’s time to think about summer fun.  The big Allen family reunion at Riverwoods park is July 28th, and Lucy’s baptism will be that evening, in the Provo River.  I hope it’s a nice hot day.  At least Seth won’t have to cut through any ice, like some people have done to be baptized.
         Then, August 2-4 is our Ackerson family reunion. (Or will it start on the evening of the 1st?)  I’m excited about Pineview.  We’ll have a wonderful time, like we always do.
        Lots of love, Mom

Sunday, May 20, 2018

Dear Kids,
         A week from today is Dad’s birthday, and Dallin’s, too.  There will be a birthday celebration/dinner here at our house at 5 pm.  Donna is planning the dinner, so you can call her for a food assignment.  If you need an idea for a present for Dad, you call or text me.   It’s supposed to be warm here that day, with only a 10% chance of rain, so we can have a lot of fun outside.  Be there or be square!
         Our medical adventures go on and on.  Dad’s neck bleeds every day, but just a little bit, and it’s old blood.  We saw his doctor on Wednesday, and he wasn’t at all concerned.  He said this could go on for a long time, but it’s very upsetting for Dad.  For me, too, because he’s ruined three garment tops, and I have to wash them every day. If he wears them over and over, he won’t ruin any more.  Dad thought Tina would be interested in his gooey neck, since she’s a jungle cat way down deep, but she doesn’t like old blood.
         I’m still the same. I saw my doctor on Wednesday, and he said my incision is starting to heal, but I can’t feel any difference.  If anything, it hurts more than ever.  He said that’s just part of the healing process, which made no sense at all to me.  The pharmacy is balking now at refilling my ultram prescription, so I have to get my doctor to prescribe it differently, and see if that will help.  I wish there were more to my life than constant pain.  I’m able to do a few minor projects, but I can’t play the piano, because it hurts me so much to sit.  It hurts to stand, too, although I can walk around a little bit.  So everything I can do lying down, I do.  But it’s a boring life. The worst thing is that it’s beautiful spring weather outside, and I can’t go out and work in the yard.
         But there are good things.  Jana McGettigan and Cami Cook came to visit me on Thursday, and they entertained me wonderfully with their news of the outside world.  Our old neighborhood chapel at Bangerter and 4100 South is going to be demolished to make way for a traffic overpass at that intersection.  Where can they possibly build a new church around there?  Maybe John is right, that we’ll all be going to a 2-hour Sunday block soon, and they can fit four wards in each building.  That way, they won’t have to build so many chapels.
         Another good thing is that people from our ward have been bringing us food and goodies. This week we got chocolate frosted cookies and cin-a-bons.  There are other invalids in our ward, but we’re probably the only home that has two of them, so we get a lot of attention.
         So life is good.  I love you all!  Mom

Sunday, May 13, 2018

Dear Kids,
         Happy Mothers Day to all my wonderful daughters and daughters-in-law.   You are all doing so well raising your children and organizing your families and being wonderful homemakers!  I’m very proud of you all!
         In case anybody didn’t hear about Dad’s surgery adventure, I’ll recap it here.  Tuesday morning he had the squamous cell carcinoma cut out of his neck, a circle about an inch and a half across, and as thin as a piece of skin.  The doctor was able to pull enough loose skin together to sew it up, without a skin graft, and it looked really good.  (If a Frankenstein scar can look good.)  Dad was supposed to go home and take it easy, and he mostly did, except for going up and down the stairs a couple of times.  So what happened next wasn’t his fault.  About 2 pm the incision broke open and blood started pouring down his neck, soaking his shirt.  I honestly thought he was going to bleed to death.  I had him hold gauze pads over the wound, but the blood poured through anyway.  I was (miraculously) able to get his doctor on the phone, and he said we both needed to calm down.  (“Each of you take a deep breath,” he said.)  Nobody has ever bled to death from this procedure.  He said to keep applying pressure, and it would stop bleeding eventually.  It did, but not until late that night. The next morning we met the doctor in his office, and he said it looked OK.  Dad was supposed to hold ice packs over it, and we needed to drop by again later in the afternoon.  (Since it was Wednesday, we were in Salt Lake anyway.)  So we came back at 3 pm, and the doctor said it was going to be fine.  It looks terrible, but it’s gradually getting better, and Dad is feeling better.
         Unlike me.   My incision is still open, and still hurts terribly.  My doctor said this could go on for another four weeks.  I guess I’ll stand it somehow.  I discovered I could double up on my pain medication–just because our insurance coverage limits me to just  one pill every four hours, I can pay for more out of my pocket.  As long as the doctor prescribes it, the pharmacy will fill it.  Anyway, it’s not a narcotic, but ultram.  Katie told me it doesn’t do any good, but it’s helping me.  That, and everybody’s prayers.  So I’m taking two ultram every four hours, and making it through each day.  Someday I’ll look back on all this and think it was good for me.  Right now I can’t see the big picture.
         So I dyed my hair pink.  It was easy.  I bought a pouch of pink dye off Amazon, and it only took a little bit to really brighten up my hair.  It will wash out eventually, but I’m enjoying my new look now.  If you can’t do anything else to make your life better, at least you can change your hair color.
         Lots of love, Mom

Sunday, May 6, 2018

Dear Kids,
         On Monday, Dad got the results of his biopsy, and as you can guess (the way things have been going for us,) it wasn’t benign.  It’s a squamous cell carcinoma.  He’s going to have it removed on Tuesday, not by our regular dermatologist, but by a Mhos doctor in Sugarhouse.  (Mhos is a special procedure, named after the doctor who invented it, where a lab technician examines each piece of tissue the doctor removes, until the area is finally clear of the cancer.)   Because the area is so large and flat, Dad might have to have skin grafts when they’re done.  What is it with us, that every medical thing is as bad as it can possibly be?   I’m just glad we have good medical care available, and that our insurance has an out-of-pocket limit. (Which we’ve just about hit.)  Anyway, Dad can use your prayers for Tuesday.  He’s very nervous.
         And naturally I’ve had another hitch in my recovery.  Things had been going really well, and last Monday I even drove a jazzy around Walmart.  But Monday night I started feeling a lot of pain from my incision, so I called my doctor Tuesday morning.  I saw him Wednesday, and he said my incision has totally opened up.  He blamed it on the radiation I had, which he said is still working on my body tissues.  I thought he might stitch it up again, but he said the best thing is to leave it open until it heals itself, which he promised would happen.  He told me to soak it twice a day, and he showed Dad how to pack it with gauze.  And I still have my home health nurse coming.  Between the two of them I’m well taken care of, but the pain is really intense.  So I still need your prayers.  You won’t run out of people to pray for, as long as Dad and I are around.
         The only nice thing about all this is that people are so good to us.  Especially you kids!  We really appreciate all the help (and food) you’ve given us. When you’re sick you see the best side of everybody!  Yesterday morning the Spanish branch president brought a crew to work on our yard.  They mowed and trimmed and pulled weeds, and it looks really good now.  Dad and I have been doing what we can, but it was nice to have the extra help.  I can’t count all the people who have helped us out!
         It’s supposed to be warm today, 76 for a high, and our fire pit is crying out to be used.  So if any of you who come tonight, we can make smores!  I have everything we need. And I bought more of those colored IKEA cups, so there’s one for every grandchild now, with his or her name on them.  My stack is gigantic.
         Jane and Joe came to visit yesterday, and while Joe took Dad to get a hamburger, and drive around, Jane and I had fun talking and watching a movie (Ball of Fire.) It’s sure fun having them live close by now.  We’re so lucky to have lots of family around us!
         I love you all!  Mom

Sunday, April 29, 2018

Dear Kids,
         Luckily, my medical news for the week doesn’t concern me at all.  Dad has a red spot behind his right ear, more than an inch across, that looks like eczema, but isn’t.  He’s tried every possible cream to get rid of it, including prescriptions from two doctors, but it stays on and on–it’s been there about three years now.  So on Wednesday he finally had it biopsied.  I thought that meant just a few cells being scraped off, but our dermatologist cut way in, down deep.  I held Dad’s hand, just like he’s been holding mine for so many procedures.  The cut bled a lot, and they closed it up with a stitch.  We were supposed to find out within a couple of days what was wrong, but no news is good news.  (If it’s cancer, the doctor herself calls you back almost immediately.)  We should find out what it is on Monday, and hopefully also find out how it can be cured.  The good thing was that it was finally Dad’s turn to be on the doctor’s table, not mine.  But hopefully we can both stay out of hospitals for a while!
         Thursday I made my first foray out into the real world, since my surgery.  Dad and I went down to the senior center in Heber so I could teach my piano classes again.  My ladies hadn’t had their lessons for three weeks, and I absolutely couldn’t wait any longer.  I probably shouldn’t have ventured out so soon, but it was wonderful interacting with real people again.  (Besides you wonderful kids, who have been so gracious about visiting us!) All eight of my ladies were there, and they had all practiced diligently since I last met with them.  It doesn’t get any better than that!  They all told me how glad they were to be back at piano again, and how much they’d missed me.  I’ve absolutely never had such good piano students in my life!  So although I was dragging low physically, it totally rejuvenated me!
         I’ve started eating lunch in the senior center cafeteria again, instead of my lonely sandwich in the piano room, but I bring my own bland food in a takealong tray, and heat it up in the microwave in their kitchen.  This week I was really glad to be eating with the group again, because our entertainment was the Timpanogos middle school choir.  You can hardly find a kids’ choir in Heber that doesn’t include at least one of our grandchildren, and sure enough, we spotted Emma in the group.  They sang really cute songs, including “Under the Sea” and “Johnny-be-Good.”  Emma was the cutest girl there, by far! I’m so proud of all our grandchildren, and their wonderful talents.  It looks like the gene for performing and entertaining has been passed down to almost everybody!
         Life is good again!  I appreciate you all so much!  Love, Mom