Sunday, August 18, 2019

Dear Kids,
         I’m finding lots of dead mice in our lawn these days.  They’re full of bite marks, and some are water-logged.  I think most of them are from Scout.  He has turned into a mouse killing machine.  Every morning, after their canned cat food, he’s frantic to get outside.  When I open the door, he bolts for the pasture.  Sonia follows him, but as far as I know, all she catches are grasshoppers.  She brings them to the back door to show us,  alive and kicking. 
         Nothing’s being done on our cabin these days.  Our contractor told Dad he had to go off and do another job for a couple of weeks.  Oh, well.  It will be finished sometime.  Tom and his kids came with us to inspect the cabin last Sunday.  Tom was very nostalgic about all the jalapeno poppers and dutch oven potatoes we’ve enjoyed there over the years.  He’s very confident that the cabin will get its magic back again, and I’m sure he’s right.  But it will take a lot of work on our part, even after the contractor is done.
         Our washing machine died, so we had to get a new one.  Donna told us about the advantages of getting it from Washing Machine Exchange in Salt Lake, but Dad said if there were two of him, and it were ten years ago, we’d do it.   As it was, we went to R.C. Willey.  I was hoping to find a simple one, say, with just a choice of  hot, warm, or cold water, and maybe three water levels.  But all the ones we saw are programmed to do the thinking for you.  You just throw in the clothes and the soap, set the dial for whatever you’re washing, and it decides the water level, how long, the temperature, etc.  It actually weighs the clothes to decide on the water level.  So far it’s working OK, but it makes the most awful sounds!  It grunts and groans and starts and stops and burps and dings.  It’s like having another person in the house.
         Stefanie had her doctor’s appointment this week to check on the new baby.  Everything’s fine, and there’s just one baby.  Some of us were hoping for twin girls, but one baby is a fabulous blessing.  Even another boy.  We love all our wonderful little blessings.  Speaking of which, Tyler’s blessing is still on for September 1.  More on that next week.
         Lots of love, Mom

Sunday, August 11, 2019

Dear Kids,
         Fall is in the air!  You can feel it now.  Our summer was very short, just the month of July, but that was enough.  We’re ready to move on.  I planted grass on the north side of our house, and it should be coming up soon.  I know sod is quicker, and it looks good from the very start, but I love the excitement of watching grass come up.  Besides, planting seed is way cheaper, and you can choose the exact seed you want.  This time around I’m using half sheep fescue and half Kentucky bluegrass.
         Last Monday night we went by Tom’s house to see baby Tyler. He’s doing really well:  eating, growing, and doing the rest of what new babies do.  He’s really cute, of course.  His blessing will be Sunday, Sept. 1, at 12 noon at Tom’s church.  When it gets closer, you can call Kim for a food assignment. 
         We went by John’s house to see the sprinkler pipe he’s laid in his back yard, before he covers it up.  It looks like a vast highway system in miniature.  He used 2,500 feet of pipe, and dug out thousands and thousand of rocks.  (I didn’t think any ground could be rockier than ours, but John’s is.)  His cats are like ours, loving those trenches and running through them.  They’ll be way disappointed when John fills them in.  Those cats started out as scrubbly little kittens, almost the exact same age as ours, and they’ve grown into fine creatures.  I think Blue is my favorite, because he looks like our old cat Benson. 
         I’m walking with a cane again.  There’s a  pain in my right leg now, not the left, where I still have the shingles pain.  It started at Bear Lake, and I made that walking stick, but it only got worse when I got home.  Finally I went to see our doctor, and he said it’s really my hip.  He asked if I’d done anything unusual lately.  I told him we’d been to Bear Lake, and I’d gone on a long walk.   What I only remembered  later was shoveling that entire load of topsoil, mostly from the right.  But that was so much fun!  How could I have let anybody else do it?  So now I’m paying the price. They took an x-ray, which showed my hip was only inflamed, not worn out.  So I won’t need surgery.  The doctor prescribed a course of steroid pills, which I’m nearly done with, and nothing has improved yet.  So I might be in it for the long haul.  My poor body seems to be going from bad to worse.   
         But with such a wonderful family, I have every reason to be happy.  Nothing else means as much to me.
         Lots of love, Mom

Sunday, August 4, 2019

Dear Kids,
         The best possible  news!  Most of you saw Paul’s post with the picture of Josh in his new T-shirt saying “Big Brother 2020.”  Their baby is due in March, and we hope and pray that everything will go well. This will be grandchild #36 for us.  We couldn’t be happier!
         And the fun and work and excitement of the reunion is over with, and we’re trying to get back to normal.  It’s odd how getting back to normal takes so much longer than the reunion itself lasted.  But it was great.  Thanks to Vanessa for planning it, and for the meals everybody prepared, and for your excitement and enthusiasm.  We don’t have any deadbeats in our family!  It amazes me how everybody comes through.  We missed Kim and the rest of Tom’s kids who didn’t come, but we’re grateful for the birth of little Tyler.  I’ve had a cold, and we haven’t been to see him since he was born, so I’ll have to get an update today on how he’s doing.
         We wondered if our kitties would be OK while we were gone, but naturally they did fine.  I had rigged things so they could go from the outside into the garage and into our house, so they had the complete run of things.  All three of them were in the house when we got home, and they yawned and stretched and seemed pleased that we were back, able to wait on them again.  They still had plenty of food in their two bowls (inside bowl and garage bowl) but one of them had deposited a really fat mouse into the garage bowl, on top of the dry cat food.  I guess it was supposed to serve as a snack when somebody was in the mood for a mouse. 
         I had a great birthday on Thursday.  My present from Dad (which I ordered myself) was a single-burner griddle to use on our Camp Chef stoves.  So if you’re making french toast or pancakes, you can have the big griddle totally covering one stove, and the smaller griddle covering half of the other, and still have one burner to heat things.  Camp Chef reads your mind!  One of their catalogs was packed in with the griddle, and some of their more enticing products include giant outdoor movie screens and beer can chicken holders, for “moist flavor infusion.”   Would that be against the Word of Wisdom?
         I guess our next big family event will be Tyler’s baby blessing, maybe the first Sunday in September?  When I find out the details, I’ll include them here.
         Love to all, Mom

Sunday, July 21, 2019

Dear Kids,
         We’re all waiting for the good news from Tom and Kim.  Naturally they’re waiting, too.  Kim’s due date was July 18, and she’s never been more than a day overdue, so this is a new one for them.  Of course the main thing is that little Tyler will be born healthy, and the delivery will go well. A new baby is such a great blessing!
         I guess you all have your food assignments for the family reunion.  Holy Cow, it’s practically here!  If anybody isn’t sure what they’re supposed to bring, contact Vanessa.  Her text message said that the schedule will be similar to what it was 2 years ago, with a beach day Friday, and on Saturday a morning bike ride, Go-karts, and a trip to Bloomington Lake.  I can’t wait!  We’re bringing our younger cats because we’ve never been away from them for more than a day, and I’m afraid they’d freak out with us gone that long.  I know we’re crazy about them, but we don’t have kids to worry about.  Tina will be staying here.  We don’t worry much about her.
         We’ve had great fun with Sharon’s family coming and going.  Sharon is always determined to pack every ounce of fun that’s possible into their Utah adventures.  I admire her energy! 
         My neighbor Jessie does eyebrow microblading and eyeliner tattooing, so I’ve been having her work on my face.  Thursday afternoon I was having my second session, lying on my back on our couch, and she had her little tool humming away, when she shouted out, “Stop that! You’re going to electrocute yourself!”  I was so surprised I almost jumped up, but then I realized she must be yelling at a cat.  Probably Scout.  Sure enough, he was fighting with her electrical cord and biting it.  I got up and threw him outside, and then we went on with my treatment.  BTW, having your brows microbladed is a little bit painful, and having eyeliner tattooed on is really, really painful!  When Jessie told me I could have my free touch-up in six to eight weeks, I wasn’t sure I would want it.  Jessie is really good at what she does, though, and was one of the pioneers of “permanent makeup.”
         So much happening!  So much fun!  Love to all, Mom

Sunday, July 14, 2019

Dear Kids,
         What a fun, crazy week we’re having.  Charlie and Matthew came Sunday afternoon with Nora’s family, and they entertained us until Tuesday, when Dad drove them up to Wolf Creek Pass.  They had fun throwing snowballs at each other while they waited for Thackers to come pick them up.  They’ve been in Upalco ever since, but Thursday afternoon Sharon arrived with Lucy and Conrad, fresh from the airport.  Sharon’s rental car is very peppy, she discovered, when she got a speeding ticket leaving the airport.  She and the kids are keeping their stuff here, and they sleep here, but they go different places during the day to link up with friends and have fun.   When they’re here, we’re totally Fun Central, because Donna’s family is usually here, too.  We haven’t been bored a single minute.
          Last Sunday afternoon I was dumb enough to take an overdose of my pain pills.   I always put one day’s worth in a little container, and count them during the day to make sure I’m on track.  So on Sunday, at noon,  I was supposed to still have five.  I dumped them out on the kitchen counter to count them, and I was right on.  I pushed aside the one I was going to take, and then, without thinking, I took the other four.  (I often take four ibuprofin at a time, so it felt totally natural.)  I called poison control, because I know you can have seizures if you take too much Tramadol.  They said I was on the border of the danger zone, and that I would definitely get very sleepy.  Dad was supposed to check on me every half hour or so to make sure I was breathing.  I’m pretty sure he did, but I slept so soundly I was unconscious of everything.  I didn’t even get to talk to all of you who were here!   I hope you all had fun.  Thanks for cleaning up. Everything looked fine when I woke up Monday morning.  I was groggy for a day or so, but fortunately there was no long-lasting trouble.
        Thursday afternoon I met with my oncologist, and I wondered how much he could find out, since he hadn’t made me get a CAT scan beforehand.  He found out a lot.  He listened to my breathing and thumped my liver, and looked for yellow in my eyes.  He said my weight was good. (Cancer eats calories, and you lost weight without trying.)  He did a blood test, which showed only normal amounts of cancer cells in my blood.  (We all have them.)  So evidently the “spot” on my lung isn’t doing anything bad yet.  Hopefully it never will.  I sure appreciate all your prayers!  My next oncology appointment is in October, and this time I’ll have to get a CAT scan first.  I just hope and pray everything will still be OK.
        Eleven more  days till the Family Reunion!  And we should have good news from Tom and Kim before that!
        Lots of love, Mom

Sunday, July 7, 2019

Dear Kids,
         The Fourth of July party last Thursday was moved from John’s house to Nora’s, where Dad and I have gone anyway for the last two years.  There isn’t such a great view of the valley any more, since two new houses have been built just lower than theirs, but we always go down to the parking lot of the church down on Main street.  There were three or four other families, besides Donna’s and Paul’s and Nora’s and Dad and me.  So it was a pretty good crowd.  Everybody else had the usual assortment of fun stuff that stays on the ground, or else sparklers, but I had two packs of spectacular aerials from Sams Club.  Naturally I had to light them myself!  It looks like the 4th of July event at Nora’s might become a permanent tradition, and the more fun traditions we have, the better.
         Speaking of which, the family reunion at Bear Lake is coming up in less than three weeks! I’m sure Vanessa will be sending out the agenda pretty soon, with food assignments and a general idea of what we’ll be doing.  I can’t wait for it!  Each one gets better and better.
         Last night Dad and I went to a barbecue with my brothers and sisters at Richard’s cabin in American Fork canyon.  Most of us were there, including Charley!  He looks really good, but he walks bent over.   He doesn’t talk much, but listens to everything.  He had me feel the holes in his head, where they’ve drilled in to work on his brain.  It’s really creepy!  He also had me feel the shunt that drains fluid from his brain down the side of his head and neck, down into his stomach.  There’s a magnet implanted in his head that the doctors use to adjust it.  It’s all very high tech, but we’re just grateful he’s still alive.  The barbecue itself was great fun!  Bonnie and Curt left early because Maddie was probably having her baby (a girl!) and they didn’t have phone reception there.
         Charlie and Matthew are coming here this afternoon to spend a couple of days with us, and we’re really excited for that.  Sharon will be coming Thursday, with Lucy and Conrad.  Seth will be here for the family reunion, but his Utah visit is always short.  I’m so glad they can all be here!
         I had a wonderful load of topsoil delivered Friday morning, the best I’ve ever had, and most of it is still sitting on our driveway, because I’ve been so busy with other things.  I can’t wait to spread it!  Hopefully my burst of energy right now will hold out!
         Life is good!  I love you all!  Mom

Sunday, June 30, 2019

Dear Kids,
         The Fourth of July is coming up this Thursday!  I can’t believe we’re really into summer. Last Sunday morning it was 35 degrees at our house and I was on the phone with Sharon, whining about the cold.  I said, “We’re NEVER going to have spring!”  She said, “Uh, Mom, it’s summer.”  And it is.  We went from 35 to 85 in three days.  And we never had spring.
         So, about the 4th of July: John is planning a barbecue, and everybody is invited.  You can call Heather, or better yet text, for a food assignment. We’ll be eating at six, and since it doesn’t get really dark until 9:30 or so, we’re all invited to haul rocks.  I’m planning to pitch in!  I don’t have any rocks left in our yard to haul, just dirt.  Who would’ve thought?  I figured I would be hauling rocks forever, but I’ve totally finished leveling the back yard, and I’m just now finishing the sprinkling line on the north side, the last one!  I can still find plenty more to do, though.  I won’t ever be done.  I don’t want to be. So, back to the Fourth of July--I hope we’ll see lots of you there!  And this afternoon, you’ve probably heard, we’ll be having a dinner at our house at 5.  Be there or be square!
         John’s cats have always outdone ours in hunting, but when we went there on Friday, Aaron informed me that I had to pay Poseidon $5.00.  He killed a magpie!  Or maybe he found it dead, but probably not.  He’s pretty aggressive, and he has claws, too.  Go, Poseidon!  Our cats show their guts now by going right into Harley’s yard.  If I call them, they just ignore me.  Sonia creeps right up to Harley and touches noses with him.  He points his ears at her and wags his tail.  Scout manages to make him bark, and then he races back into our yard.  They’re both very brave, but I worry about them a lot.  Matthew, I hope they’re both still  alive when you get here.  If anything happens, we can borrow John’s cats, and you can play with them.
         There was a little work done at our cabin, and then the contractor left to do another job.  He said not to worry--he’d be back in a week or two.  But Dad and I have started working on the yard.  I’m pruning bushes that haven’t been touched for six years, and Dad will be mowing the lawn tomorrow.  On the first calm morning, I’ll be spraying roundup on the driveway to get rid of the weeds.  There’s no end of outside projects, and someday our cabin will be its old self again.
         Lots of love, Mom 

Sunday, June 23, 2019

Dear Kids,
         Thanks for the wonderful Fathers Day presents you gave Dad.  Thanks especially to all of you who went in on the self-propelled lawn mower.  It’s really fast!  Dad has to run along behind it, and he finishes the lawn in record time.  It’s probably good exercise for him, too.  What he’s lost in pushing (the old one) he more than makes up in running after the new one.  Thanks again!  And thanks to everybody who went in on the tablet, too.  Dad really likes the bigger screen, and he uses more apps now.  Gospel Library didn’t even run on his old one, or at least it didn’t use all its capabilities.  Hooray for technology for studying the Gospel!
         Most of you know that Chad Van Leuven is getting married next month.  Donna and Anna and I got to meet his fiancee at a shower at Bonnie’s yesterday afternoon.  We’re all delighted with her! Her name is Sarah Schwartz, and I think there are pictures of her on facebook.  She’s really nice looking without being glamorous.  She and Chad are getting married in the Medford Oregon temple. Barbara admitted she had totally given up on Chad ever getting married, so this is wonderful for her.
         After the shower, Donna and Anna and I went food shopping at the Orem Winco.  Donna’s not quite the shopping tornado that John is, but she filled two carts!  I planned to help her,  but I had to go to the ladies room first.  One of the stalls was locked with nobody inside it, and there was a lineup of ladies, so I crawled under the door to unlock it.  I came up fine on the inside, but I had cut open my wrist on something, and it bled and bled.  So instead of helping Donna, I was clutching a piece of toilet tissue over my wrist to stop the bleeding.  When Donna found out, she gave me a bandaid.  She always carries them in her purse.  With children like hers, she says, you just naturally carry bandaids.
         I’ve been working really hard in our yard, digging and hauling rocks and doing sprinklers.  My leg still hurts a lot, but I have plenty of energy, which I’m really grateful for. There’s a spot of something in my lung, and I have another appointment with my oncologist on July 11.  If he decides it needs treatment, I might have to have chemo or radiation, which could lay me up for a while.  So I’m doing all the outside work I can right now (and lovin’ it).  Hopefully the spot will turn out to be nothing at all. 
         I’m having trouble typing this because Scout keeps walking on the computer keys.  He’s head-butting me, too.  Last Monday while I was giving Anna her piano lesson, Scout jumped up on the piano keys and walked back and forth on them.  Anna said, “He just wants attention!”  Don’t we all!
         Lots of love, Mom

Sunday, June 16, 2019

Dear Kids,
         Happy Fathers Day to all of you wonderful sons and sons-in-law of ours!  We appreciate all you do to support and help your families, and to make life better for Dad and me.  I hope you know how much we love all of you!Our Fathers Day dinner will be at 5 pm tonight, here at our house.  Be there or be square!  There’s only a 5 percent chance of rain!  We’ll be able to go outside, or at least send the kids out. 
         I texted you guys my picture of the Jordanelle filled to the brim.  I went hiking down there Friday afternoon, and it was absolutely gorgeous.  Sharon, I hope it’s still that green when you get here next month! 
         Yesterday afternoon Dad and I drove up the Mirror Lake Highway to see how far we could get.  At milepost 14 the sign said the road was closed, but the gate was open, so we kept going.  By milepost 20 there were snowbanks next to the road.  At the Provo River Falls, milepost 24, there was a barrier across the road, but people were going around it.  It was far enough for us, though.  We got out and watched the falls.  They were absolutely roaring.  Little streams were running in from everywhere.  Where’s all that water going?  It sure won’t be staying in the reservoirs.  Deer Creek is full, too. 
         Good news about our cabin: the roof joists are up.  The contractor has been working there between rainstorms.  Bad cabin news: there are leaks in the water lines everywhere, at practically every joint.  Dad thought the pump people had blown out all the water lines last fall, but I don’t think they did it.  We’re now on our second plumber,  and he said every joint was originally soldered poorly.  But that was 40 years ago, so why did they hold out this long?   And why did they all fail at once, this winter?   Maybe because all the lines froze solid with water in them, for the first time ever.   Or maybe we’re being suckered.  Dad already paid the plumber $800 for one afternoon of work, (with Dad helping) and there’s a lot more to do.  Well, it’s only money!  I keep reminding myself how lucky we were that the cabin didn’t burn to the ground.  (But it sure would have been less hassle!)
         Our kitties send their greetings. Their biggest entertainment these days is harassing Harley.  They stroll along next to the fence, and when he barks at them they jump away in terror.  But then they go back.  Scout chases birds, too, with Tina’s help.  They’re a tag team.  But they can’t seem to catch anything. 
         Love you all!  Mom

Sunday, June 9, 2019

Dear Kids,
         Next Sunday is Fathers Day, and we’ll be having dinner here at our house at 5pm.  This won’t be an elegant sit-down dinner, but it won’t be our usual haphazard Sunday night mealtime, either.  We’ll just have a nice buffet-type meal.  Donna suggested lasagna, and I think that’s a great idea.  Stefanie’s bringing a fluffy salad, and Donna’s doing one pan of lasagna, and everything else is wide open.  I’ll be making BT cake for dessert.  If you want to go in on the present for Dad (a new tablet), let me know.  It will be lots of fun.  Weather.com says that it will be in the 70's, with only a 30% chance of rain.  That sounds good to me.  Hopefully we can go outside and play on the playground. Or go for a walk.  Or just enjoy being outside.
         Friday night Dad and I went to Adelaide’s “Family and Friends Night” at Oakcrest.  I think we had the shortest drive of anybody there!  It was fun to see Addie in her Oakcrest gear (hat, sweats, and T-shirt,) and hear what she’d done so far.  It was staff week only, no campers till tomorrow, and Addie had spent the week learning to cook for 300 people, and earning her food-handlers permit.  We had fun hanging out with Nora and James and their kids too, and watching their  younger boys do the zipline.  There was an assembly at the amphitheater, and then refreshments at the lodge.  Addie had helped make 300 brownies, and they were fabulous.  I’d like to have the recipe, but it’s probably something like 200 eggs, 100 pounds of sugar, etc. etc. 
         I’m  having lots of fun digging in the yard, although my leg hurts every night.  (While I’m digging and raking, I’m too excited to feel anything!)  I feel greatly blessed to be as well as I am.   I love being outside, and I’ve missed that for all my months of cancer recovery and shingles pain.  The kitties have stuck by me, but they like being outside now, too.  While I’m getting ready to go out, putting on my work boots and visor and headphones,  Scout sits on the little table by the front door and reaches over to put his paw on the doorknob.  If we had levers instead of doorknobs, he would let himself out, instead of waiting for me.
         Life is good.  I love you all!  Mom

Sunday, June 2, 2019

Dear Kids,
         It’s our 47th anniversary today!  I haven’t planned anything special, partly because it’s Sunday, and partly because I couldn’t think of anything special to do.  We have so much freedom, we can do whatever we want to do, whenever we want.  Besides, our big 50th is coming up in just three years.  We’ll probably host a party of some sort.  I used to think anybody celebrating a 50th anniversary was really really old, but as Grandma Allen always said,  “everything looks different when you get there.”
         Yesterday I was digging in the backyard (Yes, I can do that now!) and the cats were milling around me.  Harley, the Siberian Husky, was romping around in his yard next door.  Scout and Sonia think that’s their territory, so they started giving him the evil eye.   He came up to the fence and looked them over very carefully.  Then Sonia walked right up to him and they touched noses through the fence.  Go, Sonia!  I had no idea she was so brave.  Then, when Harley jumped back and barked, Sonia freaked out and ran for the house.  I’m not so worried about Harley now.   I don’t think he wants to eat them.  I think he just wants friends.
         It’s been raining every day this week, with hail and thunder sometimes, but it’s supposed to dry out starting tomorrow.  The lawns here are so green you’d think we were in the east.  The hills are so green, it looks like Europe.  I want to fling out my arms like Julie Andrews in “The Sound of Music,” and whirl around and sing “The hills are alive . . . . “   In a perfect world, the hills would be green all the time, with no rain.
         Fathers Day is only two weeks away, and I have an idea for a present for Dad, if you want to go in on something.  He needs a new tablet, bigger than what he has now.  Mine is 8" diagonally, which isn’t gigantic, but bigger than his.  I showed him how big you can make the fonts, and still have a lot to read on each page.   He definitely wants to upgrade!  So let me know if you want to go in on the tablet.  I’m sure he’ll love it.  By the way, thanks to all of you who came to his (and Dallin’s) party last Monday.  He said it was the best party he’s ever had!   Thanks for the wonderful gifts you gave him!  I’m helping him eat all his candy.
         I love you all!  Mom

Sunday, May 26, 2019

Dear Kids,
         I’m really looking forward to the barbecue-birthday party at John’s house tomorrow. (5:00 pm) When I was in second grade, I decided that May 27th was my favorite day of the whole year, because school was getting out that day, and it was my mother’s birthday.  Little did I know that it was also my future husband’s birthday, and a future grandson’s.  So May 27th is still one of my very favorite days.  Thanks to John for letting us have the party at his house!  I twisted his arm, but Dad and I plan to come early and haul rocks, to make up for it. If any of you want to come early too, John said there would be plenty to do.
         I woke up a few mornings ago to find a play mouse on the covers, right by my face.  Scout stood behind it, smiling at me.  He must have wanted to play!  I got out of bed and tossed the mouse down the hall for him, and he went running after it.   I keep buying more mice at Walmart.  They’re called skitter critters, and they come in a 3-pack.  At our house, they get lost long before they wear out.  But not at John’s house.  I bought a 3-pack for his kitties, but they tore them to shreds. Of course, John’s cats have front claws.  And they’re used to catching and eating real mice.  None of those play critters for them! 
         The contractor who’s repairing our cabin worked exactly one day this week, between rainstorms.  Dad and I drove over to talk to him about how he’s going to re-do the balcony on the east side.  He and his son had been tearing off burned siding, and it mostly filled a dumpster.  You can imagine how many hornets nests were on that east wall, and there was also a hole where a bat had been living.  I asked about the bat, and the contractor said he had to kill it.  I guess he might have had rabies–the bat, not the contractor.  We’re hoping things can move along faster when the weather clears up, but who knows when that will be?   On Thursday we had a snowstorm that left a couple of inches on the ground.  In the tops of the mountains they’re getting new snow almost every day.  If it decides to melt all at once, there could be some major flooding.  But who cares?  We just want summer to come.
         Lots of love, Mom

Sunday, May 19, 2019

Dear Kids,
         More crazy weather!  Yesterday we had rain, hail, snow, and sunshine, all within an hour, and then the cycle kept repeating itself.   Bevan ran the Ogden marathon, and it was snowing at the starting line.  Springtime in the Rockies!
         But summer is just around the corner, starting with Memorial Day a week from tomorrow.  It’s Dad’s and Dallin’s birthday, too, so Donna and I are planning a barbecue for that evening, 5:00 pm, at John’s house.  First we thought about having it here at our place, but I wanted to go someplace different for a change.  Since the cabin is still out of commission, I thought of John’s house next.  It’s such a total party place!  And we’re meeting in the evening because his family is doing yard work that day.  If anybody wants to come early, you can help haul rocks.  Dad and I will be early for sure!  And if you want to contribute to the dinner, you could bring a salad, potato chips, etc.  Maybe you could text Donna or me saying what you’ll be bringing.  I’m sure it will be a lot of fun.  Our family get-togethers are always great events.
         About the cabin: the good news is that the contractor has started working on it.  He worked one day.  Then he needed to pull off the damaged part of the roof,  but a big storm was on the way, so he decided to wait for better weather.  Right now the forecast is for rain or snow practically every day for at least another week.  Maybe longer.  But someday the cabin will be done, and then we can have parties and barbecues there again. 
         Dad and I have been listening to the audiobook of Book of a Thousand Days, by Shannon Hale, and we came to the part where Khan Tegas tosses a cat into the tower for the two ladies holed up in there.  It’s “a yearling cat, long and lean, pale gray with green eyes.”  Hey, that’s Scout!  (He’s no longer built like a boxcar.)  The ladies named him “My Lord,” so that’s what I call Scout now, when he behaves himself.  He smiles at me condescendingly.
         Life is good!  I love you all!  Mom                                   

Sunday, May 12, 2019

Dear Kids,
         Happy Mothers Day to all you wonderful daughters and daughters-in-law of mine!  I’m so proud of you all.  I know raising a family is hard, but there’s nothing more important you’ll ever do.  And besides, you and your husbands are raising such perfect grandchildren for us! And thanks to all of you for the Mothers Day presents.  They’ve been been spread out over several days, and it’s been lots of fun.  Wonderful things have been coming in the mail, besides Donna coming by to plant flowers, and Paul and Stefanie coming by to visit, and Al and Carson dropping in, and Nora coming Saturday morning to go hiking with me. And speaking of hiking . . . .
         My leg is doing better.  It still hurts like crazy, but I’m able to block out the pain and do practically everything I want to do.  Our hike at the Jordanelle was only about three miles round trip, and I used my cane, but it was perfect weather and we had a great time talking and enjoying the beautiful scenery.  Nora said she was inspired by the fact that I’m always saying in my letters that if anyone wants to go hiking, please come by!  So if anybody else wants to hike, I’m up for it now, even though it couldn’t be anything long or strenuous. 
         Our cats are endlessly entertaining.  Tina was eating a dollop of pudding that Dad gave her, and Scout came by and pushed her away and started eating it.  She whacked him in the head with her paw, but he just kept eating, looking sideways at her.  She tried to side-bump him but he didn’t budge.  Usually Tina gets the best of everybody, but Scout won that time.  The two of them are exactly the same size now (although Scout’s four feet long when he stretches out on our bed ) and we can only tell them apart by their color.  Tina’s more brown.  Miss black and white, Sonia, doesn’t get into trouble as much as the other two, but sometimes she’ll start a fight by bumping past Scout.  So he starts chasing her, and the fight is on.  When they all run down the hall together, it sounds like a herd of elephants. 
         The work on our cabin is supposed to start tomorrow morning, and continue non-stop until it’s done. I’m cautiously hopeful.  It will be so much fun having cabin parties again! I’ll keep you posted. 
         Lots of love to everybody, Mom

Sunday, May 5, 2019

Dear Kids,
         On March 17 I wrote, “We might have had our last snowstorm of the year.”  How crazy was that?  That was almost two months ago, and we’ve had at least one snowstorm per week since then.  It started snowing Tuesday afternoon while Anna was here for her piano lesson, and all the boys’ jackets were out in their car.  (Bevan always brings the boys along.  They chase the cats and eat oreos, and we all have a good time.)  So, did those boys care?  Not at all.  They ran out in it.  It was actually a beautiful storm, with big white flakes, which would have been lovely in December or January.  It put down a couple of inches, which melted the next morning.
          But maybe we’re having spring. Dad mowed the lawn yesterday for the first time, and I pruned some bushes.  Behind us, in the pasture, the horses have lots of green grass to eat now.  Some of the trees around here are starting to get leaves.  Maybe tonight it will be warm enough for all of us to go out and play on our playground.  Each week I tell our guests, “Maybe next week. . . “   Well, Maybe tonight . . . .
         I still keep our younger cats in at night, so they won’t be a temptation for predators, but they play outside a lot during the day.  Scout and Sonia are always eating grass.  Why would that be?  Maybe they need the vitamins.  Maybe they’ve watched the horses do it.  I can’t figure them out at all.  Tina likes to play with them, and there’s lots of racing and chasing.  I dug sprinkler trenches on the north side last fall, and the cats use them to hide from each other.  But nobody has gone under the neighbors’ fence to visit Harley, the Alaskan Husky. I’m sure he would gladly play with them!  Tina showed Scout how to go under the back fence into the horse pasture, and they did some exploring, maybe looking for mice.  They didn’t go near the horses, though.
         Nothing else is going on here.  I was just looking at our calendar to see what I could write about, and it’s all doctor visits.  Dermatologist, oncologist, proctologist, dentist, family doctor . . . that’s about it.  I’d really like to know what’s going on in my lung, but I have to be patient for several more weeks.  When I find out something, I’ll write about it.  Meanwhile, every day is a treat.
          Life is good!   Love, Mom

Sunday, April 28, 2019

Dear Kids,
         I went on a very short, very glorious hike down at the Jordanelle reservoir yesterday morning.  It was the first time I’ve been there in more than a year.  The sky was blue, the junipers were green, and the water was clear.  I used my cane, but lots of hikers use walking sticks, so I didn’t feel odd.  I’m planning lots of hikes, as my leg gets stronger.  Someday I might even hike without the cane.  Maybe I won’t even take it to church.  I tried packing it away altogether, but I stumbled a couple of times, so I got it out again.  At least I’m improving, even if it’s slow.
         Anna has been taking piano lessons from me for several weeks, and she’s moving along really well.  Donna practices with her at home, which makes a huge difference.  It’s fun to have her playing Hokey Pokey and London Bridge and Can Can, and all the old goldies.  She’s the only child I’m teaching right now; all the rest of my students are senior citizens.  One man from West Valley, Claren Palmer, comes to our house, but I teach the rest of them at the senior center.  It’s one of the highlights of my week.  They all take it very seriously, and they even thank me.  It pumps me up for the rest of my week.
         Friday afternoon Dad and I met up with John, and then we went to the Provo Temple together.  (That’s one place where I’m glad to use a cane.  You get very special treatment!)  After the temple session, we went to the Orem Costco.  Following John through Costco is like following a tornado.  He grabs things and throws them in his cart (2 carts that time) while he’s practically running down the aisles, almost like those shoppers who win shopping sprees.  They try to see how much they can spend in just a few minutes.  John takes a little longer, but not by much.  It isn’t worth his time unless he spends at least $500.  I asked him what his all-time spending record was, and he said probably $1,000, all in one cart.  Dad and I together spent $23, on a jar of macadamia nut clusters and a brick of white cheddar cheese.   Dad and I have a membership at Sams, where things are cheaper, but John told me that the average Sams club shopper has an annual income of only $44,000, compared to $78,000 for a Costco shopper.  I still feel more comfortable with those low income people.   You can take us out of the ghetto, but you can’t take the ghetto out of us.
         Spring is really here, and I hope you’re all enjoying it like we are! Lots of love, Mom

Sunday, April 21, 2019

Dear Kids,
         I hope you’re all having a wonderful Easter morning!  We’re looking forward to church, and to getting together at Nora’s house for the Easter egg hunt and picnic this afternoon.  I know we usually do all that on Saturday, but Nora had to reschedule because McKay was sick.  It’s always great to get together, whenever it happens to work out.
         We had a couple of warm, sunny days this week, and people everywhere seemed happier.  Our cats are happier too, because they’ve been spending more time outside.  Scout has learned to chase birds, mostly little ones.  He hasn’t caught any yet.  Jacob bragged that his cat Adeline had brought home her first dead bird.  Go, Adeline.  I hope our cats stick with chasing them only.  Sonia had a little adventure over in our neighbor’s yard, the yard where Harley the Siberian husky lives.  She got in under their gate and was wandering around their trailers, very proud of herself.  Then the little girl who lives there decided to catch her, and Sonia forgot how to get out.  She ran for the corner by our yard  and couldn’t get through. She was doing flips and back flips in her panic, and trying to jump over, but it was too high.  Thank goodness it was only the little girl and not Harley.  (Although the dad insists that Harley would never hurt a cat.  He only likes to chase them.)  Anyway, Sonia wasn’t as bad off as she thought, and we opened the gate and coaxed her back into our yard, where she bolted for the garage door.  I hope she learns to stay closer to home.
         I know I’ve mentioned to some of you that there’s a spot on my lung. I had a cat scan last week that showed that it’s grown, but it’s still only a centimeter across.  My oncologist says it’s still  too small to biopsy safely (the needle might hit something else), and he doesn’t want to start any chemo or radiation until he knows exactly what it is.  So he wants to wait and just watch it.  I remember that after I had the colon cancer, they said they needed to check the lower part of my lung, because colon cancer  likes to spread there.  But the spot didn’t show up for another six months.  Maybe it started with one cell that got away. Who knows?  I feel like my life is in the Lord’s hands, and I’ll live as long as He wants me to.  Maybe the spot will miraculously disappear.  That happens sometimes.  I’ll keep you posted. Naturally I still need your prayers.
         Thank you all for being so wonderful and supportive!  Love, Mom

Sunday, April 14, 2019

Dear Kids,
         We have a plan for Easter Saturday!  The party will be at Nora’s house, and we’ll have the Easter egg hunt at 2 pm.  Bring about as many eggs as your kids will collect–somebody suggested a dozen per kid. We’ll have the hunt at that wonderful park across from Nora’s house.  Then we’ll eat after that.  You can call or text Nora for a food assignment.  I’m really looking forward to all the fun.  And seeing green grass and tulips in Nora’s neighborhood.  It’s still winter here.  It snows almost every day, but it usually melts that same day.  At least we won’t have to worry about a drought this year.  The snowpack in the mountains is about 150 percent of normal.
         Yesterday while I was using my computer the mouse suddenly stopped working, and then the keyboard.  I called Tom and asked if he could come by and check things out. When he came, he brought another computer that has the same hardware as mine.  The school district is always throwing them away, and Tom rescues some of them.  He says he has “homed” quite a few of them, which means that he’s found them new homes.  Anyway, instead of spending hours trying to find the problem with my computer, he just pulled out the hard drive and put it in the computer he brought.  That only took about five minutes.  He said it’s way easier than trouble shooting.  Go, Tom!  It’s great to have so many specialists in our family.
         Our kitties are still keeping us entertained.  Sonia has become obsessed with cords.  I was trying to use my hand mixer in the kitchen, and I had it plugged into the side of the island.   She kept grabbing the cord and trying to pull everything down.  When I was talking to Katie on my phone, I had it plugged in because it was almost dead.  Sonia kept biting the cord and unplugging it for me.  I finally threw her into the bunkbed room so I could talk in peace.  She bites the shoelaces in Dad’s shoes, and especially the long ones in his winter boots.  When I sew she jumps up on the table and tries to pull the thread out of the sewing machine.  I hope she grows out of this phase, because she’s really a nuisance right now.  Scout lives to fight with Tina.  They go at it as often as they can.  There’s always lots of cat fur for Dad to vacuum up.
         Lots of love to everybody!  Mom

Sunday, April 7, 2019

Dear Kids,
         The conference sessions yesterday were wonderful, but there weren’t any earth-shaking announcements.   Maybe there will be some today, when the prophet speaks.  Or maybe he’ll just give his usual wonderful talk.   Maybe all the rumors were just rumors.  It’s all good.  I love conference weekend!
         Our bread and soup party last night was a blast, although we didn’t have as many people as usual.  Half of Tom’s family was sick, and Nora’s family was just getting home from their trip.  But I hope all the travelers had a good time.  I saw the picture of Paige with her broken arm (and a cute little frown on her face,) but hopefully that was the worst thing that happened to anybody.
         Our cabin joists were delivered a couple of weeks ago, (ahead of schedule!) but needless to say, nobody has hit the ground running yet.  The same restoration company has been working on Donna’s bathroom for months, and they finally finished it, which was a miracle.  At the rate it took them to do that little job, our cabin will be done in, say, five years or so.  If we’re lucky, it might be sooner.
         Easter is coming up in just two weeks, and we don’t have a plan yet, but I’ll talk to Nora today, along with the other people that will be here for lunch.  We’ll hammer out something, and I’ll write the details next week.
         I’m barely using my cane at all these days, and  I’m finally starting to feel a lot better.  My leg still hurts, but I don’t have that general sick feeling I’ve had all these months.  Thanks so much for your prayers.  I know Heavenly Father has been listening.
         Love to everybody, Mom

Sunday, March 31, 2019

Dear Kids,
         So many of you have gone  out of town: John’s family to San Diego, Nora’s to Sun Valley, Tom’s to Washington D.C. (they’re staying at Sharon’s, of course), and Allen and Jen took all their kids to Las Vegas.  This afternoon and evening will be really quiet at our house!  Donna has promised that her family will  come, though, so it won’t be totally comatose here.  And I’m sure they’ll get the kitties riled up, with the laser pointer and the play mice, so there will be lots of racing and chasing.
         But then, next weekend is conference, and we hope to have lots of you here!  Saturday night is the bread and soup dinner here at our house at 5 pm, and then the guys will go to the priesthood session at 6.  I think I’ve contacted most of you about food assignments.  Nora’s family won’t be here until Sunday, so Nora has planned to have a taco bar here at noon, between the sessions.  You can text her if you want to bring something for that.  By then we’ll know what the new announcements are.  We’ve heard rumors of people receiving mission calls that say they won’t know how long they’ll serve until after conference, so maybe they’re changing the length of missions.
        Did I say anything about spring ever coming here?  We were supposed to get a rain storm Thursday night, but we woke up Friday morning to 4 or 5 inches of snow.  It was really wet, though, and it melted fast.  But it’s been so cold!  Yesterday I planned to go for a walk, just down the street and back, but it was 36 degrees, and the wind was blowing.  Well, maybe by the time it ever gets warm, I’ll be over my shingles pain.  It’s taking a long time for both.
        John’s cats had caught seven mice by the time they left town.  Our cats only catch play mice, the little kind with boingy tails that you get in the pet department at Walmart.  They come on a card of three, and I kept buying more and more, and they kept disappearing.  I would see Scout lying on the floor by the refrigerator, with his arms reaching underneath, but I could never see anything, when I looked.  Finally I took a long dowel rod, stuck it underneath, and pushed from the center outward.  I swept out eleven mice!  (Although Scout knocked one back underneath while I was working.)   Then I put a strip of wood under the fridge to keep the mice out. When Dallin was here, he took the whole big pile of play mice and dumped them on Scout's head.
        Life is crazy and lots of fun.  I love you all.  Mom

Sunday, March 24, 2019

Dear Kids,
         John called me to brag that his cats caught four mice in four days.  Each day one of the mice showed up on their doormat.  I told him that was wonderful.  Of course, his cats spend a lot more time outside than ours.  And they’re always trying to get in.  John caught one of them standing on the shoulders of another, trying to pull on the door lever.  Thank goodness we have round doorknobs, not levers, because our cats always want the doors to open.  But they want to get out, not in.  I’m pretty sure they couldn’t turn a round doorknob, even if one of them would let the other climb on its shoulders.  But eventually they’ll get to go out as often as they want to.  Now I just let them out once a day, because I’m afraid they’ll get into trouble.  Scout has already been over the neighbor’s fence to tease their dog Harley, who’s a Siberian husky.  I saw Scout racing back to our house, sailing over the fence.   I hope he won’t get too cocky.  He might not always get away fast enough.
         We’re still getting snow, but it’s melting faster than it’s falling.  I’m planning to go out and dig in the yard as soon as there’s a  patch of dry dirt.  My leg is still painful from the shingles, but I’ve put it on notice that I’m not going to baby it forever.  I’m tired of being an invalid, hobbling around with my cane.  So by the first of May, I’m going to stash away the cane and walk on my own.  And I’m going to do normal things, no matter how much it hurts.  I’m going to be my old self again.
         Two weeks until conference!  It looks like everybody will be back from their Spring travels, so we’ll have our regular Saturday night party.  It will be the guys going to the conference session this time, while the ladies stay home.  We’ll have our usual bread and soup and rolls, probably starting at 5 pm.  I’ll call around a few days beforehand to see what people want to bring.
         Easter is late this year, April 21, but still, that’s only two weeks after conference.  We’ll have to think about a Saturday Easter egg hunt, and at whose house.  A couple of years ago we had it here, and it was fun.  I’m sure our ground will be dry by then.  (Well, pretty dry.)  Or if anybody wants to volunteer their house and yard, (or a park nearby,) let me know.
         So much fun coming up!  I love you all.  Mom

Sunday, March 17, 2019

Dear Kids,
         We might have had our last snowstorm for the year!  The 2-week forecast has temperatures in the 40's, with chances of rain, not snow.  Of course we still have April and May coming up, and it’s still springtime in the Rockies, but I’m happy to see that winter won’t go on forever.
         Dad is giving away his old laptop, since he got a new one for Christmas.  Here are the specs he scribbled down for me:  AMD E2-1800 APU with Radeon Grphics 1.70 Ghz, Resolution: 1366 x 768, 64 bit operating system.  Some of that means something to me, but anyway, it’s a nice computer, if you or any of  your kids need it.  First one to respond gets it!
         My nice visiting teachers (whoops, ministering angels) came to visit me on Friday, and they brought me bread and cheese and a beautiful bouquet of flowers.  Naturally the kitties had to show off for my visitors.  Scout climbed on them, while Sonia found a play mouse and trotted past them, holding the mouse in her teeth.  Of course they thought both cats were very cute!  Sonia was fascinated with the flowers they brought, and when I put them in a vase on the table, she wouldn’t stay away from them.  I made the mistake of leaving them out overnight, and the next morning some of them had been chewed, and Sonia looked a little sick.  But after she spent a long time using the litter box, she was her old self again, racing and chasing.
         Conference is coming up in just three weeks, and of course there’s lots of speculation about new changes that might be made.  My favorite is that the members won’t have to clean the chapel any more.   In our area, the deacons still collect fast offerings, and I’m hoping they’ll finally do away with that, too.  What else?  We’ll have to watch and see.  I know some of you around here are going out of town for spring break, which is around that time.  I’ll call around and see who’s going to be home, and if enough of you are here, we’ll have our regular Saturday night bread and soup party before the priesthood session.  However it goes, conference is always a wonderful event.
         Life is good!  I love you all!  Mom

Sunday, March 10, 2019

Dear Kids,
         It keeps snowing.  Springtime in the Rockies!  Dad and I went down to Lehi Friday afternoon to visit McGettigans, and it was even snowing there.  No matter.  We had a lot of fun.  McGettigans moved there (Thanksgiving Point Village) about two years ago, and we’ve been to their new house several times.  It’s really nice, and they have guest rooms, so we usually stay over.  And since they have a membership in Thanksgiving Point, and they can get into everything free, along with their guests, there’s plenty to do.  Friday night we went to the new Butterfly Biosphere that just barely opened.   It’s a special building that’s warm and humid inside, with tropical plants and thousands of butterflies.  They’re big, colorful ones, mostly from Costa Rica.  You can’t pick them up or bother them, but if they land on you, that’s OK.  Besides the biosphere, there are lots of other things for kids–climbing places and activities.  I think all your kids would really enjoy going there, if you can afford to get in.  It’s $15 for kids 3-12 and $20 for adults–very pricey!  But you could spend at least half a day in there without getting bored.
         Saturday morning we went to the dinosaur museum, and it’s spectacular, too.  But I got vertigo in there, probably because the floors and walls are all slanted in different directions.  I got worse and worse, until I could barely stand up, so we left.  I’m hoping we can go back another time and I’ll do better. We might visit McGettigans again for the tulip festival, which is coming up!  I’ve always been curious about Thanksgiving Point, but I knew it was expensive, and besides, having fun just hasn’t been part of our lives.  I guess that’s why you need fun-loving friends.
         Speaking of fun, I have to have a colonoscopy on Wednesday.  It’s been a whole year since my cancer adventure started, and my colon doctor wants to take another look in there.  I guess I can stand it.  The procedure itself isn’t bad, but the cleanout routine you have to do the day before is wretched.
         Our kitties are still keeping us well-entertained.  While we were gone to McGettigans they unrolled the toilet paper in the little bathroom and knocked over the trash container.  Just now, as I was typing this, I left my desk for a minute.  Sonia walked on the keys and added several lines of gibberish.  I couldn’t understand any of it, so I deleted it all.
         I hope you’re all doin’ great and lovin’ it!  Mom

Sunday, March 3, 2019

Dear Kids,
         Today is Charlotte’s eighteenth birthday.  I can hardly believe so many years have gone by.  We’re so grateful for all you kids, and the wonderful families you’re raising, and for our loved ones on both sides of the veil.
         Thursday night Scout stopped eating and drinking, and he was listless and miserable.  He spent the night crouched on our closet floor.  Sonia watched over him from Dad’s sock bin.  I got up every couple of hours to see if he looked any better, and he didn’t.  Friday morning he ate a couple of bites of kitten chow, but nothing else.  We’ve never taken sick cats to the vet before, but I couldn’t stand the thought that he might die, besides the fact that we’ve already invested so much money in these two cats.  So we drove down to Arcadia pet clinic in Heber, where we’ve taken our cats before.  Scout was terrified by the ride in the cat carrier, and not at all listless when we arrived.  He yowled when they took his temperature, and it was high.  The vet guessed he had an infection, maybe from a bite or a cut.  He gave  Scout a shot of antibiotics and a shot of “anti-inflammatory,” which was probably a steroid.  By the time we got him home he was already looking better, and within a couple of hours he was eating.  Saturday morning he was racing and chasing again with Tina and Sonia.  If you’ve never had a cat on steroids, you’ve missed a great show.  And we’re very happy that he’s recovering.
         April conference is coming up in five weeks.  What changes are in store for us this time?  It’s fruitless to speculate, although we were right last time about the two-hour block. I could roll out my wish list again, but it’s better just to wait.
         Dad got a call regarding our cabin: the joists have been ordered, and they take five or six weeks.  When they arrive, Dad was assured, they’ll “hit the ground running.”  I think the only thing that will be hitting the ground will be the joists dumped from the delivery truck, and after that they’ll probably sit for several more weeks.
         But it’s all good! Someday the cabin will be repaired.  Someday I’ll be well and my pain will be gone.  Someday we’ll have green grass and warm days.
         Love, Mom

Sunday, February 24, 2019

Dear Kids,
         Compared with the excitement of last week (Tom and Kim’s new baby on the way) things are dull again.  It’s still cold, down around zero every night.  The snow is still deep.  The deer still walk past our windows.  The herd has grown larger, from five, starting out, to ten now.  It takes Tina longer to glare at each one of them, but she won’t slack off.    Over at our cabin . . . nothing has been done yet.  It’s still sitting there, quiet and desolate.   On Monday Bevan cleared the driveway there with the new track snowblower.  He said it’s really fun to operate.  Meanwhile, Dad keeps our driveway clear with the snowblower here.  All those years we didn’t have one, I thought it was only about saving a little bit of work.  I didn’t realize what a great toy it is.  If we get even an inch of new snow, Dad’s out there running the snowblower.
         Here’s a bit of good news:  Adelaide will be working at Oakcrest this summer, on the kitchen staff.  Her camp name will be “Lemonade.”  Where has the time gone?  It seems only a few years ago that Nora was Oskaloosa.  Anyway, we’re really happy for Adelaide, and we know she’ll have a wonderful summer.
         My cousins Colleen works at the Provo Temple on Fridays, and that’s the day Dad and I usually go, sometimes with John and Heather.  Colleen was one of the “little kids” when I was growing up; she’s probably six or seven years younger than I am.  And I’ve always thought of temple workers as “old people,” way, way older than I am.  But we usually see Colleen there, when we go.  And last Friday, she actually did one of the ordinances for me.  What a great feeling, knowing one of my relatives is helping with ordinances! I never thought that would happen.
         Spring is coming up, sometime.  The snow will melt sometime.  My leg will stop hurting sometime.  But every day is good, and I love you all.  Mom

Saturday, February 16, 2019

Dear Kids,
         Finally, there’s news!  There’s excitement!  Another baby boy Ackerson is on the way, thanks to Tom and Kim, again.  Tom sent us a text of the ultrasound a couple of days ago, which was the first we’d heard about it.  I think they kept their secret pretty well.  Their due date is July 18.  And this will be how many boys in a row?  It’s odd–when Lucy was born in January of 2010, the girls were ahead by four, 13 to 9.   But since then, our only girl grandchild has been Anna, compared with twelve boys. (Counting Barbarossa.  I’m calling the new baby that.  It’s such a great name, and they didn’t even use it on Blake.)  So, we really could use some girls!  But all these wonderful grandchildren are blessings from Heavenly Father, and I’m grateful for them all, girls and boys.
         Compared to that, nothing else is news.  It still snows every couple of days. We always have about a foot on the ground, since it packs down.  The deer still come strolling by, looking in our windows.  Our yard is their preferred route into the neighborhood, and I think somebody farther in must be feeding them, since they don’t exactly look skinny.  The cats don’t like them one little bit, but there isn’t much they can do.
         If John has shingles, is isn’t very severe.  He feels a stabbing pain in his leg now and then, but otherwise he feels fine.  Lucky!  I’m still dealing with my pain.  And walking with my cane, which I really like.  There are all kinds of things you can do if you happen to have a cane with you.  You can use it to pull a cat out from under the bed.  You can beat off a vicious dog, if you need to. You can point to things with it.  You can break up patches of ice on the driveway.  In all the old movies, every gentleman  had a top hat and cane.  We were just watching one where the hero used his cane to grab the villain by the arm, to make him pay a waitress her back wages.  So canes are pretty handy.
         Boy, gas has sure gotten cheap!  In West Valley, at the Rainbow station, it’s $1.85 a gallon if you use your Sinclair card.  It makes me want to go for a road trip, if I only felt better!
         But life is good.  With such a wonderful family as ours, I have nothing to complain about.
         Love, Mom

Sunday, February 10, 2019

Dear Kids,
         We still haven’t had any real excitement here.  That’s probably good.  Our daily happenings are pretty much the same: watching it snow outside, watching our crazy kitties, and watching the deer watch us (they really do look in our windows).   Dad gets out the snow blower every couple of days and has a great time tooling around the driveway with it.
         Friday night Vanessa’s family stayed over.  They were here for their annual ski adventure, and I’m sure it was great.  Yesterday morning they met up at Deer Valley with Nora and some of her kids, Tom and some of his kids, and Donna with Anna.  At least there was plenty of snow!  I’ve heard that the snowpack is normal for the year.  That’s funny, because it’s always either above normal, in which case they warn us of flooding, or below normal, when they warn us of drought.  But normal?  That almost never happens.
         So it’s  been nice having regular snowstorms every three or four days.  Last Sunday afternoon Nora was here with her kids, and she made biscuits.  (Her family’s biscuits are right up there with Donna’s and Vanessa’s rolls.)  When they came out of the oven, we ate them with butter and honey, and watched it snow outside.  It was one of those perfect scenes that you could put on a calendar.  Tom’s family came later and Tom roasted a pork loin on a cutting board on the counter-top, using a propane torch.  All the kids were standing around agog.  I told him he should put himself on you-tube, and he said that’s where he learned how to do it: on you-tube.  I’m sure the pork loin tasted fabulous, but I didn’t eat any.  I can’t eat any kind of meat without getting terrible stomach cramps.  That goes for fruits and vegetables, too.  But life is still good.  There are lots of good breads and rolls and biscuits out there, and no end of fabulous cheeses.
         John thinks he might have shingles.  We haven’t talked to him since Thursday, but he had all the symptoms–just no rash.  It’s weird, because his pain is exactly where mine is, in the left thigh.  I haven’t heard of anybody else having it there.  Anyway, if it really is shingles, I hope he has a light case.  If it turns out to be bad, I have an extra cane I can lend him.
         And life is still good.  Lots of love, Mom

Sunday, February 3, 2019

Dear Kids,
         I have even less news to report this week than usual, because I’ve been down in bed since Thursday with a stomach virus.  I’m hoping to finally be able to eat today. I haven’t really been hungry, but food always tastes so good to me, and there isn’t much else going on in my life.  While I’ve been sick, the kitties have spent lots of time on our bed keeping me company.  Mostly Sonia, I guess, but Scout has put in some time.  Tina’s been very deficient in that regard–she has never  cuddled up with humans. We do see signs that she’s becoming a real cat, however–a couple of days ago I caught her in a real fight with Scout, both of them rolling on the floor like one big ball of striped fur, rabbit kicking, biting, head grabbing, the whole business.  But Tina walked away in disgust when she saw me watching.  As far as we know, this was her first real true cat fight,  so Scout is having a good effect on her.
         We’ve had some activity on the cabin reconstruction;  well, not any actual work, but signs that it might happen someday.  I was talking to Rob Sorensen, our insurance agent, about one of the financial transactions, and while I had him on the phone, I said we were also concerned about how slowly Servicemaster seems to work.  They’ve been been working on Donna’s bathroom for several months now, and I told him that at that same rate, it would take about five years to reconstruct our cabin.  Rob said he’d look into it.  I guess he did, because that afternoon we got a call from the Servicemaster guy (Scott Lewis) saying he wanted us to meet with himself and the general contractor who’s in charge of the reconstruction.  We met them at the cabin on Wednesday morning, where it was about zero degrees.  We walked around inside and outside, looking at the damage, and the contractor told us how he’ll go about fixing everything.  He seems really competent, and he’s obviously had a lot of experience.  But when Dad asked when the work would actually start, Scott said they had a lot of projects going, and they weren’t exactly sure.  He also mentioned that it could take a long time to get the materials, maybe up to three months.  That wasn’t very encouraging.  But at least they know we expect it to be done sometime.
         It just started snowing outside.  I hope we get a lot!  Our old snow was mostly packed down and melted.
         I hope you’re all well and happy.  Love, Mom

Sunday, January 27, 2019

Dear Kids,
         There’s absolutely nothing going on here, probably because it’s January. Our only entertainment is the animals, inside and out.  A herd of deer comes across the road almost every day and looks for food in our yard.  All my mugo pines are in cages, so the deer are pruning them down to the size I want them.  There are three bucks and two does in the herd, and they’re all really big!  One of the does sometimes comes by herself. This afternoon she was standing out by our deck, just looking around.  Tina was watching her from inside our house, through the glass door.
         Yesterday we stopped by John’s house to pick up some things, but I really wanted to play with his cats.  They’re a couple of weeks younger than ours, about the same size, but ten times crazier. Poseidon will jump for a moving light on the ceiling.  They tear through the house, chasing just about anything.  I pointed out to Heather that they’re as big as regular cats, but they still behave like kittens, so they can do a lot of damage.  Heather said they’re “teenage” cats.
         I’m glad to report that Charley is out of the hospital.  He’ll be staying at Bekah’s house for a while.  Bonnie says that he’s getting mentally and physically stronger every day, but he still needs oxygen at night.  She says Charley loves having visits, and since he won’t be able to drive for several months, he would probably like to be taken for a drive now and then.  Maybe Dad and I can do that.
          I’m back to visiting my regular doctors, but just for maintenance.  In the last couple of weeks I’ve seen my colon doctor (Bossart) and my oncologist (Lewis.)  They tested my blood looking for cancer “markers,” and my score was so low that I’m in the normal range now.  That was really good news.  Next week I’ll be seeing our dermatologist, and in March I have an appointment with Dr. Engen, who takes care of any skin cancers on my face.  I wish any of those doctors could do something about my real problem, which is the pain left over from the shingles.  I wish there were a shingles doctor who could cure it for me.  The pain medications make me goofy, and mess up my thinking, but so far I haven’t done anything really crazy, at least that I know about.
         Sorry I don’t have any real news.  You know things are dull here if I write about cats and deer and doctor visits.
         Love to all, Mom

Sunday, January 20, 2019

Dear Kids,
         My brother Charley is still in the hospital from his surgery two weeks ago, and there’s no end in sight.  Dad and I went to visit him Wednesday, and I would hardly have recognized him.  His head is shaved and he had a little bit of a beard, and he looked exactly like my brother Mark.  His personality is different, too–pretty quiet, for Charley.  Whitney and Suzy came by while we were there, and Andy, too.  Whitney said that after the surgery, Charley was really crazy.  He kept trying to escape from the hospital, but he never even made it out of the bed.  She said one doctor was talking to him, and he said, “I’m an attorney.  I know when people are lying to me!”  He volunteered to tend Whitney’s kids when she and Steve go to Germany.  I’m sorry we missed all that.  Charley couldn’t believe he’d been there two weeks. He’s developed blood clots again, in his lungs and his legs, after two weeks on blood thinners.  Nobody can figure out what’s going on.  I know dozens of people are praying for him, but I know he could always use more prayers.
         You can keep praying for me, too.  I really appreciate it.  Although my condition hasn’t improved at all, I feel really peaceful about it.  I’m learning to accept the Lord’s timetable.
        We had a great snowstorm on Thursday, 8 or 10 inches, and Dad’s been out having fun with the snow blower.  Our cats acted like they wanted to go out, so Dad opened the door for them,  but when Sonia put her dainty little paw into the snow for the first time, she changed her mind and trotted back in.   They’re glad to be inside cats for now.  Tina, too.  Last night in bed I had all three of them snuggled next to my legs.  Their purring puts me to sleep. 
         My piano classes in Heber are going fabulously well.   I’ve never had so many good students.  I’ve started three new people since the first of the year, so all my slots are filled up.  One of my new people is a retired Air Force guy,  and he treats piano lessons like a military assignment. His attitude is: “Tell me what to do, and how to do it, and I’ll get it done.”  He will, too.  I love teaching them all, and my three hours there on Thursday morning goes by really fast.
         Love to all of you!  With the holidays so far in the past, we don’t see enough of you now.
         Mom 

Sunday, January 13, 2019

Dear Kids,
         The big news this week is Dad’s truck.  If you were in on the message thread, you already know that it’s a 2016 Ford F-150 with 17,000 miles on it, still under its original warranty.  Dad and John bought it at the Garff lot in West Valley, across from the hospital.  John was going to fly to Las Vegas, buy a truck that was listed there, and drive it back, but he did a CarFax search and found out it was a “flood recovery” truck from Hurricane Harvey.  It had no warranty and a branded title.  But since John was all geared up to buy a truck, he did some more looking online and found the truck in West Valley.  It’s very impressive!  The old white truck looks very sad beside it.  John’s going to take the old one to his house and sell it on KSL.com.  He said we shouldn’t try to sell it to any family or friends, because there’s no telling what may go wrong with it in the next little while.  I’m sure it has issues we don’t even know about, but it has served us well for the last 17 years.  If we keep the new truck that long, we’ll both be 88 when we sell it.
         Tina, Scout, and Sonia are pretty good friends now.  There isn’t as much hissing or paw swiping as there used to be.  Last week there was a lot of racing and chasing through the house, but this week it’s mostly walking and stalking.  They creep up on each other and then jump in for the kill. So far, though, we haven’t noticed any real injuries.   Tina’s embarrassed about being friends with the other two, and if I find the three of them huddled together somewhere, she’ll stalk away.  They ought to all be outside cats, but after the money we paid to get Scout and Sonia fixed and declawed, I want to get as much entertainment out of them as possible. 
         My hair is still very pink, so I shouldn’t be surprised that so many people comment on it.  Total strangers will say, “I like your hair color!”  Maybe they’re really thinking “you must be nuts” but I don’t care.  I like talking to total strangers. 
         Later this morning Dad and I are going to Elk Meadows, the care center in our stake, to help out with sacrament meeting.  I’ll be playing the piano and Dad will lead the music and give a short talk.  We were there last week because it was the Elders Quorum’s turn to be in charge, and we’re going back today because  it’s the Sunday School’s turn.   The rest of the Church is enjoying the new, shorter, 2-hour block, but Elk Meadows is only about 25 minutes, so 2 hours will seem long when we go back to our real ward next week.  Still, I’m looking forward to it.  I haven’t been to Relief Society for over a year, but now I’ll be there every other week.
         Life is good!  Love to everybody! Mom

Sunday, January 6, 2019

Dear Kids,
         In my letter last week I wrote that I was going to color my hair pink for the new year.  And I did–a very bright pink.  Way pinker than last year.   And the next morning  there was an e-mail asking if I could play the organ at a funeral in three days.  Panic!  My hair color simply wasn’t appropriate for a funeral, and it would take weeks to wash out the pink.  I was thinking maybe they could set up the flowers in front of me, but the funeral was for an old man, and there wouldn’t be very many.  Then I called Jane to see where she bought her wig.  It was a shop in Orem, so I went there Thursday afternoon.  The ladies there were very nice, but they didn’t have my color in a style I liked, that wasn’t too expensive.  (Although it dawned on me that anybody who chooses a crazy hair color ought to have a wig on hand.)  Finally I decided to stuff my hair into a knitted beanie, and I wore a sweater I had that seemed to match.  It really looked OK.  I wore dangly earrings to make myself look dressed up.  Since I still walk with a cane, people might have thought I was a cancer victim, but that would have been OK too.  It was all good.  Dad led the music, and we had a nice time together.
         My brother Charley had a surgery yesterday to take the shunt out of his brain and clear out some gummy blood.  A couple of days earlier he had driven to the hospital for a second opinion about the surgery they wanted him to have.  He had a seizure in the parking lot, but a security guard got him inside, which probably saved him.  We hope yesterday’s surgery will finally set him on the right path.  Compared with him, my problems are nothing. 
         We took down our Christmas tree right after Christmas,  because the cats were killing it.  So now they’re attacking everything else.  The blinds are a great target, and we’ll have to replace more than one set, but only after the cats grow out of this phase.  They really like my fake trees.  Monday morning I was teaching a piano lesson in the front room when the fake tree by the window came crashing down.  Scout ran out of the branches.  I told my student (Claren Palmer) that this was normal for our house.  And I left the tree down until the lesson was over. 
         We’re supposed to have a pretty good snowstorm today, and I hope we gets lots of snow. It’s been really cold, too–minus 11 on New Year’s morning.  Winter was late coming this year, but it’s making up for it now!
         Lots of love to everybody, Mom