Sunday, December 29, 2019

Dear Kids,
         Christmas has been wonderful, from the Messiah party to the cousins’ party to Christmas Eve, to visiting some of you on Christmas day, to the sledding party at the cabin and the after-party here, and even Nora’s adventure of the flat tire on her way home.  And the fun isn’t over yet, because there’s going to be a New Year’s Eve party here at our house Tuesday night.  All of you are invited, along with your kids.  Sharon and Nora are planning it, so contact them for details!  I still have a block of ariel fireworks left over from the fourth of July, so we can set them off!  If I bug out early and go to bed, at least I’ll be having fun with all of you in spirit!
         Last night Dad and I went to a fantastic party with my brothers and sisters at Bonnie’s house.  Everybody was there except for Ben and Monica, and it was lots of fun talking to them all, and catching up on some of the news.   Every year that goes by, we appreciate each other more.  It’s miraculous that we’re all still alive, for now, and I wish that could go on forever, but as Katie pointed out in a text, we came into our family one by one, and we’ll start leaving one by one. I’m so glad for the Gospel, and to know we’ll be with our families forever, Dad and I, and our siblings, and all you kids.  I appreciate that knowledge more and more all the time now.
         Dad and I spent yesterday morning working at the cabin, and after two hours, you couldn’t see that we’d done anything.  It will take a long time to get it completely functional again, but I’m planning to spend at least one morning a week there now, and Dad will put in plenty of time, too.  Hopefully it will once again be the great party place it used to be!
         Since 2020 is an even year, we’ll be having the big Allen family reunion this summer.  Bonnie has chosen August 8 as the tentative date, and we’re planning on the same park again. It’s impossible to find a date that will work for everybody (Barbara says we’re up to 281 people now) but hopefully as many of you as possible will be able to come.  And of course our own Ackerson family reunion will be the weekend before that, from Thursday, July 30, to Sunday, August 2.  Tom is in charge this year, and we’ll be at the Chalet.  There’s no stopping the fun!
         Love to all, Mom

Sunday, December 22, 2019

Dear Kids,
         Sharon’s family arrived in Centerville right on schedule yesterday, in time for the ice skating, even.  Their drive was flawless!  Of course lots of us were praying for them, but their good planning played a part, too.  And we really enjoyed the wonderful party at Nora’s.  I was sorry to drag Dad away early, but I was really tired.  We sure had fun talking to everybody, though.
         Of course you’ve all heard the sorry news of Tina’s departure to Kitty Heaven yesterday.  Her decline started about three months ago when she seemed to be gagging a lot, and her breathing seemed raspy.  After two visits to Arcadia clinic, we realized she probably had something incurable, and maybe we’d just let nature take its course.  So we waited, day after day, week after week, while she got thinner and thinner, until she was just a bag of bones, and she struggled more and more to breathe.  Finally, yesterday morning, she gave me a look that said she’d finally had enough.  I understood.  We called Arcadia clinic, and took her in.   Dr. Pickett looked her over carefully, and said she had enlarged lymph nodes and fluid in her chest.  It could be some kind of lymphoma, or another cancer, or some other disease, of which he named several.  None of them could be treated.  We told him we had prepared ourselves for the worst, and we were willing to say goodbye to her.  But Dr. Pickett didn’t want to say goodbye!  He stroked her head for a while, and then he got papers ready for Dad to sign. We had our choice of a private cremation, where we got her ashes back in an urn with her name on it, or she could have a group cremation with other pets in an apple orchard in Spanish Fork.  Of course we chose the apple orchard for her.  Her spirit would be gone, anyway. 
         The actual process of sending her off was very sweet, and Dad was glad he stayed in the room to watch.  She got a shot to relax her, and then, a few minutes later, the final shot.  I thought I could feel her spirit leave.  It was weird that we got her on a summer solstice, June 21 of 2016, (Sharon’s birthday, too,) and she left us on a winter solstice.  You could hardly plan that!
         Scout and Sonia are behaving like cats just before Christmas.  Santa sure wouldn’t visit them if he had a chance!  They’ve been racing and fighting and trying to destroy the Christmas tree, until I sprayed it with febreze (blood orange and spritz aroma) which Sonia hates. Since then Sonia has been rocketing back and forth through the living room and kitchen.  (She told me her favorite Christmas song is “Rocket Around the Christmas Tree.”)
         Christmas is upon us!  Dad and I will be driving around visiting some of you on Christmas Day, if I feel up to it, (still recovering from that one chemo infusion), and on Friday we’ll have our sledding party in Pocatello.  Lunch will be at noon, and we’ll be having a potato bar, so besides bringing your leftover Christmas goodies, you might also bring one potato topping.  We’ll go sledding right after lunch.  There’s talk of a trip to Lava, either early that morning, or later in the day, so if you’re interested, check with Vanessa.
         So much fun!  So much family!  I love you all!  Mom

Sunday, December 15, 2019

Dear Kids,
         Sorry I didn’t write a letter last week.  I couldn’t even sit, let alone type.  I was flattened so low I couldn’t even read, or watch movies, or barely talk to Dad.  I just existed, for a couple of days, before I started to improve.  So thanks for all your prayers.  I can barely imagine how bad it would have been without them!  The only idea that kept me going was my decision to never have any more chemo, ever.  I’m sure there are people who can handle it better than I did, but I feel like it’s going to take me weeks to recover back to where I was.  I’m not even afraid of my cancer, because my life is in the Lord’s hands, and when my time comes, He’ll take me mercifully–I’m sure of that.
         We’re trying to get into Christmas here. Nora helped us set up our tree, but then Sonia walked around it, looking to see if there was anything dangling from any of the branches. She remembers last year!  They were still kittens, and they had fun climbing up the middle, bending down the branches, and knocking off ornaments.  Maybe we’ll have to be content with just lights for this year, like a family with toddlers.  I’ve tried putting a few presents under the tree, but Sonia comes running, lands on one, and skids across the floor until it stops.  So most of the presents are flat, with bite marks. Scout’s behavior is a little better, since he’s still preoccupied with the mice and voules outside. I don’t think he’s catching any, but he patrols. No matter how deep the snow, he goes out looking for them. 
         Now Tina–well, I’m sorry to say her health is still on the decline.  She’s terribly skinny, (even though we feed her Urgent Care cat food at $3.00 a can) and she gags all the time.  Dad and I think she has some kind of growth in her throat, maybe a cancer.  It isn’t anything the vet can find and cure easily, and we’ve already paid for two office visits.  Dad suggested taking her in and having her put to sleep, but it was all talk.  Tina said she wants to do it her own way, on her own timetable. 
         We went to the court of honor for John’s 13 scouts on Wednesday night, and it was a great evening!  There was a live eagle!  (Awful, evil birds!)  The program only lasted an hour, and the refreshments were good.  What could be better?  I still remember vividly when John earned his own eagle, and it wasn’t very long ago.  Aaron was one of the 13, and Jacob took the other route, the “almost eagles.” 
         Christmas plans: (1) Tonight is the second performance of the Messiah at Tom’s Church at 7 pm.  If you look in the middle of the back row, you’ll see three nice-looking blonde singers: Me, Tom, and Bentley.  There’s a pre-party at Tom’s at 5 pm.  If you want to bring something, there’s still time.  Contact Kim.
         (2) Next Thursday, Sharon’s family will set out crossing the plains, hopefully to be here on time Saturday for the cousins’ party.  Ice skating is at 1:00 at the same rink, and we’ll eat at 5.  Contact Nora for a food assignment.
         (3) Christmas Day: Sharon’s family will be in Upalco at the Thackers.  Dad and I will visit some of you, if I feel OK.
         (4) Sledding in Pocatello!  More later!
         Life is still good!  Lots of love, Mom

Sunday, December 1, 2019

Dear Kids,
         We had a fantastic Thanksgiving here, and I hope you all did, too.  And, of course, Christmas is upon us.  Dad and I are giving all of you Christmas money, like we’ve done for the last couple of years.  Either you’ll get it in the mail, or you have it already, or I’ll hand it to you today.  Let the fun begin!  Here are the Christmas events coming up, at least the ones I know about now:
         1.  This isn’t really a Christmas event, but the court of honor for John’s 13 eagle scouts (including Aaron) will be Wednesday, December 11, at 7 pm at the Cobblestone Ward, 960 East 1661 South, in Heber.  Dad and I are going to try to make it. John has worked really hard to help these boys finish before the deadline–probably harder than he worked himself to get his own Eagle.  Go, John!
         2.  The Messiah sing-in will be at Tom’s church on Saturday and Sunday nights, December 14 and 15, at 7 pm.  Nora’s family is coming Sunday night, and we’ll be having a before-party at Tom’s.  Nora and Kim are going to plan the food, so if you’re coming and you want to bring something, call one of them.  I’m not sure about the time, yet. Tom and Bentley and I are in the choir, and we’ll need to be at the church an hour early, so I’m thinking 5 pm or so for the party/dinner. 
         3. The cousins’ gift exchange will be at Nora’s house on Saturday the 21st.  Skating is from 1-3 at the same rink as usual, and we’ll have a pasta bar for dinner at 5 pm.  Call Nora for a food assignment!  With good luck, Sharon and Seth’s family will just be pulling in.  (Barring any blizzards in Nebraska or Wyoming.)
         4.  For Christmas Day, Dad and I don’t have any specific plans; we’ll probably drive around and visit some of you.5.  The after-Christmas sledding party will be at Vanessa’s again this year, on the 27th. We’ve outgrown the cabin sledding hill, and besides, it’s fun to hop in the car and go somewhere just after Christmas. More later.
         Thank you all for your prayers and concern about my cancer.  I’m starting chemo on Tuesday, so I had a port put into my chest last week.  (If you google iv portal, there’s a diagram). It sits just under the skin, and they use it instead of an IV to pump stuff into you.  And of course I’m going to have plenty of stuff pumped into me.  I’ll be having four treatments, two weeks apart, each of them lasting 48 hours.  To start each treatment, I’ll go to the cancer center and have a pump hooked up to my port.  Then, 2 days later, I’ll go back and have it taken out.  That’s all I know now.  I sure appreciate all your prayers, and I’m definitely going to need them!
         Lots of love, Mom

Sunday, November 24, 2019

Dear Kids,
         I had my WORST.  DOCTOR.  VISIT.  EVER. on Thursday.  I thought I was going to be starting immunotherapy, and according to Dr. Lewis, my nice oncologist, it was going to zap my cancer with very little discomfort.  But nice Dr. Lewis was out sick, (very very sick, as in they’re not sure he’ll ever come back) and his partner, a lady from India, is very hard to understand.  Also very cold and blunt.  She said she was going to go over my lab results with me, and I said no, I was there for immunotherapy.  She said the lab analysis showed my cancer won’t respond to immunotherapy, and because it metastasized from my colon, I’m automatically at level 4, and it can’t be cured, but they’ll start me on chemo.  All that in a couple of sentences!  I was reeling.  I wanted to yell, “Get me Dr. Lewis!” but she read my thoughts and told me Dr. Lewis would tell me the same thing.  I’m sure she’s right.  Long story short: I have to get another CT scan to have a baseline for my tumors’ sizes, and have a port implanted in my chest, and then they can start the chemo.  Each time I have chemo, I’ll wear a pump for 48 hours at home.  They’ll do that four times, over 8 weeks, and then give me another CT scan to see if the tumors are responding.  If they aren’t, we’ll re-evaluate.  She said they won’t keep me on chemo and make me miserable if it isn’t doing any good.  I asked her,  “Do people sometimes cry at this point?” and she said, Oh, yes, go ahead and cry.  But I didn’t.  I still think I have a lot of years left.  My patriarchal blessing says “your days will be lengthened, to fill your mission with joy and satisfaction.”  I have a lot of faith in that.  Also, a ton of people are going to be praying for me, including you kids and your children.  And my brothers and sisters.  And our ward.  And dozens of other people.  I got a funny text from Bonnie that said: “Maybe the immunotherapy would have been a waste of time?  The chemo will kick your cancer’s a**!  You’ve got this, and I’ll pray hard for you.”  With such a big wonderful family pulling for me, I’m going to make it!
         Let’s see, what else is going on?  We’re looking forward to Thanksgiving! We’ll just have Donna’s and Tom’s families on Thursday, so for those of you who are going to the in-laws, I hope you have a wonderful time!  Oh, our cabin is looking really good.  They’ve moved the furniture back in, so we’re almost there!  Sharon, you can definitely stay there over Christmas! 
         What else?  Our kitties are always wonderful.  I was sleeping in Dad’s recliner because my neck was hurting, and Scout came walking down the hall and into our bedroom.  I grabbed him and laid him across my chest, and he started purring loudly.  Cat therapy! It’s the best.
         Lots of love, Mom

Sunday, November 17, 2019

Dear Kids,
         Dad had a great time at the BYU game yesterday, and he enjoyed the sunshine and good weather. I hope the rest of you had fun, too.  Thanks, Nora, for arranging things.  23 tickets!  That’s almost like the opera nights we used to have!
         While Dad was at the game, I drove down to Lehi to visit Jana McGettigan.  We always have a lot to talk about.  I went shopping at Walmart and JoAnne’s fabrics, too.   Since I hardly ever go anyplace by myself, it was a real novelty for me.  Normally I let Dad be the chauffeur, but it was fun to break out.   
         I was supposed to start immunotherapy this week, and I was all geared up for it, but on Wednesday I got a call from my doctor’s office.  The lab hadn’t sent them any information yet about my lung tissue. What!  People’s lives are at stake, and the lab diddles around?  Their analysis was supposed to be finished last Monday.  It’s not that I’m eager to have the treatment, because I might have nasty side effects–some people do. I just want to know how it’s going to be.  And I want my cancer stopped dead in its tracks.  So, I hope the lab hustles and finishes their work on my lung tissue.  If they’ve lost it, and I have to get another biopsy, I’ll really freak.
         I got another text from Mario Gonzales on Friday.  He said that Christine had died that morning.  I totally believe the gospel, and the plan of salvation, but it seems like too many people have died recently!   James’s dad.  Mrs. Marriotti.  I’m not afraid to die, and I know these people have gone to a wonderful place, but it sure is hard on their families!
         Well, let’s talk about something more pleasant.  Politics.  You all know that Dad and I really support President Trump, but I’ve learned it’s not always wise to say so.  You can lose friends.  One of my piano ladies said she’d never dare to go to a Trump rally because she might get beaten up, or have her property vandalized.   Maybe she’s right, but we have a guy here on our street who’s not afraid of anybody:  Bronson Butler, the body builder. He lifted a dirt tamper into Dad’s truck for us once, and it weighed hundreds of pounds.  He looks like an action figure on steroids.  But he’s really, really nice.  Anyway, he has a flagpole in his front yard now, maybe 20 feet high, with an American flag at the top, and a Trump flag underneath it.  Go, Bronson.  If we were all body builders, maybe we’d all have more courage.
         Hopin’ you’re all doing great!  Love, Mom 

Sunday, November 10, 2019

Dear Kids,
         James’s dad passed away last Sunday morning, probably about the time I was uploading my letter.  We’re all really happy for him, but of course it’s really hard for his kids and grandchildren.  He didn’t want to have a funeral, just a graveside service and a lunch.  Nora had talked to us about going, but I was in a lot of pain this week and never checked back with her.  I’m sure it all went well. 
         My shoulder and neck have been killing me, but it probably isn’t related to my cancer.  Yesterday it seemed to finally be getting a little better, and today is better still.  I’ve got to feel OK for the start of my immunotherapy!  I feel like my whole life is on hold right now.  But at least I’m going to stay alive.  I got a text from my friend Christine Gonzales; she was one of my missionary companions who married a Bolivian and ended up teaching Spanish and German at the SLCC. Anyway, the text was actually written by her husband, Mario, who said: “Let you know Christine develop ovarian cancer advanced we sorrow much.”  Mario never learned English very well, but his message was pretty clear.  If I felt better I’d try to find out more so I could at least go to her funeral, when it happens.
         There’s been lots done on our cabin!  The carpet was actually being laid by some Mexicans on Thursday when the power went out.  They say they’re coming back tomorrow.  But you can see how close we are!  After everything’s cleaned up, and our furniture is moved back in, there will be a final inspection.  I’m still planning on doing Thanksgiving here at our house, because time is so short, but the cabin should be open for business pretty soon!
         Tina’s breathing has been really raspy, especially at night, when you can hear it clear across our bedroom. Last Tuesday we took her to the vet. She yowled very loudly and put on quite a show, but when the vet examined her and listened to her breathing, he couldn’t find any problem at all.  So he said it’s probably seasonal asthma.  By then he was petting her, running his hand down her back and pointing out what a beautiful cat she is.  She was strutting around on the examining table, head-butting his hand and purring very loudly.  The vet especially admired her black and brown coloring, and the wide black streak down her back.  She was in her glory.  So the visit was great for her self esteem, even though it set us back a few dollars.
         We won’t be home this evening because of the Messiah practice, and we’ll be gone every Sunday night until after the performance on December 14.  I’ll have more about that later.   
          Lots of love, Mom

Sunday, November 3, 2019

Dear Kids,
         Well, the weather isn’t my top story any more.  It got down to -3 on Wednesday night, but since then the temperatures have wandered back toward normal.  We even had pretty decent temperatures Thursday night for Halloween.  A lot of kids came by, even though our ward had a trunk or treat last weekend.  Most of the kids in our neighborhood aren’t LDS, anyway, so that didn’t affect them.  I always like to see kids in their costumes, and Halloween night is still magical for me.
         Even though winter has backed off, the deer haven’t received the message.  They walk through our back yard every night just at dusk, on their same path as last year.  Our next door neighbors aren’t putting out food for them (yet), so they cross the street beyond our house, and go who knows where.  Tina doesn’t like it at all.  She glares out the window at them.  Scout wants to go out and fight with them, but we don’t let him.  Sonia grooms herself and pretends she doesn’t know they’re walking by.   It’s a very entertaining show.
         Most of you know that James’s dad, Bill, has been living with them for a little more than a year now, but he had a stroke last Monday night.  James and his brothers and sister have decided to put him in hospice, since he didn’t want to be kept alive artificially, especially if he couldn’t walk or talk.  So they’re just giving him comfort treatment, and it won’t be long now.  Suzanne has been gone since Isaac was a newborn, so Bill is probably anxious to be with her again.  It’s funny–when he moved in, he said he would live with them for about a year and a half, and then he would die.  He was pretty close.  I wonder how he knew?
         The Messiah practices are starting next Sunday night, Dec 10th, and we’ll be leaving here about 5:30 pm, so we won’t be having our usual Sunday night rendezvouses for the next several weeks.  The performances will be Saturday and Sunday, Dec 14 & 15, at 6 pm at Tom’s church.  I’m guessing we’ll have some kind of before-party or after-party, probably Sunday night.  I’ve missed singing in the Messiah for the last two years because of my health problems, but nothing’s stopping me this year.
         I hope you’re all enjoying your extra hour of time this morning.  Tonight, though, it will be pitch black by 6 pm.  It’s all good, though, because the holidays are coming up.  We’ll have more fun than ever!
         Lots of love, Mom

Sunday, October 27, 2019

Dear Kids,
         Yikes! It’s going to get cold this week!  Tuesday night: -2.  Wednesday night the same.  Some winters we never get below zero, and this is happening in October!  Besides, it’s supposed to snow this morning, and again on Tuesday. I’ve been complaining that winter is coming early, but I didn’t guess THIS early.  Or this cold.  Yesterday was my last day to work in the yard, so I rolled up the hoses and brought in all my rakes and shovels.  Dang, I was hoping for another week or two of being outside.  We had our shortest summer ever.
         I had my biopsy on Tuesday, and it was no picnic.  The needle they put in through my back really hurt.  They couldn’t put me under because I had to take deep breaths when then told me, to get the needle in farther, as in: “Take a really big one now, because we’re going past a rib.”  I didn’t plan on being there so long, either, but they make you stay two hours after, in case your lung collapses.  That happens 30-40% of the time.  But it didn’t happen to me, so maybe my luck is improving.  Dad was a good sport and stuck with me all through it.  He really likes hospitals, as long as it isn’t him being worked on.
         Friday my oncologist called with his report.  It’s the same cancer I had in my colon, and it metastasized.  They’ll take at least two more weeks to “genetically analyze” it, whatever that means. Maybe it’s sort of like culturing a bacteria.  Then they can work up the right immunotherapy. Last night at a Halloween party I talked to a guy who has lung cancer, and they gave him immunotherapy for two years!  Funny, I never thought to ask my oncologist how long it would take. Oh, and I also found out I don’t just have the one tumor in my lung, because the biopsy doctor spilled the beans and mentioned lots of “nodules” that also lit up on the pet scan.  What fun!  I’m sorry to sound negative, but this has been a depressing week for me.
         Has anybody been wondering about the cabin? Nothing’s been done for the last two weeks or so.  Evidently they’re waiting for doors to come in.  After that, it’s paint and carpet and miscellaneous things.  I had hoped it would be ready by Thanksgiving, but I’m afraid there isn’t time.  But we can have a lot of fun here at our house, whoever wants to come.  With our big family, every get-together is fun.
         Lots of love, Mom 

Sunday, October 20, 2019

Dear Kids,
         I’m sure everybody has heard that Paul and Stefanie are having a GIRL!!  I’m completely surprised.  I thought for sure it would be a boy, but maybe that’s because I’ve forgotten what baby girls look like.   There have been ten boys since Anna was born, and two just before her, Luke and Isaac.  So we’re in for a welcome change.  Stefanie’s due date is March 6th or 7th; Paul wasn’t sure.  Paul also told me a little bit about Oliver, Stefanie’s nephew, the son of Brian and Kelly.  He was born at 26 weeks and has been in the NICU at McKay Dee hospital ever since.  He was doing OK until he got too jumpy and accidentally pulled out his breathing tube, which, of course, he didn’t know he was doing.  They were worried that he’d gone too long without oxygen, but he pulled through.  I’m sure he could use your prayers.  I pray for him every day, along with Paul and Stefanie’s baby.  I know the Lord listens to us, even though He doesn’t always give us the answer we would choose.  But I’m sure He will bless both of these babies.
         On Tuesday afternoon I’ll be having the biopsy of my lung, and it’s a very high-tech process.  They don’t just stick a needle in where they think the tumor is.  (Although Dr. Lewis showed us how he could find it when he tapped on my back, sort of like knocking on a wall to find a stud.)  For the lung biopsy, they actually do a CT scan, so they can guide the needle into the right place.  That means I have to come an hour early and drink dye again (my third time within a month) and then I have to get into the machine.  I’m not excited.  They have to find out exactly what kind of cancer it is (lung? colon?) so they can prepare the right immuno drug.  Meanwhile, my real pain is coming from my hip, and I’m still waiting to find out what my orthopedic doctor plans to do.  Since I’ve been walking with a cane for three months now, I shouldn’t mind waiting a little longer, but it’s hard to be patient.  I also still have shingles pain in my left leg.  Whatever Heavenly Father wants me to learn from all this, I wish I could learn it and get on with my life.
         Scout just walked under my chin and dragged his magnificent tail under my nose.  The cats can’t stand to see me sitting at my computer, concentrating on anything besides themselves.  It’s snowing outside, so they’re all very friendly.  Even Tina.  Winter is definitely here early, and it’s our second snowstorm this week. There hasn’t been enough for a snowman yet (sorry, Matthew) but if we continue on at this rate, we’ll be building snowmen by Halloween.
         Love to all, Mom
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Sunday, October 13, 2019

Dear Kids,
         Sonia is attacking my fingers while I’m trying to write this.  Also, she added in some of her own words, which I deleted.  I’m sure they were part of the authentic cat language, but they didn’t mean anything to me. 
         I was really glad to get my PET scan over with last Monday, and then to talk to my oncologist on Thursday.  He showed me on the scan where the “spot” in my lung lit up like a light bulb.  It’s about the size of a large grape now.   Since it’s growing so slowly, they can do immunotherapy instead of chemo.  But first they have to biopsy it to see exactly what kind of cancer it is.  Since it’s in my lung, it ought to be lung cancer, right?  Not necessarily.  It’s probably colon cancer that metastasized, which requires a different immuno drug. The biopsy will show for sure.  I could also see from the scan pictures that my hip didn’t light up at all–good news!  So why is it hurting?  My oncologist said the radiation I had last year probably thinned it out so it can’t support my weight any more.  It’s probably one of those weird side effects, like me losing half of my hair and the eyelashes on my right side, and having my fingernails hashed.  Anyway, my hip has two stress fractures, so no wonder it hurts!  I have to go back to my orthopedic doctor to deal with that, and he’ll probably give me steroid injections to lessen the pain, along with bone-strengthening meds.  If that doesn’t work, he can put in a rod.  Of course all that will take time, but I’m really glad to know what’s going on.  Thanks for all your prayers, and the prayers of your children.  I know they’re helping me. 
         We’ve had authentic winter temperatures the last few days.  Thursday night it got down to 12.  Naturally everybody’s flowers are dead!  And people around here who hadn’t blown out their sprinklers were in trouble.  The people who live in the no-account house across the street obviously didn’t blow theirs out, because Friday morning when it warmed up, they had water spraying from one of their outside pipes.  Of course they weren’t home!  Dad called the fire department and they came and shut off their water at the street.  (Francis city does NOT want people wasting water!)  The people still haven’t come home.  Maybe they’ve absconded for good.  They’re at least the third family to live there.  Some houses are just plain unlucky that way.
         I hope you’re all doin’ great and lovin’ it!  Mom

Sunday, October 6, 2019

Dear Kids,
         We really enjoyed our bread and soup dinner last night, and we missed those of you who couldn’t come.  Tom’s family was finishing Bentley’s eagle project, which is a top priority, since Bentley turns 18 on Wednesday.  Humm, our family seems to have a tradition of finishing eagle projects at the last minute.  Anyway, the supper we had was great, and afterwards, we “girls” went to the women’s session of conference at our stake center.  Then we had ice cream and brownies afterwards.  We’ll do it again in the spring, of course, when the men have their priesthood session.  I think it’s a wonderful tradition.
         And we really enjoyed the conference sessions yesterday, and we’re looking forward to the talks today.  It seems like they always tell us exactly what we need to know.  And they’re very fast about getting the talks online–it takes them less than a week now.
         Tomorrow is my PET scan, and my prep today is that I can’t eat carbs.  The scheduling lady told me only to have meats and leafy vegetables.  When I told her I couldn’t eat either of those, we settled on hard cheese.  I guess it’s low in carbs.  Thank goodness there’s Tillamook extra sharp aged white cheese, which I love.  I bought a big brick of it at Winco.  I talked to Jana McGettigan about the PET scan, since she’s had two of them.  On the first one, the cancer around her throat lit up like a Christmas tree, but on the second, nothing showed at all.  Naturally I’m hoping for nothing, but there’s the pain in my left hip that’s making me walk with my cane, still.  I’m hoping to get that cured.  And there’s the “spot” in my lung that’s growing.  (1.5 cm now.)  I’ll find out everything Thursday afternoon, when I talk to my oncologist.  Naturally I appreciate all your prayers!  I can feel the strength of them.
         Paul and Stefanie are having their ultrasound on October 16.  I’m thinking they’re going to have another boy, but maybe that’s because we’ve only had boys for the last nine years.  A girl would be wonderful!  Either way, we’re praying for a healthy baby.  It will be grandchild number 36 for us.  None of my brothers and sisters can compete with us any more.  (But I think only Monica Allen was counting.)  And the best is, Dad and I don’t have to do anything at all–just sit back and enjoy these wonderful grandchildren!  Thanks to all of you for bringing children into the world, and for raising such wonderful families.
         Love to all, Mom

Sunday, September 29, 2019

Dear Kids,
         My sister Katie is here from Boise, so we had to have a sisters’ retreat.  Friday night we watched a movie at Bonnie’s house, “Tall Girl,” (which I highly recommend), and Saturday morning we drove to downtown Salt Lake to the City Creek area. We wandered around Deseret Book, Al Rounds’s studio (closed, sadly) and the Church History museum.  Mostly we talked, and mostly about our families.  There’s no juicy gossip, but a lot of interesting stuff about all your cousins.  I can’t write it all, but if you ask me about anybody, I can give you a report.
         Last Monday I had my MRI and CT scans, and two days later my oncologist called me. He said I should have a PET scan next (positron emission tomography) which looks for concentrations of sugar in your body.   Evidently, cancer likes sugar  and pulls it in.  I’ll be having that a week from tomorrow.  He also said he’ll probably do a biopsy of the “spot” in my lung, because it’s still growing.  And he psyched me up for radiation on my hip, which, he said, will help with the pain.  He’s so nice, I’ll agree with any treatment he suggests. Mainly, I’ll be glad to know everything that’s wrong with me, however bad it is.  It’s better than not knowing.
         Conference is next weekend!  Saturday night we’ll have the bread and soup dinner here at our house, at 5 pm.  I’ll be calling everybody about food assignments.  At 6, all of us ladies and girls will go the women’s broadcast at our stake center, and when we get home, we’ll have ice cream with brownies and toppings.  About a Sunday dinner:  I haven’t made a plan.  When our family was smaller and we could have it at the cabin, it worked fine.  Now, there are too many people to watch conference in one place.  But I’m happy that there are so many of us now!   The Lord has blessed us gloriously.
         I’ve just been finishing up my sprinkler project outside, tottering around with my cane, using the wheelbarrow for a walker and the rake and shovel for extra support.  It’s still great fun, though.  Friday morning I had my sprinkler parts spread out on the lawn, T’s, unions, elbows, the lot.  All arranged nicely so I could grab what I needed.  Scout brought a dead mouse from the field and dropped it in the middle of my stuff, and smiled at me.  I petted him on the head and told him he was a good cat. 
         Thanks to all you kids for being such good cats.  I love you all. Mom

Sunday, September 22, 2019

Dear Kids,
         Two weeks until conference!  We’ll have our usual Saturday night bread and soup dinner here at 5 pm.  Then the ladies and girls will go to the women’s session of conference while the guys and little kids hang out.  We’ll have ice cream with brownies afterwards.  I can’t eat any of that stuff, but I don’t mind fixing it because it’s so much fun to have people come here.  I don’t know if any of you want to have a dinner between the sessions on Sunday, so I’ll call around and find out.  I fondly remember the times we watched conference at the cabin, and had CafĂ© Rio there, but the cabin isn’t up for it yet.  But at least it’s being worked on!  The outside is nearly finished, with all the siding on, and the contractor was building the deck the last time Dad went to inspect.  The inside hasn’t been started yet.  There has to be new sheetrock, and then painting, and then carpeting. I hope our contractor will keep working on it, and not go off on other jobs. 
         I’ve been using every spare minute I can get outside to work on my sprinkler project.  I’m hoping to finish it before it gets too cold, but old man winter seems to be coming fast. It freezes almost every night, and the storm we had Thursday night left snow in the Uintahs and on Timpanogos.  So I’m digging trenches and gluing pipe and putting on sprinkler heads as fast as I can.  Kitties help, of course.  They inspect my trenches by running through them.  Mouse killing doesn’t excite Scout so much now, since the cold weather has driven the mice underground.  Sonia can’t jump for grasshoppers, because they’ve all died.
         Tomorrow I’m having my CT scan and MRI.  I have to drink dye before each test, and I’m hoping it doesn’t make me sick. Otherwise, I’m not scared of the tests–just a little fearful about the results.  I’ll know about my hip when I see my orthopedic doctor on October 1st, and I’ll know about my lung when I see my oncologist on the 10th.  Hopefully there won’t be cancer in either place, but I’d like to know why my hip hurts so much when I walk.  If I’m lucky it will be something simple and easy to cure.
         I’m getting together with my sisters next weekend, but I probably won’t have any gossip to pass on, because all our children are settled in their lives now.  There just isn’t much drama any more!  Maybe Bonnie will bring bags of her cast-off clothes and then you girls can have fun going through them.
         Lots of love, Mom 

Sunday, September 15, 2019

Dear Kids,
         John has two new kittens to make up for Poseidon’s untimely death.  There’s Zelda, a female, who’s mostly white with pale hints of calico, and Spartacus, a male, who’s totally white.  John said the big cats hate them (predictable) but the kittens have lots of fun playing together.  They’ve already unrolled two rolls of toilet paper.  Let’s see, if John gets two new kittens for every cat that dies, won’t he soon have dozens of cats?
         Our kitties, meanwhile, are still obsessed with hunting.  The other day Scout brought  a mouse from the field to our back yard, and he let Tina and Sonia join in for the kill.  They took turns whacking it.  Three noses were pointed at it, and six ears. The mouse didn’t last very long.  They just left it on the grass when it quit moving. Nobody wanted to eat it.
         Our kitties are also helping me dig sprinkler trenches in the yard.  They run through them to make sure they’re deep enough.  All three of them chase each other, leaping out at the end of the line.  My project is moving along really well.  You’d think I’d have trouble digging, since I can barely walk, but if I’m digging I can stand in one place, which hardly hurts at all.  Besides, I’m so excited to be outside, I don’t think much about my pain. 
         I had an appointment with an orthopedic doctor on Tuesday, and he took a good look at the x-rays that were taken a couple of weeks ago.  He said we need to rule out the bad stuff first, and then consider other possibilities.  With my history, he wondered about cancer first. He showed me a couple of dark places on the x-ray that could be suspicious.  He also said I might have a stress fracture.  I’m having a MRI on the 23rd so he can take a better look.  Since I’m seeing my oncologist again in three weeks, I’m having a CT scan at the same time, so he can look at my lung and see if the “spot” has grown at all.  Fun and games.  Digging trenches in the yard and gluing sprinkler pipe is much more to my liking.
         Love to all of you!  I think of you all, and pray for all of you every day.

Sunday, September 8, 2019

Dear Kids,
         Last weekend was jam-packed, and now things are dull here again.  But it was fun while it lasted.  It was great to see so many of you at Tyler’s baby blessing, and Tom and Kim were great hosts for the lunch at their house.  I didn’t get to talk to everybody, because the time went by so fast.  It was amazing to hear that Karl Bentley has gone hunting with Ty Detmer on his ranch three times!  He said Ty is a lot of fun.
         As we were coming home from Heber, the McGettigans were right behind us.  They come here about once a year, usually on Labor Day weekend, for the rodeo.  That wasn’t until Monday afternoon, so we had lots of time to hang out.  Jana was looking for old cars with broken glass and rust, so she could photograph them and use an enhancement program that makes them look really cool.  I was sure we could find some, and we did.  The rodeo  was pretty cool, but I decided I don’t enjoy the bull riding that much.  Everybody falls off in the first second or two.  But the music is great, and it’s fun to watch the locals.  (Dad and I aren’t locals yet.  Dad’s belt buckles aren’t big enough.)
         Some of you might have heard that Aaron’s wonderful cat Poseidon was run over  on 1200 South, behind their house.  Poseidon was coming back from hunting, and he even had a mouse! (Heather found it near the body.)(Dad hoped they buried the mouse with him.) Poseidon lived to hunt, so it wasn’t if, but when he would get hit.  I always put our kitties out the back door, so they’ll run to the pasture to hunt, and not cross the street.  Scout, that mouse-killing machine, brings live mice to the back lawn so he can show off while he tortures them. Sonia brings grasshoppers.  They’re little bitty things–just a mouthful. 
         Julie has been taking a piano tuning course, and she came to our house to work on ours Thursday night, just ahead of the piano tuner who was coming the next morning.  She was really tired, though, after teaching 11 piano students in a row, so she only did a little bit and went home again.  She came back the next morning to watch our tuner, Ron Jensen.  They chatted about the ins and outs of piano tuning while Ron worked.  Julie was told she has to tune 100 pianos before she can start charging, and I’m sure she’d like to work on any of yours! Just call or text her. 
         Conference is coming up in four weeks!  That’s the only event on our calendar, except for my doctor visits.
         Lots of love, Mom

Sunday, September 1, 2019

Dear Kids,
         If you’re coming to Tyler’s baby blessing at noon today, the address and details are in my letter from last week.  Be there or be square!  I just love these big family events.  I asked Ali and Emma what Tyler was going to wear, and then we started reminiscing about Blake’s blessing, and his famous blowout just minutes before he was blessed.  He ended up getting blessed in a onesie. Whatever happens today, it will be a wonderful event.
         In my letter last week I was bellyaching about all my medical troubles. Then, Monday morning, I woke up with a rip roaring toothache, or rather, the toothache woke me up, at 3 am.   At 8 I called Dr. Condie’s office and got a same-day appointment, and naturally I had to have a root canal.  I’ve had them before, and I always got through them with percoset.  But that’s something I can’t take any more, since my colon surgery–no hard drugs at all! Period. So I doubled up on my Tramadol, the same drug I overdosed on a few weeks back, and I would have overdosed again but it can lead to having a seizure.  So I just suffered through it.  Now it’s been almost a week, and it only hurts a little bit.  I sure feel sorry for the pioneers! Their old people were often toothless, and every single lost tooth probably cost them horrible pain.  My sister Katie said somebody really messed up when humans were designed with teeth. 
         In spite of my sore jaw and my two sore legs, I’m working in the yard yet again.  I get out to my work place with my cane, and then I use the wheelbarrow like a walker.  A rake can be a makeshift cane, if you hold it upside down.  Ditto with a shovel.  The kitties supervise me, and when I jump at them and say “rah!” they run out to the pasture.   I was trying to decide how to adjust our sprinklers, because they don’t cover the yard evenly.  I started to replace our Rainbird rotors with Orbit, but they don’t put out as much water, making it even worse.  Then I took a good look at where my sprinkler heads are, and decided I need to totally re-do everything.  Besides that, I’d already decided to re-plant our lawn with different seed, because I don’t like the stuff I’ve got.  So I sprayed the entire lawn with Roundup (except for the part I just planted,) and now anything I do will be an improvement.  Anyway, it gets my mind off my medical troubles.
         Hoping to see most of you later today–with love, Mom

Sunday, August 25, 2019

Dear Kids,
         Tyler’s baby blessing will be a week from today (September 1) at Tom’s church (the first one past the elementary school, past Smiths, as you go east on 500 North).  Sacrament meeting starts at noon. There will be food afterwards at Tom’s house, and you can contact Kim for an assignment.  I’m really looking forward to it!  The baby blessings are getting fewer and farther between, and unless somebody is planning to surprise us, the next one will be Paul and Stefanie’s baby in the spring.
         Things are sure quiet in our neighborhood, since school started this week.  I can hardly believe summer’s over already.  I know most of you parents are glad to have your kids settled back into school, except for Sharon’s kids, who don’t go back until after Labor Day.  (Of course they didn’t get out until the middle of June.)  I always liked having you kids settled into a routine again, and I always tried to organize my life better when I had more breathing room.
         Our kitties are obsessed with rolling in the dirt.  When I let them into the house, they’re so dirty they don’t even hold their tails up straight, but drag them along behind.  Then they spend hours grooming themselves.  Then they want to go back outside and roll in the dirt again.  I was wondering how they can lick up that much dirt, without it hurting them, and Dad said maybe they need it in their diets.  Maybe it cleans them out.  Come to think of it, they don’t sell Kitty Miralax, (would they call it Kittylax?) so maybe Dad’s right.
         I was just thinking about all my medical troubles, which started out two years ago.  First it was my skin cancers, and then I was barely recovered from those surgeries when they found the colon cancer.  I wasn’t even completely recovered from that when I got the shingles. And now along with the shingles pain, I have the pain in my right leg, probably from my hip.  I have an appointment with an orthopedic doctor in two weeks, and maybe he’ll be able to help clear it up.  But I’m thinking Job was very wise when he said “Yet man is born unto trouble, as the sparks fly upward.”  (Job 5:7)  But then I have plenty of blessings too, the best of which are you kids and kids-in-law and your kids, too.  I have way more blessings than troubles!
         So life is good! Lots of love, Mom

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. 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