Sunday, December 27, 2020

 Dear Kids,

What an odd Christmas Day we had!  I’m still pretty much down with my leg pain, and Dad developed back pain last Saturday night watching the cousins’ covid exchange party on zoom.  Backs are funny that way–he doesn’t even know what he did, but by bedtime he was in a lot of pain.  Finally, Tuesday morning, he went to the Park City instacare while I was having a CT scan at the hospital there.  They gave him some medicated ointment to rub on his back, and prednisone, too.  He feels a lot better now.  I was having a scan to see what my lung tumors have been up to lately.  I’ll find out the results on Monday afternoon.  My leg is gradually getting better, but it’s a slow process.  At least I’m not having any more shark attacks.

Oh, yes, Christmas.  Besides my leg and Dad’s back, Dad also had a stomach upset the night before, so it seemed better if we didn’t drive around to visit people.  But it still felt like Christmas!  We watched movies and worked a puzzle, and Nora’s family came later in the evening and made pizza.  Paige played Christmas songs on the piano, and Scout flopped on the floor beside her to listen.  (Anna played a concert for me last Monday night.)  Besides all that,  I got to talk to each of you on the phone.  It was all good.

From all reports, the sledding party yesterday was a great success.  Dad really enjoyed it, but I still didn’t have enough oomph to go.  I’m pretty sure there’s another sledding party this coming Saturday, but plans have been changing so often that I’m not sure. Nora knows everything.  Donna, too.  And Tom and Kim.  I’ve heard that Vanessa’s family can probably come then.  If I’m really lucky, I’ll be able to come, too, but I’m not taking any bets.  It’s really hard to be patient, though.  I expected to be all better by now, but that was before I started hearing horror stories about hip surgeries gone bad.  People don’t tell you that kind of thing beforehand.

Even though I’m not a good functioning hostess these days, our house is open now.  Sunday nights are fine.  If you come in and I’m not around, I’m probably upstairs in the recliner, or in the beanbag chair on the stair landing.  It’s my daytime hangout spot.  Nights, in the recliner, I’m draped with kitties. 

Yes, it’s all good.  Lots of love, Mom

Saturday, December 19, 2020

 Dear Kids,

Dad and I had a blast watching the cousins’ gift exchange on Zoom last night.  Thanks, Tom, for setting it up.  It worked out really well!  It wasn’t quite like being there, but lots of fun watching Sharon’s and Paul’s and Al’s and Tom’s families remotely, besides the families that were there at Nora’s.  Next up, of course, is Christmas Day, and Dad and I hope to be able to drive around  Heber Valley and visit those of you who live there.  I hope I’ll be up for it.  My recovery is moving along, but slowly.  There’s less pain in my leg, but sometimes it still feels like a shark is biting through it.  But I’m not the only one suffering! Tom’s family is gradually getting well, and I’m glad none of them have been seriously ill.  All along I’ve been saying that the young people should spread covid around, since they’re not so susceptible to the symptoms, and then we’d all have herd immunity.  But it’s entirely different when it’s your own grandchildren.  I don’t want any more of them to get it. Al is still recovering.  Meanwhile, Ben dislocated his shoulder skiing and has to have surgery.  Nora had a “plasma?” injection into the torn ligament in her arm, which was so painful she had to take “nor-something,” (makes you really crazy.)   Heather had the stitches taken out of her eyelid, after her skin cancer surgery.  I forgot to mention–her eye was sewn shut for a week.  It’s been really hard for her.  And then there’s John.  He had hernia surgery on Thursday.  I called him Friday to see how he was getting along, and he’d just finished shopping at Costco–he filled up a whole cart!  At the hospital they’d given him oxycodone, which he didn’t need, and nausea pills, which he didn’t need . . . . This is so unfair!  I’m glad, of course, that he had an easy time of it.  I wish we were all so lucky.

I’m usually in charge of the after-Christmas sledding party, which I’m trying to do this year, and I dearly hope I can be there.  Even if I’m not, it’ll be fun and crazy.  First I thought we’d have it the day after Christmas, but Nora was talking about moving it into the next week.  Whatever you guys decide is fine with me!  Either Tom will make dutch oven potatoes, or we’ll have soups.   I’m guessing we’ll eat sometime in the early afternoon.  There hasn’t been much snow here at our house, but there’s usually twice as much at the cabin, and the hill is always good.  There are six red sleds hanging in the garage now, plus all the miscellaneous ones in the attic.  If I’m not there, you all know where everything is.

I assume all the college kids are glad to be done with the semester.  Sharon and Addie both had their last finals on Thursday.  Oh, I remember what a wonderful feeling that used to be for me!  Sharon’s 1/4 of the way finished with her nursing program now, but I have to warn you all–don’t tell her anything that’s wrong with you.  She immediately shifts into nurse mode and asks you all kinds of questions and pins you down on whether you’re doing the right things or not.  But it’s wonderful to have a nurse in the family! She’ll be a great benefit to all of us over the years.  Go, Sharon!

I’ve been working a puzzle on the dining room table, and the kitties have delighted in sitting on the pieces.  Finally I stacked up their two cat carriers and locked them in.  Funny thing–Scout loves his.  Sometimes he spends all day in it, curled up asleep.  I think he’s in hibernating mode.

Love to all, and Merry Christmas!  Love, Mom

Saturday, December 12, 2020

 Dear Kids,

The big family news of the week is that Tom’s family has covid–well, at least Tom and the three girls.  I don’t think Kim is positive, or Tom would have put it on the family message thread.  When I talked to Tom a couple of days ago, he said Abi had been the sickest, and the rest of them just have flu-like symptoms.  Tom has lost his sense of smell and taste, but not as completely as with some of the colds he’s had.  We hope and pray they will all recover soon, along with Allen.  How about the rest of you?  Do you think it will pop up somewhere else among us?  Of course Tom’s family is quarantined, but we hope they’ll be out and about by the time of the cousins’ gift exchange next Saturday. (Allen called it the gift and covid exchange.)  

Our quarantine here is going really well.  When we need stuff from Walmart, John or Donna buys it for us and puts it on their porch.  Then Dad swings down to Heber (or Midway) in the truck to pick it up.  Dad and his truck are always eager to be out and about, so it’s working out fine.  I don’t feel like going anywhere, so the quarantine doesn’t matter to me at all.  My pain level is still high, partly because I’ve transitioned off oxycodone onto gabapentin and tramadol, my usual drugs of choice.  I miss the hallucinations, but it’s nice to have my brain sort of working again.  It isn’t nice to have my leg hurting so much, but I’m confident that my pain will east off eventually.  Thanks for all your prayers in my behalf.

Part of my regular every-day diet is the Charlie Thacker biscuits, and Dad made a batch of them for me earlier in the week.  I told him where the recipe was, and I presumed he followed it, but they were quite different.  But good.  Different shapes than I’ve made before, and quite brown on the bottoms.  That’s because he baked them in the bottom of the oven, because the rack was still down there, from cooking the Thanksgiving turkey.  We ate them all, though.  I appreciated his help.

Finally we have some snow on the ground!  Not much, but it keeps Scout and Sonia from rolling in the dirt.  They were coming in dirty up until the last possible day.  They figure I’ll brush them, and Dad will vacuum the carpets, and I think they like the attention.  Now they’ll have to find some new way to aggravate us.

Some of you have asked what I want for Christmas.  Amazon credit, same as always, but I can’t request Midnight Reverie, like I usually do.  Bonnie brought me a fabulous collection of dark chocolate truffles and Lindt truffle balls, and I was looking at them and thinking about them and planning when I was going to eat them, and my mouth started to swell.  Now it’s full of cankers, even my lips, which are big and swollen.  Talk about a conditioned response!  It must just have been the saliva while I thought about the chocolate.  I’m going to eat all the chocolate when my mouth heals, and if I have another cycle of cancers, so be it.  Life is short, and there are so many wonderful kinds of dark chocolate in the world.

Lots of love, Mom

Saturday, December 5, 2020

 Dear Kids, 

Most of you have heard that my surgery went really well last Monday morning. If only my recovery were going really well!  But you can’t expect everything.  All my complications are totally normal, but I didn’t ask enough questions beforehand.  Good thing, because I still would have gone ahead; I just would have been more fearful.  If my writing is incoherent, it’s because I’m taking very large (but legal) amounts of oxycodone.  So my stomach is upset all the time.  I hallucinate and talk to people who aren’t really there.  I slur when I talk.  My fingers don’t want to type.  But at least I’m escaping the very worst of the pain.  

They had me up walking just a couple of hours after the surgery.  I guess it can’t hurt my new hip, which is metal and plastic. I’m supposed to walk as much as I can stand every day, so I won’t get fluid in my lungs, which can lead to pneumonia.  So I came home from the hospital with crutches, and Dad borrowed a walker for me from Elk Meadows.  I’m pretty good with both of them now.  

Allen called me yesterday afternoon to check in.  He’s still suffering from the bad effects of Covid, which is pretty unusual for a guy his age.  He coughs all the time, but it doesn’t help his lungs that much.  I asked him about hallucinations, and he said when he had his appendix out on his mission, he remembers seeing waffles on the ceiling.   He gets sick remembering them.  He gave me some good advice about getting groceries, since Dad and I are both quarantined.  I can order what we need from Walmart in Heber and Dad can just go pick them up. I can probably do the same with Food Town.  It seems like everybody has curbside pickup now.  Allen also explained the difference between quarantining and isolation.  Dad and I are quarantined, which means there’s a perimeter around us which nobody is supposed to cross.  Isolation is when you actually have Covid and you’re completely, well, isolated from the rest of the world.  That would be lots worse, because Dad and I couldn’t even be in the same room together.  You’d go crazy! At least we can watch movies together and play with the cats.

Sonia’s idea of play is jumping up from the floor and landing in my lap, right on my incision. It hurts like crazy.  The wound is about 8 inches long and runs down the front of my leg.  Sonia hates my tablet, and she hates me reading off it, so I lay it over the wound before I doze off.  So she jumps onto Dad’s lap instead, but it isn’t as much fun because he doesn’t yell in pain.    

I wish we could have visitors, but maybe you’ll show up in my hallucinations.  I’ll remember and tell you what you said.

Lots of love, Mom

Sunday, November 29, 2020

 Dear Kids,

Friday morning I took a covid test at Orem Community hospital.  It was the version where you have to spit into a tube until you collect 2ml of saliva.  It doesn’t sound like much, but it seemed to take forever.  Tom said I should have taken a lime to smell.  Next time I’ll try that. Anyway, the test was negative, so I’m on track for my surgery tomorrow morning.  I’m already quarantined, which is supposed to last until 3 weeks after the surgery, but I’m planning to end it on the day of the cousins’ party

Thanksgiving was wild and wonderful.  We only had Nora’s and Vanessa’s families, but it seemed like enough people.  Unfortunately I had a migraine that morning, only the 5th one I’ve ever had, so  I was wobbly and dizzy all day.  I stayed upstairs in the basket chair, but people came up and visited me.   They said the food was fabulous.  When they were cleaning up, they took the turkey carcass out to the magpies.  Later on I looked out and counted twenty of them, flapping and squawking and fighting and biting. Their Thanksgiving dinner lasted until the next morning, when the carcass finally disappeared. 

Now we’re looking forward to Christmas.  Dad will be sending out your checks in a day or so.  I wish we could do presents, but everybody seems to like the money, and I always like hearing what you did with it.  

Looks like my letter is kind of short this week.  I love you all, and pray for you constantly.

Lots of love, Mom

Sunday, November 22, 2020

 Dear Kids,

Our snow has melted, and a herd of deer has taken up grazing on my new meadow grass.  They come around late every afternoon, and they’re very bold.  If I knock on the window, they just look up at me, and then keep eating.  They’re avoiding our regular lawn, even though it’s half sheep fescue.  I can’t remember what all I mixed up for the meadow grass, but they like it.  

Dad got the Yerf Dog running!  He tried one thing and then another, and he finally hit the jackpot.  If you want to know what it was, just ask him.  I’m thinking he can give Yerf Dog rides at the cabin on Thanksgiving morning, and maybe he’ll let the older kids drive it themselves.  It’ll be cold that day–a high of 36, but it shouldn’t be snowing.

Speaking of Thanksgiving, we’ll be here for whoever wants to come.  Right now it’s Nora and Vanessa’s families for sure.  I’ll call around, if I don’t talk to you today.  I’ll be doing the turkey and dressing and my usual pumpkin and chocolate pies.  Whoever comes, and whatever we eat, it’ll be fun.  Dinner will be at 1:00, and pie probably around 5:00.  Social distancing if you want, or whatever. I’m not worried about Covid.  One of my best friends, who was doing absolutely everything right: mask, social distancing, no ministering in person (she’s my partner), having their groceries delivered, having church at home–well, you can guess.  She has covid, and her husband, too.  That shows me it’s pretty well going to make the rounds, whatever.  I have to have the test this Friday, before my surgery.  If I’m positive, I won’t have the hip replacement.  Either way, I’m OK with it.

Heather’s still recovering from her surgery.  She says her neck doesn’t hurt at all, but they had to push her windpipe aside to operate, and that hurts her still.  John’s hernia surgery is December 17, but that won’t solve all his problems.  He’s been having odd pains in his joints.  He saw a rheumatologist who thinks she can get to the bottom of it.  He might have rheumatoid arthritis, or reactive arthritis, or something else even stranger.  The treatment she’s looking at right now is an old chemotherapy drug (John can tell you the name of it), which he’ll have to take for a year.  He can’t have it before his hernia surgery, and he might put it off longer.  I wish all our medical problems could be magically solved. 

Here’s an easy one:  Scout was suffering from a sagging belly last Sunday, but it turned out he ate too much of Nora’s leftover spam, when she was here.  Too bad the rest of our problems aren’t that easy.

Lots of love, Mom

Sunday, November 15, 2020

 Dear Kids,

Thanksgiving is a week from Thursday, and anybody who wants to eat and celebrate is welcome to come here.  Yeah, I know about the governor’s mandate.  We’ve tried masks and social distancing–Utah has been very good about that.  But the virus is still spreading. So what’s the solution?  More of the same!  Meanwhile, the virus is doing what viruses do.  I just finished reading a book about the flu of 1918, and they tried everything.  Masks.  Distancing.  Closing bars and theaters and stores.  Nothing worked.  The flu spread itself through the population, killing 100 million people worldwide, and then it was done.  I’m convinced that’s what’s going to happen this time, with far less destruction.  Back in 1918, whole families were wiped out, and everybody knew lots of people who died.  This isn’t so bad.  Ask Vanessa or Allen.  I’m sorry they’ve been sick (Allen is gradually getting better), but this is earth life, and people get sick.  Anyway, back to Thanksgiving, we’ll eat dinner at 1pm, and pie will probably be around 5.  If you’re coming, let me know, and we’ll work out a food assignment. 

I’m enjoying Bentley’s missionary letters. If you want to get on his list, contact Kim.  He sends them out by email every week.  It sounds like he’s working hard and having some fabulous experiences.  We pray for him every day, and I know you all do, too.

Heather’s surgery went really well.  As soon as she woke up from the anesthetic, that awful pain in her neck was gone.  Thank goodness for modern medicine!  John’s surgery has been moved back till the middle of December, because of scheduling conflicts.  Mine is still on for the 30th, if nothing gets in the way.

A flock of magpies checks out our back yard every Sunday afternoon, because I often put out chicken bones from the dinners Donna brings.  Last Sunday it was snowing, so they didn’t come until Monday morning.  Butlers’ dog came, too.  He’s a big German shepherd that roams the neighborhood.  (People have called animal control, but he’s still uncontrolled.)  The magpies didn’t like sharing the bones with Butlers’ dog, so they buzzed him and attacked him.  He left.  I knew they’d win. 

I hope you’re all doing great.  Love, Mom 

Sunday, November 8, 2020

 Dear Kids,

Both John and Heather have had mysterious and painful medical symptoms, and now they both have their answers.  John texted us with this info: “Both of us are surgical. Heather on Monday and me a week after.  Heather had a disk in her neck slip out and crush a nerve.  My hernia exploded and my guts are spilling out.  I guess we are old now.”

Not old, but extremely unlucky.  Our prayers are with you, John and Heather.  I’m glad for medical science and all it can do.  BTW, Monday must be the preferred date for surgeries, because my hip replacement will be two Mondays after John gets worked on.  Does anybody else have any medical news to report?  I haven’t talked to Al this week, so I don’t know how he’s doing, but no news is good news.

Last Sunday night Tommy locked himself in our little bathroom, and everybody was yelling in to him, “Turn the knob!  Turn the knob!”  Whatever he was doing didn’t work, but eventually we found a flat screwdriver-like key that opened the door, and we let him out.  The next morning I went into that bathroom to get something out of the vanity cabinet, and one knob fell off in my hand.  The other knob was so loose it nearly fell off.  Evidently, when Tommy heard “Turn the knob,” he wondered, “What knob?  What knob?”  Then he saw two knobs and tried them both.  We sometimes underestimate the intelligence of these little kids.  Sometimes they’re smarter than we are.

  Dad and I enjoyed every single day of the gorgeous fall weather this past week.  We worked furiously on the bunkhouse.  The sun was very low in the sky, and the wind blew off and on, but we got a lot done.  Now the bunkhouse is completely ready for siding, and it looks a lot better than it did.  During the winter I’m hoping to do the floor and finish off around the bottom bunks.    

Isn’t it weird to be off daylight saving time?  It gets dark so early!  You just want to get into pajamas and curl up under a nice blanket and watch movies.  But there’s lots of fun coming up: Thanksgiving and Christmas and sledding and snowshoeing.  Life is great! 

Love, Mom

Sunday, November 1, 2020


Dear Kids,

Finally, there’s some real news, but most of you already know this:  Allen has Covid!  He probably contracted it when he went to a leadership conference in West Yellowstone last week.  He was together with about 60 other law enforcement people for 8 hours a day.  He said they wore masks when they walked around their hotel, but in the conference room they just social distanced.  This past Monday he started feeling sick–muscle aches, etc., so he got tested, and he was positive.  So now he’s into about day 6 of a 10-day quarantine.  Del is quarantined, too, but she’s tested negative so far.  And her boyfriend is also quarantined.  None of the other 60 people from the conference seem to have it, but Allen’s pretty sure it will run through the Centerville police department.  I’m sorry he’s sick, but he’ll be immune when he comes out of it.  That should be about Thursday or so.  He’s going crazy being shut up at home, and he’d like to be able to do his regular work, but he’s in bed, and he says you just can’t use a computer when you’re down like that.  It’s too bad he has the virus, but he’s helping spread Covid, and getting us closer to herd immunity.  I think that’s the only way we’ll get through this.  Even when the vaccine is ready, people are too suspicious to get it.  I’ve only talked to one person who’s willing to do it, and everybody else says “never!”  Especially if  President Trump is behind it.

Well, other news?  There’s not much.  We had that cold snap last weekend, and I was concerned that it was going to get down to 6̊ Sunday night.  It actually went down to -3.  All the autumn leaves are shriveled now, and we’re ready for winter.  But it’s been surprisingly warm.  Dad and I have been over at the cabin working on the bunkhouse practically every day.  We finished the skirting, and it looks really good.  Dad is still painting (to protect it from the woodpeckers next spring, until we can get the siding on.)  I’m working on the 2x4 edgings around the windows and door. 

Dad and John went on a jaunt to Rexburg from Friday night through Saturday, to look around Dad’s old stomping grounds, including the airport and the college.  They seemed to have a lot of fun.  I stayed home to entertain the cats.  

My hip surgery is just four weeks away.  My doctor said I have to quarantine myself for three weeks afterwards, because my immune system will be compromised. I’m not sure why–maybe I can get him to explain that when I go in for my pre-op visit on Tuesday.  Anyway, that probably means no Sunday night parties here, for most of December.  Also, I’ll have to miss the Messiah totally.  So sad.

But life is good.  I love you all!  Mom

Sunday, October 25, 2020

 Dear Kids,

Yesterday I met up with my sisters and my cousin, Colleen, in Midway.  We wandered through All the Stuff in the Barn, and almost everybody bought something.  Then we drove over to Heber and had lunch at the Wasatch Back Grill.  I wasn’t the only person bringing my own food–Barbara is on a special diet, too.  We pulled tables together so we had room for everybody, and we talked and talked and talked.  I learned lots of new things, but the most fascinating is something I can’t put in my letter.  You’ll have to ask me.  

Last Sunday night Nora texted me that Carolyn Barney had died.  She heard it from Annice.  The funeral was Monday morning, and it was too late for us to plan to go, but I enjoyed reading her obituary.  Nora texted me the link, but you can get there by just googling Carolyn Reed Barney and obituary.  There’s a really cute wedding picture of her.  Thinking about Carolyn brought back lots of memories for me.  I’m glad she’s in a better place now, and that she’s healthy again.  She must feel great!

Adelaide reports that she’s doing well at Snow.  One of her roommates has a dog, who shares a room with her.  (With the roommate, not Addie.)  The roommate even pays double rent!  I asked Addie if the dog ever had accidents, and she didn’t know, but they were having a room inspection coming up.  Then they’d find out.  I had a lot of interesting roommates in college, but I never had a dog.  If I’d had anything, it would have been a nice domestic house cat. 

A storm is blowing in, and it’s supposed to start snowing.  And it’s going to be COLD:  6̊ tonight.  (At least that’s above zero, not below.)  I hope it warms up again and we have a few more good days before winter, because Dad and I have been going gung ho on the outside part of the bunkhouse.  We’ve repaired the skirting around the bottom, and we’re hoping to get the 2x4's around the windows and door, like we have on the cabin.  Then we’ll be all ready for siding in the spring.  During the cold months I’m going to do the bunkhouse floor, probably with laminate.  And then I’ll close off the areas under the beds.  It will all be comfy and cozy and ready for guests.

Here’s hoping you’re all doin’ great and lovin’ it.  Mom

Saturday, October 17, 2020

 Dear Kids,

Monica has kittens!  She sent us a video of them fighting.  One of them is a grey tabby, sort of like Scout, and the other is black and white, sort of like Sonia, but they’re both boys.  Or, at least they have boy names: Burt Reynolds and Harold.   The video made me wish Scout and Sonia were kittens again.  They were so cute when they were little, and now they’re just ordinary cats.  Except that they still go on rampages.  Scout was chasing Sonia a couple of mornings ago. It would start with Scout pretending to scratch his claws on the top of the couch, and Sonia would crouch.  Then they were off running, skidding across the dining room table, and leaping over the sofas.  I don’t know what set them off.  Finally I tossed them both outside.

Our ward is meeting every Sunday now, but just for sacrament meeting.  And it’s short–under an hour.  But it seems to take up most of the morning, getting ready, getting there, getting home again, changing clothes. . . .  I like going back to church and seeing our ward people again, but I really miss those long slow Sundays, and having the sacrament at home.  But life has to get back to normal. 

I’ve joined the Francis Camp of the DUP, mostly because all my favorite ladies are in it.  We meet once a month and people share pioneer stories.  The first meeting was great, because we met outside, and most of us didn’t wear masks.  But now we’re meeting in the “social hall” at the city park, and it’s cold in there.   And we’re back with the masks.  And I fell asleep.  I hope I didn’t snore.  I hope the future meetings will be better.

My mouth is full of canker sores, and I hate it.  It’s a side effect of chemo, which I haven’t had for months, but the canker sores are still with me.  Also the nausea, here and there.  Also, my eyelashes keep falling out, but at least they grow back.  Anyway, about the canker sores–there’s a gel called Kanka that I get from Amazon, and it numbs my mouth really well, but not for long. I also have a special mouthwash  made of lidocaine, maalox, and  benadryl.  It helps a little bit, too.  The best help would be if I could quit eating dark chocolate, but I can’t give it up.

Funny how so many of our problems are caused by ourselves.  Oh, well.  Life is good.

Love, Mom

Sunday, October 11, 2020

 Dear Kids,

It’s supposed to rain this morning, but up till now we’ve had the most marvelous fall weather!  So we’ve been trying to finish our summer projects.  At the cabin, I finished the stone wall around the moose, and Dad and I finished the skirting around the front deck. Now we’ve started on the bunkhouse.  Dad has been painting over that decroded waferboard, to discourage the woodpeckers from ripping it up any more, and I’ve been working on the skirting around the bottom.  Next spring we hope to finally put the siding on it.  Here at our house, I’ve been working on the edgings between the gravel parking strip and our property, and spreading more lava rock.  People who walk by every day tell me how nice it’s looking, and I eat it up.  

Then, probably the most fun project of all, was yesterday afternoon at Donna’s.  She had taken apart her front porch so we could pour a cement slab underneath, which would keep the bricks from shifting.  So we did the cement.  Dad and Donna mixed and I tamped it down and smoothed it.   Of course I couldn’t resist writing my name in it, and Donna texted me a picture later showing how Dallin had added his name underneath.  The whole project was very satisfying.  I love doing cement, because you know it’s absolutely going to stay there.

Jana McGettigan was here from Friday morning to yesterday noon, and we had a wonderful time.  Friday afternoon we drove to the Heber airport to watch John take off in his glider (with Dad holding the wing), and then we drove around looking for “fall color.”  Jana’s taking a photography class and she needed to take pictures of the autumn leaves.  We drove through Charleston and Midway, and then back up toward Kamas.  We stopped by the Provo River where it goes under Highway 32, and then we drove to the cabin.  There were gorgeous yellow trees wherever we went, and just a few red ones that hadn’t completely faded yet.  At sunset, back at our house, we sat out in the pergola while Jana took more pictures.  Oh, yes, and we watched a couple of movies, too.  We always love it when Jana comes, and the kitties expect a lot of attention from her, too.  

Sharon is moving ahead with her nursing skills.   Now she’s learned how to give shots.  (They use a dummy that feels like it has real skin.  It used to be that nursing students practiced on an orange.  Thank goodness they don’t practice on real people yet.) Anyway, when Sharon went to get a flu shot, she noticed that the nurse did everything wrong.  We know Sharon won’t ever be so careless!

Life is great.  I love you all.  Mom

Sunday, October 4, 2020

Dear Kids,

Our soup dinner last night was wild and crazy, like most of our get-togethers.  And lots of fun.  After we all ate, the girls and I watched the women’s session of conference on the TV by the kitchen,  while Dad and Tom and Bevan supervised the boys playing upstairs.  At one point I heard thumping and bumping and banging up there, so I climbed the stairs to  see what was going on.  Funny thing, as soon as I got up there, everything was as quiet as a mouse.  Dad and Tom and Bevan said nothing at all had been going on.  I must have been hearing things.  

I’m looking forward to the rest of conference today.  So far, I liked President Oaks’s talk the best.  Don’t you love it how plain he is?  

Five weeks in, our college kids all seem to be doing fine.  Julie is actually getting college credit for doing sound effects for video games and animations.  How cool is that!  Sharon has learned how to take “vitals,” and she’s been checked off on her skills.  So if you want your blood pressure taken for free, just wait till Sharon comes again.   I don’t know how Adelaide is doing, because I forgot to ask Nora.  I’ll give an update next week.  Jacob is doing fine with his classes.  He’s taking general stuff: psychology, humanities, even accounting.  He says when he learns accounting he can work for Heather and get paid a lot.

I thought my hip surgery was scheduled for November 30, but I wasn’t sure.  Dr. Wooten’s nurse was rude to me and she said he didn’t want to do it because I have cancer.  I told her my oncologist had communicated with him and told him it was all right.  She said she would pencil it in, but it wasn’t a sure thing.  And then she never called me back, and she didn’t return my calls.  Finally I just made an appointment to see Dr. Wooten so I could ask him myself.   It was worth the $45 co-payment to find out, because I’ve been staying off chemo to get ready for it, which is sort of a risk.  When I finally saw him in his office, he just looked on his phone and found it scheduled for November 30.  He said he’s still a little worried, and he’ll have everything in place to whip it out, and have the least possible risk to me.  Oh, yeah, I’ll have to be quarantined for three weeks afterwards, because my immune system will be compromised.  No Sunday night parties.  No Messiah in Heber.  No early Christmas parties.  But if all goes well, I’ll be able to give up my cane, and my hip will feel better.

I love you all!  Life is fantastically good.  Mom

Sunday, September 27, 2020

 Dear Kids,

Holy cow, conference is coming up next weekend!  It’s going to be a lot like April conference, broadcast from a small meeting room, and not in the Conference Center, with thousands of people.  The Saturday night meeting is going to be for everybody,  like it was in April, too.  I don’t want to give up our tradition of the Soup dinner, so I’m thinking we can still have that, next Saturday night, say at 5:00 pm, here at our house.  Then we can tune in conference on the big TV in our basement, and also on our main-floor family room TV.  If anybody wants to stay overnight at the cabin, or here at our house, contact me for reservations.  Then you can watch Sunday conference with us, too.  If you want to watch it at the cabin, you’ll need a hotspot.  Or something like Trent’s crazy antenna, made with a 2x4 and coat hangers, remember?  We have so many great conference traditions now!

Thursday night we had a get-together with my brothers and sisters at Richard’s cabin in American Fork canyon.  Dad and I took the short route, (but just as long in time,) through Midway, up to Cascade Springs, then to the Alpine Loop, and down to Tibble Fork.  I figured there wouldn’t be any traffic, but it seems Alpine Loop is always crowded, and sort of scary on that skinny little road.  We had a lot of fun with my family, though.  Andy and Renae talked about the troubles they’re having getting their new house built in Orem.  There’s a wood shortage, so part of their house is framed, and the other part is on hold.  I talked to Charley about his brain troubles.  He’s always glad to let people feel the holes in his head, and he’s on anti-seizure medication.  It’s a miracle he’s alive.  It’s a miracle none of my other brothers and sisters have died yet, either, and I’m very grateful.  I hope I won’t be the first one, but I don’t want to lose any of them first, either.  Katie wasn’t there, or Suzy, or Ben and Monica, or Mark and Kate.  Mark texted that he’d been exposed to Covid from several directions, through his YSA ward, so he wasn’t coming.  I would have been happy to see him anyway. 

Starting two weeks from today, our ward will be meeting every week, live! Relief Society, Elders’ Quorum, Primary, etc. will be later in the day through zoom, but we’ll actually have the sacrament together with our ward members every week.  Dad and I have enjoyed doing a little meeting with Donna and Bevan’s family almost every Sunday, and I’m going to miss that, but the fact that church is getting back to normal shows that this virus is on its way OUT! 

Life is good.  I love you all.  Mom

Sunday, September 20, 2020

 Dear Kids,

Bentley left for San Antonio on Wednesday, and he’s in a threesome there.  They actually do street contacting, which is lots better than sitting in the apartment looking at a screen.  (But of course they have to wear masks.)  I’m glad he can start missionary work in English, and save Cibuano for later.  There’s no word on when he might be able to go to the Philippines, but his application for a passport has been accepted.  It seems the state department had stopped issuing them, but evidently they’re doing it again.  Bentley’s mission president sent some pictures of him, and Tom said he looks happy.  Go, Bentley!

Sharon has finished three weeks of nursing school, and she had her first lab.  She wore her new scrubs and her white Danskos, and she learned to take blood pressure.  Now she practices on her family.  She e-mailed me a short paper she had to write, so I could go over it and make corrections before she turned it in.  It was actually pretty interesting, saying how she could communicate with her patients without putting up “blockers.”  Naturally Sharon can already communicate with anybody without “putting up blockers” so we know she’ll be a great nurse. 

Yesterday Dad and I went to Donna’s house to help her with a couple of projects.  She’s rebuilding her front porch, so we figured out how much cement to get and how to do it.  Also, she wanted an electrical outlet near her front door, inside, so she can plug in her boot dryer there.  Dad helped her figure where the wiring would go, and my job was putting in the electrical box.  I started by cutting a big hole in the wall, so there would be room to drill down through the 2x4 to string the wire down. Drew watch with amazement as I cut out the sheetrock.  I could just see his little brain wondering why that was OK, and if he could do the same thing.  When we left I told Donna to keep her power tools away from him.  I was just like Drew when I was little, and I would have loved to cut holes in walls back then.

Dad and I have church this morning, which is always exciting.  Starting October 11, we’ll meet every week! I wonder if we’ll be singing by then, or still just listening to the music.  At least things are moving ahead, and life is getting back to normal.

Lots of love, Mom

Sunday, September 13, 2020

 Dear Kids,

Bentley will be leaving for San Antonio this week, so tonight we’ll have “farewell s’mores” at our house.  You can show up as early in the afternoon as you want to.  I’m not sure when we’ll be actually be toasting our marshmallows, but it will probably be about the time it’s getting dark. Like all our family get-togethers, it will be wild and fun.

Nora’s family had a sleepover at our house Tuesday night because the 100 mile-per-hour winds in Centerville had knocked out their power. There were trees in the park across the street that were blown down, and one lady was texting around to find out what happened to their trampoline.  They found it up on the mountain.  Some of the houses were damaged, but Nora’s house survived OK.  But with no power, they were having a boring time of it, and it was going to be a cold night.  I encouraged them to come, but when they were packed up and finally on their way, they heard their power was back on. (Of course, if they hadn’t come, it would have been out for two or three days.)  Anyway, it was fun having them here.  And Scout enjoyed stretching out alongside Nora while she slept. 

Yesterday Dad and I went to the Heber airport so Dad could help John put his glider together to fly it.  I went along because I’ve never seen the process.  I wondered how they went about putting the wings on so they wouldn’t fall off.  It turns out there are some long bolts that go deep into the plane.  There’s also tape–it almost looks like Scotch tape, which they use to seal the seams, and hold the wing and tail pieces on if everything else fails.  John reminded me that once, on one of our long drives, I had told you kids a story about him building a plane.  John said he was about seven, so the rest of you can be forgiven for not remembering, and some of you weren’t even born yet.  Anyway, in the story, John finds different airplane parts and fastens them all together, making a plane he can fly.  And here he was, yesterday afternoon, putting together a plane in real life.  It’s funny how prophetic my story was!  When his glider was put together we watched him take off (with the tow plane pulling him,) and a couple of hours later we watched him land.  It was all lots of fun.

I’m still spreading the lava rock out on our corner.  It’s easy and fun, and people out walking stop and tell me what a good job I’m doing. Naturally I’m not in any hurry to finish.  Scout supervises me, usually coming from his hunting territory across the street.  He rubs against my legs while I’m shoveling, and he, too, tells me I’m doing a good job. 

I hope you’re all doin’ great and lovin’ it!  Mom

Sunday, September 6, 2020

Dear Kids,

        Dad and I had the wonderful privilege of going to the Vernal temple with Bentley yesterday afternoon.  He was lucky to get an appointment anywhere, since they only take one family at a time into the temple (and wipe everything down in between), and this particular session was just Dad and myself, Carl, Trieste, and Bethany, Tom and Kim, and Bentley. They’ve modified the procedures to accommodate the virus, too.  But it was still wonderful.  Dad and I haven’t been in any temple since March, and I’ve missed that peaceful feeling.  I’m so glad Bentley was able to be endowed before he leaves for San Antonio (and hopefully the Philippines, sometime in the future.) 

        There’s a birthday party for Stuart here at our house this afternoon at 5:00.  Nora is putting it on.  She’ll be serving ice cream and cupcakes, and there will be the usual fun.  We’ll put some chairs out on the front lawn for anybody who wants to keep a social distance from everybody else.  I’m sure it will be a great time for any an all of you who come.

        Paul and Stefanie have been at the cabin since Friday afternoon.  Dad and I went over to have dinner with them (and of course we wore our masks) and it was really nice to get together.  Chloe is getting so cute!  I knew every single grandbaby has been cute, and it always seems like each new one is even cuter.  Josh was busy running around, exploring every single detail of the cabin.  Saturday morning Dad and I went back there to work on our outside projects, and Josh ran back and forth in between us.  Dad is putting a coat of paint over the most decroded places on the bunkhouse, to try to preserve it until we can get the siding up.  I’m still working on the rock wall around the moose, and thankfully I’m almost done.  Josh watched me fill my giant decorating bag with mortar, and he said it looked like I was decorating a cake.  I said it was too bad he couldn’t eat it. 

        Dad and I are going to church this morning, and I get to play the organ.  We’re getting a new bishopric, so there will be two sessions, 9 and 10:30, first for last names A-K, and then for L-Z. I think that’s pretty ingenious.  Our present bishopric has been in for more than six years, so they’ll probably be glad for the change.  Naturally the rest of us are curious about who’s been called to replace them.  We have some wonderful people in our ward, so I can’t even guess.

        I hope you’re all doing great.  I love you all!  Mom  

Sunday, August 30, 2020

Dear Kids,

        For those of you who might be coming to visit tonight, Dad and I will be gone part of the time.  Some of you kids knew Marc Hermansen in our ward; he was bishop when Dad and I moved in.  He died suddenly last Monday morning, and we’ll be going to the viewing tonight.  It’s outside of our church from 5:30 to 7:30 pm.  We’ll probably be going at 5:30.  If you’re here at our house, just carry on.  If you remember Mark and you want to come, that would be nice.  He was doing chemo for esophageal cancer, which he came down with just before I was diagnosed, so we were always interested in each others’ progress.  He had a few days when he felt OK, so he flew to Seattle to work.  He sold firefighters’ breathing masks.  Anyway, he wasn’t feeling very well, so his wife, Jan, flew up there to check on him.  Monday morning he died of a massive heart attack.  It’s awful for his family, but at least he won’t have to die of cancer, or do any more chemo.  

        There are two rabbits who have taken up residence outside of our cabin, and they’re always sitting on the driveway when we pull in.  I wonder–do they sit there all the time, 24-7, until we come by?  When our car gets close to them they dash away in terror.  The looks on their faces remind us of our cats.  Their fur will turn white when winter comes. Others in the family have christened them the “weir rabbits.” But they’ve never sat on the driveway before, waiting for us.  Donna’s kids have chased them, and then the rabbits turn around and chase the kids.  “Weird rabbits” is what they really are.

        Also, there are enormous flocks of sandhill cranes now.  I remember when I saw my first ones, and I was awestruck.  That was about 15 years ago.  They’ve obviously multiplied really well.  I hope they don’t get annoying, like the magpies!

        Labor Day is a week from tomorrow.  Is anybody planning anything?  Paul and Stefanie and their kids will be at the cabin.

        As you can see, I don’t have much news this week, but I love you all.


Sunday, August 23, 2020

 Dear Kids,

        Yep, it’s that time of year again.  The days are getting shorter.  The cats are coming in with cockleburrs in their tails.  The school bus has been stopping in our neighborhood again.  Summer’s over.

        Adelaide left for Snow College yesterday, but I haven’t heard how her moving in went.  She’s in an apartment with two girls she already knows, and a couple of others she doesn’t know yet.  She doesn’t have a major yet, which is fine since she’s just getting her feet wet in the college world.  James, who’s had many years of getting his feet wet, has signed up for two classes this semester.  With luck he’ll be finished with his masters degree in the spring.

        All of Sharon’s family will all be starting school the same day–August 31.  Everybody’s classes will be online.  Sharon has been busy getting each of them their own desks with their own computers or tablets, so everyone has a “school” place.  She wants it to be more organized than last year.  Her own classes start the same day and the same time as her kids’s–9 am.  Luckily she has Seth at home to help supervise the kids while she does her own course work. Go, Thackers! 

        Jacob will be starting school a week from tomorrow, on August 28th.  He’ll be going to UVU, commuting from home.  He doesn’t have a major yet, either.  He’d be on a mission if it weren’t for the Covid scare, and his uncertain lungs.  Good thing he’s making the best of it, though.  His girlfriend Sophie left for Snow College yesterday.  

        Carson might be starting classes at Weber State–Allen isn’t sure.  Carson bounces back and forth between Allen’s place and Missy’s, and he’s pretty independent. I know we have multitudes of grandchildren who have either started school, or will be starting again in the next few days.  Too bad I don’t have room to list them all.  Dad and I pay a lot of property taxes, both on our house and on the cabin, but most of the money goes for public education, and we have a lot of grandchildren being educated. 

        Dad and I spend a lot of time at the cabin now, trying to do projects before winter sets in. The Yerf Dog is a never-ending frustration for Dad, and I’m still working on the rock wall around the moose.  I cemented in a family of yellow jackets who thought those crevices between the rocks would be a good place for their nest.  Three or four came staggering out when I started putting down the mortar, but the rest have been “in-mortarized.”  At home, we’ve been spreading lava rock on the corner.  Dad told me the lava rock would float, and I didn’t believe him, but it does.  You can try it with a piece when you come by. 

        Lots of love to all, Mom

Sunday, August 16, 2020

Dear Kids,

        It seems like summer’s completely over, because the reunion was already two weeks ago, and Sharon’s family has gone home.  It’ll be record hot weather this week, but summer is good and gone. Now  our only excitement is projects at the cabin, spreading lava rock here (out on the corner) and waiting up for our cats, when they don’t come in.  Sonia’s pretty good about showing up when it gets dark, but Scout has been very uncooperative.  Sometimes it’s early morning before he shows up, and I worry about predators getting him, besides his chances of being hit by a car. 

        Before Sharon left, she told us about gearing up for her nursing courses.  The classes will be online, but hopefully she’ll have a real-time lab to go to, with real lab work to do.  She has to buy her own stethoscope, which costs $80 and up on Amazon.  She has to wear scrubs that are pewter-colored (gray) and white Dansko clogs.  She needs to get a new computer that has specific components, and she needs to drop it off to the nursing people to have their special software put on it.  It all sounds exciting to me, and I envy her starting such a great project.  Go, Sharon!

        My brother Ben has been made patriarch of his stake in Albuquerque.  We’re sure he’ll do a wonderful job, but I feel way old, having my younger brother called as a patriarch.  You know, they’re always ancient, with white hair, and a long white beard.  Well, maybe not always–Ned Winder, driving his Porsche, didn’t fit that pattern, but still, it’s weird (and also a great honor) to think about your little brother giving patriarchal blessings.  

        My new gumball machine is lots of fun.  Last week I put in skittles, but now I’ve switched to Runts.  I’m planning to try several different candies, and see what works out, and I hope you and your kids will all enjoy them.  Last Sunday night I was sort of a hag, trying to get everybody to go home, when I was the one who needed to go to bed.  So if you’re here on Sunday night, don’t pay any attention to my crabbiness.   You’re always welcome to stay and have fun, even if I go off to bed. 

        Life is good.  I hope you’re all doin’ great and lovin’ it.  Mom   

Sunday, August 9, 2020

Dear Kids,

        It’s been fun and crazy here this week with Sharon’s family coming and going (mostly going.) This afternoon there will probably be a lot of you here, so if you haven’t had enough family time, c’mon over.  Sharon and the kids are leaving for home on Tuesday, but they’re going over to Nora’s late tonight, to finish out their vacation there.  Sharon has had every minute planned, for maximum fun.  They’ve been swimming at least three times, including once at Lagoon, and met up with her most important friends. (Mandy and Holly)  It’s been fun just watching the action.

        I spent most of my $100 Amazon birthday gift card on a gumball machine, like Paige’s.  Thanks to all of you who went in on the card!  I didn’t get around to writing thank-you notes this week, so I probably won’t, but I still really appreciate your thoughtfulness.  The gumball machine came a couple of days ago, and I’ve had fun experimenting with it.  My plan is to give nickels to kids so they can get their own skittles (or whatever) instead of putting out candy on Sunday night. We had a trial run last night with Donna’s and Sharon’s families, and it worked pretty well.  I finally had to put it in the mudroom and close the door, though, because Tommy discovered that if he shook it back and forth and then jiggled the turnkey, he could get the skittles to come out one at a time.   

        With the leftover on the gift card, I bought a dinner bell triangle. (The Redneck Triangle Call Bell, Amazon calls it.) I got the idea when we were at the Chalet, because it would have been really handy for calling people to dinner.  I’ll definitely bring it to every family reunion from now on, and I think I’ll find a lot of other uses for it, too.  The birthday present I arranged to get from Dad didn’t turn out so well, however.  I ordered a 12" chop saw from an internet site called, but I was a little skeptical  that the price was so low.  It was only $111.00, including shipping, and it weighs a ton.  The same thing from Amazon is $199.  Anyway, they sent us tracking numbers, but when the saw didn’t come, Dad went to the post office to find it.  There was a package with those numbers on it, but it was small and light, going to an address in Woodland.  Needless to say, we never got the saw.  I guess we can get our money back from our credit card, but it’s aggravating.  I was going to use the saw at the cabin, to do the siding we’re going to put on the bunkhouse.  I’ll probably order the one from Amazon now.

    Life is so much fun!  I love our great big family.  Lots of love, Mom

Sunday, August 2, 2020

Dear Kids,
        What a fabulous reunion we’ve had!  Thanks, Tom and Kim, for your thorough planning.  Our day at Deer Creek was lots of fun, and floating the Provo River, too–even though Dad and I didn’t participate (we were tending Tommy) it sounds like everybody had fun.  (Except for the extremely cold water.) Anyway, everything turned out so well, and everybody was safe!  Each time we finish a reunion I feel like it’s the best one we’ve ever had, so that means they’re getting better and better.  Next year it will probably be Bear Lake again, with Allen in charge.  Hopefully he’ll get Rendezvous Beach for us.  I love that place!
        We enjoyed meeting Julie’s boyfriend, Spencer Sheffield.  He’s from Layton, served his mission in Washing Vancouver, and is youngest of five kids.  He’s a student at UVU, majoring in something like video editing.  He seems like a wonderful guy, and we wish them all the best in their relationship.  We also enjoying getting to know Del’s boyfriend, Jared.  He seems really nice, too.
        I had a fabulous birthday yesterday.  I always like having my birthday during the reunion, and this was the best of all.  Thank you for the gift cards, and for the Weed n’ Feed (Donna) and just for being there.  When I look over the huge gang of people that make up our family now, I know the Lord has blessed me far beyond what I deserve.  All of you are my best present ever.
        I’ve  scheduled my hip replacement surgery, but it’s not until the end of November.  They’re scheduling way far out because they were totally shut down for six weeks, during the first part of covid.  Now people like me are having their “non-essential” surgery.  I’m slightly worried about my lungs, because I’m not supposed to have any more chemo until after the surgery, and although my tumors are growing slowly, they’ll be a lot bigger than they were when I had chemo before, by the time I recover.  So I’ve got to call and have a really good talk with Dr. Lewis and make sure that’s going to be OK.  If so, I’m really excited to get rid of my pain and be able to hike and do normal things again. 
        My life is so good, and I love you all!  Mom

Sunday, July 26, 2020

Dear Kids,
        I know you’re all gearing up for the reunion, starting Thursday night.  I’m sure Tom will be getting out the schedule right away.  I see he’s been contacting everybody about the tubes and rafts for the river, so we know he’s up to his ears in planning.  I’m sure this reunion will be at least as much fun as all the others have been. Go, Ackersons!
        I had another cat scan on Tuesday, and on Thursday I saw my oncologist, the very devoted Dr. Lewis.  He showed me that my tumors are nearly the size they were last year when I started chemo, but they’re growing so slowly (he called them “indolent”) that the chemo wouldn’t be very effective yet.  I told him Dr. Wooten was hesitant to do my hip replacement, for fear of blood clots, but Dr. Lewis said my risk is really low.  He seemed eager for a reason to put off the chemo.  (Plus, he said, my three toenails that have been removed can have more time to heal.) So he’s contacting Dr. Wooten to tell him to go ahead.  And most of my serious yard and cabin projects are at a point where I can leave them for a while.  My main cabin goal for the year has been to do the siding on the bunk house, but when I checked at Home Depot, they had absolutely nothing I could use.  Donna says they’re sold out of practically everything, because of the virus.  People are at home instead of at work, and they’re doing their projects.  So I might have to put off the bunk house for still one more year.  I’ve been re-doing the rock wall around the moose, and if I’d let let go even one more year, it would have disintegrated into a pile of rocks and I would have had to carry them back down to the river.
        Bentley has started doing the MTC at home, in his bedroom, in front of a screen.  He has the normal missionary schedule: get up early, exercise, companion study (he’s in a threesome) and then two blocks of classes, from 9:30 to 12:30 and from 2:30 to 5:30.  Evenings he’s on his own.  I think he must be really blessed, and all the other missionaries too!  I never could have sat in front of a screen all day.  I thought it was really confining even to be in a classroom all that time!  Anyway, I’m sure Bentley can use your prayers, and he’ll get through it just fine.  He’ll be going to Ft. Worth, Texas, until the Philippines are ready for him, but he’s still learning Cebuano at home.  I had him say a couple of lines for me last Sunday.  It sounds like a cross between Spanish and Chinese. 
        McGettigans came by on the 24th and we went to see the Kamas Fiesta Days, but it was a bust.  So we drove up the Mirror Lake Highway, to Trial Lake and then to Mirror Lake.  It was wall-to-wall people, but still beautiful.  We always have fun with McGettigans.  It doesn’t matter where we go or what we do; we mostly talk.
        Last night Scout was out until 4:30 am, and I was the one to let him in.  Dad was sleeping peacefully.  Normally Scout yowls under the window and Dad gets up to let him in.  It’s worse than having a teenager.  But not expensive, like John’s cat.  Blue’s $4,000 vet bill is our benchmark now, because almost anything we want to buy costs less than that.  Aaron says it’s the same for them, too.
        Lots of love, Mom

Sunday, July 19, 2020

Dear Kids,
        I assume everybody got Tom’s text message about Bentley speaking in Church this afternoon: 1pm, Tom’s ward, wear a mask, food afterwards.  Dad and I will be there.  We’re going to our own sacrament meeting this morning, because I’m playing the organ, and Dad couldn’t be kept back by wild horses. 
        I assume, too, you’ve heard about John’s cat, Blue, and his accident.  He was evidently hit by a car on the road behind their house, and he lay in the weeds for more than a day before Heather found him.  If he’d had internal injuries, he probably would have died.  As it was, his pelvis was broken, and he had extensive surgery to put it back together.  Of course the cost was shocking, but then, Blue is a unique cat.   Dad and I went to visit him Wednesday evening, and he was very calm.  We stroked his head and talked to him about how wonderful he is.  I’m sure he’ll make a good recovery.  John is going to start keeping his cats in the garage overnight, since that’s when all the accidents seem to happen.  We’ve been keeping Scout and Sonia in at night for quite a while now.  Cars, predators, everything is more dangerous for a cat at night.
        My left toe, where I had the toenail taken off, was still hurting after a month, so I went back to the podiatrist.  Besides, I wanted another toenail off, the pinkie one on the same foot.  I didn’t watch, but Dad said he just pulled it off.  And he did some cutting on my big toe.  So now my foot hurts even more, but I’m hoping it will be pain free in just a few more days.  I’m taking an antibiotic, soaking the foot twice a day, using neosporin, and keeping it bandaged.  I hope all that improves my luck.
        Dad and I have been busy at the cabin, still.  The rock wall around the moose has been falling apart for the last couple of  years, and I’m trying to put it back together.  If you’re there at the cabin, don’t let your kids play around it, OK?  It wasn’t kids that broke it up in the first place–it must have been bad mortar.  But it’s in really unstable shape right now. 
        Charlie and Matthew and Lucy are here!  We picked them up at Nora’s on Tuesday, and that evening we drove over Wolf Creek pass to Hanna, where we gave them over to Grandma and Grandpa Thacker.  I hope they have fun at the farm.  Maybe they’ll do some good work, too! 
        Lots going on!  What a family!  Lots of love, Mom

Saturday, July 11, 2020

Dear Kids,
        Next Sunday our ward is starting up again, but since Dad and I are over 65 (and I have cancer) we’ve been encouraged not to come.  Dad says he’s going, however.  He can’t miss out on anything.  The bishop asked him to pick out songs for the meeting, but we aren’t going to be singing them.  There was some idea that maybe we would just listen to the music and read the words.  Maybe I’ll go along with Dad because I’m so curious about what’s going on.
        Last Sunday Bevan was showing me that Tommy knows lots of animal sounds.  “What does the cat say?”  Tommy said “meow!”  “What does the cow say?”  Tommy said, “ Mooo!”  And so on.  Then Bevan said, “What does Grandma say?”  Tommy said, “Nooo no, no!”
        Among my various cabin projects, I’ve been cleaning stuff out of the garage. In some places, I’m almost down to the wall.  I’ve stashed pieces of wood and other building materials, and odd pieces of trex, and other useless things.  I uncovered a pair of skis, probably cross country.  I’ll put them in the greenhouse.  There’s a queen sized bed frame, which looks pretty nice.  Does it belong to any of you?  If it doesn’t have an owner I’ll send it to the DI, so if anybody owns it, or needs it, let me know.
        I don’t have any new health worries, and my injured hip doesn’t seem any worse.  Maybe it will get better by itself.  A week from Tuesday I’ll be having another CT scan, and then I’ll visit with Dr. Lewis two days after that.  If my lung tumors have kept growing at the same rate, I’ll probably go back on chemo again, but I know I can handle it.  I sure appreciate all your prayers!
        Our family reunion is coming up fast!  Tom seems to be on top of everything, and I’m sure he’ll be posting the schedule pretty soon.  Because of the shape I’m in, and because Dad doesn’t like the water all that much, we’ll mostly be observers, but at our age, that’s the most fun of all. 
        Lots of love, Mom

Sunday, July 5, 2020

Dear Kids,
        Dad and I just got home from spending the night in Centerville. We shot off fireworks with Nora’s family, which is becoming a tradition with us, and then we stayed over because it was so late, and drove home early this morning.  I hope you all had a great Fourth of July!  I appreciate our country’s freedom more every year, and I’m grateful to live in such a wonderful country. 
       We left our kitties alone overnight, which I hate to do, but we left the mudroom door open so they could come in and out of the house through the garage, as they chose.  Sonia greeted us as soon as we got home, but Scout is probably well into his day of hunting.  Sonia hunts too, but I don’t know if she has ever caught anything.  They were both staking out a mouse hole (I assume) one morning last week, when I was working out near the pasture.  They were sitting on both sides of a tall bull thistle, just waiting, except when Sonia tried to dig down to the mice.  I can just imagine a terrified mouse family, looking up at those two evil faces.  It’s totally different from the mouse’s point of view.
        We had another dose of winter early in the week, and Tuesday morning Dad got a plaintive call from Julie.  She and some friends were out camping, and they woke up with two inches of snow on their tent.  She wondered if they all could go to the cabin to hang out for a while.  Of course Dad said yes.  We didn’t know the power was out there. A couple of days later, though, when we went there to work, Dad noticed the circuit breaker at the top of the power pole had been tripped.  When the power company came, they said that sometimes chipmunks get up there, and when they fry themselves, it trips the circuit.  So sad.
        Friday afternoon Dad and I went hiking on the Shingle Creek trail, about ten miles up the Mirror Lake highway.  It was gorgeous, and the air smelled of pines and spruces.  I figured I’d be OK, hiking with my trekking poles, and we only went a mile or two up the trail.  But on the way home I realized that my left hip, my good one, was hurting a lot.  In fact it felt just as bad as my right hip did last year when it cracked.  And it still hurts a lot.  I’ll probably be paying a high price for that beautiful hike.  If I decide to have a hip replacement, I can probably choose either one now.
        Did I lend my copy of the book Cold Comfort Farm to any of you?  Dad and I were watching the movie, and then I went looking for the book, and I couldn’t find it. 
        But life is marvelous.  I love you all!  Mom

Sunday, June 28, 2020

Dear Kids,
        Yesterday I had an all-day retreat with my five sisters, and it was a blast.  We ate out twice, partly worked a puzzle, and drove to the lot in Orem where Andy and Renae are going to build their new house.   Then we went to  an antiques mall in Springville, and later, back at Bonnie’s house, we took apart Grandma Allen’s scrapbooks, so we could divide out the pictures and give them to individual people.   That sounds like a depressing activity, but it was really pretty fun, because the pictures gave us lots of memories to talk about.  I was hoping to hear some good gossip to bring home, and I finally suggested that we go around the room, and everybody tell one scandalous story about their family.  Everybody said they didn’t have any scandals going on, and we don’t have any either, so that didn’t work out.  And there isn’t even any ordinary news.  No babies on the way (unless we don’t know) and no marriages planned.  There are six unmarried boys and two girls among the cousins, which isn’t much, any more.
        On Thursday evening Jana McGettigan came, and she stayed two nights.  On Friday morning we drove drove up to the top of Wolf Creek pass and out along the sheep camp road.  I knew there would be lots of different kinds of wildflowers that Jana could photograph, and the scenery is really spectacular this time of the year.  By the way, Jana won three categories (including the grand prize) in a recent Lehi City photo contest, and she won $400.  Go, Jana!  She really takes great pictures.   Friday afternoon we watched movies and gossiped.  Still no scandals to report!  Or marriages, or new babies.  The world has practically ground to a stop, probably because of the virus.
        My left toe, where I had the toenail removed, was still infected after a week, so now I’m on Septra.  And it still hurts!  I can’t wear any of my regular shoes, and my toes are too ugly for sandals.  Among my sisters, they all had really nice toenails, and they were all wearing cute sandals.  I envied them all.
        I’ve been planting more grass in the yard–regular lawn grass behind the house, out to my edging, and “meadow” beyond that, out to the playground.  With this nice hot weather it should germinate pretty fast.  I’m afraid I planted my front grass too early, and it was too cold for too long.  But I haven’t given up on it yet.
        Love to everybody, Mom

Sunday, June 21, 2020

Dear Kids,
        Happy Fathers Day to all you fine sons and sons-in-law of ours!  I appreciate the good examples you’re setting for your families, and all you do for them.  The world absolutely needs good dads!
        I thought my life would be practically perfect now that the DI’s have opened up again, and since we were in Centerville Tuesday, that was the perfect place to start.  Hey, everybody knows the Centerville DI is the best!  When we got there, I really needed to use the restroom, but when I went to that corner of the store, there were shopping baskets piled up against the entrance, and a sign that said, “For your protection, these restrooms have been closed.” I know a lot of  people go crazy trying to protect themselves and others from Covid 19, but I can’t imagine how not letting people relieve themselves is any kind of protection.  Meanwhile, Dad sat down on one of the couches to wait while I shopped, and he was immediately told to get up.  They wouldn’t even let him sit on a chair!  Needless to say, we weren’t in there very long.  Oh, well, I’m sure things will get better.
        That same day, I had an appointment with a podiatrist to see about my big toenails, which are full of fungus.  The one on the right was even loose, and tipped to the side.  The nice podiatrist just lifted it off with a mini pry bar.  He had more trouble with the left one, though, and really had to tug.  Luckily he had deadened my foot.  It’s been really hurting since then, and now it’s infected.  I soak it three times a day in epsom salt, and that seems to be helping a little bit.  I have to spend a lot of time with my foot up, and about all I can do is read and watch movies.  Not such a bad life! 
        Dad’s been having his health problems, too!  On Friday he felt some pain near his heart, the same place he had it when they ended up putting in the two stents, five years ago.  He called his doctor, and they told him to go to the Park City ER, since it was nearest.   He was there about 4 hours, and they did every possible test.  Luckily, everything looks fine.  I’m sure glad we have health insurance!  Now that we’re old, we use lots of it. 
        This was going to be our year to have the Allen family reunion at Riverwoods park, but Bonnie and Barbara have cancelled it because of the virus.  Not to worry, they said; we’ll have it next summer.  Everybody feels like you can’t be too careful.  Except me.  (And a few of you guys, too.)  Well, eventually things will all get back to normal. 
        Lots of love, Mom

Sunday, June 14, 2020

Dear Kids,
        We really enjoyed Eli’s baptism yesterday, and then Bentley’s ordination after that.  What a wonderful family we have!  And this evening at 5:00 is Chloe’s baby blessing.  We’re really looking forward to that, too.  There’s a potluck dinner afterwards.  It’s a good thing it was postponed from last Sunday, because the weather was totally crazy!  We had more than two inches of rain here, and it snowed, besides.  It might not have been so wild at Paul’s house, but this afternoon will definitely be better. Oh, yeah, we had more snow Monday morning, and it stayed on the ground until mid-afternoon. Dad says one guy at his coffee club, an old-timer, claims that he’s seen snow every single month here.  I’ve never known it to snow in July, but then, I’m not an old timer yet.
        After the baptism yesterday, and the luncheon, eight granddaughters showed up here to do hair color.  Anna had two or three inches along her ends done in blue, and Meg had her whole head done in purple!  I didn’t have a hand in it, because they like to work on each other, but I had fun watching.  Both Meg and Anna left with their heads swathed in plastic bags, to keep the color from getting on anything.  Later last night Meg sent me a picture of her finished hair, and it’s really cool.  I’ll be seeing Anna later today.   I put some blue in Stuart’s very short hair last Sunday, and it looks really classy.
        My new grass seed is taking forever to sprout!  Maybe the snow and freezing weather have slowed it down.  You can see tiny shafts of green here and there, but I was hoping for much more by now.  Meanwhile, the robins are still pulling out worms.  There are six of them now.  Our kitties keep stalking them, but the robins are too smart.
        And the magpies are constant guests.  There’s a spot way out in back where I sometimes put out scraps for them, because I like to watch them fight each other for whatever there is.  (It’s mostly food from our Sunday visitors, since I mainly live on biscuits and cheese.)  Last Sunday Donna had a chicken carcass and some bones, so I put them out, and pretty soon the magpies showed up.  And two calico pigs!  I mean, we’ve had deer and foxes and goats and great horned owls, but pigs?  They were snorting and grunting over the chicken bones, until a guy in a SUV showed up.  He had to park clear out on the road, and walk in, and carry them out, one at a time, back to his car.  We were all watching from the glass door.  And these calico pigs were the ugliest things I’ve ever seen!  But he carried them as tenderly as if they were babies.  Maybe they’re his babies. I’m still getting used to the lifestyle here.
        But it’s  so much fun!  We’re never bored.  Lots of love, Mom 

Sunday, June 7, 2020

Dear Kids,
        Eli’s baptism will be next Saturday, June 13, at 11:00 am at Tom’s stake center, 521 Est 500 North, in Heber.  There will be a lunch afterwards at Tom’s house, and you can call Kim for a food assignment.
        And, of course, Chloe’s baby blessing has been moved to next Sunday, June 14, at 5pm, at Paul’s house.  That’s because of today’s weather forecast. I don’t know how it’s been at your houses, but yesterday we had about an inch of rain in just a few minutes. It looked like a movie scene of a hurricane.  The far back part of our yard looked like a lake, but where I’ve planted the new grass, it was just fine.   The ground has been so wet that a couple of robins have been pulling out worms like crazy.  At first I thought they were eating our seeds, but when I look closely, I can see the worms in their beaks.  The robins run lickety-split across the lawn, stop on a dime, and pull up a worm.  I don’t know how they do it.  Our kitties have been trying to stalk them, but the robins are too fast.
        Last Tuesday was our 48th wedding anniversary, and we celebrated with three doctor appointments.  It was OK, because we don’t eat out, and I think the movie theaters are still closed, and we don’t travel.  So we saw doctors.  First was orthopedics, for Dad’s hip, where he’s had a little pain, and my hip, where I’ve got the stress fracture.  We had X-rays, and Dad’s hip is OK.  Mine has a torn labrum, besides the fracture.  I asked Dr. Wooten what he could do, and he really hesitated.  If he does a hip replacement it will take away my pain, but if anything goes wrong, it could be curtains for me.  Cancer patients get blood clots really easily, and just one could kill me.  Since my life is pretty good anyway, and it might not last long, he encouraged me to just stick it out.  But on the other hand, if I’m going to live several more years . . . . You can see it’s a hard decision for me.  At least I won’t have anything done until the end of the summer, so I’ll have as much time as possible for my yard and cabin projects.  After that I’ll think about it again.
        Our second doctor visit was routine–just a medication check with Dr. Newbold, our primary care guy.  He’s always good to talk to.  Then, we went over to the cancer center so I could get my port flushed out.  If you’re not having chemo for a few weeks, they flush it with heparin, to keep it clear.
        You can see our lives haven’t been very exciting.  But we have all you kids, and your spouses, and your wonderful children, so we don’t need anything else.
        Lots of love, Mom

Sunday, May 31, 2020

Dear Kids,
        The fun continues!  We’re delighted to have Sharon here for a couple of days.  She collected enough points from Southwest lowering their prices (after tickets are purchased) to fly here for free.  If you haven’t seen her yet, it’s because her schedule has been crazy.  She’ll be at the party at Nora’s this afternoon, so you can talk to her then, if you haven’t so far.   The party starts at 4:00, and it’s to honor this year’s high school graduates: Adelaide, Carson, Jacob, and Bentley. 
        Next Sunday is the baby blessing for Chloe in Paul’s back yard at 4:00. It’s potluck, so the food selection should be good.  Remember, if you want to hold the baby, or if you plan to be in the circle, you’ll need to wear a mask. Last Monday, just before the Memorial Day barbecue, Dad and I drove to Daniels Summit to pick up Matthew, since the Thackers were bringing him from the other side of the mountain.  He seemed like he’d had a good time at the farm.  He helped water, and  he drove the tractor to “drag” the pasture (spread the cows’ manure).  He got to drive the 4-wheeler and the Thackers’ RTV, too.  Farm kids know how to drive everything!  And we can consider Matthew a farm kid now. 
        Later in the week, I think it was Thursday, Nora called to see if Adelaide could bring some of the kids to hang out at our house for a while.  Of course we said yes.  Our house is very quiet most of the time, and it was fun having a lot of extra people, at least for a little while.  Our house doesn’t have any really exciting things to do, but at least they’re different than the things the Mairs have: puzzles, games, movies–they’re all different here.  Adelaide had a tote full of school lunches, too, which they’d picked up on the way.  Interesting stuff!
        I finally planted the lawn I’ve been working on for so long.  I didn’t turn on the watering system, though, since the wind has been blowing like crazy for the last two days.  But I’m going to flip the switch today, and wind or not, my seeds will get watered. In a couple of weeks, it will start looking green.  I know everybody else uses sod, but I love planting grass.  And it’s cheaper.
        Life is wonderful!  I love you all!  Mom

Sunday, May 24, 2020

Dear Kids,
        So many fun events are on the docket!  Today is Sarah’s birthday, and there will be a party with cake and ice cream here at our house at 6 pm tonight.  Be there or be square!  Tomorrow there’s a Memorial Day barbecue and birthday party for Dad and Dallin at the cabin.  I think we’ll be eating in the early afternoon, but for an exact time, you’ll need to call Nora.  Eli’s baptism is coming up, but I don’t know any of the details yet. I’m sure Tom and Kim will get the information out to you.  If the baptism is done in a church, then the number of attendees is severely limited, so I told them they should use somebody’s hot tub or a  swimming pool.  The Provo River isn’t even a possibility, since the water is too high and too fast and too cold.
        Baby Chloe’s blessing is two weeks from today, June 7, at 4 pm, in Paul and Stefanie’s back yard.  I’m sure you saw the text notice.  It’s only for grownups, and if you plan to be in the blessing circle or hold the baby, you’ll need to wear a mask.  There’s a potluck dinner afterward.
        I’m sure you’ve all heard the good news about my latest CT scan.  I’m on cloud nine.  My tumors haven’t even grown back to the size they were when I started chemo, so the cancer is growing very, very slowly.  As I wrote in my text, Dr. Lewis says he thinks I can live for several more years if he can keep it out of my liver, and so far my liver looks really good.  There are two different tracks my cancer cells might have followed from my colon to my lungs: one track goes past my liver, and the other one doesn’t.  So my cancer probably took the better track.  Anyway, please pray for my liver, OK?
        I’ve been working diligently in the yard, and I hope to plant lawn in the front within a week or so.  I only let myself shovel dirt for an hour every morning, so I don’t stress my hip too badly.  Since I’m at least two months away from more chemo, I can have the hip worked on to stabilize it, and I have an appointment to see my orthopedic doctor in a week and a half.  Meanwhile, I’m trying to get as much done as possible, but I’m like the lady who knitted faster so she could finish her project before she ran out of yarn.
        Love to all, Mom

Sunday, May 17, 2020

Dear Kids,
        Andy posted a note last night that their grandson Lennox had just passed away.  What a sad time this has to be for Gary and Carly.  I’m sure they would all appreciate your prayers.
        Is anybody besides me eager to go back to church? Our Sundays are way too slow now!  At least the morning drags on forever.  Last week I put on a video about the Handcart companies, and that held our interest for a while.  Sunday afternoons are great, when people show up and we have the sacrament, but I’m not going to mind when church starts up again.  And when the temple opens up to ordinary patrons like Dad and me, that will be wonderful too. 
        As far as the virus goes, most of Utah has been changed from orange to yellow alert, except for Summit and Wasatch counties.  (And West Valley City, and downtown Salt Lake.)  I haven’t noticed that we’re a hotbed of infection, however.  I don’t know a single person who’s tested positive for the virus, let alone gotten sick.  So I’m brave enough to suggest that we might have a Memorial Day barbecue at the cabin a week from tomorrow, May 25.  It can be a birthday party for Dad and Dallin, too.  If you remember, it was Memorial Day of 2001 that we moved into the cabin, and we had a barbecue that day, too.  That was 19 years ago!  Where did the time go?  Anyway, let’s plan on a party on the 25th, and Tom has already agreed to make his famous dutch oven potatoes.
        Other events are coming up, but you’ll get notices.  Paul’s been talking of a baby blessing for Chloe, probably at his house, probably for adults only, but you’ll hear more about that.  Kim was talking about Eli’s baptism, but their plans are uncertain.  Conrad is probably going to be baptized in a swimming pool!  Too bad we can’t all be there for that.  But Maryland is still really locked down, even if we all could be magically transported there.  Well, the important thing is that these ordinances are done, not how or where. 
        Matthew showed up last Monday, surprising Nora’s family, especially Paige.  Nora had picked him up at the airport, but she told her family she was “running errands.”  He spent a day at Nora’s, and then on Tuesday they all came here.  Dad and I had agreed to drive him to the top of Daniels Summit to meet the Thackers, and Matthew will be spending most of his time at their farm.  At Daniels Summit, we waited at the lodge, where we walked around and looked in windows.  Everything’s still closed up.  Matthew found a snowbank and made snowballs and threw them. 
        Life is good!  I love you all!  Mom

Sunday, May 10, 2020

Dear Kids,
        If I thought gas was cheap last week, I was flabbergasted when we filled up at Sams Club on Tuesday. $1.46.9!  I couldn’t believe the receipt, but it was true.  Well, we’d all better enjoy driving all we can now, because it’s bound to go up again as people get out and about.
        I hope all you daughters and daughters-in-law of mine are having a great Mothers Day.  I’m so proud of the way you’re raising your families.  I know that all the hard work and time you put in will pay off wonderfully down the road.  There isn’t anything more satisfying that raising a family.  I’m so glad the Lord blessed Dad and me with so many children.
        Our yard is coming along!  It’s been hard, because my hip hurts where I have the stress fracture.  I try to limit myself to two hours each morning, and I try to favor the bad hip.  But things are working out!  Dad turned on our watering system Friday morning, and I can finally put in sprinkler heads on the line I didn’t get finished last fall.  And I have to fill in some uneven places with topsoil, and do some more edging, and then I can plant.  I’m just going to spread the seed over our old dead grass that I killed off last fall.  For our front yard, this will be the third time.  Our bishop, whose yard is always perfectly manicured, has been horrified both times I’ve killed our grass.  (He notices everything, because he’s a realtor for high-end homes.)  I hope we’ll have a gorgeous yard from now on.
        Now that daylight comes so early, our cats think they have to go out at 5:30 am.  Scout yowls and head-butts me, and if I ignore him, he tries the same thing on Dad.  So we just let them out, even though it’s still prime time for predators.  Luckily the cats usually head for the pasture, where it’s just horses, not coyotes or foxes.  Once in a while Scout crosses Hilltop and goes down the hill, and I worry until he comes back.  We can’t forget how Oreo disappeared without a trace.
        Donna and Bevan spent Friday night at the cabin, and we found them working busily when we went over there Saturday.  Donna was getting all the emitters working on the watering system, and Bevan was cleaning the shelves in the pantry.  We really appreciate any help we get!   Dad installed blinds in all the rooms that needed them, and I’m still unpacking boxes, mostly filled with wall decor.  It’s hard to remember where everything used to go.
        I hope you’re all doin’ great and lovin’ it!  Mom

Sunday, May 3, 2020

Dear Kids,
        Is gas cheap or what?  I thought it was cheap enough in Pocatello at $1.89, until we filled up in Salt Lake at Walmart for $1.85, and then we drove by the Rainbow Sinclair where, with the discount, it was $1.81.  What a great time to go joyriding!  Friday afternoon Dad was off at the cabin in his truck, so I took the Sienna for a drive up towards Wolf Creek Pass.  I knew the road would be closed off about 13 miles up, so I went that far and then turned around and came back home.  Too bad we already went to Pocatello, or maybe I would have taken off for Idaho, and who knows when I would have come back?
        Yep, we’re plenty buggy with the virus quarantine, but thank goodness things are starting to open up.  I’ll be glad when I can go back to the library and the D.I.  I’m even looking forward to going back to church, although I really enjoy doing the sacrament with our family each week.  I’ll enjoy going back to the temple, but it might take lots longer.  Yesterday afternoon we were visiting at Paul and Stefanie’s, where we went to admire baby Chloe. Stefanie’s parents were there, too.  (Practically everybody had masks on.)  I asked Paul about a possible baby blessing for Chloe, and they’re still not sure.  Back in the 80's, people were being encouraged to have their baby blessings at home, and I mentioned that to Paul. But he said they’d just wait and see.
        Here’s another sign of the times: we got a text invitation to a wedding reception for Jeff Fulton, but we would have had to drive through.  We were told we could visit a minute with the bride and groom, and that refreshments would be handed to us, but I couldn’t summon up the enthusiasm for us to go.  When Adam Fulton got married, we really enjoyed visiting with all our old friends from 5th ward who showed up, but at a drive thru, we wouldn’t have been able to see anybody!  We’re really happy Jeff is married, though, and I’ll send them a card and some $$$. 
        I was able to work in our yard practically every morning last week, and I’ll be planting  new grass in another week or two.  Right now everything looks terrible, with dead grass and drab-looking bushes and trees, but there will be a very dramatic transformation when the new grass comes up, and the trees get their leaves.  I’m just grateful to have enough energy right now to even be outside.  I’m enjoying it while I can.
        I hope you’re all enjoying life, too!  Lots of love, Mom

Sunday, April 26, 2020

Dear Kids,
        Of course the top news story of the week is Bentley’s mission call to the Philippine Cibu mission.  The letter said he should report to the MTC in Provo on July 15, but I imagine that could be adjusted depending on circumstances.  Tom says that missionaries getting calls can defer their starting date for up to a year, but Bentley wants to go right away.  He’ll be learning Cebuano, which, of course, none of us had ever heard of until this week.  Tom says there are 23 missions in the Philippines, and lots of different languages.  Bentley’s in for a great adventure!
        Dad and I had a great time in Pocatello last weekend, “sheltering in place” with Vanessa’s family.  We went on walks, worked puzzles, and talked a lot.  Sunday afternoon we had the sacrament, conducted by Sterling.  Then Trent gave a really good “Come Follow Me” lesson about King Benjamin.  After that we went on another walk, and then we drove up to the site of the new Pocatello temple.  It’s high on the hill, north of Vanessa’s house, and it’s going to be absolutely beautiful.  You can see that now.  It will be a great change for Trent and Vanessa to drive just a few minutes to the temple, instead of all the way to Idaho Falls.  I envy them.  We have to drive at least an hour to any temple.  I sure would like one in Heber or Midway or even Kamas.  Or anywhere close, where the air is clean.  My lungs pay a price every time we drive down the canyon.
        I’ve been inspired by Nora’s long eyelashes, which almost look fake, but are very real.  She uses the glaucoma drops to make them grow, and Double Extend mascara by L’Oreal to make them look thick.  My lashes have really taken a hit from radiation and chemo, so I wanted to try the same things.  The glaucoma drops worked fine on my lashes, but my eyes watered all the time, so I gave that up.  The Double Extend mascara looked really good, but it made my eyes itch.  So my whole plan was a failure.  The point of all this is that I want to ask all you daughters and daughters-in-law, what’s a good mascara?  I’ve been using Maybelline Great Lash for years, but maybe there’s something better?
        Meanwhile, life stretches on for all of us.  I pray that we’ll get back to normal sometime soon.
        Love, Mom