Maple Lane, Provo, Utah 2007--
I decided to close the first part of my account of life on Maple Lane after telling about the death of my friend Sue Ream. Inevitably her death caused me to review my own situation. I am 10.5 years younger than my friend and I have a weakness in my health that bothered me intensively when I was young, but which has not seemed to affect my life in the fifty years since. My kidneys were damaged by a strep infection when I was about 5 years old. My ten pregnancies passed without undue health concerns. I have been moderately healthy and active in my adult years. My recent dietary decision to forgo meat, poultry and most dairy products except for a few holidays has brought about an interesting discovery. I can no longer tolerate more than a taste of milk and certain cheeses without suffering digestive or fatigue symptoms. I suspect I have had a milk allergy for years and that my current feeling of energy and well being is due in some part to my change in diet.
My high school alumni association contacted me with the news that I had been chosen as an 'outstanding graduate'. This amuses me. They were going to announce my name at the Homecoming Game and invited me to attend, but my daughter Lucinda wanted to go camping in Duchesne with her family. I decided to forgo the pleasure of spending the evening at a high school football game and standing when my name was read and made quick plans for a weekend of camping in the wilderness of Blue Bench.
The family planned to have a family reunion on the eighth of August in 2008, which was revised to July 4 through 9th and we decided that one night at least would be spent camping on the 80 acres of sagebrush and cacti that I own. I shopped on the internet and found a shed at Lowes that fit my needs. The size and price were right and I purchased it on Thursday before we left for the camping trip. I planned that my son Richard and I would erect the shed near the area where we camp. It will provide a shelter in case of rain and provide a storage area for low value but high utility items that we use when we camp.
Richard and I gathered needed tools and drove up to Duchesne on Friday afternoon. We discovered that an unknown person had used a bulldozer or equivalent equipment to widen and smooth the road that leads down through the property to the vicinity of the place we like to camp. We put the materials for the shed where we would be assembling it, and waited for the other family members to arrive. David and his family were not planning to join us since they make a profit from renting out their parking for Y football games.
Lucinda and her family and Mary arrived in time and we had a campfire get together. I had purchased a new privy tent that made things easier to set up. The children loved the sand. The next morning I discovered that at some point in the night I had stepped on my lower dentures Repair supplies were back in Provo. I bid a quick farewell to the others and made the long trip home. In addition to mending my teeth, I gathered the evidence that confirmed I owned the area where we camped and purchased 5 sheets of strand board to make the floor of the shed. I arrived back at the campsite early in the afternoon and found Richard hard at work leveling and smoothing the area where we intended to erect the shed.
Lucinda and her family and Mary had gone exploring and enjoyed Starvation Reservoir State Park not far from our camping place. They returned in the late afternoon and we convinced them to leave before the threatening storm arrived. That night was wet. The predicted thunderstorms did not arrive accept for a distant rumble, but it rained and rained and rained. A good portion of the precipitation for the year came down that night. I was sleeping in the back of my van and Richard was sleeping in a 'pop' tent. Fortunately his 'church' clothing remained dry and although a leak in the back window area made my pillow and upper garments wet, we were able to get warm and changed into our 'church' clothing at the state park where we paid an entrance fee and received the privilege of using the showers in the campground. We were both warm and well-groomed when we finally emerged. We attended a sacrament meeting in a Stake Center on a bluff overlooking the town. It was a good meeting and the people were friendly. Afterwards we took a drive north to explore the towns of Mountain Home and Altamount. The scenery in the area is varied and charming.
After our relaxing Sunday, we spent the next few days working on the shed. I also worked on my computer, finishing my indexing for the week and preparing a presentation on stained glass for Wednesday evening with the UVAG. Sunday night was frigid, bringing me to appreciate that I was not a handcart pioneer with one thin blanket. The following two nights were much more moderate. We lived on canned soup, peanut butter and jelly on wholewheat bread, grapes, corn chips and salsa and warmed ourselves with hot chocolate warmed over a campfire in the morning. Richard made excellent progress on erecting the shed. I was his helper, handing him the washers, bolts and screws and holding nuts in place.
We left the site on Wednesday morning when Richard had made all the progress he could without a step ladder. While he cleaned up and relaxed from his hard work and rough living conditions of the previous four days, I took a hurried shower and set out to buy a cordless screwdriver to make the work on the shed roof easier. We had been using a generator to power the saw and drill for the previous several days, but the work on the roof called for a different solution.
I hurried to cut glass and grind the edges for those who wanted to experience creating a simple sun catcher after my presentation at Utah Valley Artist Guild and arrived at the meeting room while the president was making the opening announcements. I attached my computer to the projector and made my presentation, then with my daughter Mary's help, I mentored several people through the process of wrapping glass with copper foil and soldering it together. It was a successful meeting. It had been a busy, complex day and I settled gratefully into my own bed for the first time after five nights of sleeping in a tent or the back of my car.
The next morning we set forth with ladder, drill and resolve the finish the shed. Careful preparation and planning yielded fruit and the building was finished with just one hole requiring some extra drilling to make it fit. While Richard finished off the outside trim I coated the floor with gray polyurethane. As the sun began to drop toward the horizon we cleaned up the site, put a lock on the door and prepared for our return to Provo. If vandals attacked the shed we will still have had a valuable experience. I hoped the local people would respect our property.
Sam arrived back home late on Saturday night after two weeks of attending 'Sergeant School' near Tacoma, Washington. He had also been 'camping' out and working hard.
Meanwhile Mary had been looking for a place to stay in Park City where she works. Her daily drive to work was through lovely scenery, but it took a couple of hours every day. To her delight she found a situation, renting the master bedroom in a house shared by several people about a mile from her place of work. Her male cat, Sebastian, left his mark on Richard's mattress just as his owner was deciding on a move.
The year was drawing to a close and I spent the first week of December in Florida. I made my way back east to Maryland beginning with a snowy day in Utah. David took me to the airport. My daughter Tricia picked me up at BWI airport with her children. It was good to see all of them again. I was happy to see my grandchildren in Maryland and Virginia, not for more than a couple of days, but long enough to see how they are growing and help them remember who I am. I flew to Florida from a snow storm in Maryland. After a couple of days spent in Gainesville, Eliza and her children and I drove down to southern Florida where we met up with Nancy and her little girl. I loved spending several days as Miranda's 'Granny Nanny' after Eliza returned to Gainesville. The beach was lovely, although I only spent a brief time chasing waves.
I had a goal for November to use the National Novel Writing Month to finish my Okishdu series. The reception to the work "Ransom Refused" was a surprising interest in the young son of the hero, Dorn. People wanted to know more about him, but he wasn't in the arc of my planned series. I had started writing 'Reluctant Warrior' focusing on the prince of Zedekla, but I decided that I would focus the story on Dwen, direct descendant of Dorn who was raised in Janaka's palace as the supposed youngest son of the regicide Jagga. I was able to write the required 50,000 words and more to qualify for the NANOWRIMO certificate, and began updating and revising the other books of the series where they touched on Dwen and his antecedents. I had two goals in mind. First of all, I went through each book and tightened up where necessary and in some cases made additions. I polished and tried to finish 'Reluctant Warrior'. It was Eliza's request that had set me on this path. She wanted to have access to the entire series. During my stay in the east in December, I used all my spare time to keep working on that goal.
Christmas was a busy time with family gathering. Tisha and her family came from Maryland. I put up my little Christmas tree late and took it down early. I had focused on creating a media cabinet for my 36" TV and a new flat screen LCD that is a little wider. I made the cabinet of plywood and ordered brass Chinese hardware from the internet. When the family gathers it is not unusual for the bottom screen to be in use for game play such as Wii Golf and the top screen used for TV programming or playing videos. With at least two laptops, a projector that shows pictures on an 8' wide screen on special occasions, a flat screen TV, a conventional TV and many DVDs and games to choose from, my living room was a little over the top.
Sam earned his his Master's degree and submitted papers to receive a commission. Rusty turned eight years old and was baptized. Tara has announced her engagement and plans to be married in the Mount Timpanogos temple after our family reunion in July and Taylor was coming home from his duties in Iraq and returned to his studies at the BYU with plans to go on a mission in 2009..
My oldest daughter, Meg, became interested in writing a biography of her ancestor, Elvira Annie Cowles Holmes. Typical of her approach to life, she jumped in with both feet and in 2007 she was accepted into a select writing workshop, Orson Scott Card's Bootcamp. In April, 2008, she flew to Las Vegas and drove up to St. George to take a workshop with novelist Dave Wolverton. She suggested that I should take the workshop in May and I was accepted, possibly because he and I have Sue Ream in common as a friend. I decided to camp during the workshop and reserved a campsite at Snow Canyon near St. George. The weather was mild and the workshop was a good experience. I used the electrical outlet on the porch of the ranger station to work on my assignments in the evening and slept very well on mats spread out in the back of my van. Based on the manuscripts Meg forwarded to me from the workshop she took, there were more people and the quality of writing was quite a bit higher in the workshop in April. I later discovered that the talent was there, but less polish had been added to the pieces before they were submitted. There were also fewer people and the time taken with each manuscript was somewhat longer.
The experience was excellent. I got a lot of helpful criticism and some real encouragement to pursue publication of my work. I wanted to get right to work on writing, but there were major impediments to the plan. Lucinda was expecting her fourth child and I planned to be with her to give any help I could. Diana was born on May 27, 2008. Like all of Lucinda's babies she was pretty from the start. Once again I was mostly in charge of providing hot water for the tub in which the birth took place.
I had agreed to hold a reception for my granddaughter Tara in my backyard on Maple Lane in Early July after the family reunion. In May my backyard was a wasteland. I set to work planning something better and with the help of lots of sod, unusually wet and mild spring weather, and the labor of my sons Richard and Sam the backyard was an oasis of green by the time of the reception. The sod, which came from several sources, blended beautifully with both other types of sod and seeded areas. The family enjoyed using the space for activities during our reunion and most added their efforts to preparing food and making final preparations. My granddaughter Annie visited and helped me paint the lawn furniture.
The family gathered as the time for the reunion neared. I had cleaned and redecorated the family room in the basement to serve as an annex for the reception and a guest room for visitors. New furniture and curtains and new bedding for a mattress borrowed from Mary made the room much nicer.
Meg's family arrived first and had no plans for where to stay. Although Nancy and Hunter would be arriving with Miranda, and Eliza with her children Geoffrey and Margo, there would be several days until they needed the rooms I planned for them and meanwhile Meg and her family and Tara's fiancé David stayed at my home. On the third they moved to my son David's house and Bryan and Tara's fiancé moved to Bryan's mother's home for the duration of their stay until the wedding. The Vosses were delayed by various conflicts and missed the first few days of our reunion when we drove to Duchesne and camped in the park and up on the bench. We sailed and rowed and that evening we went up to the bench and lit fireworks. I was bemused to find that the shed Richard and I had built the previous fall had utterly vanished except for a fragment of the front door that included the lock. The foundation was still intact and made a fine platform for the large double tent used by Meg's family.
On Sunday, July 6, 2008 Diana was given a name and a father's blessing by Jared with family participation. We watched family movies, ate, laughed and generally enjoyed ourselves for the rest of the day as cousins continued to become reacquainted. On Monday we began preparing for the reception following Tara's wedding. She received her endowments on Tuesday and on Wednesday she was wed to David. The reception was a success. The backyard looked rather like Eden and I was able to finish a four tier wedding cake that looked pretty good in photos. Raspberry and chocolate cake were the treat mandated for snacks for the following several days.
The Vosses left their children with me following the reception. I instituted 'Grandma Chiu's Summer Camp' and we dealt well together. Sam was present for only a portion of the festivities because he was called away to exercises in the Mojave Desert.
I was left with a cough after the children left. I focused on working on the stained glass panel of John Taylor singing to Joseph Smith, Hyrum and Willard Richards in the Carthage Jail. I love working with glass. It combines the aspects of composition and design that attract me to art along with some of the factors that I enjoy about carpentry and plumbing. I have learned to solder very well.
Another aspect of stained glass work is that you must use the glass you can find to fit the scheme of your design. You can't just use your paints to mix a color. Perhaps only working with carving wood or stone is more demanding of respecting the medium.
Nancy visited on her way to California where her husband was starting a job with UCSanta Cruz. I told her I was planning to drive through the Sierras some day and take pictures of the area where Jonathan Harriman Holmes was in charge of a group of men returning to Salt Lake from Sutter's Mill. She suggested I should join her on the remaining drive and within minutes I had arranged for a return trip and lodging. Unfortunately her cat Casper got loose and she had to leave him wandering the neighborhood. He was lured back into the custody of the family before evening, but by that time we were well into Nevada. I got some wonderful pictures of the various sites relevant to my ancestor and Nancy suggested a side trip to Yosemite. We arrived in Santa Cruz late at night, but the movers were just finishing up their work for the evening. After a brief trip through Santa Cruz to see the campus and the board walk Nancy drove me to the airport for my return trip to Salt Lake. I accepted a change of planes and got a round-trip ticket in exchange, as well as an upgrade to first class. Nancy made a quick trip back to Utah later to retrieve her cat. It is always fun to see iranda.
When I was a child I learned a poem about a 'wonderful one horsed shay, that worked for a hundred years and a day. That happened to the Dodge Caravan my parents gave me when my sisters felt my mother should no longer drive. They were impatient with the time it took me to get to Salt Lake from Provo on the bus. I had been living without a car for more than a year and it had a number of benefits. I don't believe I would have become such a good friend of Susan Ream if I had a car of my own at the time I met her. Driving from Provo to Salt Lake daily for a week together sparked our friendship. I gained muscle tone from walking a half mile to the bus-stop. I savored the scenery. I saved money because I could only shop for what I could personally carry up hill to my home. When it was time for yearly inspection I took my car to the dealership to have them inspect it and fix the heater. They said it would take $4000 worth of work to pass the inspection. Further investigation seemed to show that it could be done for quite a bit less. I drove the car back from my daughter's house and when my son Sam put the rear seat in the car, just that much motion was sufficient to break the head off the bolt that holds one of the rear shock absorbers in place. I am so fortunate it dropped while I was parked in my driveway. I count it as a considerable blessing. I think it was, as Sam said, a sign that the car was finished.
At first my 'carlessness' had no great affect on my life. Sam gave me a ride to the temple on Saturday on his way to drill. I walked home in weather so fine that I had to carry my coat on the top of my wheeled bag in which I was bringing home my white dress to be cleaned. The first Sunday I woke to persistent chilly rain but Mary was visiting and drove to church.
As the weeks passed I found that my lack of a car was more a benefit than a burden. Mary and I drove to meet friends for a lunch and a movie, Richard and I walked and took the bus to an evening workshop with the author Brandon Sanderson, I combined a bus trip to Salt Lake to help a friend with some banking and shopping business and a Relief Society meeting with Julie Beck as the featured speaker. My meeting with UVAG allowed me to fit in some shopping ahead of time and a friend brought me home afterwards. In late November I began a series of treatment to obtain new teeth with the idea of converting my savings to things I was certain to need. The determining factor in choosing a dentist was proximity to bus-stops. In early December I took the bus to Sandy station and Tisha picked me up for an overnight stay at her home. The next day I rented a car which I used through the weekend, then left at the airport on Monday morning before leaving on a flight to Virginia using the round-trip ticket I received on my trip home from California. I folded a trip to Florida into the plan.
I was able to secure most of my ripening CDs at a good interest rate by acting promptly while in Virginia. I renewed my relationship with Annie and Beth and read a book on organizing that helped me get a fresh vantage point on my problems with time organization.
I flew to Gainesville and Eliza picked me up at the airport. Margo had become a sturdy little toddler, showing her strength by lugging a gallon of milk over the threshold when we finished shopping. With deep brown eyes and white gold curls she is a charmer. She and Geoffrey play quite well together. I had transported a Wii from Uncle Sam as a Christmas gift for the Porters and we unpacked it and Geoffrey soon gained the knack of playing virtual sports as well as he plays real sports. I made a doll for Margo which she seemed a little reluctant to accept. I flew to Reagan International and on a bitter afternoon Meg and Bryan picked me up from the airport for a few brief hours. We got some Thai food take-out and had a delicious lunch before they returned me for my flight home. Tisha picked me up at SLC airport and I spent the night at their apartment in her in-laws home. Not much later they moved to the same home they lived in years before, now available for sale at the bank. The intervening occupants had a strange sense of how to decorate, mostly virulent colors in strange places. I gave Brad a new paint job on their cabinets for his birthday and it took me several weeks to accomplish, having removed the cabinet doors and drawer fronts, the hardware, painting a primer coat with Killz and finally painting two additional coats with paint Tisha and I fortuitously located at Lowes in the mis-mix bin, a lovely shade of very pale peachy mauve that accents the granite countertops and greatly improves the look of the room. My new dentures were finished and I proceeded to have implants inserted to stabilize the lower set, a painful process from which I am recovering quite well
I decided to make some additional preparations for what may come by taking a CERT course offered on two Saturdays. We learned emergency response and how to act as a volunteer team in cases of fire, earthquake, flood, etc. Richard came along the second week to portray a 'victim' and I think both of us did a fairly good job. I have purchased an 'out building' to aid in several things, including storage of emergency supplies outside of my house, which is likely to fall like a tower of children's blocks if we have any sizable earthquake.
Before leaving for military duty Sam helped put up the green house I selected as my new 'out building'. I decided to augment it with a lattice surround and made a playset of the same vinyl material.
In April a lesion the size of a sesame seed on the right side of the bridge of my nose began to grow quite rapidly. A dermatologist cut off the bean sized tumor and it was determined to be a squamous cell cancer, not dangerous but needing further treatment. It was removed and eight stitches were used to draw the skin across the excision. To my surprise it healed with little sign of scarring. Taylor's marine unit deployed to Afghanistan as he headed for Thailand and a two year mission, meaning he would not encounter his uncle Sam.
For the first time in longer than I can remember I began to harvest vegetables from a garden I created. Arm sized zucchinis, sweet tomatoes and even a few peppers were carried in and savored. I visited Eliza's family in Florida, met Meg and drove to Buena Vista for a writing worshop with Orson Scott Card, then drove up to Pennsylvania to find Nancy and her family at Nordmont. I finished the excursion with a trip across the country with Meg's husband Bryan and their two youngest girls. The sacred space of Liberty Jail was a highlight of the trip. I continued editing my Okishdu books and helped David set up his business with graphics and website design.
While I was in Virginia in August several members of the Annandale Ward asked if I planned to attend the Ward 40th Anniversary in October. My answer was a smiling shake of my head. It seemed very unlikely. Meg offered to pay the air fare for what was essentially a weekend trip. I had air credit from the flight I canceled when I decided to help Bryan drive west so I cashed that in and with Meg's help on the difference, I made the trip. It was a delightful experience. Those of us who had sung with the angels on occasion gathered for a rehearsal after the anniversary dinner and Nancy Reid took her place as director. We sang 'Lilies of the Field.' I returned to Utah and took up my usual routine, renewing my resolve to wake early and go to bed in time to have 7 or 8 hours of sleep. Nancy asked me to join her in Florida in early December to look after Miranda while Nancy attended a convention. On December 1 I flew to Virginia for a brief visit with Meg's family. On December 5 I flew to Florida, leaving in a snow storm as so often seems to happen. I fought a cold, relaxed and watched over Miranda in a nice hotel room with a view of the inter-coastal waterway. I dabbled my feet in azure waves and picked up shells and sea sponges while Miranda played with another child. On the 10th Nancy, Miranda and I left Ft. Lauderdale in a rented car and drove to Gainesville where we enjoyed a visit with Eliza's family. Miranda found a playmate in her cousin Margot who had grown into quite a lively and articulate 'kid'. Eliza drove us to Orlando for our flights. Nancy went on to New York and I flew back to Utah. Tisha and a couple of her children drove me home from the airport in the evening. Travel and seeing family is fine, but home is good.
2010 began quietly enough but it became a very busy year. David and his family had reason to move into my basement so that they could put their house up for sale. It meant moving rooms and rearranging. Fortunately, Sam came home on leave from Afghanistan late in January and had time to clear out his various belongings from one of the basement bedrooms and store everything in bins before he left. Lucinda and Mary both expected children in February. Lucinda's third son, Ralph, was born at home on February 11 and Mary's daughter Heta was born in a Park City hospital on February 22. Both mothers had chosen to forego narcotic births and enjoyed the long period of bonding that resulted. Legal difficulties delayed Mary's marriage until March 30. Lata's sisters transformed their family room into a lovely chapel-like setting with swaths of silky white cloth tacked to the ceiling and walls and covering the backs of folding chairs. Mary dressed in a long dark purple dress, and Lata in a dark suit, were married by the family bishop and turned to the family to promise they would try to do much better by their precious little girl. In April we began a strange period of anxiety and fear as Richard's communication on the internet along with the treachery of one of my sisters brought an assault on our home. Richard was tasered three times while defenseless and surrounded by 'law' officers. After two weeks in the psych ward of the local hospital, a mental health hearing found that he could not be considered 'crazy'. Meanwhile I accompanied Nancy and her daughter Miranda on a trip to Manhattan where she will work during the summer. Sam returned from Afghanistan and stayed in Utah during the first period of tension as Richard received a summons for 'resisting arrest'. Finally, after the first hearing,early in May, which resulted in an appointment for a second hearing in mid August, he drove to Atlanta and took up his position there. A family reunion, planned for August, drew five of my children and their families to Virginia. Expenses and other issues prevented the other four from attending. I joined Tricia and her children in a trip that included stops in Nauvoo and Carthage on the way, and a visit to Liberty Jail on the return leg of the journey. We met in the mansion lately acquired by my ex husband, a vast brick Georgian styled structure full of marble, granite and hardwood floors sparsely furnished, mostly from a Salvation Army store. There was plenty of space for the children to play. We made funny hats from colored sheets of foam and held a parade around the perimeter of the 2.5 story house.
I traveled east again in September to be with Eliza while she had another child. Penny was born on September 19 which meant I spent a good amount of time with the family on both sides of the birth. Penny reminds me a lot of her older sister, Margot, a lovely girl with almost boundless energy. I was able to take Geoffrey to school and play in the park with Margot while their mother adjusted to the pleasures and challenges of her newest child. Once again I returned to Provo just in time to take part in another trip to the courthouse for yet another experience of delay. When Sam turned 29 in October we began to wonder if he had resigned himself to being a bachelor but he traveled down to celebrate Thanksgiving in Florida with his sister Eliza and her family and she introduced him to a young woman who won his heart. They were soon planning for a life together. He gave her a ring on Christmas and they announced that they would be married in April. The second week of February was busy. Lucinda gave birth to her sixth child on the 9, once again using an inflatable bathing pool set up in her kitchen and using the services of the same midwife she has consulted since giving birth to her second child, Jacqueline. The baby, named Lelia after one of Jared's aunts, returned the 'ink' to the gene pool. She resembled Adam, her older brother at the same age. I stayed with the family, only about a block from my home, for several days, helping with Ralph's first birthday on the 11. Sam and his fiance Reese and her son Irish came to visit on the 12 and stayed with us for a couple of days, returning to Florida on the 15th early in the morning.
The next major event was the birth of my 23rd grandchild when Tricia gave birth to her fifth child, third son, Rudy, in March. He is the first of my grandchildren to have red hair and the third to have a variation of blue eyes. Lelia has deep grey eyes, Annie has hazel blue eyes and Rudy's eyes are blue. Not long after his birth he was found to have a problem with oxygen levels, mostly when he eats or dreams. Otherwise he seems a very healthy little fellow. Meg invited me to take advantage of her accumulated air miles again and I flew to Virginia to attend Tara's senior art project presentation. She did a nice job with her project which used books with inscriptions that she found in local resale shops and interpreted in shadow boxes. The next day we attended a performance of 'The Music Man' at Jeb Stuart High School in which Annie played the part of Amaryllis. The following evening we attended an Easter concert of the Mormon Choir of Washington in which Bryan performed. While in Virginia I became fascinated with the aquaponics project Meg has been building in her limited back yard. I returned to Utah with eager plans to convert my greenhouse into an aquaponics center. Using materials available, including an old cast iron tub and a number of plastic storage bins, along with various materials to build a fish tank holding around 240 gallons, I set up a system that has been successful. The purpose of the system is storing water and producing food year-round, including fish and vegetables. We drove to Florida in late April to attend Sam's wedding to Reese. This brought another addition to the grand chidren as Irish, Reese's son became a member of the family. The family helped a lot with setting up the scene of the reception. On the drive we saw the recent damage of the record breaking rash of tornadoes that plowed the midwest in 2011. We also saw the floods that caused so much damage. I continued working on my aquaponics system with a brief diversion to make a chicken tractor to accommodate 4 chickens from Tricia's flock. Sam came to Utah for a couple of weeks to participate in Army Reserve training while his new wife Reese made the move from Florida to Atlanta. Taylor returned from his mission in Thailand and began to date a girl from Ireland. I refurbished my sail boat and gave it to Nancy in late June. She had a series of adventures as she tried to have a hitch installed but eventually she towed the boat to Pennsylvania successfully. She was driving with her daughter Miranda and Rochelle who would be her nanny in New York during the remainder of the summer. I had to spend a lot of money to replace the axle on my truck as well as doing other repairs so it would pass inspection. In July Mary gave birth to her second child, Sela. Her labor and delivery were carried out well. When Sela was three weeks old her family joined Tricia and her younger children on a trip to Virginia where six of my nine children gathered for a small reunion. Meanwhile Meg's husband Bryan and her two younger daughters, Annie and Beth, were in Utah, visiting various events and scenic destinations. My son Richard met with his lawyer at the courthouse yet again to finally have his trial scheduled for early in January, 2012.
I began to experience some difficulties seeing and when my current boxes of contact lenses were nearly used up I saw an hoptometrist who told me I had begun to grow noticeable cataracts on both eyes. I already had plans to join Meg at an Aquaponics convention in Florida in September so I put off doing any drastic treatment. I met Meg and her daughter Tara at Jacksonville Airport on the evening of September 15. Eliza had e-mailed us an invitation to join Philip on a trip to view a property they were interested in purchasing. The comfortable home in a gated community on more than an acre of land seemed well suited for their growing family. We spent the night with Eliza and her family in St. Augustine then drove down to the Orlando area where we spent the first day of the convention visiting various aquaponics scenes. The three Meg chose on the basis of their location near our path to the hotel in Orlando made an interesting contrast. The first was a farm-like setting with plenty of room for experimentation. There were many varied methods on display. The second had been set up in the spare space of a suburban shopping mall. Space constraints required careful planning and the area between the back wall of the shopping center and the last shop in the row was protected by a locked stockade fence. On the other hand, the grower had made a garden of the space between the parking area and the fence where he grew vegetables and fruits that the community is free to use. This showed the usefulness of even very small plots of land for growing significant amounts of food. The third exhibit took us to a set of greenhouses erected on top of a downtown city office building. The scene was like something from a science fiction movie featuring the growing space inside of a space station. Cylinders cut to accommodate various vines and plants rotated through one of the greenhouses over two large tanks containing koi. The other greenhouse featured intensive aquaculture of tilapia with trays of various vegetables like lettuce in trays above the fish tans. The density of the fish in the tanks amazed me. The use of pure oxygen percolated through the water seems to be the secret. Tilapia are not my favorite eating fish, but their food to body weight conversion is remarkable.
The laws of Utah forbid my using tilapia in my aquaponics system. The greenhouses serve as a research facility but they provide produce for the farmers market held in a nearby park. We reached the hotel in Orlando in a timely manner and met other people at the pool party for the opening event. The following day, Saturday, September 16, was filled with workshops and discussions. Meg and Tara erected an aquaponics system and a hoop greenhouse in an hour. The system was auctioned after dinner that evening by Murray Hallam, a Australian well known in the Aquaponics community. The winning bid was for $900 but someone suggested that all the participants throw in $5 as a special donation to the new organization. When all was counted well over $2000 was raised by the event. I gathered many useful tips from the various workshops and the demonstration farms we visited. On Sunday Tara and I visited the Orlando temple which is due north of the hotel where the convention was sited. Meg had been asked to serve as secretary to the organization so she stayed for the organizing meeting. In the afternoon Meg and I joined a hundred other participants on a trip to Disney World where we had a tour of 'The Land', an extensive exhibit in Epcot Center. I have to say that while the Disney exhibit is extensive, I felt that the greenhouses we saw on Friday were more impressive in terms of cutting edge technology. We drove back to St. Augustine that evening.
After spending the night, Meg and Tara headed north to Virginia and I settled in for a week of visiting. I had arrived just in time to celebrate Penny's first birthday. We took a quick trip to Walmart for some special party goods and that evening some friends came over to share ice cream and cake. I enjoyed the kids as Penny warmed up to me and Margot calmed down a little from her super enthusiasm at seeing 'Grandma Pat'. I saw Geoffrey and Margot at their gymnastics class and we spent an afternoon at the Lightner museum where I saw a real Jivaro shrunken head and other oddities. Margot informed me that a child sized mummy with a lot of bones showing had died because he hadn't received flu shots. I was impressed by the koi in the garden of the museum, some of which seem to stretch well over 2 feet long. On Friday we took the trolley tour of old town St. Augustine.
On Saturday I flew back to Utah. My trip included a beautiful view of the Grand Canyon from my seat on the right side of the plane. The golden light of late afternoon lit the magic landscape not that far beneath the plane as it made its landing approach into Las Vegas. The following Friday, September 30, I received a call from my daughter Mary Jane inviting me to join her on a trip to California beginning that evening. The train trip had been booked but her husband Lata had a flare up of gout and couldn't make the trip. With two baby girls, Heta, 20 months, and Sela, 2 months, to handle, Mary needed help. We kept the sleeper bunks in place until near the end of the trip to allow for Heta to have a place to play and me a place to nap. So I went from the Pacific Coast to the Atlantic Coast in about a week, a first for me.
Nancy picked us up at the trains station in Emeryville near Oakland and drove us to Santa Cruz. After listening to Conference on the internet on Sunday morning we went to the beach where we dabbled our feet in the wave. Fog rolled away and we enjoyed a lovely clear evening. On Monday we saw Miranda in her ballet class. On Tuesday Nancy drove us to Monterey where we visited the Monterey Bay Aquarium. Instead of porpoise shows, the aquarium features a number of exhibits featuring native marine life. The deep sea exhibit has recently acquired a 'great white shark' but it is hardly as large as several other sharks in the same tank. A really ugly sunfish and the glittering curtain of a school of sardines were more notable in the exhibit. Jelly fish, sea horses, sea otters, penguins, and other aquatic animals each has a special place. There is also a kelp forest. The most remarkable exhibit I saw was a giant Pacific octopus. It was lively, swimming, displaying it's star shaped junction of tentacles and otherwise making an interesting sight. I would estimate that the tentacles from tip to tip would be over 10 feet. We hoped to catch the 9:10 AM train from Emeryville by leaving Nancy's house at 7 AM. Unfortunately a garbage truck was making its stately way around the residents and we were stuck behind it. We arrived at the parking area of the Emeryville state while the California Zephyr was still in the yard, but by the time we got out of the car and hustled our bags into the station, the train had left. Nancy took us to Sacramento where we had a few minutes wait before the train arrived. we saw the train passing below at one point when we were crossing the Bay.
My Primary team teacher, Maureen Olsen received a call to serve a mission in Houston and for now I teach alone. My first few weeks without her were somewhat chaotic as the Primary prepared for their annual Sacrament Meeting presentation. Lucinda invited me to join her family on a trip to temple square in salt Lake City on October 13 to celebrate Calvin's accomplishment in finishing reading the Book of Mormon. We drove up to the Central Station where we parked and caught the TRAX to Temple Square. I invited the family to join me for lunch at the Garden Cafe at the top of the Joseph Smith Memorial Building. They loved the view of Temple Square from the observation area and I caught a video of them singing 'I Love to See the Temple' with the temple in the background.
In early December I flew to Los Angeles where I joined Nancy and Miranda on a flight to the big island of Hawaii. I was operating as a 'granny nanny' for a week while Nancy attended a convention at the Waikaloa Beach Hilton. Except for the first night we stayed at a condo not far from the resort where the conference was held. I rented a car with the intention of enjoying the many sights on the island. The first full day was a Sunday and while Nancy attended the opening sessions of her conference Miranda and I took a trip north to attend sacrament meeting at the LDS chapel in Waimea. We proceeded eastward and northward to view a deep valley that was destroyed by a tsumami years ago. Now it is a preserve where native crops are grown. During the following week Miranda spent several mornings in a day care situation and she had an opportunity to meet face to face and feed fish to dolphins. I spent one day mostly by myself as she was in day care most of the day. At that time I explored the northern shore of Hawaii and drove back along an almost magical highway that gave a view of beaches from high above the shore. Hunter joined us on Thursday and we spent the evening exploring Volcano National Park. The scenery is very different from the somewhat arid territory near Waikaloa Beach. The eastern and southern side of the island are lush. I had hoped to take a helicopter trip but the weather was too stormy. I saw the glow of a caldera in the dusk and we saw lava glowing on the sides of a hill in the dark.
After arriving back home I made some brief preparations for Christmas. The family gathered on Christmas Eve, including Nancy and her family who made it even though the final part of their journey from California was interrupted by an encounter with a deer. I was able to drive down and pick the up near Payson just as the tow truck arrived. They were unhurt. In late January I received an e-mail from Eliza that sent me to the internet in search of a flight to Florida. I was able to arrange for substitutes for Primary, temple and church cleaning assignment in a few minutes. I had a nice time with Eliza who handled her early loss of a pregnancy with quiet fortitude. I helped arrange pictures in her living room and made a portrait of Penny plus a landscape of the egret I saw at Fort Matanzas which we hung over her living room couch. I drove up to Atlanta for an over night visit with Sam, Reese and Irish. Sam lost control of his small red car on a wet pavement while driving home from Fort Benning. Fortunately he was unhurt.
I made another egret painting plus portraits of Rochelle and Hannah, Russell and Rudy for the Spring UVAG exhibit. I used acrylics for both portrait paintings and gave them to Brad and Rusty respectively for their birthdays after the exhibit closed at the end of March. As the weather warmed I began to work on the next two sections of my aquaponics setup. After cutting and forming growing tubes from 4" drainage pipe I capped them off and filled them with expanded shale. Two of the goldfish from the previous year had somehow survived the winter as vegetarians and I augmented them with more goldfish. I planted cherry tomato plants, baby basil, and some other herbs while noting that the mint I planted last year had survived a hard winter during which the system froze several times, in fine style. I set up the old cooler at the rear of the greenhouse and set it on an automatic timer that would operate between the hours of 10 AM and 3 PM to take the edge off the summer heat. Using symmetrical rain gutter I set up grow trays supported on three 50 gallon water barrels. I planted cucumber seedlings and strawberry vines in the grow tubes and tiny romaine seedlings in the grow trays. David and Jing and their family moved back to their home after their renters moved out in April and Maryjane and her family moved in to my basement apartment.
In early June Bryan and his girls came out to Utah to say goodbye to his mother who had suffered from cancer off and on for several years. Although she thought she was in remission, an examination left her with the verdict that she had about a month left. Bryan stayed on in Utah through the death and funeral of his mothers but the girls returned to Virginia with their mother. Meg returned to Utah on June 12, just in time to bid farewell to her mother-in-law on the night before the day she died. I had painted pictures for a summer exhibit at UVU library; a picture of Miranda overlooking the sea in Hawaii, a reworking of a painting of Rochelle that I turned into an ancestral portrait, and a painting of the Lehi Roller Mills. On Saturday, the day after Bryan's mother died, I dropped the paintings off at the exhibit and then joined Meg and Bryan for a trip up to Layton where we attended a Job Welling Family Reunion at which Meg made a presentation of the information she had discovered while working on the life of Annie Elvira Cowles Holmes, Job Welling's mother-in law for three of his wives. I decided to go ahead and take care of most of my funeral expenses to spare my family members the difficulty and expense if and when I die. I use the 'if' because I have persistently believed that someday I would witness the Second Coming. Meanwhile, if that is not to be, I have a nice little plot in a convenient spot in the Provo Cemetery and plans for a no viewing funeral. I decided on a plain silver colored coffin instead of a wooden coffin because of the extra expense a wooden coffin would involve. Neither of my parents were embalmed and I was happy to learn that the local mortuary doesn't require embalming. In any case, I'm against 'public viewings.' I also went online to Legal Zoom and updated my will, power of attorney and 'living will'.
In mid July Richard and I drove east with a cargo of paintings, a stained glass panel created by my mother, and my grandmother's small antique desk in the back of the red Toyota truck. Long hours of driving made us sleepy when we arrived in Atlanta and a bit of playfulness resulted in an injury to Irish. After due encounters with officials who decided not to pursue any charges, we hurried off and made it to Florida early the next day. After spending a pleasant week with Eliza and her family we returned to Utah with no trouble except for a persistent 'check engine' light. Over a thousand dollars was funneled into getting the light to shut off. I had planned to introduce trout into my aquaponics system but the car expenses, necessary in order to register the truck, used up my spare cash. Lucinda's fourth son and seventh child, Jared Israel Hancock, was born on September 13, 2012 at 9:01AM. He was born at home and weighed 9 lbs.2 oz. And measured 22.5 inches long.
A few days later I flew to Denver to join Meg at the second annual meeting of the Aquaponics Association. She attended as a presennter at two sections and I learned a lot more about the subject from farm tours and lectures. I particularly learned somewhat more about trout. Returning home, I ordered a delivery of fingerling trout from the Spring Lake Hatchery. They arrived late on October 1. To my surprise and gratification, their morbidity rate stayed very low, with only two of the sixty new trout dying in the following 1 and a half months.
Although I felt Mitt Romney had the skills to rescue the U. S. economy, I feared a backlash if he won. I therefore had mixed feelings on the day after the election when he lost the election.
I had added insulation to the north wall of my greenhouse and we replaced polyethylene sheeting over the roof. As the early winter cold snaps came we were still enjoying a trickle harvest of cherry tomatoes and the effort of a small, one burner radiant propane heater served us well. After a heavy snowfall, a tall tree near our neighbor's house shed a large branch that nearly downed our phone lines. Richard was able to remove it, but as I watched him carefully prune away the smaller branches from the phone line I felt the urge to pray for his safety. Moments after the short prayer the entire limb jerked lose from its weak connection with the tree and fell, knocking the ladder aside and tipping it vertical. Fortunately Mary was near at hand and steadied the ladder while Richard climbed down.
I have been thinking of the admonition to become as a little child. This past month, January of 2013, has seen me trying to keep a promise I made myself years ago that my primary role in life would be to be a nurturer. My youngest son's wife, Reese, expected to give birth in January and I planned to fly to Florida where my youngest daughter lives with her family and stand ready to visit my son and his family in Atlanta, Georgia when the child was born. In the week before Christmas my plans began to change. First of all, the baby, Ruari Atlas, was born on December 22 instead of waiting until January 9 as originally predicted by the doctor. Then I learned that my youngest daughter had already made plans to visit with several of her sisters in Virginia near the beginning of January. Then I learned that one of daughters had recently returned to full activity in the Church, which her atheist husband gave as an excuse for finding another woman which he informed her about just a few days before Christmas when the family had planned to fly from California and visit his family in Pennsylvania. This daughter has been commuting every other week between California and New York City where she is a fellow at New York Presbyterian Hospital, conducting and supervising experiments in neuro pharmacology. She asked me if I couldn't change my plans and spend several weeks with her in New York as she tried to reconstruct the lives of herself and her 6 year old daughter, finding an apartment, furnishing it, arranging for schooling, etc. Meanwhile another daughter decided that her family's purposes would best be served by eventually joining her sister in New York along with her two small children. Her husband suffered from congestive heart disease and gout and she necessarily has become the family provider. When she arrived in New York she would need me to watch her little girls as she made contacts in her search for a job. Her husband would join them later. All of the above has kept me pretty busy. As planned, I flew to Florida on January first and met my youngest daughter and her children at the airport then we drove to Atlanta where I spent a few days creating portraits of my son, his newest baby and making some adjustments to a portrait of his wife I had completed earlier. I briefly had the chance to become acquainted with baby Ruari before my youngest daughter and I drove north to Virginia where she had a reunion with two of her sisters, including the daughter who was moving to New York. After several days I said goodbye to my youngest daughter and her children as they departed for Florida and I continued north to spend most of the remaining month taking care of grandchildren, putting together Ikea furniture, going to church and sharing the gospel with the little ones. Meanwhile I had the opportunity to share some insights and comfort with other passengers on various planes I took along the way. For the final few days of the month I flew back to Florida to stay with my youngest daughter before returning to Utah. My pledge to stand ready to nurture my children and their families as needed has been fulfilled in several ways. The Lord blessed me to be cleared of other obligations at this critical time. I felt truly blessed that all of my grandchildren were raised in homes where the Gospel is taught, and they attended Primary where they learn the songs of Zion. I believe this is to some extent a result of my pledge to be a resource, a person my family can count on to help them bear their burdens and offer an example of someone who tries to live the Gospel. Sometimes I am more childish than childlike, but I glory in my Savior and his precious gifts, the Gospel and the Atonement.
Soon after arriving in Utah I began eating very differently from my usual practice, first with a high protein diet, and later with more emphasis on complex carbohydrates and less on meat and dairy. As a result my health improved and I lost about 60 pounds. I went from needing a water bed to sleeping comfortably without aching in the morning to being able to sleep virtually anywhere and waking feeling painless and well rested. In mid 2012 I became careless. I started to 'treat'myself to items I had previously avoided for more than 10 years. I fell into a 'sugar trap' and gradually my energy and health deteriorated. Meanwhile my grandson, Calvin, 9 years old, discovered my Okishdu books and wanted to read them. I had done some editing in the past few years, actually not since 2010, but with awareness that I would have a 9 year old boy reading the books I went back and reviewed and edited them again. Calvin really liked the books but as I drew near the end of editing the last few books I had to recognize that my health had really started to crash. One Tuesday I had to go home from the Temple before beginning my shift because I felt dizzy and nauseous. People said I seemed as if I had a blood sugar problem of some kind. I got home and made a stern review of my eating behavior that had gradually resulted in eating five or six oranges a day, like tasty sugar bullets. I have accomplished some things, but many things have been put on hold. January freezes put a kink in my aquaponics system, with a hard freeze killing off all of the trout. My project to make miniature golden plates for all my grandchildren shuddered to a halt. I considered crying off from a Primary party I arranged as commemoration of 'Christmas in April' but fortunately I went through with it and the three children who attended made pita pizzas, varied sundaes, and we worked on 'a day a night and a day' plaques to commemorate the date. My oldest daughter, Meg Stout, finished a book about aquaponics called 'The Complete Idiot's Guide to Aquaponics' and it came out in early April, 2013. I provided several of the pictures that she used in the book so in a sense I have finally been published.
For several years I disliked a hedge that grew on the north side of my front yard near the driveway. It withered and died and presented an irksome barrier to getting out of a car parked close to the edge of the driveway. After a long time of trying to gain permission from the neighbor to replace it with a fence, I discovered that it was on my property and within a week Richard and I pulled it out with the use of a hoe or mattock and I disposed of it at a yard waste dumpster and began to replace it with a fence.
In May, 2013, my son-in-law, Brad, received his 'juris doctor' degree from the U of U and I spent the day with his family enjoying an entertaining convocation followed by a family get together at Braza Grill. The next morning I flew to Florida where I waited for Eliza to give birth to her fourth child. I bonded with Geoffrey, her oldest son, over popcorn chicken at Walmart and a trip to Hobby Lobby as we spent the time between his school getting out and his speech therapy appointment. Eliza asked me to make a "Golden Plates Coloring Book" from the images I created for the golden plates replica I gave to Geoffrey and I watched youtube videos about container gardening and ordered some supplies and created a detailed planting scheme with the help of garden planning software. Booker finally made his appearance on May 21,2013 after I had extended my flight by a week. I made a portrait of him and his features reminded me of my baby Katie. I flew home on June 1 and proceeded to work on the fence on the north side of my driveway. David suggested I would be well served by renting a post hole digger but because of the nature of the fence I just proceeded as time and energy permitted mostly while sitting down. My oldest grandson, Taylor, met a lovely young woman named Shazia on a campaign trip to Nevada during the presidential campaign. They were married on June 15, 2013 in the Salt Lake Temple. My daughter Meg, who had flown out early for the wedding, helped me remove a little maple tree that stood in the way of completing the fence. A predator, probably a raccoon, killed two of my three chickens the day before the wedding and we took the remaining hen to join Trisha's small flock.
The summer remained hot and my energy stayed low as summer passed. I finally finished the fence and began to landscape along its base, renting a small loader to contour the ground and using a combination of paving stones and river gravel to provide an elevated planting area and additional space on my driveway. Following a honeymoon in Puerto Rico,Taylor and Shazia moved into my basement.
In September I drove to Las Vegas and stayed the night with Meg at the home of her friend before driving to Tucson, Arizona for the third annual meeting of the Aquaponics Association where Meg was confirmed as chairman for the coming year. We provided transportation for a young man from Hong Kong. My usual medications had suffered an accident and I decided to observe the way I felt without taking them. I made plans to visit my five children who live east of the Mississippi River and made reservation for late November and the first half of December. I had planned to work at the Temple until the Saturday before my flight to Virginia on November 25, but I fainted in the temple cafeteria on the eighth and decided it was time to retire. I worried about my trip, but my age has now exempted me from complicated screening. I asked for a wheelchair to make the long trek to the SWA gate area and received an early boarding pass. I used early boarding passes throughout the rest of the trip. Meg and Tara met me at BWI. Nancy and Mary and their families joined us for Thanksgiving at their father's mansion and we enjoyed several days together. Nancy provided me with good advice and started me on B-12 and slow release iron which seems to have alleviated some of my worst symptoms. I ordered Christmas gifts online for my grandchildren after after observing preferences and needs. I flew to Jacksonville to visit Eliza and her family and had several busy days including a piano recital for Margot. The temperature in Florida was 70 degrees on the day I flew to Minnesota to visit Sam and his family where the temperature hovered near zero. I enjoyed making friends with Ruari, approaching his first birthday and watching as Irish earned his green belt. I arrived home on the fourteenth and Tisha picked me up at the airport and drove me home. My four children who live in Utah joined me with their families for a brunch on Christmas day. Tisha and several of her children joined Richard and me for lunch on my 71st birthday on January 2, 2014. We briefly visited the building site of the Provo City Center Temple.
Lucinda gave birth to her fifth son, eighth child, Timothy, on February 15, 2014, ten years to the day after the birth of Calvin, her oldest child. While 'hanging out' with Lucinda after the birth of her newest son I revised and enhanced three watercolor sketches into paintings for the Utah Valley Artist Guild Spring Show. Not long afterward I received news that Mary's husband, Lata, had heart surgery and was lingering in unconsciousness. Mary asked for my help and I flew to New York in March to look after my granddaughters, Miranda, Heta and Sela. Once again the weakness that had caused me to faint in the temple interfered with my functioning. Mary was expecting a son at the end of September and between working, giving support to her hospitalized husband and being a mom she needed relief. Fortunately Lata's older sisters were able to fly into New York one at a time to add their efforts. Over the fourth of July weekend Sam and his family visited as he prepared for deployment to Djibouti as an army reservist. A couple of days later I flew home to Provo. Tevita Maumau was born on October 1 in a home birth in Manhattan and I arrived back in the city a day later, mainly to cuddle my thirtieth grandchild and do art and craft projects with the other children. I was feeling ever more depleted in energy and on October 18 Nancy took me to the emergency room at the Allen Pavilion, an extension of Columbia Presbyterian Hospital in the Bronx. I quickly learned that my heart and lungs were functioning well but my blood count was less than a third of normal. Hospitalized, I underwent exploratory procedures that revealed a mass at the top loop of my colon. Whether cancerous or not, in time it would block my bowels if not excised. While rejecting chemo and radiation, I chose to undergo surgery.