Bueno Avenue, Salt Lake City, Utah 1987-1988
When I returned to Utah after Meg's reception I asked Tisha to join us, truly feeling that she would be helpful in taking care of my parents, but mostly desiring to have her back in the family during her senior year in high school, before she made decisions about college. We drove back from Virginia by way of Yellowstone Park. Tisha's boyfriend David accompanied us and I soon realized that he virtually never bathed. When we reached Bear Lake I was happy when he eagerly got dressed in swim trunks and headed toward the water. I was bemused when he never got wet above the waist. After a brief visit he returned to Virginia.
I lived in the cottage on Bueno Avenue from the summer of 1987 until the end of the summer of 1988. I could see the charm of the house even though the front porch sagged and the house was dingy and dark inside. The front yard was not much larger than the living room at Arnold Lane, but it was shaded by a large tree.
The kitchen was strung out along the rear of the house with little counter area or cabinet space. There was only one bathroom, without a shower, and it was upstairs. I managed to fit a more efficient kitchen, plus a 3/4 bathroom into the space that the former kitchen had occupied. After several misadventures, the home had new plumbing throughout. One of the first things I did of the many renovations to the house was to replace the sagging front porch. I kept the original turned Victorian post that was pulling loose as the side of the porch
sank. The previous owner had installed an overstuffed chair on the porch and it did little to enhance the appearance of the house. I purchased a small redwood deck kit from Fred Meyers hardware department. It came with lumber, fastenings and directions. When I finished installing it with the help of Richard and MaryJane, we painted it the same colonial blue color as the trim on the cottage. It made a great improvement in the appearance of the house. I hung a bench swing on one side of the porch and a bench chest opposite. This offered far more seating than the decrepit overstuffed chair, and took less room. The inside of the house was chocolate brown and lime green with a dingy photo mural on the walls of the nearly cubic living room (12" x 12" x 10").
A chocolate colored shag carpet covered the floor of the living and dining rooms. It was one of the last things I replaced in my program of improvement and it probably made the greatest difference in appearance.
We attended church at the University Ward in a church built in the early part of the twentieth century. It had a fine mosaic mural on the front and renovations and remodeling had kept the building current with the needs of a contemporary congregation.
A house behind the church was purchased and removed for the expanded parking lot. I enjoyed singing in the choir. We held a regional meeting in the Tabernacle and our group was part of a combined choir that sang for the meeting. It was fun sitting in the same seats from which the famed Tabernacle Choir had broadcast their music for many years.
When I returned to college that fall I changed my major. A class in calculus was a required to graduate with a degree in Biology. I registered for the class for my second quarter at the U of U. It met on the third floor of the physics building, one of the original buildings surrounding the 'quad'. For some reason, instead of stairs, long ramps connected the floors. I had another class immediately before the calculus class. When I finally labored up the steep ramp to the classroom, I found it packed. People were sitting on the window sills and floor. I was at the back of the class where I couldn't see the board or hear the lecture. After two sessions I decided I would have to drop the class since I was unlikely to pass it under the circumstances. I surveyed the catalog and found that Anthropology did not require calculus and would nicely utilize the coursework I had already taken.
I made the change and found a niche that suited me. Most of the classes for anthropology were held in one building. Over time I became a volunteer in the anthropology library and developed friendships with my fellow students and some members of the faculty.
Sam started first grade at Wasatch school along with his sisters Lucinda and Eliza. After a wonderful year of kindergarten, first grade was dull. He was in
a large class, possibly the smallest, if not the youngest student. The reading and writing and arithmetic he had already begun at Realms, were advanced compared to the curriculum at Wasatch. He wasn't very enthusiastic about going to school. Lucinda and Eliza made friends with children in the neighborhood and seemed to be doing well in school. Maryjane had finally hit her stride in Utah and was able to attend her 7th grade at West High School in a special program that included higher level classes like Algebra. Richard was still doing well at Realms. Nancy was continuing her education at BYU including many hours of volunteer work at the crisis line and the hospital. Tisha began her senior year at East High.
My husband visited now and then and he helped me select my first computer. It was a Zenith laptop, one of the first computers which justified the term, with an 8 megabyte hard drive in addition to what at that time was the latest in removable drives, a 3.5 floppy drive. I could carry the computer to my classes or the library and take notes. I had a dot matrix printer at home which I used to produce the many papers required by my major subject.
I joined my mother at some of the art meetings she attended and for a while was a member of the Utah Watercolor Society. One of my favorite pictures painted during this period was called "Quilted Steel Dawn," which was greatly appreciated by members of my family but failed to be chosen for exhibit.
My mother had volunteered for plastic surgery that used skin from her legs to cover her face and hands. I often helped her put them on. She more than repaid my service by paying the tuition for a workshop taught by Daniel Greene, a noted pastel and oil portrait artist. He paid me the compliment of saying I had the knack of catching a 'speaking likeness' and later I received an invitation to become an aid at his studio in the east. With a large family still at home I couldn't accept the offer.
As a senior at East High, Tisha made friends with Heather, who has remained her friend to this day. Heather wasn't a member of the Church even though her family lived next door to President Monson, but through Tisha's friendship she became interested in the Church and was baptized. My son Richard enjoyed trips to Yellowstone in the Winter and Baja Mexico in the summer as part of being a student at Realms.
David had begun dating a lovely Chinese graduate student,Jing Wang. He called me while I was in the midst of studying for midterm exams shortly after Christmas and told me they had decided to get married. Jing had not yet completed her first year as a member of the church so they would marry in an LDS chapel. I convinced Jing that she should try and get a wedding dress. Much to my surprise, she found a white satin dress that had a small and easily repaired tear that caused it to be drastically discounted well under a hundred dollars. My daughters wore the blue satin dresses I had sewn for Meg's wedding. My family all attended along with friends of David and Jing. I baked and decorated a wedding cake, using white and pink chocolate hearts both for decorations and favors, and made some sherbet punch. One of Jing's friends brought lovely egg rolls, plenty for everyone. It became quite a festive occasion.
Meg was nearing the end of her first pregnancy in February 1988, and although I wanted to be with her, I wasn't able to see my first grandchild until a little later. Even so, I celebrated, buying candy kisses and handing them out to friends. One of my fellow students was surprised and shocked when I told her I had just become a grandmother. "You're not old enough to be a grandmother," she objected. "We're nearly the same age."
We did have sons the same age, but I realized that she had set mental parameters and I had breached something important. She had a hard time thinking of me as being almost old enough to be her mother.
I was nearing graduation and had already taken a number of graduate level courses. I applied and was accepted into a Masters Degree Program in Medical Administration with an anthropological emphasis. My score on the GRE was generally high. I had tested out of American History graduation requirements, and years before I had tested out of taking English. However, during my final semester at the U I took a special writing course that had been designed by a professor in the English department as part of his award for teaching excellence. Ironically, the course, called, "Writing for Readers" excluded English majors. We had a small, select group of students, most non-traditional and coming from many different disciplines. What we shared was talent and desire to become writers. We had special seminars with noted authors who spoke to us informally about their means and methods of writing.
I did not attend my own graduation because Tisha's graduation from East High was scheduled for the same night. We went to Symphony Hall for the ceremony, and I hardly recognized my mother who had recently been freed from her therapeutic mask and was wearing makeup that made her look like a wealthy matron.
My remodeling efforts at Bueno Avenue hit a major snag. The plumbing I had done was failing. When the crisis first occurred I phoned my husband and told him I would need some extra money for the project. He wrote and said I should quit school and move back to the farm. I said I would give him the choice. Either we divorced and I stayed in Utah, or we reconciled and I would finish up the renovations at Bueno and return to Virginia. I wouldn't return to the isolation of the Lehi farm. An amazingly tolerant plumbing inspector walked me through the renovations. I followed his instructions, and with the invaluable help of my son Richard, I was able to get approved. That summer, after my graduation, I took a course in leadership as the first step towards my Master's Degree. Before the course was completed, my husband said he had decided we should get back together. I was to return to Arnold Lane.
I decided that it would be best for my son Richard to stay in Salt Lake City with his sister Tisha who had been accepted as a scholarship student at the University of Utah on the basis of her excellent grades and her ACT and SAT scores which were once again in the Merit Finalist range. The house still needed work, but they were compatible with each other. At first David and his wife Jing stayed in the house, but with their activities centered in Provo, and with a new baby to consider, they moved to an apartment near
the BYU campus.