mothers day

Thursday, February 26, 2009

Dirk is coming HOME!!! Yeah!!!

Our soldier is safe and sound back in America and will be landing in Salt Lake City at 0 dark hundred (5:45 am) - it is an awful time to pack up kids and babies and cameras and be at the airport but I don't care anymore - our soldiers are coming home.

I have been proudly flying this cute banner in my living room window for a year now showing that I have a soldier on active duty overseas. I will gladly take it down. I love America and I am so proud of Dirk and all that he has accomplished this last year. But it is his turn to come home to a heroes welcome. From all reports that is what they will be giving him at the National Guard Hanger at Airport two tomorrow morning. We will be there flying flags and screaming WELCOME HOME DIRK!!

I will finally find out where his base (Salerno) is located - other than 'just a few miles from the Pakastani border". I know his first stop after leaving Salerno has always been Bagram - but that is all I have known.

This is a picture I took of Dirk just before he left a year ago. That is his sweet wife to his left. You think I am excited - she is ecstatic. Its been a long lonely year for both of them.
But he is coming home - Melinda and Benjamin and Simon will be so happy to get hubby and daddy home.

Da and I are putting up flags and balloons and yellow ribbons in their front yard to say "Welcome Home". I know he will be tired because he won't get much sleep tonight waiting for flights out of Washington but he will survive.

Several of his siblings will be there to say Welcome Home and we want to take him out to breakfast before he heads back home. Hoorah Hooray - our soldier is coming home!

Dirk is coming HOME!!!

Sunday, February 22, 2009


my twins - Kelly and Kecia abt 1982

I know that I said my next blog would be pictures of the cactus and desert of Southwestern Arizona but I lied!!! We had a family party tonight at my house and had so much fun but the highlight of the whole night was when Kelly and Jamie came with Harley dog. Harley ran in the house wearing this cute little t-shirt with two binkies tied onto it.

Wait a minute - I had seen two binkies before --- about two years ago when Kecia and Glenn and Kelly and Jamie had given me an easter egg with two binkies on it. But this was NOT a dual announcement from my twins and their spouses like before. This was an announcement from Kelly and Jamie...alone!

Kelly and Jamie are having TWINS!!!!!


Kelly is the male member of my set of twins. Its enough of a shock to think that he is going to be a daddy - and to start right out with a pair of babies. Jamie - you are going to have your hands full!!!

I can't wait till September to welcome these little ones here. Tammy - you might be number # grandma ...but I live closer!!!!!

CONGRATS TO you both - Jamie and Kelly. You will love having twins!! I know that I did. I am so thrilled for you.

Saturday, February 21, 2009

Beauty all around us

As most of you know, since I was diagnosed with diabetes in 2005 I have been walking about 2 1/2 miles a day five days a week. Its my exercise, and you can't believe how happy it makes my doctor to hear me say "Yes - I walk 4 or 5 days a week. "

I walk at the Layton Park with a friend and we feed the birds each day as we walk (reminder to those who live near me - if you have any cereal, bread, chips, crackers, etc. that get stale or dry or moldy - save them for me - the birds love them -Melinda gave me a whole bag full of stuff on Thursday and my swans and ducks and geese were so happy on Friday morning!)

Anyway - this last couple of weeks of winter weather has made walking VERY interesting. Lots of ice and slippery surfaces. Cheryl walks no matter the weather, and I join her. We really bundle up on the really cold mornings and dress for the weather whatever it may be.
Some days we trudge through the snow that fell all night the night before and sometimes we are lucky enough to follow the snowplow down the path .

I kept thinking as I walked day after day - this is so beautiful, I need to tell Shawn to bring his camera over to the park. Then one day I decided I would bring my camera over to the park. These snapshots are nothing like what Shawn can manage but they remind me of the beauty I enjoy every day - even when I am sure I am going to slip on some hidden ice and fall and break my neck!!!

So these are my pictures that I took last week at the Layton City Park. One morning we saw four deer nestled in the snow near the river. That was the day I decided to bring my camera every day - because each day is so different. Wednesday of this week I had a staffing at Jill's care center at the same time I should have been walking so I told Cheryl she would have to walk alone that day. She emailed later on that afternoon that I had missed a crystal fairyland. It had snowed all day on Tuesday and then the clouds moved out and it started melting that afternoon and evening. When the sun went down that night the melted droplets turned to ice crystals and each tree was coated to perfection. As Cheryl walked Wednesday morning the sun shown down through the trees hitting the ice crystals and it was gorgeous. Of course, by the time I walked on Thursday, everything had melted and dried off and the fairyland had disappeared.

The park is a wonderful place to walk - we walk and talk and enjoy our feathered friends. I love it. My next post will be showing some of the beauty of the deserts of Arizona.

Tuesday, February 17, 2009

Cute grandbabies

Okay - my last two posts have been serious - this is a fun one!! I finally got to go visit my youngest grandkids on Thursday of last week. I am going again this week. The kids were happy to see me but not real sure they wanted me to hold them right off but they warmed up real fast. After all it had been weeks since they had seen me.
Once Emma decided that I was actually her FAVORITE grandma (grin) she warmed right up and started talking to me. She is a serious conversationalist. Even though you may NOT have the slightest idea what she is saying you can carry on a wonderful conversation. We talked and talked - she would jabber at me and I would jabber right back. I haven't the slightest idea what I was telling her but she loved it!! And so did I!!

She was on my lap most of the visit though she would get down and walk over to something else and then come back. One time I was talking to Kecia and she was standing like this wanting to be picked up and put back on my lap and I swear she said ga-MAA , very loudly, demanding that I look at her and not at her mama and put her on my lap like I should have done two minutes ago!!

Then, after a couple of hours at Kecia and Emma's house I headed back north to Melinda's house to see my boys. Ben grinned at me but wasn't too sure about letting me pick him up and give him a hug . But he was happy to let me sit at the table with him and play with his play dough cookie cutters. I have never seen such a huge bag of cookie cutters - I think it said there were 100 of them!!!

I thought this serious picture of Ben was really sweet. I gave him a candy heart and he licked it for 45 minutes!! Until it was finally down to nothing. It would take him weeks to eat a bag full! Simon woke up and mama went off to do some exercise and go to the library - just some 'me' time for Da. So grandma took the boys into the living room and got out her balls of yarn.

Up to this point they have been Ben's delight. I get a ball of yarn out of the bag and hand it to him. He identifies it - i.e., Big blue ball; little yellow ball. The medium sized balls he just tells me what color it is. Then he hands it back to me to toss it and I usually toss the ball of yarn so it bounces off his head. Well, Simon was sitting on the floor quietly playing while Ben and I tossed all the balls all over the floor . What a surprise when we finished tossing all the balls and looked down at Simon and there was Mr. Simon having a ball...with the balls!

Yes - it took me 15 minutes to untangle that mess. What fun!
Here is a cute video of Simon - he was really laughing and playing and tossing the balls and having so much fun until I got the camera out. It takes about 30 seconds before he starts getting excited again.

Finally - here is Benjamin again - showing us what he candy looks like - I put this one in for Dirk so he could see how cute both his boys are.

Melinda got back just in time for me to head out the door. I didn't tell her in advance that I really needed to leave at 6 instead of 7 - I didn't want her to worry about hurrying back. She had gone for a nice long walk and then went to the library where she was able to sit and relax and read and enjoy some quiet time of her own. It tickled me to know that I was able to give her a little bit of 'down' time.

I don't know why I hurried so fast - I should have called Amee - one of her clients showed up almost an hour late and she was running behind all evening. If I had called her then Melinda and could have visited more. Oh well - maybe this week. I won't set another appointment for Thursday night, I promise.

Thanks guys for making grandma susan feel so loved.

Wednesday, February 11, 2009

A Terrifying Sight!

A week ago today Grandpa Merritt had a fight with the ATV and LOST - he hit a big bump the wrong way and went airborne and then the bike turned upside down and landed on top of him.

Merritts shoulder after he lost the battle with the ATV!!!

It was the day before we were heading back home and Ed and I and dad (plus two friends Patty and Gary from Boise) all decided on a trip to see the 'footprint' in the rock. We figured we could ride the ATV's over and eat our lunch and then head back and be back to the trailer in a couple of hours. Gary was leading on their ATV that is made for two riders. Dad was in the middle on my four wheeler and Ed and I were sharing his bike since Dad's bike had died the day before.

We stopped at the petroglyphs on our way. Gary took the wrong path so we meandered through the desert for a few miles until we found the right road again - but that was okay - I took pictures of the pretty cactus

Here Edward and Gary and Patty are looking at the Petroglyphs

Once we got to the canyon we stopped and hiked down to the footprint in th
e rock, maybe 100 yds. It is an amazing sight - it looks so natural, like someone had stepped in the mud, except the mud is solid stone. They said there is a smaller footprint (like that of a woman) farther up the canyon. We had lunch and relaxed and then headed back to the trailers.

We followed a paved road back to the highway, crossed the highway and headed up the ATV trail that runs along side of Hiway 95. We were just a few miles from the trailers and were driving at about 15 miles an hour because the road is so dusty, up and downy, and that is the speed limit.

Again - Gary and Patty were leading, dad was in the middle and Ed and I in the rear. As we drove down into a wash and then back up again we had to brake because it was a steep little wash. As we came out of the wash I saw what I thought was a turned over car. Then I realized that it was a turned over ATV. THEN I REALIZED IT WAS MY DAD'S ATV!!

That is one of the scariest things I ever remember seeing. Ed hit the brakes and we scrambled off of the bike and ran to dad. I could hear him moaning...

Ed and I each took one end of the ATV and lifted it off of dad, rolling it onto its side. Dad was as white as a ghost, laying partially on his side and partially on his back - I don't remember what was said - just 'are you alright' ...and he said I think so - let me lay here.

I pulled off my jacket and pushed the edge of it under his cheek as he was lying on the rocks and sand. We couldn't see any blood and we wouldn't let him get up. Ed went over to the ATV and rolled it twice more to get it on its wheels - all by himself. Talk about adrenaline!

Two women in a truck had pulled off the road and they came running over - they had seen it happen. They said all of sudden he went airborne and then the whole bike rolled and came down on top of him.

I think they are the ones that suggested calling 911. Of course dad said no, I will be fine, just let me lay here for a minute. Edward walked away and pulled out his cell phone and I could here him telling them that there had been an ATV accident at mile marker 99.

We tried to make dad comfortable but would not let him sit up or get up as he wanted to. He kept saying I can move my legs and toes and fingers and hands. I am okay.

We pulled his cell phone and sunglasses out of his pocket. I sat them on the ground next to his hat saying something like we will put all of your stuff here in a pile so we don't lose any of it. He looked at the hat and said "that's not my hat" - i said yes it is. Ed bought it for you. He said, "no its not! I don't have a hat like that". I said yes it is. He was about to argue some more with me but just then Patty and Gary arrived, not having realized that no one was following them for about a mile up the road. They had stopped and waited and finally came back to investigate.

Patty said she thought dad had had a heart attack or something - laying out on the ground. The bike looked fine. (and it was other than crushed handlebars which Edward pulled back into place the next day).

We told them that the ambulence was on its way and just then a police car came up and the officer came over and kept me busy answering questions about dad's name, age, SS number, address...what had happened etc.

Dad mentioned to me that the only thing that was missing was his lower dentures. So we all started looking for them. The two ladies, the officer, Ed and I and Patty and Gary. WE figured they should show up pretty well against the rocks and dirt but we couldn't see them anywhere.

It was about two pm when the ambulence showed up (after a long 6-8 minutes - which isn't too bad really) and the two paramedics again had to get all of his information as they checked dad out. They checked the neck and spine very closely. All of this time dad is saying I am fine. Finally they said I think your spine is fine, but we want to take you to the hospital for a closer check. Dad said he didn't think that was necessary and then the police officer asked me some more questions and when I got back to dad, he was saying "Susan, do you think I should go to the hospital? I thought don't ask me! Just then though they helped him to sit up and he groaned in pain. They laid him back down and I said 'it sounds like it might be a good idea.' When asked where the pain was dad reached up to his left neck area. They immediately decided to put him on the c-spine board.

While they were doing that, another ambulence, two more patrol cars and an EMT truck all showed up too - I think this was the most exciting thing happening in the whole county at the moment and so they all had to come "help". It was wild- and you know how much dad dislikes extra attention!

We had everyone looking for dads denture at this point and finally dad whispered to me "I think I didn't put it in this morning". No wonder we couldn't find his teeth - they were back at the trailer!

I tried to take a couple of pictures when they had dad on the stretcher and he said NO PICTURES!!! and I ignored him as any dutiful daughter would. But when I downloaded my pictures they were no good. Evidently the dial setting had turned on my camera and the light washed everything out. All you can see are the bluejeans on the legs of the paramedics!! and a slight edge of the stretcher. Next time I will listen to my father!

It was decided that I would ride in the front seat of the ambulence over to Blythe California which is the nearest hospital. Dad said the ride in back was rough and noisy - I thought ambulences would have the best shocks available!!! Ed rode my ATV 9the one

We got to the hospital and everyone was very helpful and friendly. The sherriff showed up and I again gave him all of dad's information. I have dad's social security number memorized now!!

They brought in a portable x-ray machine and took x-rays of his neck and chest. They checked him over a little bit and then we waited for the results. Then they decided they needed to do a CT scan of his this time he had been strapped to the c-spine board for about four hours and it was really hurting his head. Evidently the collar holding his head in place was digging into a scrape on the back of his head. He said it felt like his head was laying on a knife edge. The technician had to repeat the CT scans three times because dad would start to spasm from his inability to stop the pain. It was a miserable experience for him. Even after they brought him back to the ER stall he was still hurting so badly. His arm would start to spasm and then it would move through his whole chest. We asked the doctor and the nurse to put a little padding or something at the back of his head and they said they didn't dare do anything until they knew that he didn't have a broken spine. Finally Ed gave dad a blessing - after that dad was able to relax and sleep for a while -

Then it took another couple of hours before they got the CT scans read and it was decided that he didn't have a broken back. At that point the doctor came in and removed the neck brace and literally picked up the side of the c-spine board and shook dad off of it. I am sure that had to hurt dad's shoulder but he was so relieved to have the pressure off of the back of his head that he didn't complain.

I wasn't impressed a whole lot with the doctor. I thought the nurses were fantastic - I think the doctor would have released him then and there if we hadn't gone and told the nurse that even though he didn't have a broken back his shoulder still HURT!!! We also mentioned to the doctor that he had several deep lacerations on his head that no one had bothered to look at that might need stitches. He walked over and looked at the one on the top of his head and said that it had already scabbed over and he didn't want to clean it for fear that it would break open again and then he would have to have stitches. Dad's whole head was covered with dust from the ATV ride and dirt from the accident. I guess they weren't worried about germs from dirt!

So we waited and waited for them to xray his shoulder. There were several other people also requiring x-rays and the poor technician was working as fast as he could. They rolled dad's bed into the x-ray room and the tech let ed and I go in with him. Then he had dad stand up (after laying flat on his back for six and a half hours at this point!) and stand in front of the x-ray machine for four x-rays - each time I expected dad to fall over - he wasn't all that stable on his feet. But dad did fine. Then the technician showed dad where the restroom was and then headed out the door. I decided that dad could be wheeled back to his room rather than sticking him back in the bed. So I went and found a wheelchair and Ed and I got him and his IV back to the room in good shape. I think the xray technician wondered what had happened to his patient when he went back to get him!

Finally the doctor came in and said - you have a broken collar bone. Dad immediately said "doctor, that can't be right. I have never had a broken bone in my whole life!" The doctor didn't say a word, he just held up the x-ray!!! And there it was in black and white. Dad didn't argue after that.

They can't do much for a broken collarbone! They put his arm in a sling and gave him some pain meds - He was released at 9 pm -

We got him into the truck and headed back to Arizona where we put him to bed for the night.

We stayed in Quartzsite an extra day as he had to go back to see a doctor for a follow up visit. We found out that there had been 3 ATV rollovers brought into that hospital in two days !! One guy had a broken jaw and broken ribs, one guy had a broken collarbone and a broken wrist - dad got off easy with just the broken collarbone. ;-) The doctor told him that he had badly sprained his neck muscles and probably every muscle in his body and that the collarbone would take a good two weeks to start feeling better. The muscle aches all over his body hurt him the most the first few days. Both of his shoulders are covered with bruises - from both the ATV hitting him and him hitting the rocky ground. Not fun!!

Saturday morning we headed home - Sunday night we got here - 700 miles later! It was a long trip for dad. And its been a long week of recovery for him too. I don't think he has ever felt so helpless. It's amazing what you can't do without two good arms. Getting out of bed has been the most difficult thing so far. He has been at home taking care of himself with lots of visits from family and friends wanting to help more.

Wednesday, February 4, 2009

Aunt Bonnie's funeral

As many of you know my Aunt was very ill with heart failure and was not expected to live when they sent her home from the hospital at the first of January. Therefore my dad decided to drive himself to Southern Utah a day early so that he could visit with her one last time.

We met dad on our way to Quartzsite on Saturday morning at Bonnie’s house in Littlefield AZ. She was very ill. She has had emphysema for years and finally her heart started wearing out. Hospice nurses were there when we arrived. They had her in a hospital bed in the living room and she did NOT look like my Aunt Bonnie. She was very swollen from the medications she was on. She gave me a soft smile and a sweet hug laying there in her bed and then drifted back to sleep.
Here is a picture of Peggy’s daughter and son, and their grandpa Tyke. Bonnie and Tyke got married in 1969. Tyke has been a good and loving husband to Bonnie. He has a fun sense of humor and we all enjoy being around him. He has taken such good care of Bonnie this last few years. He was a truck driver by trade until he retired. He grew up in the Mesquite area and has some sweet daughters - we got to meet Connie and Barbara at the viewing and funeral. His third daughter, Nancy, wasn’t able to make it. Tyke looks at life and the world around him in an honest and unhypocritical way. What you see with Tyke is what you get!

My cousins Joanna, Dennis and his wife Kate, and Connie were all there. Peggy was still in Cottonwood Arizona. Eddie had been there but had left for a couple of days to drive up to utah to see his newest grand-daughter. He lives in Pennsylvania. Dennis the oldest of eight children, five of whom are still living.
While we were there they asked dad to give the eulogy and a short talk at her grave side services. Then they asked ME to help them write the obituary (like I am so experienced at that!!) Anyway, I got out my computer and sat down with Connie and Joanna and with a little bit of help from Bonnie’s husband Tyke, we got it written. Bonnie had a difficult life - she had an abusive husband (her first husband and father of her children) and she lost one daughter at age three to drowning and a 15 year old son to a car accident and she had a downs syndrome baby that lived for two years but stayed an infant that full time. In spite of all this she was a sweet and very loving woman and it was so heartwarming to see the love and support between the brothers and sisters and grand and great grand kids. Although most of the family were baptized into the LDS church at age 8 I don’t think many of them have ever been real active. It is times like this that people reach out to a belief in God with such a desire to know that there is an after life and that they will be able to love and hold and hug their sweet mom and grandma again someday. I am so thankful for the knowledge I have of the hereafter and the testimony I have that our life here on earth is just a tiny part of the whole plan of Salvation. I am grateful for the love and sacrifice of Jesus who made it possible to return to our Father in Heaven after this life - and to our families and the love we share.

Ed left with the truck and trailer while I was helping write the obituary. About an hour later Grandpa Merritt and I headed South in dad’s car. I had hoped to catch up to Ed by Needles or at least by Parker but I got myself good and lost in Las Vegas in the construction and Ed beat us to Quartzsite!! Which actually was quite nice because he had the bikes out and the floor swept and the carpet laid out and the couches down. Our house was ready for us.

While we were out riding on Wednesday afternoon with Jana and Jimmie, on the way back from Dripping Springs my cell phone rang. At first I was just amazed that I could actually get cell service in the middle of the Mtns!! Then I thought, I can’t answer this - I will lose Jana and Jimmie who were ahead of us. Then I thought, it might be Edward who was behind me, and he may have had problems and is calling for help. So I stopped on the trail and answered the phone. It was Connie, calling me to let me know that her mom had died. She said that she went very peacefully which was a relief to them. Dad had pulled up behind me (and Ed behind him) and I am sitting there thinking “do I tell dad now that his sister has died or do I wait until we get back to the trailer”. The first thing out of dad’s mouth when I hung up and put the phone away was “who in the world were you calling?” I told him that it was Connie and she had called me and that Bonnie was gone. We had a few solemn moments and then headed on down the trail. When we caught up with Jana and Jimmie later down the trail I quietly explained what the delay had been. I noticed later on that Jana made it a point to go over to dad and express her condolences.

The viewing was set for Sunday evening at the Mesquite Mortuary and the graveside services were Monday at 11 at the Bunkerville Cemetery. So Sunday morning Ed got up early and headed to Phoenix to fly to Dayton, Ohio. Dad and I got in the car and headed to Mesquite, Nevada. I took a sweater with me thinking I probably wouldn’t need it but wanted to be prepared. We got to Bunkerville and stopped at my aunt Eleanor’s house about 3 pm. We visited with her for about and hour and then headed over to the Eureka! Hotel where my cousin Brenda had made reservations for a room for Dad and I. It was getting colder and colder outside. Oh!! And For those of you who remember my deaf cousin, Aubree (Darnae and Eleanor’s granddaughter, Brenda’s daughter) had a baby boy on that Sunday, January 25 - the baby and mother are doing well! She and her husband Jacob have purchased a new home in Tremonton and so as soon as Aubree went into labor, Brenda flew to Salt Lake and then rented a car to make it to the hospital to see her first grandson who had been born that morning

The viewing was very well attended with family, friends and neighbors. The weather turned really cold while we were in the mortuary...the wind was blowing from the North and it went right through my sweater. My Aunt Lorraine works at a Florist shop in Fillmore and Dad, Evan, Lorraine and Annette (the only four siblings left living) all went in on a beautiful wreath of pink carnations and white and lavender daisies. Dad told Tyke that he was glad that they had only put pictures of the puppy in the casket with Bonnie instead of the dog himself. Tyke laughed and said he couldn’t bear to lose BOTH of them.

As we left the viewing at 7 pm I decided to drop dad off at the motel and run over to Wal Mart and see if I could find a warmer jacket and some warmer shoes (I had brought sandals to wear without nylons). I found a jacket to wear under my sweater for just $7 (I figured it would cut stop the wind) and some cute heels that looked good with my skirt and blouse and some warm nylons. Thank Heavens for Wal Mart. It was almost snowing as we left the mortuary. Kind of a sleet. Something that Mesquite sees very rarely!!. It rained most of the night I think but by ten am Monday morning, it was clearing out although it was still very cool air (for Mesquite). We all met at the mortuary at 10 am where we visited quietly until about 10:30 when they held a family prayer and allowed time for a final goodbye and then they closed the casket. At that time they rolled the casket out to the hearse and we all followed to the Bunkerville cemetery. It did seem strange that we traveled the back roads of Mesquite at 35-40 miles an hour instead of the normal twenty when you are in a funeral procession.

By the time we got to the Bunkerville cemetery the sun and air had finally warmed up and it was a beautiful sunny morning - much better than the one a year ago when we buried Colleen and Randy.

They had some beautiful music playing at the gravesite and then they had a prayer and then dad gave the eulogy and then talked for a few minutes about Bonnie and the family she grew up in and the difficult living conditions of the depression and then he talked about families and the love we have for one another and the knowledge that we have that we can be together forever.

Dad Speaking

He kept the religion very low key and spoke lovingly of Bonnie’s kids and grandkids. He did a good job. I was proud of him. He had worried so about what he was going to say. Bonnie was only ten years old when he left for the War and he came back home she was a young lady dating and gone a lot with friends. She got married when she was 16 and so dad didn’t really know her well. After dad talked they played Randy Travis’s song about Angels - something to the effect that the guys were sitting around talking and got to talking about angels and one guy said there are not any angels and the other guy spoke up and said “yeah there are - have you ever seen a mother with her children - we see angels among us every day. “ I don’t think there was a dry eye in the whole cemetery by the time that song was finished. It was beautiful.

This is a picture of my cousins Mark, Joanna and Harlan Kay, plus me and my dad. Lets see - let me list the cousins of mine that were there at the funeral. Four of Bonnie’s five children were at the funeral. Eddie had been at his mom’s and left just the day before she died and was halfway back to Pennsylvania and decided he couldn’t come back for the funeral. Dennis was there with his wife and three of his four children. After looking closely at this picture I decided we ALL have the Nielson nose!!! Joanna was there with two of her children and six of her grandchildren (she has adopted four of them).

Joanna’s ex-husband Francis (the father of her three kids) was there. We met him and his present wife and he seemed to be a very nice gentleman. Evidently Dennis’s wife’s mom was Francis’s sister Mary!! This picture shows Francis Sheperd., the dad, Joanna and Francis’s son Scott standing behind him; Joanna and Francis’s daughter Billy Jo (she goes by BJ), BJ’s daughter and son, Megan and Garrett; and Francis’s mom Mary.

Connie was there - she lives in Florida and has made lots of flights out to Utah so none of her family were able to make it.

Peggy was there with her daughter and son. Peggy seemed very alone - she was very quiet and withdrawn - I talked to her for a bit but she seemed so distant which was sad. She is divorced.

This is a picture of a bunch of my cousins just before the funeral. The fellow on the left is Wally and Kevin’s uncle Russell but the other four are my cousins. Wally, son of Jeannine and Dave, Mark and Harlan Kay, sons of Harlan and Beryl, and Kevin son of Darnae and Eleanor. Interestingly enough, Wally and Kevin are double cousins - Eleanor and Dave are brother and sister!

No one made it down from Sterling and Marie’s family. From Uncle Harlan’s family both Mark and Harlan Kay were there. Dad and I were there from our family. Eleanor and two of her kids Kevin daughter Lafaye were there. Wally was there from Jeannine’s family. No one made it from Texas and uncle Evan’s family. Annette was at the viewing but didn’t come back the next morning for the graveside services because uncle Jerry was having surgery - his diabetes has caused some real serious problems. (We found out later that they removed his right leg just below the knee but they think the left leg can be saved). Their daughter Cindy (and her husband Mike) were at both the viewing and the graveside services. They stayed for the luncheon served at the Littlefield Ward after the services then they headed back to see her dad.

Lorraine was there and both of her daughters Sherri and Melody plus her son Bryce and his wife and little boy were there. Also Ben and his wife. So I got to see lots of cousins and we visited Sunday evening and Monday morning and then at the luncheon too. We also got to meet a lot of their kids and their grandkids too.

It was a nice day. Dad and I got back on the road about 3:30 and got back to the trailer about 9 pm that night. I am so glad that we were able to go. Bonnie’s family was one that I didn’t know well and I regret it now - she stayed away from a lot of family gatherings when her kids were young - Joanna was six years younger than I was and Connie was eight years younger and Peggy was twenty years younger!. So I ignored them as little girls when I was growing up. After Aunt Bonnie divorced Vance she moved to Kanosh for a while then to Bunkerville for a while and then to Eureka again for a while and she did this for several years - I think she was hiding from Vance! Anyway, she finally settled in Cottonwood AZ where she lived for years. She and Tyke moved to Littlefield about ten years ago - Connie and her husband moved to Florida and JoAnna and her husband stayed in Cottonwood, along with Peggy and her family. I don’t know that I would even recognize Eddie as an adult, although his daughter remembered attending one of the reunions about ten years ago. Dennis and his wife Kate and their family live in the Santaquin area. It has been through the Nielson family reunions this last decade that I have finally gotten to know Bonnie’s children, as adults.

One last mention of Joanna and her grandkids that she has adopted. They are the children of her youngest daughter (Beverly) who has had some major problems and is serving time in Arizona. They are darling kids. Destiny is the youngest of the four and just an adorable little girl. This picture was taken after the graveside services as people were leaving and Joanna who had been holding her almost the whole time had set her down to run and play. She looked so cute sitting on the bench I had to snap a picture of it for Joanna.

Well - I have written this whole thing out for my memories!! I hope I haven’t bored you to tears. I am hoping that some of Bonnie’s kids will visit my blog to see the pictures that I took although I am also going to post them on the gallery.

Home away from home!

It has been fun to ride around out big camping area and see how some of the people have set up their homes away from home. I took some pictures and I hope you can appreciate their beauty! Remember please, this is a DESERT...a very dry desert!

These people have created a border of large rocks - most of them are about 8 to 10 inches in they have been gathering rocks for some years. You don’t find these lying around in the desert - you have to travel to and through the mountains surrounding the Quartzsite town. I am sure that this arrangement has taken years to create. They probably have been coming back to this very spot every year for a long time. I particularly like the large piece of driftwood from which they have hung the basket of flowers and have placed a wooden sign with their name on it.

I took three pictures of this household - they have used solar lamps to delineate ‘their’ property line. I counted 48 lamps!! It is probably so bright around that trailer after the sun goes down that they can’t even sleep at night!

These are some of the many desert landscapes created to add beauty to their areas - You have to give them credit for creativity because there surely isn’t much to work with!

Another ‘front yard’. Notice also the fenced in area - they probably have a small dog that likes to play outside. Also - note the satellite dish!

This is the house that made me decide to create this blog!! Just as I was ready to take a picture a jeep pulled into the yard and I didn’t want to upset them by taking a whole slew of pictures so I only took the one. This area is huge with rocks lining the driveway to the trailer, a second driveway to the garage; the big garden area in front and rocks lining both sides of the road leading farther West! It is saying “this is our house!!!!!!”

This is a huge rock picture - (the rocks on the top of the picture!) we didn’t get off our bikes to go figure out what it is a picture of but there have been lots of hours put into it. Interestingly enough, there is no trailer spot near it. Its simply there!

This one was the most amazing. This guy is actually growing a garden!! We stopped and talked with him. He is from the West Coast of British Columbia. From the Frazier Valley - I think we were supposed to know all about that place. He says its near Vancouver and it has mild summers and mild winters. A gorgeous place to live!! He drove down by himself the first part of December and set up his tent and planted his garden. It has gained him some notoriety which is fun. He says he has lettuce, spinach, swiss chard and green peas growing. He has already eaten some of the lettuce. He drove an OLD toyota bus all this way and was there alone. He talked about how he had to cover the garden several times during December to keep it alive and also one or two nights in January (this week being one of those times). He had wind breaks on both sides of his tent. He said a harsh wind came out of the South one night and ripped his tent pegs out and damaged his tent somewhat but he was able to repair it. So he put up the black mesh wind break. Then the wind did the same a couple of weeks later from the North so up went the white wind break on the North. He says he hasn’t had any trouble since then. He said that next year he will probably build a small greenhouse to protect the garden and help it grow faster during December. This was his first year in Quartzsite and I told him that he just plain didn’t give himself long enough to have everyone tell him he COULDN’T grow a garden in this desert!! He laughed and agreed. He told me that he had to water it twice a day - realize please there are no hoses to drag over and turn on. He has to drive up to the water and fill his jugs and bring them back for the garden. Interestingly enough - he had no shower or toilet facilities for himself. But his garden was well cared for.

We have seen lizards, a chipmunk, a jack rabbit, and a couple of coyotes while we've been South this year. Also, each night about 11 pm we are seranaded by a whole passel of coyotes - since I am warm and protected inside my trailer I can really enjoy listening to them.

We will be leaving :-( this warm mecca on Friday morning, probably spending that night in Beaver and then heading North again on Saturday until we arrive home. We are definitely NOT ready to face the ice and snow ... you can bet when we finally retire we will stay All of January, February and MARCH!!! You will see us for Easter! I do miss you all and you are ALL in our prayers every day. See you soon.