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To Mormons, With Love
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Hunting slugs and ferocious llamas...

We had some special guests last week.  Chris' grandparents drove to Utah from Seattle for a visit.  No small feat, considering Grandpa Ross is 84 years old and Grandma is 83.  Chris hasn't seen his grandparents in over 20 years, the boys and I had never met them.  They arrived on Monday and left on Friday.  I suppose you could call it a reunion of sorts - one that was long overdue - a faultless situation.  We talked, laughed, then talked and laughed some more.

Too many things discussed, feelings felt to transfer to a blog - because it would be much too long, and much too intimate.  However, some tidbits in no particular order:

1.  It's clear there's a strong gene-pool of intelligence, and a source of the boys' love of science - Grandpa Ross.  (Grandma, you're smart too.)

2.  Chris and his grandmother used to hunt slugs at night when he visited their place as a young boy.  Yuck.

3.  Our two older boys taught Grandpa Ross how to play Wii.  Cow racing's never seen a tougher competitor.

4.  Grandma Ross is very petite and pretty.  She and Grandpa were highschool sweethearts - I'd like to see a picture of the two of them as a young couple.  Neat when people have been together that long.

5.  Grandpa Ross would love to own a llama.  He says they're very intelligent creatures, fiercely loyal to their owners, and can actually be "ferocious" - might go berserk with their hooves, doing great damage.  (I'm gonna Google that.)

6.  The llama discussion began because while on a drive in our little town, we noticed someone had a camel in the mix with their horses.  We looked at the camel a looooooong time.  The camel sighting jump-started the llama discussion.

7.  We drove to Sundance for a look-see and a picnic.  The two older boys and I got car sick.  Vomit bags were out, but not used.  Grandpa confessed he felt a bit of vertigo during the drive there.  I say Chris took the windy roads too fast - Grandpa says he drove just fine.  WhatEVER.

8.  Mary has two new fans.  "Mary's so pretty," said both Grandma and Grandpa.  I still think Mary needs to wear some underwear or pants or something.

9.  Grandpa recommended a couple of books which I plan on reading.  "Angle of Repose" by Wallace Stegner, and "The Age of American Unreason" by Susan Jacoby.  I'll let you know...

This was an important visit for all of us, but especially for Chris and his grandparents.  I'm glad it actually happened, versus remaining a good intention.  The word "cathartic" lends more drama than is necessary to describe the past week, but I believe Chris was able to eat some good ol' fashioned "comfort food" in the form of conversation and time with two people he loves very much.  AND we're ALL still smiling about those "ferocious" llamas, and visions of cow racing...


You say tomato...

We have some aggressive birds in our backyard.  They're small, black birds.  I say there are about eight of them - middle boy says there are more. 

Last week, middle boy was playing in the backyard, while toddler child and I were fiddlin' around in the garage.  I heard mouth-open screaming and ran towards the back to see what was going on.  Middle boy was running towards me with several little, black birds, crazy-eighting in flight pattern behind him, swooping within about a foot of his head.  This boy LOVES all creatures, so the look on his face of fear mixed with confused betrayal tickled me.  He ran in the garage and sat down, breathing heavily.  What happened I asked.  I don't know he said.  He didn't think it was funny.  I did.

Over 20 years ago, I was at my parents' house visiting for a weekend from college.  I brought one of my roommates with me.  We arrived at Mom and Dad's Friday evening.  Doris, the family cat, had a wound on her rear.  She'd eaten some baby mockingbirds in the backyard, and the adult birds had never forgotten or forgiven.  Every time Doris tried to make rounds at the house, she had to slink from bunker to bunker.  If any mockingbird saw her, they dive-bombed, usually missed, but always came close.  I'm pretty sure this went on for years.

This one time, one of them made contact and really injured Doris.  Mom and Dad both had to be somewhere the next morning, so Mom asked if I would please get up early, call the vet, and get Doris there.  No problem.  Mom asks, "Now what are you going to say when you call the vet?"  I said, "That Doris has a wound by her butthole."  (Which was exactly where it was.)  Mom says, "No.  We don't say 'butthole' you'll be talking with a doctor.  Just say, she has a wound by her anal opening."  I rolled my eyes and said nobody talks like that.  My friend laughed.

The next morning my alarm went off.  Mom and Dad were gone and I needed to call the vet.  The receptionist answered and I said, "Hi.  This is Chrisy Hautem...  Doris' sister.  My mother asked me to call because Doris has a wound on her...anal opening."  I heard my friend laugh at the other end of the house.

Doris, my friend and I make it to the vet.  The vet puts Doris on the table and asks what happened.  I said, trying to sound all appropriate like my Mom said I should, "A mockingbird swooped down on her and she has a wound on her anal opening."  The vet lifts up her tail and says, "Yep.  She got nipped in the ass."


Dad, Cher and Lassie

I spent my early childhood in a small town in Indiana - Winchester.  My Dad was born and raised in nearby Marion, Indiana. 

When I combine memories of Dad and Winchester in my mind, the following are a few of the search results...

I remember Dad coming home from work for lunch on occasion.  His office was close enough he could do that.  He always wore a suit and tie, and smelled clean.  I remember him walking on his hands in our small, family room.  If I threw-up, he called for Mom because it would make him faint or throw-up.  When I was home sick from school, he would come in my room after work (in his suit, still smelling clean), ask how I was feeling, visit, and give me a sticker book.  That was a big deal then.  If I bought him a Marathon Bar he ate the entire thing like it was the best gift he'd ever received.  He always accepted the occasional offer of bubble gum and chewed it with me.  We both liked to watch the "Sonny and Cher" show - because we both liked Cher. 

I loved the "Lassie" show which usually aired while Mom and Dad were cleaning dinner dishes.  The end of the show had Lassie sitting with one of her front paws lifted, her hair gently blowing in the wind, while the Greensleeves melody played in the background.  I cried every time.  It was Dad's job to listen for the end of the show so he could turn it off before the dramatic, but predictable scene played.  He rarely timed it right.  The music would start.  Mom would yell, "Hurry, it's the end of Lassie!"  Dad would come jogging around the corner to turn the television off.  "Chrisy, don't cry.  Lassie's not hurt.  She's just saying goodbye."  It didn't matter.  If I'd heard even a couple seconds of the music or Lassie's little whimper, I was wrecked.  Killed me.  I think it kinda killed Dad too.

Happy Father's Day Dad.  I love you.