Wednesday, November 21, 2012


On Friday, November 9th, the snow began about 6:30 in the morning. Even though weather predictors had promised snow, I still looked up in surprise to see tiny white flakes drifting down from cloudy skies. Soon the tiny dots of snow were joined by big brothers and sisters, mothers and fathers, grandmas and grandpas. First the ant hills disappeared; then mouse holes, blades of grass, and small rocks received their blankets of snow. Finally, the snowflakes grew so large that they looked like white parachutes falling down to cover the earth with their silky fabric. All day it snowed and snowed and snowed. The cat took one look out the door and turned around and ran for the couch. On days like this your Great-grandmother Poulson used to close all the curtains to keep the blizzard from view and read a book. As I watched the snow I thought about all the fun things we did playing in the snow. My memories made me smile. Snow fun began in the summer. We would drive to the store and look for the perfect plastic swimming pool to buy. Those pools with rings that you had to blow up just wouldn't do. We were looking for a perfectly molded, five foot across circle with about eight inch sides. Once we found our prize, Grandpa, Brian, Marci, Natalie and I sat down in the pool, knee to knee, toe to toe. Only if the pool fit us all did it pass the buy it now test. Do you think we took the plastic pool home and filled it with water for some cool-off in the summer fun? No! We saved it for winter. Up the hill from our house in Tooele was the city golf course. Fourth of July fireworks were launched from the top of the golf course hill. The spectacular fireworks display always had a little bit of anticipation along with the light display. Sometimes the rockets flew down the hill instead of up to the sky. When the fireworks exploded on the ground, the firemen jumped into action to put out the fire. I sometimes wondered if we cheered louder for the fire than the real fireworks. The golf course hill was a perfect sledding hill: no trees, steep enough, and grass covered. All fall and into winter we would wait for snow with our plastic pool safely stored in the shed. Each grey sky was carefully analyzed for possible snow content. Prayers for snow were quietly given. Snow. Snow. Snow. Please. Then one day the clouds could no longer hold onto their snow. It came! One inch, two, three inches, four. More and more and more. Saturday brought clear blue skies, cold, and sun. The perfect day for sledding. Did we use a wooden sled? A black tube? A sheet of plastic? No! We grabbed the swimming pool and away we went to the hill. Jumping out of the car, we carried out precious swimming pool to the top of the slope. Brian, Marci, Natalie and I climbed in. Grandpa bent down to give us a big push. Other sledders stopped and watched in amazement. What were we doing in a swimming pool in the snow? Grandpa gave a big push and jumped in. Holding tightly to the edge of the pool, we slid twirling, slipping, screaming, smiling. Faster and faster until the wind pushed tears from our eyes. Other sledders raced out of our way. "Watch out!" we yelled. Seconds later the pool glided across the flat bottom of the hill slowing to a stop. Screams turned to laughter. "Again, again," pleaded the pool riders. Trudging up the hill, keeping our eyes on the top, climbing in, pushing off; over and over we repeated our ride. Until we lay exhausted on the snow, hoping to gain new energy from the sun so we could ride and ride and ride, forever. So, when you go to the store in July look for the perfect hard-sided swimming pool to buy, and then put it away carefully. Start watching the clouds in November. Look for those first snowflakes and hope they turn into millions of parachutes that will coat your sledding hill with perfect snow frosting. When you take that first ride together, will you scream for me? I'm sure I will hear you in Utah and know that you are having fun. Love, Grandma

Sunday, August 1, 2010

Grandma and the Rattlesnakes

Dear Tehya, Jacob, Jack, and Savannah,

Last Thursday was my birthday, and I wanted to make some grand gesture to prove that having birthdays at my older state in life could still be an adventure. Enlisting the support of my summer hiking buddy, sister Janet, I picked Grandeur Peak as my perfect mountain top destination. Janet promised to go slow and to not abandon me along the trail. We left my house a couple of hours before sunrise and started up the trail about 6:30. For awhile we walked next to a cheerful little mountain creek and then we started up a series of switchbacks that took us from the pine forest to a mountainside of scrub oak and wildflowers. Thankful for the whispy high clouds that blocked the morning sun we finally reached the top of the mountain with its airplane views of the Salt Lake Valley.

What is the first thing you want to do when you get to the top of a mountain? Well besides doing a little victory shuffle? You call people!!! (Thank you cell phone) I called your Grandpa Jones and then I called you. You all wished me a happy birthday and sang to me all the way from Virginia. Then we called my brother. Dave, because he has hiked that same mountain many times. After congratulating us, he casually said, "Did you know there are rattlesnakes up there?" We laughed. Stopped. Looked around the rocks. Walked more carefully around the top, thinking now was not the time for a close encounter with a rattlesnake.

A few minutes later another climber, a man from Sandy, joined us at the top. "Did you see the two rattlesnakes on the trail?" he asked. "No." "How long have you been here?" was his next question. We replied, "Oh, about 30 minutes." "That explains it then. They must not have been out yet." He went on to tell us that he usually hikes up the mountain earlier to avoid the snakes that like to come out and sun themselves on the south side of Grandeur Peak. Even though the mountain is 8,800 feet high, rattlesnakes still like living up there at the top, maybe it's a view thing. He had walked around one on the trail and watched the other four foot long one crawl back into its hole.

After telling us his snake observations, the man tried to explain to us where to look for the danger on the trail. I think he could tell that we had stopped listening after he said coiled snake. My heart pounded so loudly I couldn't hear, let alone make sense of what he was trying to say. So he hesitated and then asked if we were ready to go down. If we were ready, we could go down with him and he would help us get past the snakes. That was an offer we did not refuse.

The trail started straight down and then curved along the south slope of the mountain. Just before the trail turned to go along the eastern edge our guide stopped. There! Along the side of the trail was the coiled snake. I would like to think that we would have seen it, but I don't know. First of all, we had never even thought about snakes on the trail. I just worried about having enough air to take each step. And Heavenly Father had given us so many other things to see: clouds, flowers, trees, views, that watching the dirt trail for every step hadn't seemed that important.

Then.....Janet and I realized that this was the place we had lost the trail. We had been so careful climbing up. We never took shortcuts. We never bushwacked. We always followed the path that had been trod by hundreds of others. But not this time. Ahead of us was a big rock. To our right, a hillside of smaller rocks. It looked like people had picked a faint trail through the smaller rocks so we decided to go that way. About halfway up I looked to my left and saw the real trail. A big, smooth, curving trail. An unmistakable trail. Janet stood just a little ahead of me, and she noticed it too. For a moment we hesitated, choosing between the smooth path and our rocks. Choosing to meet up with the trail a little higher we scrambled up the rocks and kept going to the top.

So now we were standing with our helpful guide watching the coiled rattlesnake and wondering where the other one was hidden. We showed our hiker friend where we had scrambled through the rocks and we all went down the wrong part of the trail that now we knew was the right part of the trail. No snakes in sight. No rattling noises. No snake bites and emergency helicopter rides to the hospital. Just a long, long, long, hot climb down the mountain to the car.

Janet and I talked about this on the sunny slope of Grandeur Peak. I am happy I could climb a mountain on my birthday, but that is not what I will remember. I will remember the tender mercies of a loving Heavenly Father who caused a rattlesnake inhabited trail to become hidden from view, and who sent a watchful hiker to guide us past the unseen, unknown danger. Janet and I wondered what had caused him to hike up later than usual to the peak, but we knew that he was in the right place at the right time for us. Do guardian angels wear backpacks and hiking boots? Yes.

So, thank you Janet. And to my sweet grandchildren, pray every day that you may receive the tender mercies of a loving Heavenly Father just like we did on the top of a mountain in faraway Utah.


Friday, May 14, 2010

Farm Stories

Dear Grandchildren,

Because you go to the farm every week in Virginia, I thought you would like to read some stories about my grandma's life growing up on the farm in Riverton, Utah. After listening to all the fun she had with her sisters and parents, I wanted to live on a farm too. I hope you like the stories.


We used to ask Grandma Poulson if she had horses on her farm. "They were not for fun," she would reply. "Farm horses had to do work." Tehya, would you like that? After hearing the following story, I do not think I would have ridden horses on their farm, either.

Aunt VaLoris, your great-grandma's sister, was riding a big farm horse back to the barn. He had been working in the fields all day and was very hungry. As they approached the open doorway to the barn, the big horse started to run. VaLoris held on tighter and tried to stop the horse before he entered the barn, because the door was too short for her to fit through while riding on the horse. Unfortunately,
VaLoris was very little, and the horse was very determined to go home. The horse did not stop at the low, open door. As he ran into the barn, VaLoris was knocked off the horse, and she landed in the dirt, crying. Her fall scared her Dad and sisters. VaLoris was not really hurt, just surprised. I don't know if she rode any more horses, but after that great-grandma decided to look at horses and not ride them.


When I was a little girl my family had a gray, pet cat called Pussy Willow. Carol, Janet and I loved that cat. My Mother never would admit to liking Pussy Willow, but she was very sad when the cat died of old age; she would never get another one. She had lots of cats on the farm in Riverton. One time she counted 26 cats! Imagine that. They were all wild cats, finding their own food and living in the barn. She remembered climbing up to the hay loft and looking for baby kittens. With all those cats, they always had baby kittens. Even though the mother cats would hiss at them, the three sisters would hold the tiny kittens and play with them. Times changed and Grandpa Webb had to sell the farm. The man who bought the farm saw all the cats and said that the first thing he would do was get rid of all the cats. He hated cats. Grandpa Webb just smiled and kept silent. Several months later the new farm owner called my Grandpa and asked him what he did to take care of all the mice on the farm. He complained about hundreds of mice running everywhere. Grandpa just laughed and said, "That's why I had all those cats." Do you think the man went out and found some cats? I think so.

More farm stories soon. Love,
Grandma Pat

Friday, August 7, 2009

Teeky Nuts Squirrel, or Teeky N. for short, liked living at the Jordan Pines campground. Friendly people always gave him little tastes of crackers and apples. Babies and children left the best crumbs under the table. Finding Cheerios or cookies or raisins underneath a high chair made him happy for at least an hour. He even remembered a kind Great Grandpa Jones who liked to feed him cantelope seeds from his hand. As scary as people smells were, the sweet taste of those seeds made the threat of those stinky fingers worth the heart pounding fear.

Teeky's mom let him know that eating human food would make him weak and hungry during the long winter months, but Teeky didn't care. He had learned a special trick to make the campers want to feed him even more food. Next to the tables was an old tree stump. Teeky would jump up on the stump and stand very still with his long, bushy tail curled over his back like a beautiful feather. When the sunlight hit his soft fur it shined with such a beautiful rainbow of browns and reds that most of the campers ran for their cameras to take his picture. Chattering with delight, Teeky ran under the tables, over the coolers, and around their feet to gather more tasty bites.

On July 23rd, the best picnic ever happened. Because it was such a hot day, many cars arrived in the parking lot with windows rolled down. One car owner liked nuts as much as Teeky did, and he had a whole can of peanuts right by his driver's seat. Looking around carefully, Teeky ran up the tire, over the hood and in the open window. Sniff, sniff, sniff. What was that delightful smell? His wiggling nose led him right to a blue can with a yellow lid. All he had to do was nibble on the side of the plastic and then the lid slid right off. Teeky had never seen so mamy peanuts in one place. He began stuffing nuts in his cheeks, chewing nuts, swallowing nuts. Oh, my! This must be heaven.

Now Teeky wanted to just keep eating nuts, but he heard a noise. A camper named Steve looked through the window and started to laugh. He told Teeky to go home and his voice sounded tough. Teeky ran. Not even looking back, he sadly ran to his burrow to sleep for night and dream of the endless can of peanuts. But sleep did not come. Oh, no. The smell and flavor of those nuts made him wish for more and more and more and more. In the light of the moon he crept back to the car only to find the windows closed. Just before Teeky started to cry, (Do you think squirrels cry?) Teeky noticed another miracle: a pile of peanuts lay on the ground next to the tire. Teeky's wish had come true. Once again he ate and ate and ate until all that was left was a little pile of white salt on the brown dirt.

Teeky licked a few dew covered leaves for a drink, ran back to his burrow and went to sleep. Grandpa Jones looked for the squirrel touched peanuts that he had dumped out of the can on the ground, and he wondered if the tricky little squirrel had come back to finish his peanuts. Teeky never did say thank you, he simply hid away with a full tummy and a smile on his face.

Teeky stayed away from the campground for two days. He just couldn't eat any more food. When he finally went back, the campers were gone. Maybe next year the Joneses would bring some children called Tehya and Jacob and Jack and Savannah who liked to look at pretty squirrels and leave cookie crumbs under the table. And maybe, just maybe, their Grandpa would leave his window down so Teeky could share his peanuts again.

Thank you for reading my stories. I love you all,
Last week I noticed a large glob of blue foam in the bathtub. I thought, "Oh, my goodness, what is that?" I had just cleaned the tub (finally) and decided that some mystery cleaning substance had leaked out of a bottle and had decided to live on the bottom of the bathtub. Because I usually do not wear my glasses in the bathroom, I was not sure of the foam and just left it, ignored it, and forgot about it.

Saturday morning, grandpa asked me if I had seen the shaving cream (ah ha!) in the bathtub. I told him I had been wondering about it for a couple of days. He said he found a spider, a big, long-legged one in the tub. The kind of spider that you can't wash down the drain because it holds onto the sides of the pipes and crawls back up to freedom as soon as you turn off the water. Have you seen that kind? Since we had four new cans of shaving cream, courtesy of a trip to Costco, Grandpa creatively covered the spider with the blue foam, about four inches high of it, and let the spider slowly die. We happily washed the spider down the drain. He did not crawl back up, even when the sun came up in the morning.

Good bye spider. I'm glad I do not have to share the bathroom with you. And Jacob, shaving cream works great for killing spiders. Have fun.


Wednesday, July 22, 2009

Dear Tehya, Jacob, Jack, and Savannah,

You get to go to the beach on Friday. Congratulations! When Marci, Brian, and Natalie were little, we would go to the beach about once a week with several other families. We found so many ways to have fun at the beach that I thought you would like to know what your mommy did on our ocean trips.

Five Ways to Have Fun at the Beach

1. Make a beach chair. First, find the perfect spot on the sand to lay your towel. Make sure there are no rocks or seagull poop on your special spot. Dig a hole in the sand for your bum and pile the sand next to your hole for a back rest. It should look like this: ---u/. (Use your imagination.) Put your towel over the sand and relax. You will feel like you are sitting on a reclining chair or a royal throne. Marci liked to make this chair, because then she could be the queen of the beach. If you sit on your towel this way and your feet get hot, you can just wiggle your toes down in the cool sand and protect them from the sun.

2. Play tag with the ocean. Run down to the edge of the water. Chase the wave as it pulls back into the ocean, and then run when it comes forward to get you. Remember to never turn your back to the ocean because it will sneak up on you and tag you. Natalie always played this game. She never got wet, but I did chasing her.

3. Watch out for seagulls. They will eat anything, anytime. If you feed one, poor, little, starving seagull with sad eyes, 100 more will come. You can then chase them away, but be careful. One or two tricky seagulls will always stay behind and try to eat your sandwich while you are chasing their cousins.

4. Lunchtime. You have made wonderful sand castles, played tag with the waves, waded in the water, and chased seagulls. Now it is time for lunch. But wait! Look at your hands. They are covered with sand. My advice is to let them dry and then wipe your hands on your mommy's towel. (She liked to use my towel for sandy fingers and save hers for more important things like laying on and getting tan.) Sandwiches should be made of tuna or cheese or turkey, not crunchy sand that feels like dirt on your teeth. Apples are good for beach. Sand wipes right off the skin. Yogurt is also great for a beach picnic because the lid keeps the contents safe and smooth and creamy. Of course, you need to remember spoons. But don't worry, if you forget a spoon you can just drink the yogurt and then go wash the milky mustache off in the ocean.

5. Sand Crabs. I have saved the best for last. Underneath the wet sand are little creatures called sand crabs. They have a hard shell and lots of wiggly legs. You can find all sizes: little ones, big ones, and sometimes if you are lucky, great big ones. All you need is a bucket with sand and water in it and a shovel. Go down by the water and start digging. Put all the ones you find in your bucket. Your mommy used to spend so much time bent over, digging for sand crabs, that her bottom got sunburned. Really! Just ask her. Now I know you will want to take the crabs home and love them and care for them and give them all names and find them food. Please don't. Let them go back to their families at the end of the day. Their mommies and daddies will miss them. If you do sneak them home with you and take them to your room, they will end up dying and stinking up your room. Your mother will walk by your door and say, "What is that smell?" Marci should know all about this smell, because she liked to bring them home in her sand bucket. You will get caught. It is not a nice smell.

So wonderful children, have fun at the beach. Make sand castles, play tag, get wet, find crabs, and put sunscreen on your bottoms. (Should I say bum bums?) Send me pictures.

Love and kisses,

Thursday, July 2, 2009

We survived sacrament meeting! Now I could take three children to Primary and then calmly sit with Savannah in Sunday School. Marci had promised that Tehya, Jacob, and Jack all loved primary, and that they would go happily off to sharing time. Her promise had everything to do with fiction and nothing do to with reality. After the closing prayer Jacob announced that he knew the way to primary and then he left. I continued to clean up stickers, coloring books, cracker crumbs, puzzles, books, wipes, paper scraps, programs...oh wait, we never did get a program. I left the church bag and the diaper bag on the bench and took Tehya and Jack to the primary room. All the children were reverently singing along with the energized conductor, except for Jacob, darling, sweet, not lost Jacob, who yelled, "Hi Grandma," and then he waved enthusiastically at me. Joy drained completely from the faces of the other two grandchildren; separation time had come. Jack finally agreed to go sit by Jacob. Luckily he made the mistake of walking past his primary teacher on his way to Jacob. The teacher grabbed him and he was caught! Tehya took some additional coaxing, but the primary greeter persisted and convinced her to try sitting with her class for five minutes. As soon as Tehya left my side, this kind, wise primary sister insisted I follow her to Sunday School class.

I think there is an unwritten church rule that all adult Sunday school classes are to be held in relief society rooms with no chairs left for those who try to go late to class thus encouraging promptness. With hope springing eternal, we peeked in only to find no room left at the class. Savannah and I would just have to wander the halls until relief society. We successfully avoided the drinking fountain and the delightful fifteen minutes of water play by jogging past the temptation. Walking down the hall we found that someone had kindly stocked a shelf by the mother's room with all sizes of diapers. Thrilled, Savannah spent ten minutes wearing disposable diapers as hats. Looking for more entertainment, we found a ball by the coat rack and decided to play roll the ball for Grandma to fetch. This game led us into the chapel with irresistible steps. However, Savannah's beautiful dress almost reached her shoes, so climbing steps was almost impossible. I say almost impossible, because she insisted on trying to climb only to be stopped by kneeling on her dress. Screaming with frustration, she waited for me to rescue her so she could do it again and again and again. I hoped the folding door at the back of the chapel was soundproof.

Finally, it was time for relief society. A kind sister, I really need to remember names, told me that Marci and Savannah always sat on the back row with the other mothers and babies. Savannah seemed quite happy to be with other babies, even if the peace only lasted about five minutes. She watched the other mothers feed their little babies treats one at a time. They kindly offered her a treat with their outstretched hand and she proceeded to grab the whole handful and stuff every piece into her mouth at once. After four or five handful, the generous mothers sneakily hid the treats and pulled out the toys. I promise, I really did feed Savannah, she did not have to depend on the kindness of strangers for survival. With the arrival of baby toys, Savannah turned into a completely new person. She became the relief society baby bully. Good luck Marci, you only have four more weeks to go until nursery.

At last the three hour, not five hour, block was over. Now I just had to find Tehya, Jacob, and Jack, herd everyone out to the car, stuff Jack into his car seat, and find my way home. Tehya found me first. Thank you, Tehya. Jacob escaped to the gym where he set a world record in running from Grandma. I had no idea where to find Jack. Then Coral come to my rescue. She told me to go to Jack's classroom, which I did, and his grateful teachers released him into my custody. Coral persuaded Jacob to follow her to the car. With no pride left, I shamelessly asked her how to loosen the car seat buckles, which she did. She even gave me directions for a more direct way home and offered to have me follow her. Angels do walk on the earth today.

Four children strapped in. Air conditioner on. Excellent directions in hand. We left church. Is it bedtime yet?

I learned several things:
1. Going to church should qualify as an Olympic sport.
2. Going to stake conference with my grandparents and parents translates into four adults and four kids. Great odds. Four kids and one adult calls for a sense of humor.
3. The church is true, or torture is alive and well in Virginia.
4. Grandchildren are wonderful. I can't wait to go to church with them again.

Hugs and kisses from me. Love,