Monday, November 30, 2009

Monday Memories—Picture Shows


Tonight Calvin and I are going to a movie for family home evening. Blindside has been sold out both times we’ve tried to see it so we’re hoping family night is a lucky night.

We called movies “picture shows” when I was a kid and we went once or twice a year. It was a big deal to go to a show. Then, picture shows began with a cartoon, were usually shown as double features and often had intermissions half way through. Larger than life Moses parting the Red Sea in The Ten Commandments and Frauline Maria dancing in her blue dress with the Captain on the veranda left big impressions and had intermissions, while The Boatniks and Swiss Family Robinson were shown as a double feature. And another thing, movies made the rounds; the movies were shown year after year after year. If you didn’t see The Sting one year you could see it the next.

You could also take your own big, brown grocery bag of homemade popcorn and a sack of candy bars into the theatre. No one dared post “No Outside Food or Drink Allowed.”

Another place we saw picture shows was at the drive-in. The boys would fill the back of one of the cattle trucks with fresh straw and then we’d spread blankets on top and jump in for the 25 mile ride to the drive-in. Sometimes we’d stop and pick up another family along the way. I don’t ever remember staying awake until the end of a drive-in picture show, but it didn’t matter, I could just burrow deeper into the straw and wait until someone woke me up at home.

One last place we got to see picture shows was at the church. Once a year our congregation would rent a movie from the Universal Studios catalogue and show it on the chapel wall (our chapel was our cultural hall and our cultural hall was our chapel depending on the day of the week). The women dipped and deep-fried corn dogs and sold popcorn, baked goods and homemade root beer and kool-aid. Seven Brides for Seven Brothers was my favorite church picture show.

What's your movie memory?

Sunday, November 29, 2009

52 Blessings--Pieces

My nephew, Pal, sent me this puzzle this week. Besides making me smile when I saw it and read, “I love you to pieces,” it made me think of how it really is all of the little pieces that make things so good. Our Thanksgiving was definitely full of good pieces.

Piece one, caring family. This puzzle is a recycle project from Pal’s scout troop. It was sitting in the mailbox when we returned from Idaho. To be thought kindly of is always a fun surprise. Another big piece of caring family was spending the Thanksgiving holiday and visiting with lots of family.

Niki and Ande

Piece two, generosity. My brother-in-law and sister, Bruce and Chris, and their two kids, Charlie and Jake, invited us to Thanksgiving. Not only did they invite us, they invited Trevor and his family and Trent and his family, too. That meant four people invited fourteen people. They wouldn’t let us bring anything. Chris is a really good cook, so it’s not like she needed our help, but she helps run the livestock sale yard on Wednesday and it certainly would have been easier for her to either not invite us or allowed us to help. Their generosity was certainly a kind piece of our weekend.

Piece three, charmed shopping. Last year Chris suggested we try a Black Friday. We had a great time, so we were game to do it again this year. We perused the ads while Thanksgiving dinner cooked and plotted our stores. The next morning Chris commandeered the eight of us girls (you really need to know Chris, she does nothing in slow-mo) into the car at 3:30 am. We were at JC Penny’s before 4:00 am. She gave us 45 minutes until we had to be done and back at our meeting place for the next store’s door buster at 5:00. Since we’d studied the ads, we knew what we were hoping for, but Chris does not hope, she gets. She maneuvered (did I mention how quickly her 100 pounds moves?) her way through the crowds seizing the things we were looking for. Yay, sometimes even snagging the last item. She’s that good. And then, she has this trick for getting waited on so that she doesn’t have to wait in the hour long lines. She made me promise I wouldn’t share it. It’s honest. It’s not rude. It’s not even selfish. It is just an unknown trick that works. Sufficeth me to say, Chris herded us through over a dozen stores in ten hours. We may have been packed to the roof, indeed we were, but we were successful. I’m hard pressed to tell the best deal. If I went by money saved it would be Grace’s or Calvin’s present, however, if I went for the wow factor, it would be the nice $60 suitcases we got at Sears for $2. A ten hour work day would have worn us out, but the success of saving money fueled our cause and made for a fun, productive day.

Piece four, tradition. Chris and Bruce have a loft that sleeps 20. Trevor and his family, Calvin, me and Ande all slept in it. It is the funnest thing to all be together talking in bed with a fire flickering in the corner of the room and the lights twinkling on the little trees. It’s like camping without the cold or grime. Another tradition that Chris started last year was to draw names and then give everyone $10 to buy a gift for their person while we’re out bargain hunting. It’s fun to gather in the loft and exchange the gifts after a long day of shopping. Even though the men don’t participate in the exchange (they dare to scoff) they always join us when it’s time to open and see who bought what for whom.

Jake and Bruce

Piece five, celebration. Whether we were celebrating Thanksgiving on Thursday, or Calvin’s birthday on Friday, it just felt good to have such good things to celebrate.

Chris and Calvin

And this picture is for all the missing pieces—those who weren’t there with us . . .


Hundreds of other happy pieces . . .
  • listening to Ande and Cousin Rachel read aloud to each other in the back seat as we drove home
  • visiting with the kids and also nieces, nephews, sisters, brothers-in-law
  • food
  • more food
  • games and games of dominoes
  • holding babies
  • making disposable slippers
  • laughing real hard
  • heartfelt conversations
  • a drive to old landmarks
. . . combined together for a Happy Thanksgiving. I am grateful to the Lord for all the little pieces in life that make it into something big and beautiful.

Monday, November 23, 2009

Monday Memories-Suncadia Retreat 2009


I first met Deb when I was looking for paper to cover booklets for a class I was teaching at an education week. We stood in the back room of her scrapbooking store and innocently enough began talking about paper, copies, and patterns. When I left the store that afternoon, we'd shared more than paper stories and she kindly offered to sell my booklets when they were finished.

A few years later I ran into Deb again. Our conversation picked up where we’d left off and we talked about our current happenings and goals. We were both looking for an opportunity to make money by providing a service that would help women. Our goals were similar—help women to: share their creative ideas and learn new ones, make new friends, preserve memories and leave (whatever it was we were going to do) reenergized and feeling better about themselves. Deb, being an avid scrapbooker, suggested we do scrapbook retreats to accomplish our goals. Though I didn't scrapbook or have nice pictures to scrapbook, I saw a niche I could fill and so we started planning.

Six months later Deb and I hosted our first scrapbook retreat. Deb had attended a scrapbook retreat before and helped us get a skeleton schedule. Then we divvied up the responsibilities. Though Deb had closed her scrapbooking store she still had all the ins, so Deb’s job was to order supplies and take care of the correspondence and hundreds of minute to minute details (including scrapbooked name tags for the women and their motel room doors). My job was to organize the motel, meals and money. Two weeks before our first retreat the caterer backed out, so we cooked seven meals for 30 women in crock pots, a mini-microwave, and the back of a horse trailer. (Calvin brought a grill up one evening to cook steaks for us, and then spent the night and cooked pancakes and bacon out in the rain and snow the next morning.) We did our dishes in a bathtub. Simply put, our facilities and methods would not have passed health code and the mouse in Darla’s bed didn’t help. However, even with the less than perfect conditions when we finished that first retreat and the women asked us when we’d be doing another, Deb and I knew we’d accomplished our goal. A dozen retreats later, we just finished our most recent at Suncadia Resort in Cle Elum, Washington.

While preserving memories is the bulk of what we do at those retreats, we do make new ones.


We sleep.


We eat.


We see.


We feel.


We work.


And then we do it all over again for three days, because some way, somehow there is a special energy and friendship that builds among women who love to cut and glue paper, pictures and memories. And so next November, you’ll find us at the same place doing the same thing. You’re welcome to join us to make and preserve memories, too.

Sunday, November 22, 2009

52 Blessings--Corn

Sometimes I think corn is my favorite grain. Other times I’m pretty sure it’s wheat. But today, it’s corn that I'm grateful for.

Maybe it’s because it’s almost Thanksgiving and I’ve been thinking about Squanto teaching the Pilgrims that by dropping a fish head into a hole along with a few kernels of corn, the corn would produce more abundantly. John Howland was one of my ancestors and I’m grateful to the Indians for keeping the Pilgrims alive that first year. I bet corn had a lot to do with it.

Maybe corn is my favorite today because not only is it a grain, it’s a vegetable and we ate frozen corn for dinner.

Maybe corn is my favorite because there are Corn Pops in the cupboard.

Or maybe corn is my favorite today because it is because of corn that we have:

corn syrup
vegetable oil
spark plugs
livestock feed which means meat and eggs
corn chips
cold cereal

What is your favorite corn contribution?

Friday, November 20, 2009

Life in My World--Odds & Ends

1. This week I had a perfectly orchestrated day. It included seven appointments from one end of the county to the other, stacked on top of each other. One mishap and they’d have all gone sliding. Only the very last appointment fell through and that wasn’t until 8:00 p.m. and the result was getting to bed earlier than hoped. Six for seven. Great.

2. Recently I asked a group of people “If prayer had a color what would it be and why?” They had some great answers and here are a few of them:

Rainbow colored because color has emotion and prayer is full of all kinds of emotion.
Green because it is the color of life and prayer gives life to those who use it.
Black because it encompasses all colors and prayer encompasses all things—problems, blessings, sadnesses, etc.
White because it is pure.
Baby blue because it is soothing and soft and comforting.
Iridescent because it is different depending on how you look at it or what you need.
Diamond colored because it is beautiful.
Red because it is powerful.
Gold because it is valuable.
Yellow because it is bright and shows us the way like the sun does.

3. Calvin and I planned to go to Blind Side last night, but it was sold out so we went to dinner instead. He ate plate after plate of crab legs. After each plate he’d say, “At some point I am going to hit the point of diminishing returns” but he never did. Frankly, I’m not surprised because meat retrieval from the shell is so much work it makes you hungry afresh for each bite, I don't think it's possible to ever have enough satisfaction for it to diminish. I ate my usual—stir-fried, fresh vegetables (squash, bean sprouts, celery, snow peas, cabbage) with sesame chicken on top. He’s a hunter; I’m a gatherer.

4. Ande comes home tomorrow. Yay. Yay. Yay.

Did you have a perfectly orchestrated day this week?
If prayer had a color what do you think it would be and why?

Thursday Thinking—On Being Politically Correct

The Prince of Peace by Liz Lemon Swindle

I’ve been thinking about political correctness and who exactly set today’s cultural norm for what is considered politically correct and what is politically incorrect.

No one likes to be offended. Only a few like to offend. Only fools are offended when no offense is intended. In the quest of making sure no one is ever offended, we have adopted a new norm of political correctness.

The other day as I was reading in the New Testament I realized how Christ, who is unequivocally the most politically correct Being, would be considered politically incorrect in our society.

How did we arrive at today’s norm of political correctness? Who decided it? How do we get from being politically correct to being just plain correct? That's what I've been thinking about.

What have you been thinking about?

Wednesday, November 18, 2009

Homemaking Tip—The Tin (part l)

I’m a sucker for containers, especially ones made of tin. I like their durability, their style, their size. I especially like to mail gifts in the original tins. Last week for a simple birthday gift I stuffed a pick-up-sticks and jacks tin even fuller with a fruit roll-up, pixie sticks and a couple of mini-candybars. By adding a birthday tag (compliments of Michelle), taping the lid shut, and adding a mailing label it might just possibly have been the cheapest and easiest package on earth to mail.

What things do you mail in their original containers?

Tuesday, November 17, 2009

SPT--I See Myself

I see myself in this video. I, too, am thankful for my health, dog, lunch, breakfast, dinner, muffins, donuts, a bed, good weather, simple intelligent conversation, home, Fiddler on the Roof, love, macaroni & cheese, future opportunities, job, family, friends, adversities, blessings through adversities, transportation, my husband, anniversaries . . . I am a rich (wo)man and I am thankful.

Monday, November 16, 2009

Monday Memories—Family Night

Jane, Tim, Lynn, Marcia, Chris, David, Lila
(not yet born Janet, Lee and Rachel)

Since 1915 members of The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints have been encouraged to hold Family Home Evening once a week. Family Home Evening is an evening that is set aside for families to spend time learning, laughing, listening to and enjoying each other. During this time families leave the interruptions and distractions of everyday life behind while they learn scripture stories and Christian principles, sing songs, play games, and eat treats.

So that everyone was included and had an opportunity to “be in charge,” we had a family night board outlining the responsibilities of the evening. Grandma Erma helped to make the family night board I remember best. It was covered in felt and had felt flower pots glued to the front of it. Each pot had a family night job glued to it that was spelled out in alphabet macaroni. Each pot held a felt flower with our individual names glued to the centers (you guessed it, in alphabet macaroni). The board hung over the kitchen table. We took turns “conducting” and whoever was conducting got to assign the jobs by rearranging the flowers in the pots. The pot titles were:

Opening Song
Opening Prayer
Closing Song
Closing Prayer

The songs that we most often sang :

You Are My Sunshine
Popcorn Popping on the Apricot Tree
Little Tommy Tinker
There Was a Farmer Had a Dog and Bingo Was His Name-O
Old MacDonald Had a Farm
Love at Home
I Am a Child of God
Three Blind Mice

The items of business that were routinely discussed:

~Who was using whose toothbrush (sometimes we all had to go retrieve ours to root out the culprit who was using everyone else's)

~How much laundry we were creating (we typically had five to seven loads a day)
~Upcoming trips (Disneyland and Salt Lake City were my favorite destinations)
~Family schedules (ballgames, meetings, etc.)
~Problems (these were usually family home evening killers)

The “parts” section of family night was for showcasing talent. (However because showcase talent was limited in our family sometimes we substituted our part with an activity):

~Turning somersaults

~Playing a new piano song

~Standing on our head

~Racing around the house with our toes curled under

~Bringing out a tray of sundry items covered with a dish towel and letting everyone look at the items for 30 seconds before covering them back up and letting everyone write down the things they remember.

~Slips of paper folded into a bowl with one having an “x” marked on it. Whoever got the “x” got a prize.

~Pixie Week (Everyone drew names for someone that they would do secretive, kind acts for all week. At the next family night we would reveal who was whose pixie and give them a small token gift.)

~"You Must Pay the Rent. I Can't Pay the Rent. You Must Pay the Rent" done with a napkin prop which doubled as a bow tie, a mustache and a hair bow.

The lessons:

Usually flannel board stories from the Old Testament, New Testament, and Book of Mormon.

Treats. (Because we usually had dessert at least once a day, treats were different than dessert. Treats were usually store-bought instead of homemade.)

Chips and dip
Floats (we weren’t partial to root beer, we also had strawberry, orange, grape, and black cherry)
Gum (lots and lots of different kinds to choose from and then we’d swap sticks with each other)
Ice Cream Bars
Banana splits
Candy Bars

Games. (Because we always had little kids in the family, these games worked for years and the older kids just endured them.)

Hide the Thimble
Button, Button, Who Has the Button
Hot Potato

I loved family night then and the security I felt for that hour. I loved it when we had little kids when we could see and feel the excitement they had to have our undivided attention. I loved it when we had bigger kids and we knew where they were and what they were doing for that hour and that it was ours alone with them. I love it now and the reconnection that comes. Family Night is a memory that just keeps piling up.

Sunday, November 15, 2009

52 Blessings--Friends

thank you for being a friend

“It is a sociological fact that women need women. We need deep and satisfying loyal friendship with each other . . . ” ~Marjorie Hinckley

Hear. Here.

I am grateful for friends and agree with Ralph Waldo Emerson, "He who has a thousand friends has not a friend to spare . . ."

Friday, November 13, 2009

Life in My World--Retreat Magic

a glimpse of creativity

Yesterday, Today, Tomorrow. Our annual fall scrapbooking retreat is being held at the Suncadia Resort.

The accommodations are wonderful (the kind where they turn your bed down at night, put a few chocolate covered mint sticks on your pillow, turn on the TV, and lay out a bathrobe for you).

The food is beautiful (mousse with chocolate stars, steaks with mashed potatoes piped onto a plate of gravy with steamed long green beans and carrots draped across the potatoes for contrast).

The scenery is incredible (winding road among pine trees, the golf course right out our scrapbooking room window with several head of deer grazing on it, and today it has even been snowing big, soft, fluffy, flakes--six inches worth).

The projects and pages are amazing (one memorable photograph I just saw is of a newborn baby, only minutes old, being held by her mother. A tear is rolling down the mother's cheek as she gazes at her new daughter).

The people around me are talented, friendly, funny and happy.

It's a great day to be in Suncadia. It's a great day to be scrapbooking (or sewing).

Thursday, November 12, 2009

Thursday Thinking—I Missed It

I missed following a prompting the other day. By prompting, I mean an impression from the Holy Ghost directing me to do a specific good thing. And I missed it.

I often think of this story by President Thomas S. Monson, but especially this week:

“Late one afternoon I was swimming at the Deseret Gym, gazing at the ceiling while backstroking width after width. Silently, but ever so clearly, there came to my mind the thought: ‘Here you swim almost effortlessly, while your friend Stan languishes in his hospital bed, unable to move.’ I felt the prompting: ‘Get to the hospital and give him a blessing.’

“I ceased my swimming, dressed, and hurried to Stan’s room at the hospital. His bed was empty. A nurse said he was in his wheelchair at the swimming pool, preparing for therapy. I hurried to the area, and there was Stan, all alone, at the edge of the deeper portion of the pool. We greeted one another and returned to his room, where a priesthood blessing was provided.
“Slowly but surely, strength and movement returned to Stan’s legs....

“Frequently Stan speaks in Church meetings and tells of the goodness of the Lord to him. To some he reveals the dark thoughts of depression which engulfed him that afternoon as he sat in his wheelchair at the edge of the pool, sentenced, it seemed, to a life of despair. He tells how he pondered the alternative. It would be so easy to propel the hated wheelchair into the silent water of the deep pool. Life would then be over. But at that precise moment he saw me, his friend. That day Stan learned literally that we do not walk alone. I, too, learned a lesson that day: Never, never, never postpone following a prompting” (Ensign, May 1985, 70).

I still feel badly that I missed that prompting the other day and have told the Lord so three or four times. Next time . . . next time.

Wednesday, November 11, 2009

Homemaking Tip—Carrots, Oil, Veterans . . . They’re a Match

vets at the WW II memorial in Washington, D.C.

Happy Veterans Day.

When we lived in Southern Idaho we had a neighbor, Emilie, who immigrated to the United States from Germany. Emilie was a little girl under Hitler’s regime. She vividly recalled playing next door with her Jewish friend when the Gestapo barged in and dragged Emilie and her friend’s family to the backs of waiting trucks. Emilie’s mother saw the commotion and ran frantically across the yard waving her daughter’s birth certificate in the air and shouting, “She’s not a Jew! My little girl is German.” After checking the certificate the Gestapo unloaded Emilie, but hauled away her friend’s family. Emilie never saw them again. She told us many stories of foraging through the woods with her sister and mother for rabbits and greens to help their poor diets.

Southern Idaho has magnificent thunderstorms and Emilie hated them. Though in her seventies, she hid in her closet with a pillow over her head and quivered during the flashes of lighting and booms of thunder. One day a thunderstorm broke while she was visiting us. She nervously fussed at our kids to come to the center of the house, then begged us all to climb under the supper table with her for protection. The look of terror in her eyes at each streak of lightning and crash of thunder reflected a little girl quaking at exploding bombs in the night sky. She trembled with each rumble.

Emilie always made sure our children ate butter while they were at her house. She constantly warned me to keep plenty of oil in their diets. In her German accent, she’d say, “Honey, I vremember how sickly we got because we didn’t have any fats in our diets. The thin little vrabbits we ate didn’t offer much and we didn’t have any oil or butter. I vremember when we finally got oil after the Occupation, we fried our potatoes in it and it tasted soooo good.” She’d smack her lips and say, “Now, honey, it’s not the oil you’re thinking of—it was thick, green motor oil, but our bodies were so starved we ate it vright up.” Emilie’s eyes would brighten when she told or retold about the American Soldiers’ driving down the streets after the war handing out oranges and gum. They were heroes to Emilie and the starving, depleted German families. She thanked the heavens for American Veterans.

Occasionally, we receive e-mails and pictures from our friends and acquaintances that have sons and daughters serving in Iraq. Some pictures show our friends’ sons in army fatigues kneeling in front of schools with smiling Iraqi girls lined neatly beside them. Others show soldiers helping the Iraqi citizens—holding their children and laughing. A few show soldiers moving tanks and vehicles. One showed a soldier standing on the runway she engineered. I imagine many Iraqis thank heavens for American Veterans.

On the eleventh day of the eleventh month, Americans officially thank the heavens for veterans. To soldiers everywhere, past and present, thank you. Thank heavens for American Veterans.


It is said that Carrot Cake was a by-product of World War I. A military cook had gallons and gallons of cooked carrots left on the shelf after the troops returned home. Rather than feed them to the chickens or hogs, he created carrot cake. Its popularity quickly spread across the country. I suppose the cream cheese frosting aided his efforts and what with all the butter, oil and cream cheese, my friend Emilie would most definitely approve of this recipe.

I don’t suppose my carrot cake recipe is much different from yours, but here it is for you to compare or use if you don't have one of your own.

Carrot Cake

2 cups flour
2 cups sugar
2 tsp soda
2 tsp cinnamon
1 tsp salt
3 cups grated carrots
1 ¼ cup vegetable oil
4 eggs
¾ cup chopped nuts

Sift all dry ingredients. Add oil and stir well, add carrots and eggs. Mix well. Add nuts. Pour into an ungreased 9”x 13” pan. Bake at 350 degrees for 30-40 minutes.

Cream Cheese Frosting

½ cup butter
1 8 oz. pkg. cream cheese
2 T milk
2 tsp vanilla
1 pound of powdered sugar
pinch of salt
½ cup chopped nuts

Cream the butter and cream cheese. Add milk and vanilla and mix well. Add the powdered sugar and salt and beat until creamy. Spread on cake and sprinkle with nuts.

Monday, November 9, 2009

Monday Memories—Hometown

I’ve mentioned before that I’ve been doing circle journals with a group of women from our scrapbook retreats. Each of us brought a themed journal/scrapbook to the November 2008 retreat where it would be passed around for the other women to contribute to. My circle journal theme this year was Favorite Quotes. Because there are twelve women in our group, each month a different woman adds her favorite pictures and quotes to my journal while I’m adding to another’s. This Thursday evening during our 2009 scrapbook retreat we’ll return the books to their rightful owners. I’m very excited to see the quotes and pictures that friends have added to my book (and will show you next week). I'm also eager to watch their reactions as they look through their own books.

I need to finish an entry in Megan’s circle journal before Thursday. The theme of her book is Hometown. Because “finish Megan’s journal” and “write a blog” are both items on today's list, today’s Monday Memory kills two birds with one stone.

Hometown: Hollister, Idaho
Year: 1960’s
Population: 87
Elevation: 4,524 ft.
Stores: Dude’s and Monte’s
School: Hollister Elementary School


As with most small rural towns, our school events doubled as community events. The three big occasions were the Christmas Play, Chili Supper/Carnival, and Track Meet.

(socks missing elastic . . . they're still a bane)

The Christmas Play: The play was typed on an manual typewriter and then mimeographed onto rough, colored paper. The 6th grade children who played the lead roles were given a full copy to memorize their lines. The other students were the supporting cast, like snowflakes, and sang a class song for their part.

I remember one perfect Christmas Play evening, I not only got to ride to the play in the front seat of our station wagon, it was also snowing big flakes as we drove to the school Snow, front seat, happy people, songs, Christmas Play, anticipation. Life didn’t get much better.

After the Christmas Play, Santa Claus climbed up the fire escape and entered the auditorium to hand brown paper bags filled with peanuts, an orange and some hard candy to the children. Parents stayed around and visited a long time after the play so we could play in the halls and . . . even go down the boys’ steps.

The day after the Christmas play was always our class party where everyone gave their exchange gift to the classmate whose name they’d drawn. We also gave our teacher a gift that day. I always gave the same thing--homemade caramels in a tin or fancy glass dish.

Chili Supper/Carnival: This big event happened in January after the dull-season arrived. Pots and pots of homemade chili filled the school lunchroom, but instead of the lunch lady serving it, our moms took a shift to serve. Homemade pies were for dessert.

A man in our community made the carnival games. His imagination knew no end. He spent all year thinking of new games for the next year. Though one of his most archaic games, my favorite was the marble roll. All we had to do was roll the big boulders up the inclined wood and get them stuck in the holes he’d carved at the top of the board. The first person to fill all three holes won a prize. That was it. The yellow marbles were the luckiest.

One of the biggest kid attractions at the carnival was the borrowed trampoline—an old rectangular, basket-weaved-top kind. For a ticket you could jump for two and a half minutes. There was also bingo. That’s where all the older people of the community spent the night. Prizes were things our parents had donated. They didn’t have to be new, but they did have to be in nice shape. Bingo cost a quarter. There were homemade cakes for the cake walk.

Track Meet: The last full day of school was the track meet. Parents volunteered to spray paint the race lines on the black top in front of the school a few days before so we could practice. They also filled the high jump pit with fresh straw and brought a new load of sand in for the long jump pit. All morning we competed in events and then finished the event with a potluck dinner. Mothers brought fried chicken, pots of spaghetti, potato, macaroni and jello salads and cupcakes. The PTA provided little ice cream cups with wooden-paddle spoons from the funds they’d earned at the chili supper and carnival.

Our town and school had their warts, but the feeling of community at these events helped us overlook them and gave everyone a bit of stability in an unstable world.

Sunday, November 8, 2009

52 Blessings—Ocean

Ray and Cali looking for the source of the bubbles

I like the ocean. I like the sound of the waves and the gulls, the smell of the saltwater, the power of the water moving in and out. It’s a natural playground and an observation laboratory.

Ray, Cali, Calvin, me eating shrimp, crab, more crab, mussels, corn, potatoes

I also appreciate the ocean because of shrimp, crab and lobster. Cali and Ray took Calvin and me out to The Crab Pot to thank Calvin for helping Ray build the table. If there were no ocean, there would be no saltwater shrimp and crab.

Luna Park Cafe

I also appreciate the ocean because carrageenan is made from red algae which comes from the ocean and that is what helps to thicken milkshakes. Cali and Ray took Calvin and me out to Luna Park which boasts “The Best Milkshakes in Seattle.” They’re boasting is not in vain. They also sport old-fashioned booths, a juke box with old songs, pay-a-quarter toys, vintage signs, a counter bar with round stools and wonderful hamburgers with lots and lots of fries.

I also appreciate the ocean because that is where sharks live and researchers research sharks immunity to diseases like cancer. I would like a cure to cancer.


I also appreciate the ocean because it can keep big ships afloat which account for 80 percent of how our world cargo is transported. I like things like rice from China and Toyota cars from Japan.

I also appreciate the ocean because it’s salty and if we didn’t have salt, our muscles wouldn’t contract, our blood wouldn’t circulate, our food wouldn’t digest, and our hearts wouldn’t beat. I like a beating heart.

The ocean is a great blessing that I usually take for granted, but not today. I'm sure glad the Lord knew we needed oceans.

Friday, November 6, 2009

Life in My World--Over the River

upside down table

Over the river and thru the wood,
Oh, how the wind does blow!

Today that song keeps running through my head. (Song being loosely spoken here as I can only remember that phrase and something about a dappled gray and grandmother's house.) Probably it's because the wind is frantically rearranging the leaves outside and we're going to see Ray and Cali, which literally live over the river and through the wood.

It'll be a great weekend, the excuse to go is to deliver the butcher block table Ray and Calvin made. I don't want to steal Cali's thunder and post a picture, so I'll just post a picture of them building it and then it loaded in the . . . (get ready for it) sleigh.

Thursday, November 5, 2009

Thursday Thinking—Cereal, Cereal, Cereal, Cereal, Cereal, Cereal


I think I’ll always consider cold cereal as a luxury and so yesterday when I stumbled on an incredible cereal sale and luxury suddenly looked like prudence, I picked out 22 boxes. The colorful boxes have been decorating the counter all day and I keep thinking about all the things I can do with them.

I also spent time thinking of answers to these sound-it-out brain puzzlers on the back of the box of Frosted Mini-Wheats:

folk is son’s cool
beef oak kissed hill hunch
deal is shush hole gray inn vibe burr

It took me a few hours to solve the second one. I had to walk away and then come back and look at it again.

I’ve also been thinking a lot about the tragedy that happened at Fort Hood. How could we not think of that. It is so sobering.

What have you been thinking about today?
What's your favorite kind of luxury cereal?
Did you solve the puzzlers?

Wednesday, November 4, 2009

Homemaking Tip--Keep a Clean Hand

Once while riding the New York subway, I noticed that our daughter Cali kept one hand in her pocket. The rest of us fiercely clung to the poles with two hands to remain standing during the propelling take offs and sudden stops. But not Cali, one hand always stayed in her pocket while she gingerly hung on with the other. Later I mentioned I needed to wash my hands so we could eat, she pulled out her hand, waved it and said, “Not me. I always keep a clean hand. Always.”

(image from

With flu-season in full swing here are a four things your mother already taught you. I'm just her echo:

1) Wash your hands often and keep them away from your mouth, eyes, and nose—easier said than done for us nail-biters.

2) There is something about the flu season that makes us think we’re indispensable—we must go to work, we must go to the store, we must go to the meeting. If we get sick this season, it is best to remember that the world will keep spinning without us and that we can contribute most by not contaminating the well pool. Remember to stay home if you're not feeling well.

3) Carry antibacterial lotion in your purse or car. The advertisements for these products in the New York City subways are graphic—one shows a toilet with the caption, “There are four times as many germs at a public drinking fountain” written underneath. I’m interested to see what the comparison is on grocery cart handles. After being in public places, use the lotion until you can use soap and water.

4) Use your own pen at the grocery store, bank, or department store. Use a paper towel to turn off water faucets, pump paper towel dispensers and open doors in public restrooms after washing your hands. Or, wear the inexpensive stretch gloves while using pens, grocery carts, etc. and remove when you're back in your car or home.

For more information about the flu, the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention publish general information on the web site .

One last echo: keep a clean hand. Always.

Has H1N1 hit your family/area yet?

Tuesday, November 3, 2009

Self Portrait Tuesday--Garb


I hope these two coats never wear out. I’ve had the red one long enough it should be coming back into style any day now. The two of them together make walking in the fall just perfect.

Monday, November 2, 2009

Monday Memories—Music


Mrs. Kinsfather was my second grade teacher. She wore bright lipstick, boldly painted fingernails and high-heeled shoes. She sat at her desk a lot, filing her nails. She was also the music teacher for the whole school. When it was our class’ turn for “music,” we filed upstairs into the auditorium and sat on those wooden benches that you see in the photo. While Mrs. Kinsfather played the piano we read the words from a large flip chart and sang our little hearts out. Nobody goofed off for that would end music. The song I remember best was “The Ballad of the Green Berets” which we sang with great soberness, as if we were singing to save the Viet Nam vets:

Ballad of the Green Beret
by Staff Sergeant Barry Sadler and Robin Moore, copyright 1966

Fighting soldiers from the sky
Fearless men who jump and die
Men who mean just what they say
The brave men of the Green Beret

Silver wings upon their chest
These are men, America's best
One hundred men will test today
But only three win the Green Beret

Trained to live off nature's land
Trained in combat, hand-to-hand
Men who fight by night and day
Courage peak from the Green Berets

Silver wings upon their chest
These are men, America's best
One hundred men will test today
But only three win the Green Beret

Back at home a young wife waits
Her Green Beret has met his fate
He has died for those oppressed
Leaving her his last request

Put silver wings on my son's chest
Make him one of America's best
He'll be a man they'll test one day
Have him win the Green Beret.

This song made my throat burn then and it still makes me sigh. I’m certain I was no better a singer then than I am now, but what I didn’t have in quality I had in fervor.

Do you sing with more fervor than talent?
Would your kids’ school allow this song to be sung today?

Sunday, November 1, 2009

52 Blessings--Washer


Our washing machine just had its 25th birthday. That washing machine has given me thousands of hours of time. Time I didn’t have to spend over a rock in the river or a washboard in the back yard. Without a washing machine, I would have thought cloth diapers were worse than they were. Without a washing machine our clothes would have been grungier, grayer, and smellier. Without a washing machine I definitely wouldn’t have had the time to write a blog. Thanks to Mr. Louis Goldenberg for the brilliant idea to let a big paddle swish clothes around in a big tub electrically so that I could have more time to do other things. I am grateful for the blessing of a washing machine.

What is one thing a washing machine has made time for in your life?