Tuesday, August 28, 2012

Tuesday - A Winner

Yesterday my little friend down the road said, "Neighbor Jane! Neighbor Jane! I have a joke for you."

He is five, the knock-knock age.  But this was no knock-knock joke.

"Oh good!  Tell me."

He said, "What did the pig say on a sunny day?"

I thought for a minute, tapped my lips, and finally said, "I give up."

He said, "I'm bacon out here" and laughed and laughed, then said,  "Neighbor Jane I have another one for you."


"What did the hot dog say when he won a game?"

I didn't know the answer to that one either.

"I'm a wiener!  Get it?  He's a wiener."

Well folks, that joke was so very timely, because we have a wiener from the poetry contest.  And it is none other than:


Sometimes when my eyes are red/
It's because I've been reading a book in bed./
The words aren't sad or the story tick'ling./
It's because my light is flick'ring./

She was quite excited to win.  Thank you for helping to make her dreams come true.

Friday, August 24, 2012

Life in Our World - Very Fine

Levin will tell you all about life in our world this week:


Dear Dad and Mom,
I have had a very good day.  I am doing very fine.  I laughed lots and lots and I ran away from Grandma whenever she came to get me.  Especially in the garden.  I hid behind the dill and peppers and found a little green tomato all on my own but she told me I had to spit it out. 
She also twirled me around and around in the computer chair.  We both laughed, but we got very dizzy and we couldn’t walk for a little while.  We decided maybe we should only play that game once.
Grandma let me sit on the kitchen floor and eat my food off the stool.  I like that, especially the graham crackers. 
Grandma took me outside bare naked today.  She thought it might help my rash.  I loved it.  I almost got inflammation from the squash and the bean leaves, but at least my old rash didn’t itch.  It felt very good to air out.
I played in the hose again.  It makes me very cold but I still love it.  

I learned how to stick my thumb in the end and spray everyone and everything.  It makes them laugh.  I do it over and over and over until I get cold and then Grandma makes me get in a tub of warm water.

I took one long nap this morning, but then I wasn’t tired this afternoon.  Grandma told me it was okay if I got up after an hour.  Tonight though, I was very tired.  She said I could go to bed at 6:15.  I was happy to.  She woke me up at 7:30 to feed me again but I told her, “Remember I don’t like mashed potatoes with the peels still on” so she gave me a bottle and then I went back to bed.  I was very, very glad.  I get tired playing here.
Aunt Ande came today.  I squealed and jumped.  I love her and want to go everywhere with her.  I also like that Chewie keeps Dan busy so he doesn’t follow me everywhere.  I think I can say “dog” now.  At least every time Dan barks I run to the window and say “Da.”  Grandma says close enough.
We went on a walk.  I rode in the wagon again.  I never get tired of it.  Ever.  Grandma says me riding in the wagon reminds her of that old ride at Lagoon that clatters and rattles and shakes your brains.  She says it will make me even smarter.  I believe her.
Grandpa started the lawn mower tonight and said I could go with him but it scared me so I went back in the house with Grandma and Aunt Ande.
I am being a very, very, very good boy. 
I like chocolate chips.  I like mixers.

I love you.  I miss you.  This morning I cried for a little while when I woke up because I missed you and wished I could see you.
Have fun. 



Dear Dad and Mom,

I am doing very fine.  We had another good day.  I ate a whole bottle of applesauce in two days.    
I think I know what kind of car we should get next.  A station-wagon.  I never get tired of riding in the wagon. 

Speaking of red, Grandma puts me in a big red shirt in the mornings. 

First she puts it in the dryer to get it warm so I can drink my bottle and not get goosebumps.  I wear it on our walks, too.  Grandma says it’s so the rust in the wagon won’t ruin my whitie-tighties.
Aunt Ande and Grandma and I went to town.  I practiced drinking out of a straw.  I’m good at it now.  Did I use to be good at it?  They still won’t give me pop.  Aunt Ande says it will burn my mouth.
I pet the bug in Grandpa’s mustache tonight.

The first time the bug barked I jumped, but then I made a fist and pounded it.  Maybe I killed it.  It never barked again.  But maybe Grandpa just swallowed it when he was laughing.  All that I know is I am braver than the bug.

Grandpa was going to share his chocolate ice cream with me tonight.  He promised.  I got too tired and fell asleep.  Did I tell you how tired I get from playing in the dirt and sun?  Very tired.

I miss you both.  Every night when I go to bed I giggle lots and lots just like when Dad puts me to bed.  It makes Grandma laugh.  She even laughs during my prayers.  I am pretty funny.

I love you.



Dear Dad and Mom,

Grandma says that you are missing me.  Please don’t.  Remember I still poop my pants sometimes.  I will still be one when you come home.

I guess it would be okay if you missed me a little bit because I did sleep for 13 hours straight last night.

Grandpa and Grandpa didn’t exercise this morning.  Grandma told Grandpa she can either keep up with me or Shaun T. but not both. 

I fell out of the wagon two times this morning.  One time it was my fault because I was trying to touch the dirt as Grandma and Aunt Ande walked and I fell out on the sandy part of the road.  The other time Dan and Chewie got excited and knocked the wagon over.  I cried.  But just enough so that Aunt Ande and Grandma would stop and hug me for a little while then I got back in the wagon and started throwing rocks at the road.

By the way, I really like Dan and Chewie.  Today Chewie followed me all over while I was walking in the grass.  Grandma said something about good dog Carl.  They both lick my face and I laugh and then when I get tired of it I punch them in the nose and they leave me alone for a little bit.  I like dogs.  Remember I can say dog now.

Oh.  I say, “Hot” too.  Grandma said I can’t sit on the cupboard and help her cook supper unless I know what hot is so I learned it fast.  I say, “Hot” when I’m by the stove and start to blow.  Grandma says it’s funny, but then she thinks lots of things I do are funny.  Today when I played outside the house was hot.  I touched it and said “hot” and then touched it again.  I guess I’m getting smart and funny. 

Aunt Ande said to be sure and tell you that I say “Ande” sometimes.  She's right.  I do when I want to make her happy.  Maybe I should work on “Ray” and “Cali” next.

I am still being a very, very good boy.  Grandma says I am independent.  She says she bets that someday I hang a sign on my bedroom door that says, "Mom for Sale, I don't want her anymore" just like Mom did.  She also says I am very curious like Dad, and that it wasn't curiosity that killed the cat but selfishness and conceit.  Grandma says lots of things, but I think what she means is that she likes me being curious and independent and that you will know just what to do with me someday, so I am trying real hard to be like you both.

I love you.  I am doing very fine.


As you can see, life in our world is very fine.

(P.S.  Today is the last day to vote on the poems.  Thank you for making this fun for our family.)

Thursday, August 23, 2012

Thursday Thinking –Morale Boost

 Melancholy.  Nostalgic.  Wistful.  That’s what I get this time of year.  It makes perfect sense why, but not enough sense that I can cure it once and for all.

It was a huge boost of morale when Ande decided to come for the week while Joe is traveling, and Cali and Ray asked if Levin could come for the week while they are on a business trip.  There has been nothing on our agenda but to rest and enjoy life and each other which is a good poultice for melancholy.

Here are two YouTube “Boost of Morale” videos I have enjoyed. 

The first one was made by a West Point buddy of Abe’s.  It has made me laugh more than once, I could learn a thing or two from them.  If anybody has got to be feeling a bit wistful, it’s got to be those soldiers sweating it out away from their families.  

The second one was made by Michelle’s friends (her brother is in it as well) in Colorado.  It was filmed to be shown at girls’ camp.  If I understand it right, they didn’t film it until all the girls had left for camp so that it would be a complete surprise.  How can those girls not feel a huge morale boost from those boys singing over and over to them that they are beautiful just like they are?

Tuesday, August 21, 2012

Tuesday Tried It - Scrubs

Today Michelle asked me if I had made the sugar-soap scrub on Pinterest yet.

Gardener's Hand Scrub

I had not, so I did.  

Soap and Sugar Scrub on the left
Oil and Sugar Scrub on the right

I hadn't been out in the garden yet when I tried it, so I don't know how the Gardner's Scrub works on beet, tomato, or green stem stains; however it did scrub my hands, rough them up a bit, and dry them out.  

Next I made a batch of olive oil and sugar scrub (2 Tablespoons sugar, 1 1/2 Tablespoons olive oil) to compare the two.  The olive oil and sugar scrub felt infinitely better.

Then I decided to combine the two.  There is a reason that recipe isn't going around Pinterest.

To sum up my observation:  Though it bottles nicely and looks cute with jute, I won't be giving any Gardner's Scrub for Christmas.

Monday, August 20, 2012

Monday Memories - "Sometimes When My Eyes are Red"

Sunday, August 19, 2012

Dear Kids,
            Fact One:  You love me.
            Fact Two:  You are glad I’m getting my degree.
            Fact Three:  You would do anything to help me.
            Fact:  For an English class I have to get people to join me in a poetry slam session.  That means I give you the first line of the poem and you spend five (and only five) minutes and write whatever poem or poem-like words that come to mind and then send it back to me.
            Fact:  I’m asking you to do this because of established facts one, two, and three.  
            Fact:  Your dad says this is stupid and that the grade should be about what I write not about what people in a poetry slam session write.
            Fact:  He’s right.
            Fact:  Regardless of that fact and that he is right, it still remains that a poetry slam session is a portion of my grade.
            Fact:  I would appreciate your help.
            Fact:  The first line of the poem is:

Sometimes when my eyes are red

             Thank you for even considering helping me with this.  
             I love you.
Oh ho. They did not disappoint.  This morning the mailbox was full of poems.

The instructor suggested we give a prize for the best poem, but that would be like choosing which child I love best.  Not gonna happen.  No sir.  Not gonna happen.  But, I do want to thank them for their enthusiastic and timely responses.  So, would you please vote which child poem you like best?  Below are the anonymous poems with their commentaries.  The vote is open to one and all, participant or not.  Feel free to vote anonymously and stuff the ballot comment box with more than one vote.  A $50 Olive Garden Gift Certificate is at stake.  (Unless Abe wins, in that case we'll send him SPAM and marinara sauce.  It's durable, mail-able, can stand 120+ temperatures . . . and he likes it.  [You can't tell me LDS missions aren't miraculous.])

Poem One.
Sometimes when my eyes are red,
I use it as an excuse to stay in bed.

I tell everyone I'm just not feeling well,
Actually, I am feeling quite swell.

A whole day has gone by and nothing's been done,
I am still in bed and there's no more sun.

I wish I hadn't been so lazy,
A new day begins and I decide to not be so crazy.

I am HORRIBLE at poems... but here you go. I did it because I love you!

Poem Two.
Sometimes when my eyes are red,
It usually means something is in my eye.
It itches and irritates to no end.
When I get it out, I heave a big sigh.

Similar to the sigh I let out,
When I'm done writing a stupid rhyme.
I hate it; it makes me scream and shout.
This is stupid and a waste of time.

Maybe this will score some bonus points for you?

Poem Three.

Sometimes when my eyes are red
My only thoughts are going back to bed
The baby didn't sleep so well, she woke so early I could yell
I'd love to reintroduce the pillow to my head

Sometimes I'm not quite sure what to do
Instead of snoring, I might as well moo
She wakes up crying for mom, not Dick, Harry, or Tom
Oh how I wish that guys had boobs too

I wrote this silly poem in a daze
This early waking better be a short phase
I am so darn tired, this poem's sure not inspired
It deserves no awards nor praise

Poetry slammed. Nailed it.

Love you 

Poem Four.
Sometimes when my eyes are red,
Waking up, I truly dread.
It means I am dozy and wish to stay cozy
In my nice warm bed.

Sometimes when my eyes are green,
With a piercing look some call keen.
I want someone’s something, even if it’s a dumb thing,
Envy can truly be seen.

Sometimes when my eyes are yellow,
I am not a healthy fellow.
Jaundice is there and won’t go anywhere,
Until my liver can mellow.

Sometimes when my eyes are blue,
Oh wait, that’s always true.
I hate writing classes, that search out the masses
To write poems not a few.

Often they start with “Sometimes when my eyes are red…”
 I believe good inspiration for poetry comes from reading the work of great artists.  Ever since “Bob, the High Flying Bug” I knew Abe was a great poet.  Michelle impressed me with a rhyming treasure hunt we did for our date on Saturday.  You can probably see some of their influence in my poem.  Abe’s poem inspired the emotion I hoped to express in my own poem.  He filled me with a deep hatred for this assignment that you have been given.  It all came from his powerful last stanza.  I was inspired by Michelle’s rhyming pattern.  It felt like such a perfect fit for the assignment.  I used this rhyming pattern to lull the reader into thinking I’m more of a light-hearted poet similar to Dr. Seuss and then I use my last line (non-rhyming) to convey a strong message as contemporary poets such as Allen Ginsberg do.  Thus, I combined the classics with the modern into a truly dazzling poem.  If only I understood iambic pentameter I could have added a little Shakespearean influence as well.  

Poem Five.
Ode to Late Night Lost

Sometimes when my eyes are red
It says more than I meant to say
Then everyone knows I should've gone to bed
Instead of staying up with Ray

"LOST" should take the blame for this
A new question, and rarely an answer
Will Jack and Kate just finally kiss
Or Rose be cured of cancer

We all were glad when Michael died
And Echo, and fat guy at Black Rock, and Shannon
It was very annoying when John Locke cried?
That's why we also wanted his head to plug a cannon

But then he did die
And became even more annoying
At least that stopped the cry
And replaced it with coy-ing

This spoiler alert comes 6 years late
So maybe it isn't even a spoiler
They're already dead, no fate
Guess who saw that one coming?
Now Ray has to call me "Master of Cinematic Arts" all day

Poem Six.
Sometimes when my eyes are red/
It's because I've been reading a book in bed./
The words aren't sad or the story tick'ling./
It's because my light is flick'ring./

My inspirations are Ogden Nash and Shel Silverstine. I realize mine is short, but it did take five minutes because I kept giggling to myself about it. It's just so stupid. 

There you have it friends.  Please vote. And please, by all means, feel free to add your own "sometimes when my eyes are red" verse in the comments.

(Votes counted until Friday the 24th.)

Saturday, August 18, 2012

Life in My World – Political Science, Parks, Pinballs and People, and Purple Pie

Political Science.  I have only the final to take in my political science class.  Argh.  It has been a hard class.  Not good hard either, hard hard.  The text was a tangled mass of verbiage.  Here is a sample:

Augustine’s view of the fallen world is indeed the concrete world of our experience that always falls short of any ideal unity, particularly any ideal political or ethical unity. Plato would respond that this world is only real to the extent that it reflects the unchanging patterns of the higher realm of forms where there is no change or limit. For Augustine, this meant that evil has no essential being. It may exist, but it has no genuine reality or essential nature: it is the absence of form, that is, the absence of good. This view of the negation or darker side of existence is even clearer in Neoplatonic thought. Here, the material world appears as evil. It reveals itself as passion and desire tending inherently toward chaos and corruption, resisting the higher form of spirit that moves in the direction of order and unity. In the moral realm, Kant admits as much when he argues that the very absence of justice and perfect rationality in the moral affairs of this world requires that we believe in a higher realm where perfect judgment is rendered by a perfect judge.  Hegel points out how the existence of such negativity haunts the most carefully worked out philosophies of thinkers who, as we have seen, seek to account for such differences by excluding negativity as merely contingent or illusory. Nevertheless, passion and irrationality, war, violence, confusion, and a swirling void of meaning seem to stand in the margins of the most carefully reasoned systems as if to mock the dream of a rational and just world.  Hegel’s solution to this seemingly insoluble problem is to show how it is both futile and unnecessary to exclude negativity from reason’s calculations, since negativity is actually constituent to— an essential element of—a rational understanding of the metaphysical unity that philosophy had so long desired.

Page after page after page of this with a speed-back assignment at the end where truth looked false and false looked true.  (After spending five hours on one test and being as ignorant as I was before I began it, I prayed, “Thou knowest I need to pass.  Thou knowest these classes are expensive.  Thou knowest I don’t understand.  Thou knowest I have a time frame.  Wilt thou please help me?”  I pushed a button on the computer to continue working on the test and accidentally erased all my answers.  I groaned, “Noooooooooooo …………………”  With so little comprehension and twisted sentences there was no way I could remember what answers to choose again.  It was late at night when this happened, so I doggedly began working through the assignment again.  After forty-five minutes I submitted the test again with a ready-or-not attitude.  I got a B!  I was very excited and wondered if the Lord hadn't said it would be easier to wipe the slate clean and start me over rather than try and inspire corrections to wrong guesses.  I wonder what Aristotle, Locke, Machiavelli, Kant, and Marx have to say about that.) 

I had hoped to learn more from the course, but I am glad for the things I plucked.  Summed up simply:  there have been two basic philosophies of governance through the centuries, either you celebrate the individual or you champion the group.  Those that believe the individual should be acknowledged rely on self-governance, while those who champion the group believe that the rank and file do not have the capability to govern themselves and must be provided and cared for by the few who do have the ability.  There are different arguments within those two reasonings (“the end always justifies the means,” “man is inherently evil,” “man is inherently good,” “ownership of property is the beginning of destruction,” “ownership of property is the key to success,” etc.), but one of those two ideas of governance – protect the individual or protect the group –  settled to the bottom of every philosopher’s pot.     

Parks.  Yesterday I read the letter from a young man who will soon return from the mission field early.  He had some things in his life that needed correcting, so he will return home to make those corrections.  It was an inspiring letter.  A little later in the day I watched this video:

"for a man sometimes, if he is compelled to be humble, seeketh repentance; and now surely, whosoever repenteth shall find mercy; and he that findeth mercy and endureth to the end the same shall be saved." (Alma 32:13)

I’m grateful the Lord has the power and ability to turn our slums into parks and make the ugly things of life into something useful and of great purpose when we turn to Him.  

Pinballs and People.  We had such a great time with the few days Cali and Levin spent here this week.  The fact that people in our families come in all ages, shapes, and sizes make families that much better.  

Recently Ray and Cali went to see Ray’s grandmother in a care center.  For a short time, Ray and Levin were in the foyer of the building while the residents were in the adjoining dining room.  Levin made his way to the door of the dining room and as the people caught sight of him, table by table the room went silent.  The residents smiled at seeing him and watched every move carefully. 

Recently I was visiting with a friend about the decision of moving into assisted living.  She confessed, “One of the reasons I don’t want to go is because there are no young people there, there are just us old people.  I need young people, too.” 

I thought about both of these scenarios when I took Levin outside one morning.  He bounced from place to place like a little steel ball in a pinball machine.  First he helped while I pulled weeds from the strawberry bed.   Next he went to the flowerpots, never quite trusting that he had permission to dig in them.  Next he went to the flatbed trailer parked in the driveway and patted his hands on the wooden slats in a drumming pattern.  When he caught his reflection in the car door, he went to see it and while he was there he looked underneath the car to see what was there.  Then he went back to the flowerpots, then back to the trailer.  When a bucket caught his eye, he toddled to it and tried to carry it across the grass.  He stumbled on it several times before he deserted it and then saw grapes hanging from the vines.  He reached up to pick a few and then went back to the trailer to pound on it.  Watching him bounce from discovery to discovery was so satisfying and entertaining.  I need young people, too.

Purple Pie.  Last night for a date, I made a blackberry pie and ice cream to eat while we watched Sherlock Holmes II.  I didn’t have any tapioca so I added flour to the pie instead.  Because we ate the pie warm, and the filling hadn't had time to set, some of the filling oozed out into the place where we took our pieces.  This morning I scooped out the oozed filling and made blackberry syrup for our pancakes from it.  It was great!  Especially because I had made some coconut syrup as well so we mixed the two together.  I'm not a great recycler, but I am good at repurposing.   

Thursday, August 16, 2012

Thursday Thinking - Zing

It's been pretty hard not to think about the Ellsworth family's experience:

thank you google images

Amazing, isn't it?

Tuesday, August 14, 2012

Monday Memories on Tuesday - Corn Fed

We stopped to get layer mash at the feed store this afternoon.  It had jumped $5 a bag.  The feed man said that with the drought in the Midwest corn is now going for $300 a ton.  

You know what that means?  

a.  Our chickens are going to have to learn to eat dog food.
b.  Levin and I are worth our weight in gold. 
c.  Pharaoh's dream has a sequel.  
d.  All of the above.

Levin and Cali are spending the week here while Ray is traveling.
It was my pleasure to introduce Levin to corn on the cob.

I shared this memory in a newsletter once before:

A few years ago Cali and I sat on the patio swing husking sweet corn. As she pulled the husks back she said, “Oh, I so hope I find a caterpillar in one of the ears.” I laughed and reminded her of the year she ruined hundreds of ears of corn in our garden as she walked down the rows pulling the husks back collecting caterpillars. She remembered her collection well.

Corn is a multifunctional vegetable and next to potatoes, my favorite. Calvin says it’s a phenomenon to watch me eat it as he’s never seen anyone eat it as fast and intently. I have tried to explain that growing up with twelve family members at the table there was bound to only be so many good ears in the bowl and if you wanted more than one, you had to hurry and finish your cob before anyone else. It was survival of the fittest.

One August, Calvin’s folks were visiting from Arizona. My mother-in-law got out of the car with a sack of fresh corn on the cob, the first of the season. Seeing it, I panicked. I didn’t want her to know that I have even less control with corn than potatoes (she’s dismayed at the number of potatoes I can eat). I knew the easiest thing would be to not eat any corn that night, for eating none is easier than one. However, not eating corn ran the risk of offending her; my in-laws were justifiably proud of their garden and to refuse their corn would have been worse than eating too much of it.

As we sat down to eat supper, I thought. “Go easy on the potatoes. Eat slow because you can only have one ear of corn. Eat real slow; put the cob down every two bites and eat something else. Eat slow.” 

We passed the food, first the meatloaf, then the potatoes, followed by the rolls, and finally, the corn. I shouldn’t have worried, I was in control. I ate just like I’d told myself and stopped at one ear.

Ty was sitting across the table from me that night, next to Grandma. As the meal neared its end, he looked across the table at me and said, “What’s the matter mom? How come you didn’t eat corn tonight like you usually do?”

Before I could give him the look, he turned to his grandma and boasted, “You should see my mom really eat corn. She can eat more corn faster than anyone we know.” Calvin only made it worse.  He goading the rest of the kids into telling Grandma how I really eat corn. My family was so proud of their corn-fed momma. My mother-in-law was not impressed.

Corn season reminds me of when I was young. It meant the arrival of Aunt Cleo. She was an unsainted saint, for she arrived late in the summer for a week—just in time to help mom freeze over four hundred cups of corn. The “little kids” were sent to the cornfield with gunny sacks to pick while Aunt Cleo and mom cleared the cupboards and started the water to boil. Once our gunny sacks were full we took them home, shucked the ears, and carried the golden corn into mom, Aunt Cleo, and the “big kids” where they began blanching, cooling, cutting, and bagging the corn. It was a big job, but we ate it all winter long.  

What with all those memories is it any wonder I love corn?

Grandpa thought it best if he taught Levin how to eat corn properly.
I'll give him speed lessons another day.

Tuesday Tried It

Here are a few things tried this week from pinterest.  (Click on the large title for the link.)

Zucchini Brownies

4 of 5.  I worried that the recipe didn't call for eggs (and I may try and sneak a few in the next batch as our hens are laying), but these brownies are rich, and good, and use overgrown zucchini.  I ate a sliver of a row at a time until the pan was gone.

Shower cleaner

1 of 5.  I knew better than to trust this one (fight soap scum with soap suds?), but I tried it anyway hoping for something as miraculous as Shower Power used to be.  Nope.  Dawn being a thick, heavy duty soap left a nice white thick scum residue over the shower replacing the thinner residue left from body wash.

Guacamole Trick

4 of 5.  Ande sent me this idea and said, "It works.  It does a nice job of saving your guacamole for another day."

How about you?  Any pin opinions from you this week?

Sunday, August 12, 2012

52 Blessings - An Active, Healthy Family (12 Pictures taken on the 11th and 12th of August 2012 )

This month we stretched the parameters again -- some were taken on Saturday, some on Sunday, and some not at all.  And, like the baker's dozen, there are more than twelve.

Abe - One of the government buildings adjacent to our compound caught on fire today. We ran over to help, but
the Afghan Fire Department arrived before we were able to do anything...who knew they had a fire department?

Abe - Some of the damage furniture pulled from the room. I only include this picture because it actually has me in
it (that's me in the bottom right corner).

Grace - After spending two weeks in Utah, I drove 585.5 miles from Utah to Colorado today.

Michelle - taking a nap in one of many spots today. 

Ty - typing an email to Abe

Afton - helping us change her diaper

Calvin - Changing the lawn and pasture sprinklers 

Calvin - "Have I ever told you why I hate the sprinklers?"
Jane, misrepresenting the truth, "No tell me."  

Calvin - "This is why."

Jane - Eldon grows beautiful gladiolas and he brought us a bouquet Sunday night

Ande - Sad day.  The last of the otter pops...

Cali - Levin and I at Something-With-An-Indian-Name Falls.  It wasn't as climactic for him as it was for me.
He fell asleep.  I don't think he needs to ride an elephant or camel anytime soon... I'm a good substitute.
Ray carried him half the time as well.

Ray and Levin - Ray watching Levin climb on the rubble.  Levin had an Aron Ralston experience where
arm amputation seemed like our only solution.  Luckily, Levin decided to drop the rock in his hand,
allowing his arm to fit out of the hole, and amputation was avoided.

Joe - Ande made us a nice healthy vegetarian dinner. It tastes good,
but I promptly added onions fried in some butter and sausage.
You can see the two side by side. 

Wednesday, August 8, 2012

Homemaking Tip - A La Mode

Ande and Joe did the chores while Calvin and I were gone last week.  When we came home Ande had a fresh baked, raspberry pie cooling on the cupboard.

Ande's recipe

She also had the bowl of the ice cream freezer frozen and ready to go

$5.99 Goodwill find

so that we could add this 

This is great stuff available at Cash & Carry and Costco.
It makes homemade ice cream easy and good.

and have raspberry pie a la mode. 

It was as good as it sounds.  

Tuesday, August 7, 2012

Tuesday Tried It -- Cooking in a Cooler

One of the hardest things about cooking corn for a large group is getting that much water to boil twice - once before you add the corn and once after you add the corn.  When I saw

I hoped it worked. 

I'm here to say it does.  Really well.

Calvin and Junior adding the boiling water to the shucked corn

We put 400 ears of corn in two coolers, filled them with boiling water, shut the lids, and let them steam for 45 minutes.  They were perfect and it was slick.  

The next morning Calvin, Junior, and I were planning the day and determining what needed to be cooked when.  Chili dogs were on the lunch menu and we were debating whether to grill or boil the hot-dogs.  Junior suggested we cook them in the cooler like we had the corn.  All be darn.  Hot-dogs steam just as well as corn in a cooler.

Junior holding in the steam

The only problem was we put the hot-dogs in a cooler with a twisted lid so the steam kept escaping.  Junior laid on it for the 45 minutes while they cooked.  They came out perfect.

(Though I didn't get a picture of them, we served the 10 inch Costco hot dogs in those big, red-checked, cardboard, boat-trays.  Bun, hotdog, Fritos, chili, then cheese sprinkled on top.  Those red-checked boats were nice for serving such large portions and even improved the taste with their eye-appeal.  It was almost as good an idea as cooking them in the cooler.)

Bryce getting his French toast, ham, and hashbrowns for breakfast

Monday, August 6, 2012

Monday Memories - Lest I Forget

Here are a few scout camp memories I'd like to remember:


One morning two young men came back to camp after swimming in the lake. They were very excited because they'd caught a crawdad. They asked Calvin if he would cook it for them.

He put one of the pots on to boil and they threw the one-clawed crawdad in. (He lost his other claw in the struggle.) And then, Calvin taught them the right way to eat a crawdad . . .

. . . with a half pound of butter. They loved it.


We had lots of offers to help us cook. There were usually a couple of boys and a couple of men that visited, chopped, stirred, or flipped with us.

One boy in particular came to help often. He is 17 and maybe weighs 110 pounds. He was so pleasant, happy, and willing to do whatever we asked him to do. (One time I sent him around to the other camps peddling salad. We had about 30 bags too many, so he spent an hour and a half pulling a cooler in the wagon trying to give it away. When he came back to camp he was pulling 8 watermelons.  He was so proud of his trade.)

One day, in the middle of the day, this boy was stirring a pot. It was hot and dusty all week so stirring over a hot burner only made it worse. Nevertheless there he stood standing over the burner stirring and stirring.  He never complained or suddenly remembered he had something else to do.  One of the boy's fellow troop members brought him a drink of punch in a cup.  As the boy started to drink he realized it had been filled with salt.  Thirty feet away four or five boys who were behind the prank began to laugh as he choked on the salt drink.  Their laughing got louder and turned to mocking. The boy kept stirring. Calvin went over to the boy, took the cup from him, and drank the whole thing.  The group of boys went silent.  Calvin patted the boy on the back and told him to keep stirring.

A few minutes later one of the boys involved in the prank said, “Sister Payne, Brother Payne is the coolest man ever.” I said, “I know. I told you he was.”

A little later in the day as we were preparing another meal, two of the boys who had poured the salt in the drink came over to watch me stir a pot.  We were visiting about nothing in particular.  After a bit I said, “Why in the world did you do that?” 

The two boys shrugged their shoulders and ducked their heads.  I turned to one and said, “Have you ever been the butt of a joke?” knowing full well he had.

He silently nodded. 

I looked at the other boy, “How about you?” knowing he was joke fodder as well.

He said, “Lots of times.”

I said, “Then why, oh why, would you turn around and do that to someone else when you know exactly what it feels like?”

They said, “It started out as an innocent prank.”

I said, “I know it did, but it soon turned into more than that and rather than standing up and being men and fixing it you let it get out of control. It didn’t take (the boy stirring the pot) long to quit laughing when he realized you weren’t laughing with him anymore.” 

The boys genuinely felt bad and agreed they needed to repair some damage.  

But I learned as much as those boys that hot afternoon.  Calvin drinking that cup of salt was a powerful object lesson.


And then, a night or two later while I was quietly washing dishes under the tree, I saw another boy in camp -- new to the area -- go up and apologize to a boy with a handicap. The new boy said, “Sorry I made those jokes at your expense this morning.” 

The other boy responded, “No problem bro,” and patted him on the back.

The new boy tried to explain himself, but the other boy said, “Really. No worries. Don’t think about it. It's all okay.”

Nothing more was said and they quietly parted ways.  It was one of those times, like when a dog licks and cleans his wounds, where life quietly heals and corrects itself and I was lucky enough to see it.


Another time I was riding a bus back to camp from the shower house when a young scout that was sitting in a seat across from me asked if I’d had a good shower. I told him I had, but that it was cold. He said without saying any “r’s”, “Well you just ought be glad you got a showew.” 

I laughed and said, “You are absolutely right. I am glad I got a shower.”

He continued to talk to me all the way back to camp about all kinds of things.  He was so darn funny. As we got off the bus to walk back to our camps, we saw boys carrying little bags of popcorn.  I asked my new friend if he wanted to go with me to find the popcorn and he said that he did.    As we walked along I said, “You have the most pleasant personality.” 

 He smiled and we continued to walk. Then he looked at me sideways and said, “What’s a personality?” 

I said, “Well, it’s who you are, what you laugh at, how you see things in life. You have a great personality.” 

He said, “Nobody’s ever told me that before."  Then he paused and said, "Not even my family has told me I have one of those."  

I said, “Well, they should, because you have a great one.” 

He said, “The boys in my camp don’t much like me. But Brother X does.  He is my friend. I just met him this week, but he's real nice to me.”  Brother X was a young leader (18 or so) that had quietly followed us and I imagine was his chaperone. 

After we got our popcorn my new friend and I split to go to our own camps, but not before he told me to come find him anytime. I don't know who I appreciated more -- that fun little boy or Brother X who looked out for him.  

Sunday, August 5, 2012

52 Blessings – Scout Camp

I mentioned last week that Calvin was asked to cook for 160-180 people at scout camp this past week. We left Monday morning about 5:00 am and got home Saturday afternoon. We cooked fourteen meals without electricity, running water, or fires. Not one person got a foodborne illness so that spelled success in my book of expectations.

Size and number of pots needed.  That big one on the right, when filled to the handles, will feed 100.

And the fact that we also had a great time and the food was really good made it even more successful.

There were over 2,000 boys at the camp besides all the leaders.  It was tree to tree tents. When we first arrived at the camp I texted family and said, “Men everywhere.  I now begin my role as Sacajawea.  Wish me luck.” 

Rachel, the historian, wrote back, “You do remember Sacajawea was married to a jerk don’t you?”  That I did not remember.  And since I later passed another woman waiting in the bus line to go home to sleep and shower, I don't have an ounce of Shoshone blood, nor is Calvin a jerk, I wasn’t really Sacajawea anyway; but I was outnumbered.

We have many Eagle Scouts in our family, I’ve served as a merit badge counselor, been a Blazer leader, stapled merit badges on the sash in a pinch, and gone to scout camp once before, so I’m not ignorant of the scouting program, but this week I finally appreciated it.  I realized what a valuable program it is for so many young men.  Our boys had the benefit of a father who loves the outdoors and camped with them.  They also had the advantage of growing up on a farm and digging deep holes, making forts, using a pocket knife and b.b. guns, building fires, and climbing corrals and ropes.  But this week I better appreciated how few boys get those opportunities.  The scouting program allows for many young men - those with fathers as well as those who don’t have father figures in their home - to be mentored by good men and to participate in activities that help boys become men. (I’m sure much of my newfound perception came from things learned in Why Gender Matters by Leonard Sax.)

For many years I was a stake girls’ camp director and stake young women’s leader, so I have a lot of great memories from girls’ camp as well.  It was interesting seeing the contrast of the two camps.  One is certainly no better than the other, but they are run differently.

For example:

Boys don’t sing nonsensical songs.  Ever.  Camp morale comes from lots and lots of food rather than songs.

Another difference is that women keep the girls organized while men give boys a very long leash.

One other is how they make food.  I’ve seen cooks at girls’ camp pray that the food will stretch and feed the 5000, whereas men bring out their power tools and mortar mixers to feed the masses.

Calvin whipping the pancake batter.

It was a great opportunity to work and go camping with Calvin this week.  It was exhausting, but very rewarding.  It was surely one of this summer’s blessings for me and I suppose for many others as well.