Sunday, August 2, 2015

52 Blessings - Six Weeks of Summer from A to Z

Afton and Atlas.

Afton holding Kathryn

At the beginning of the summer, I went to Mississippi to be with Ty and Michelle as they welcomed Kathryn Cali to their family.

Afton is 3 years old and tries so very hard to do well in what she does.  She asks hundreds of legitimate questions a day and is very aware of what is going on around her and how people respond to her.  Each day she and I listened to an audio book before we took a nap. Her choices were books on whales, sharks, and alligators, but when we went to buy a new swimsuit she didn't hesitate to pick the swimsuit with a tutu.  She's a perfect combination of glitter and guts.

I very much enjoy visiting with her and her desire to learn and do.  I was so glad to get to spend time with her one on one.   

Atlas drinking a fresh raspberry shake

Atlas' language reminds me of a primer reader.  He says things like: "I kick."  "I hit."  "I jump."  "I joke."  "I funny."   He does have one 3 word phrase and that is, "It's a good day."  He says it whenever something makes him happy.  He said it over and over as he went up and down the row of raspberries looking for red ones.  Each time he found one he'd squeal and say, "Another one!"

I very much enjoy his jokes, his laugh, and his stamp of approval, "it's a good day."  It's been fun to see him several times this summer.

Berries.  Berries.  Berries.

We've had a bumper crop of raspberries and blackberries.  The strawberries were on the slight side, but the others more than made up for them.  Jam, cobbler, pie, yogurt smoothies, shakes, shortcake, syrup, fruit leather . . . there is no shortage of places to use them.


Calvin traded a black-powder rifle he'd made for this WWII era jeep.  Often in the evenings when it's cooler, we go for a drive along the back roads and canals.  I don't know who enjoys it most, Calvin, me or Dan, the dog. The crops smell so good and it goes just fast enough to create a wind.  Calvin calls it the convertible. He has a very active imagination.

One more check on his bucket list.

Dog Days.

What a summer.  This was a June temperature.  We have fairly dripped several days.

Eliza and Ezra.

Eliza twists your brain.  She says complete sentences in very clear words, but she still has baby features and baby hair and is not even two.  Listening to her is like watching an identity theft commercial.

One of my favorite memories of Eliza this summer is wearing her on my hip as we went grocery shopping with Ty and Afton and listening to her tell me things.

She especially loves one of her mother's friends.  I'm not exactly sure what her name is, but I know that Eliza calls her Barfus and I've never heard anything sweeter.

I was so glad I got to spend some time with her this summer and see how her little mind clicks.  Just thinking of her makes me smile.

Ezra is growing up right before my Facetime eyes.  He has started to kiss me and talk through the phone.  It's pretty sweet.

My favorite thing to see is Ezra look at Ande and talk to her.  His love for his mother shows so clearly on his face. Since becoming a grandmother I've noticed, like never before, the incredibly strong bond between a mother and a child. Ezra reminds me on a frequent basis of the sacred privilege it is to be a mother.

Flat tire.

I ruined a tire.  Badly. It's my first flat on the freeway. It was scary.  The good news is I did not lose control.  The other good news is some men I knew were only a few miles behind me on the freeway and they pulled over and changed it for me.  We were only 15 minutes late to our meeting.


Eldon has 399 Gladiolus blooms and he shares them freely with all his neighbors.  There is something exciting about waking up to a bouquet of Glads on the kitchen table.


We spent a fun 4th of July with Abe, Grace and Henry. Henry is easy-going and especially loves balls and books . . . and wandering.  We went to the Olympia Farmer's Market and he was in heaven . . . bins and bins of apples, apricots, and peaches that look and feel like balls, and because he's a little people, he could easily weave his way through the crowd.  

I love how children have no awareness of personal space.  Henry happily grabbed a stranger's leg or squeezed between people that were in his way.  He is personable and people were anxious to interact with him. 

Cali has boys, Ande has boys, Ty has girls.  Henry is the first grandchild that is the same gender as our child who is the parent.  I see bits and pieces of our children in all of our grandchildren, but it's especially easy to see Abe in Henry's behavior.

I'm so grateful that we get to have a few years close to Abe and Grace.  I don't know where the Army will take them next, but I don't take this time of being close to Henry for granted.  I thoroughly enjoy him.

Ice Cream and Idaho Spuds.

Every now and then someone will tell me they're not eating sugar and I wonder if I should consider it. But just as quickly, I think, "Now why would I do that?" and the thought goes out as fast as it came in.  I like dessert.  Especially in the summer.


Some of the great things about the month of July are the 4th, a scrapbooking retreat with family and friends, and my birthday.

Ever since I was a little kid and read in my Book of Remembrance that I was born at 2:19 p.m., I have watched the clock -- a moment of silence, if you will -- at that minute on my birthday.

This year on July 15th,  I read this text from Ande at 2:23 pm

Moment of silence - peanut buster parfait.  I now know my price.


The day after school I flew to Mississippi to meet Kathryn.  Holding a new little grandchild brings a swarm of feelings:  There is the beauty of thinking of where they've been and how they came to be who they are, there is the perfectness of a miniature person and Heavenly Father's plan to help that baby grow and develop and become, and there is the wonder of the future.  Holding and rocking Kathryn made the world temporarily stand still.

I love this quote by F.W. Boreham:

We fancy that God can only manage His world by big battalions . . . when all the while He is doing it by beautiful babies. . . . When a wrong wants righting, or a work wants doing, or a truth wants preaching, or a continent wants opening, God sends a baby into the world to do it. That is why, long, long ago, a babe was born at Bethlehem.

It is an incredible blessing to have and to be a part of a family and the day Kathryn was born our family became a little better.


Levin is learning conversational skills and if there is a pause in the conversation will say, "And how was your day Grandma?"

He always wants me to tell him a story.  Whether on the phone or on my lap.

The other day we were pretending that he and Atlas were gorillas and I was giving them bugs (mints) and bananas to eat.  He was such a sweet little gorilla and lapped up the pretend water out of my hands before he put his head in my hands to sleep.

I'm grateful the Folletts live close enough so that we get to see them often.  I very much enjoy watching Levin explore and think and become independent.

Memorial Day.

We started the summer with a flag ceremony with the Ray Follett and the Abe Payne families and my niece Jesse.

Before the flag was raised, we each shared why we love America.  Levin's was the simplest and perhaps the most profound.  He said, "I love America because I have a flag on my heart."

We chuckled and said, "Yes.  Yes, you do," but I have thought about his phrase several times since then.  It reminded me of when Jesus said, "Where your treasure is, there will your heart be also." I need to remember to be real careful where I put my time and which treasures I pick.


We have had a 3 nests in the garden this year.  There was one in the blackberries and one in the raspberries and then this one in the cucumbers.  I always wonder how birds make their final choice as to where to build and if there is an unspoken zoning law of sorts among birds.  (Obviously I've read the P.D. Eastman children's book The Best Nest a few too many times to wonder about these things.)

Open Road.

One reason I was sad to move from Idaho was losing a country road to walk on.  Little did I know then that there would be a road even less traveled in Washington and walking it would make all the difference.  It has been a very happy road, my thinking place, my wailing wall . . . my sanity.

This summer one of my goals as been to restore my energy, I let it run down this past year. This road has helped me to do it.  I'm feeling optimistic and rested and energized.  Thank you road.

Patches and Pickles.

When Abe and Ty received their Eagle rank in Boy Scouts I was so happy to know patch sewing was over.  (I'm being very generous to even suggest it was an inconvenience because we borrowed shirts and patches and sashes whenever we could, but still . . . the dread-memory is current.)

Recently Calvin needed me to sew some patches on a scout shirt for him.  It was just as hard as I remembered and I felt like I'd sewn a wedding dress by the time I was finished.

Who knows how long he'll need that shirt, but those patches are sewn so tight they won't go anywhere without the shirt.

The Spanish Branch had it's first Eagle Scout ever.

Calvin and Jaime

At the Court of Honor, Calvin told the story of when he was in the army and was up for promotion. He was up against a valiant soldier that had served two tours in Viet Nam filled with dangerous missions.  The other man received the Silver Star for bravery.  The two of them had tied scores on all of the physical and academic promotion tests.  The tie-breaker was who had earned the rank of Eagle. Calvin was promoted over the other soldier because of that award.  I love to hear him tell the story.

Our melon patch is producing all kinds of melons.  Now we just need to learn how to tell when they are ripe.  These two were not.

I made Expert Sweet Pickles.  I haven't made them in a very, very, very long time because they take two weeks to make and you need 150 little cucumbers at once. The garden obliged, so I filled the crock and started a batch.

As I neared the end of the two weeks, I couldn't remember if I was supposed to use green food coloring or not.  I debated back and forth for a couple of days (you have that long to make the decision when pickles brine for two weeks) and finally decided that was the secret I forgot to write down on the recipe.  

Big note to self:  That is not the secret.  There is no secret.  You don't use green food coloring.

I'm so sad. Though they taste fine, they don't look fine. My friend's husband said he thinks I should market them as Ugly Pickles.  He thinks I may have a seller.  I told him he's not very funny.


"Be still, and know that I am God."  - Psalms 46:10

I took this picture out on one of our jeep rides.  Those rides are so great . . . and slow . . . and quiet.


Each summer a group of friends get together for a four-day retreat where we work on scrapbooks, histories, sewing, and craft projects.  We've been doing it for over a decade.  The first retreat was over a decade ago and it has evolved until it's now a group of friends and their daughters who come together.

I look forward to this each summer. I love catching up with friends and making deeper connections. I love the good food.  I love getting our memories preserved and organized.

This year Cali and I got to go together again. I loved sitting next to her and seeing her projects come to life and showing her my projects. I loved kneeling in bed each night as we said our prayers and went to sleep talking about important things.  I loved going to church and quietly sitting together in the pew.  It truly was a retreat.


Calvin's dad used to call him Calvino.  He also called him King Tut on occasion.  A humble child Calvin was.

One night I came home late from a meeting and he had made spaghetti sauce with tomatoes from the garden.  I said, "Ohhhhhh myyyy.  This looks good.  Authentic even."

He said, "Of course it is.  When they don't call me See-more, they call me Calvino."

It was very good and he had made enough we had it for leftovers AND then I made a huge pan of lasagna and put it in the freezer for later.

I have a versatile husband and I love him for it.


I was hired to work full-time where I've previously worked part-time. (I teach religion classes to high school aged students for The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints.)  Calvin and I attended two days of training in Salt Lake City for my new responsibilities. We had such a great time and gained an enlarged perspective.

A month later I drove to Portland for more training. We hiked to this beautiful waterfall.

I like training.

Uncle Fullmer's Funeral.

Calvin's uncle died.  He hadn't seen many of his cousins in 35 years and he suspected he might not have an opportunity to ever see them again, so he flew to Arizona to the funeral.

Calvin was disappointed he didn't take many pictures.  He may have forgotten to take pictures of his cousins and family, but he took this picture he said because the Honor Guard was so humble and respectful.  The man on the left carried his oxygen tank as well as his weapon.  The commander had to repeat himself loudly several times because some of the men were hard of hearing and missed his commands.  Calvin was impressed that though it wasn't easy or convenient for these men, they continued to serve their country and fellowman.    

Calvin really enjoyed being with his family and especially staying with his sister Bev and spending time with her kids and her grandchildren.


 In my mind, vignette means a small grouping or a sampling of a whole.  With that definition, here are two vignettes in our home that make me happy.  One is on my bedroom dresser and the other in the kitchen window sill.  They are satisfying.

Maybe I'll just call them vinettes since they both have sprigs in them.  Vignettes, vinettes, they stilll make me happy.


We've had a great summer working -- in our jobs and out.  Our jobs keep us busy and then our yard and garden and the animals fill in the extra hours.

We've bottled a lot of food from the garden.  It's only the first week in August and already we've canned salsa using peppers, onions, cilantro, and tomatoes.  We've also bottled dill and Jane's Ugly Pickles with dill and cucumbers.  We've frozen gallons of raspberries and blackberries and made jam and syrup as well. We bought corn on the cob (it takes too much room in our garden) and froze it one Saturday.  We also canned chicken and chicken broth for the first time.

Work is a very good thing.  When God told Adam that he would eat by the sweat of his face, he wasn't teasing him.  The food we raise has a special flavor to it.  Sweat, I think.


Calvin and I took a load of broken windows and heaters to the dump.  Disturbing.  So much stuff.  I imagine WalMart after a tornado looks a lot like what we saw.


Here's a picture of my little brother Lee and younger sister Janet.  I found it again working on scrapbooks.


Zeph Facetimes me often.  He likes to take me throughout the house and show me things like his bed and the house giraffe.  He likes me to show him the chickens, cow, Dan and the less-than-interested cat.  He likes it when I pretend I can't see him and then say, "There you are!"  Children never seem to tire of any version of Peek-a-Boo or her older sister Hide-n-Seek.  He especially loves to push the red button on the phone when our conversation is over.

He calls Ande "mama" and is raising tadpoles in his little swimming pool in the back yard.  Each day he feeds them fish food.

Here he is drawing a picture of Grandma.

I'm very much looking forward to seeing him in a few weeks.  I can think of no better way to spend a summer day than helping Zeph gather the eggs in real time rather than virtual time and lying on the floor and coloring with him.

And that's a quick, albeit not complete, recap of a few of our summer blessings.

1 comment:

melanie said...

I loved every bit of this. I'm not sure how you restored your energy is such a short time, full of so many memories but I'm really glad you did. It's been a great summer for you!