Friday, February 27, 2009

Life in My World--Grandma Julia

Grandma & Grandpa Hoops

Grandma Julia would have been 103 today. She liked to drive a luxury car and wear diamonds. She drove her friends that were too old for driver's licenses or who had never learned to drive to their doctor’s appointments, shopping and to church. When I went to see Grandma, like it as not, we would spend part of our day driving someone somewhere.

One afternoon back in the late 60’s or early 70’s, I was sitting in the back seat listening to Grandma and one of her friends visiting. They were discussing the moral decline of TV. Grandma said, “I just don’t know what it’s all coming to. Why, there’s a killing every month on Gunsmoke now. One a month! I just don’t know how long we can continue watching that kind of killing.” Her friend tsk-tsk’ed and shook her head back and forth in agreement. I remember the conversation clearly because I was afraid my folks would wise up to Matt Dillon killing more than he was capturing. If that happened there would be no Matt Dillon bringing men to justice every week, there would be no Miss Kitty, Doc, Festus and his mule or popcorn at our house on Saturday nights. I never told my folks and Gunsmoke played on. Whenever I see an episode of "24" with Jack Bauer and Chloe meting justice, I can't help but wonder what Grandma would say.

Grandma used to take me to the toy department in the basement of King’s to choose something for my birthday. One year I simply could not decide between a Big Wheel and a doll. I stood and stared at one and then walked to the next aisle and stared at the other. Back and forth. Back and forth. She never hurried me. She just walked back and forth with me until I made a choice. Which do you think I chose?

Updated: A doll was what I chose and I named her Judy, after my mom's hairdresser.

Thursday, February 26, 2009

Gift Idea--Use Your Creativity to Bless Another

Powerful. Humbling. True. Exciting. A gift to all mankind to bless all mankind.

I already told you what I thought about our creative abilities in Who Me? but I wanted you to see this video that Kristi mentioned. There are more inspiring videos posted here.

Wednesday, February 25, 2009

Homemaking Tip—100 Calorie Packs

Cali has this habit of re-bagging everything right after the Wal-Mart checker has bagged it. The thought of coming out with ten plastic bags when five would suffice is not acceptable to her. I’m not crazy about a plethora of plastic bags either, but I’ve watched those checkers’ disdain when they see Cali redoing their work and well, I’d rather deal with extra bags than their icy glares.

However . . . in the privacy of home I re-bag to my heart's content. I’ve already showed a couple of examples before here and here.

But sometimes I’m like the Wal-Mart checkers and I don’t condense bags at all. In fact, for convenience, I multiply them like I did here.

Today I walked down the Easter candy aisle and found great buys on all of my favorites—Cadbury eggs, black jelly beans, robin eggs and Hershey coconut kisses. For $8.15 I bought one of each. As I was driving home I was wondering how in the world I was going to pace myself through that candy so I wouldn’t gain weight. I thought of the exorbitant prices Nabisco charges for their 100 calorie packs to alleviate people’s fear of gaining weight and thought, “Hey. I’ll just make my own 100 calorie portion packs.” And so I did.

And Jane and her 100 calorie bags of candy lived happily ever after . . . well, at least they will until Cali comes to visit and condenses all the bags.
What would you put in your 100 calorie bags?

Tuesday, February 24, 2009

SPT—Calvin, I’m saying I love you when . . .


. . . I bring you a glass of water instead of a can of pop and prepare far too many vegetables and make your salad too big for supper while ignoring your request to only serve meat, it’s also why I try to sneak whole wheat into everything and nag you to simmer down when a rude driver tailgates you on the highway.

Yup, my heart is with your heart and I love it with all I’ve got . . .

Monday, February 23, 2009

Monday Memories—Games to Pass the Time

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Now are these happy travelers or what?

Darla posted some of the games she plays with her kids to pass the time in the car or in doctors’ offices. She listed Hangman, the ABC game as well as The Alphabet Game and I Spy. She asked what games we play to kill time in the car or in an office. I have no idea what some of our games are actually called, but I’ve described them here for you:

1. The game where you spell words by setting up a rotating order and then each of you add a letter to the person’s letter before. If you are the one who finishes spelling a word or if someone contests you because they don’t think you really have a word in mind and you don’t, you are out. For example:

Cali: “P”
Abe: “E”
Ty: “S”
Ande: “T” Ande is out. It doesn’t matter that she planned on spelling pesticide, “pest” is a word before pesticide and she added the last letter which made it a word, therefore she is out (or if you want to play a longer version, she gets an “H” for that round and when she gets all of the letters in “horse” she is out).

We played this game a lot while weeding the garden. A few of us were spelling challenged and I thought this would help. I’m not sure if it did, but it certainly passed a lot of hours and kept the kids working.

2. The game that has hank-panks, hanky-pankies and hankity-pankities. You think of rhyming words and depending upon how many syllables in the rhyming words they are hank-panks (one syllable), hanky-pankies (two-syllables) or hankity-pankities (three or more syllables). You give clues for your rhyming words. For example:

Hank-Pank Clue: obese feline

Fat Cat

Hanky-Panky Clue: librarian

Reader Leader

Here is a hank-pank from a trip we took to the Little Bighorn Battlefield.

Clue: Erosion.

Give up? Rain Stain. (One of my most brilliant hank-panks ever. My kids still think it is a stupid one, but I’m proud of it because nobody ever guessed it and it lasted for miles and miles. Besides, erosion is a stain the rain leaves.

(Can you imagine the fun Dr. Seuss would have had playing Hank-Panks? I love this game more than our kids [let me rephrase that, more than our kids loved it], perhaps because it made the journey across Death Valley bearable for me as a little girl.)

3. I kept a little suitcase full games and the kids only got to play them in the car. Games like car bingo, view finder, the little toys that you fill with water and then try to get the rings on the dolphin’s nose by pushing a button, travel chess, Brainquest cards, a game where you match the Spanish word with the English word, etc.

4. Reading aloud. This was my favorite because there were no lost pieces and no fighting over who won. When the kids were little I read the books, but when they grew older they read them. Thank you Ande (and a few chapters go to Ty) for getting me through four Harry Potter’s.

5. Finding as many different states on license plates as possible.

6. T.L.’s. If you have heard something positive about someone you say, “I have a T.L. for you.” Then, they must tell you something positive that they have heard about you before you tell them the T.L. you had for them. I’m still not positive what T.L. stands for, but it’s a happy game.

7. That game that is made of ten dots across and ten dots down (making 100 dots total) and you draw a line between the dots and try to make a box where you sign your initial. As you can see, I am poor at technical writing, but I hope I have described it well enough that it at least sounds familiar.

8. The first one to see a deer (or antelope or elk) gets a milkshake at the next town. At least this is the game in theory. I don't remember anyone ever actually getting a milkshake.

9. Ummmm, this isn't a game, but it's definitely a way we passed a lot of time in the car and it is the reason everyone in our family knows the lyrics by heart to Ghost Riders, Little Joe the Wrangler, Tumbling Tumbleweeds, North to Alaska, The Battle of New Orleans, Rawhide, The Alamo, etc. Singing. Yes. The lot of us. Imagine it if you can. Quality has never been a prerequisite. And, . . . no one teaches history like Johnny Horton.

How about you? What games do you use to pass the time with kids? I’d love to read your favorites, or head to Darla’s and put your ideas in her comments.

Friday, February 20, 2009

Life in My World—A Few for Friday

We’re on the countdown with Ty. In his e-mail this week he said that his mission president said it is time to choose an exit date. We’re still waiting to hear from the Air Force Academy on the date he needs to report, so that will play a factor, but still . . . it’s exciting to start thinking of him returning home. It is a mixed bag though, because it is an incredibly thrilling opportunity to have your child serve a mission and I will miss that.

Seemore is the sweetest dog. Along with fetching, he now sits . . . except for when he first comes in the house after he’s been gone with Calvin all day to work. Calvin loves to bring him in to tell me hello and Seemore gets so excited. If I’m sitting in a chair he charges and nearly jumps in my lap. Yesterday I heard them coming through the garage and I didn’t want to be attacked so I hid behind the couch. Calvin came in, looked around and said, “Come on Seemore, she’s not here. Let’s go find her.” Too late. Seemore had already sensed where I was and had run around the couch and tackled me in my crouched position.
He goes on a walk with me every night, which has made me more consistent and walk faster. After our walk he is wasted. He gladly crawls back in his kennel and falls sound asleep, complete with snore. He does not like his shiny, stainless steel bowl that Cali and Ray bought him for Christmas. When he gets near the bottom of his food he thinks he sees another dog in his reflection and growls and backs away from the bowl.
In the evenings and on Saturdays he loves to lay by the fire out in the shop while Calvin is working on his gun. We remind me of an old couple with only a dog for company. All we need is a checkerboard and a pantry full of canned dog food and we’re there.

We’re headed to bigger town tonight with some friends. They said there’s a new rib restaurant there and since we need to pick up supplies for a young single adult ward party, we might as well try it. I’m hoping we can stop for a minute at the scrapbook store for supplies—I’ve got a mission book to start and finish in a couple of months.

Seldom do I find the symbolism in novels. No, seldom isn’t even accurate, let me restate that: almost never do I see the subtle symbolism in novels. Anybody that has ever been in a bookclub discussion with me will vouch for that sentence. I console myself that though I don’t find the deeper meanings I do find some working knowledge—something I can apply. In The Guernsey Literary and Potato Peel Pie Society, the character Juliet writes to an associate,

“Since you should know something about me, I have asked the Reverend to write to you . . . (because he) is fond of me. I have asked Lady Bella to provide a reference for me, too . . . she wholeheartedly dislikes me. Between the two of them, you may get a fair picture of my character.”

That sentence has made me pause with cause to think. Identifying who thinks the lowliest and who thinks the highest of me, along with the sum total of their assessments, kept me and Seemore busy one whole walk. Can you identify the two people you’d choose for references with those stipulations?

Thursday, February 19, 2009

Gift Idea—Thank You Very Much

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President Thomas S. Monson told this story: “Several years ago we had a young paperboy who didn't always deliver the paper in the manner intended. Instead of getting the paper on the porch, he sometimes accidentally threw it into the bushes or even close to the street. Some on his paper route decided to start a petition of complaint. One day a delegation came to our home and asked my wife, Frances, to sign the petition. She declined, saying, "Why, he's just a little boy, and the papers are so heavy for him. I would never be critical of him, for he tries his best." The petition, however, was signed by many of the others on the paper route and sent to the boy's supervisors.

“Not many days afterward, I came home from work and found Frances in tears. When she was finally able to talk, she told me that she had just learned that the body of the little paperboy had been found in his garage, where he had taken his own life. Apparently the criticism heaped upon him had been too much for him to bear. How grateful we were that we had not joined in that criticism. What a vivid lesson this has always been regarding the importance of being nonjudgmental and treating everyone with kindness.”

If criticism has the power to destroy, then surely speaking well of others has the power to build. What a great gift—to build another. Teachers, nurses, waitresses, housekeepers, doctors—everybody can benefit from a letter of commendation in their professional file. The next time you’ve been treated well and would like to send a “Thank you” gift, consider sending a letter of commendation for their professional file (by sending the letter to the administration or boss of the person you want to thank) as well as to the person to whom you want to show appreciation.

Receiving a thank you card is a wonderful gift and receiving a thank you card in your professional file makes that gift last a very long time.
Have you ever received a thank-you letter for your professional file?
Who have you sent a "professional file" thank-you to?

Wednesday, February 18, 2009



It's official! Grace is no longer "Abe's friend" she is his fiancee. Hooray for Abe. Hooray for Grace. Hooray for us. Hooray for July 1st.

Tuesday, February 17, 2009

SPT--The thing that first attracted me to Calvin was . . .


(Calvin listening to someone play the bagpipes, or accordian, or piano, or nose-flute or something...I can't remember now what it was, but I do remember that everyone else in the hall was buzzing around when I looked over and there he was doing what he does so well, just listening.)

. . . he was such a good listener.

Our first date Calvin asked me lots of questions about myself and then was genuinely interested in my responses. It was very refreshing. When I went back to my apartment that night I thought, "Whether he ever asks me out again or not, I have found a friend."

Lucky for me he asked me out again and again and again . . . and he is still a good listener.

Monday, February 16, 2009

Monday Memories—Abraham Lincoln


Abraham Lincoln was my first hero. I was in first or second grade when I adopted him. My friends liked Elvis Presley, but once I heard about Abraham Lincoln living in a log cabin and feeling sorry for slaves, I comfortably had a hero. It’s no wonder:

Lincoln didn’t take himself too seriously. Once, during a political debate, his rival accused him of being “two-faced.” Lincoln replied, “I leave it to my audience. If I had another face, do you think I’d wear this one?” Humor was his therapy. Once during the dark days of the Civil War, he said, “I laugh because I must not cry; that’s all—that’s all.”

As jovial and friendly as he was, not everyone liked Lincoln—including his future father-in-law. Mary Todd was born into the aristocracy of Lexington, Kentucky. She was described by her friends as vivacious, impulsive—“the very creature of excitement.” Boasting a fashionably plump figure, long lashes and clear blue eyes, Lincoln was mesmerized by her. However, Mary’s father thought she could do better and thought Abe was nothing but a gangly, deeply in debt, country bumpkin. Abe was hurt by the Todd family rejection, telling a friend, “One d is enough for God, but the Todd’s need two.” However, Lincoln prevailed and on November 4, 1842 Mary Todd became Mrs. Abraham Lincoln. A week after their marriage, Abe wrote a letter to his friend, Samuel Marshall, closing it with, “Nothing new here, except my marrying, which to me, is a matter of profound wonder.” And many years later, while watching Mary put their guests at ease at a White House reception, he said, “My wife is as handsome as when she was a girl, and I . . . fell in love with her; and what is more, I have never fallen out.”*

Though Lincoln was resilient and resolute, the Civil War brought dark and lonely years for the famed president. As the death tolls mounted, his spirits sunk. Yet, with the stress of a tearing nation and battlefield woes, he continued to be a kind husband and father. He found solace in his young sons living in the White House with Mary and him—Willie and Tad. (Robert, their eldest son, was away studying at Harvard.) The boys had a menagerie of pets, including a goat that slept with Tad. Lincoln took the boys with him to visit the troops and wrestled with them on the White House floors. In February of 1862 the boys came down with fevers. Tad recovered, but Willie did not. This was Abe and Mary’s second son to have died and they both plunged into depression. Mary could not attend the funeral and refused to leave the White House for three months after Willie’s death. Lincoln wept alone. He was heard to say, “He (Willie) was too good for this earth, it is hard, hard to have him die.”

Lincoln knew that the secession of the Southern States would destroy our nation and he took every measure to prevent it. Both the North and South would become disgruntled with him over favoritism. Many sensed there was a bounty on his head. Just five days after General Robert E. Lee surrendered—Abraham Lincoln was assassinated. The afternoon before he was shot, April 14, 1965, Abe told Mary, “I never felt so happy in my life.” They attended the British comedy, Our American Cousin, that evening. Mary sat very close to Abe with her hand in his and whispered to him, “What will Miss Harris think of my hanging on to you so?” Mr. Lincoln replied, “She won’t think anything about it”—his last recorded words. Soon after, John Wilkes Booth entered the play box where the Lincolns and their guests were sitting and shot President Lincoln at point-blank range. He died the following morning.

Three days prior to his assassination Lincoln told a few friends and Mary about a dream he had:

"About ten days ago, I retired very late. I had been up waiting for important dispatches from the front. I could not have been long in bed when I fell into a slumber, for I was weary. I soon began to dream. There seemed to be a death-like stillness about me. Then I heard subdued sobs, as if a number of people were weeping. I thought I left my bed and wandered downstairs. There the silence was broken by the same pitiful sobbing, but the mourners were invisible. I went from room to room; no living person was in sight, but the same mournful sounds of distress met me as I passed along. I saw light in all the rooms; every object was familiar to me; but where were all the people who were grieving as if their hearts would break? I was puzzled and alarmed. What could be the meaning of all this? Determined to find the cause of a state of things so mysterious and so shocking, I kept on until I arrived at the East Room, which I entered. There I met with a sickening surprise. Before me was a catafalque, on which rested a corpse wrapped in funeral vestments. Around it were stationed soldiers who were acting as guards; and there was a throng of people, gazing mournfully upon the corpse, whose face was covered, others weeping pitifully. 'Who is dead in the White House?' I demanded of one of the soldiers, 'The President,' was his answer; 'he was killed by an assassin.' Then came a loud burst of grief from the crowd, which woke me from my dream. I slept no more that night; and although it was only a dream, I have been strangely annoyed by it ever since."

A fitting eulogy could be taken from Lincoln’s own words. He began his second inauguration speech, “With malice toward none; with charity for all; with firmness in the right . . . “ He proved he truly believed these words on the night of the surrender of the South at Appomattox by General Lee. While he was serenaded by many enthusiastic Unionists, President Lincoln asked the band to play “Dixie”, the song of the South. Truly a man “with malice toward none; with charity for all” was Abe Lincoln, the 16th President of the United States of America.

Happy 200th Birthday, Mr. Lincoln.

Are you a Lincoln aficionado?

*much negativity is written about Mary Todd and her relationship with Abe Lincoln, however, it has been determined that the original less favorable articles were written by Abe’s business partner who didn’t care for her. I was glad to find these words from Abe Lincoln about his feelings toward her.

Sunday, February 15, 2009

52 Blessings—Grace

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I’m grateful for Grace, Abe’s friend. She couldn’t have a more perfect name.

Definitions of 'GRACE'

1. (noun) grace, gracility elegance and beauty of movement or expression
"a beautiful figure which she used in subtle movements of unparalleled grace"

2. (noun) seemliness, grace a sense of propriety and consideration for others
"a place where the company of others must be accepted with good grace"

3. (noun) grace, good will, goodwill a disposition to kindness and compassion
"the victor's grace in treating the vanquished"

4. (noun) Grace (Greek mythology) one of three sisters who were the givers of beauty and charm

5. (verb) deck, adorn, decorate, grace, embellish, beautify be beautiful to look at
"Flowers graced the tables everywhere"

Do you match your name?

Saturday, February 14, 2009

Luck of the Draw—Valentine’s Day

The other day during a commercial break Calvin asked if I wanted a pajama-gram for Valentine’s Day. It made me laugh because, well, just because it did and he’s never suggested a pajama-gram before. Later he asked me if I wanted a whatever-they-advertise-on-O’Reilly-gram for Valentine’s Day. Still later he asked me what I did want for Valentine’s Day—candy, flowers, chocolate, dinner at a restaurant (he stopped before he offered diamonds). I had already picked up a $5 red and white bouquet so he wouldn’t have to brave the chaos and I assured him our twenty year tradition of a steak and shrimp dinner at home was still perfect for me. We had a wonderful meal with a nice salad, mashed cheese potatoes, steamed vegetables, shrimp and steak. We both enjoy fixing and eating a good meal together. Happy Valentine's Day to us.

Cali and I made Jill’s Sugar Cookies this morning. They are so very good. I really like the recipe. Cali and Ande both have the patience to fight dough and make cut-out cookies, whereas I roll it into little balls. Cali cut the cookies while I mixed the frosting. We’re a good team in the kitchen and visiting made it even more fun. Note of encouragement to young mothers, if you wait long enough it’s really fun to cook with your kids in the kitchen.

This week we also used Amy’s grilled salmon recipe. It was wonderful and I am excited to use it again.
A happy Valentine's Day to you.

Friday, February 13, 2009

Life in My World—A Few for Friday


When Cali changed jobs a few months ago the hospital offered her a modern apartment in downtown Seattle overlooking Puget Sound while she found housing. It came complete with a lobby attendant and cleaning service once a week. The lease ended this week and Ray had to be in Arizona for meetings, so Calvin and I went over to help move the last load or two they hadn’t been able to do earlier.

Ray and Cali moved up the hill into a wonderful mother-in-law apartment in a quaint house. The apartment windows have age bubbles in the glass and the yard is filled with exotic plants. There is a fire pit in an arboretum in the back yard. Seattle boasts of being eclectic and the diversity between the two apartments supports the claim.


I do not like the stimulus package.


Strawberry cupcakes, frosted sugar cookies, cherry turnovers, zinger hearts—it’s the week of white flour and sugar at our house.

Tuesday, February 10, 2009

SPT—I think it would be romantic to . . .

I had to go to the archives for this one

. . . oh gee, I’m blushing even thinking about something for this self-portrait challenge. I daresn’t say. I would have to adopt a pen name.

However, I could share this letter I wrote my sister a few years ago:

Dear Rachel,

The family canoed the Spokane River to Roosevelt Lake. We had two to a canoe—Calvin and I shared one. As we paddled along, Calvin said, “This is romantic.” And it was, he romantically dreamed that he was Lewis or Clark and I was his load of furs; I romantically dreamed that I was in Venice, and he was rowing my gondola. It was great.”

Love, Jane

Monday, February 9, 2009

Monday Memories—The Useful Pet



Other than the one Thanksgiving when I was about seven or eight and put three jelly beans in a nest of quilt batting and carried them around in a little square box pretending they were my baby rabbits, I’ve never had my own pet. The kids would argue with that statement and say the chickens are my pets, but I hardly think it right to call something a pet if you got it with the intent to eat it. Though I’ve been surrounded by plenty of animals through the years, with the exception of one, they were useful animals. The dogs and horses were used to help gather and move the cows (the exception, Spider, was a Chihuahua and his little legs didn’t go far or help much. Imagine, if you will, him running down the road after a herd of cows). It remains to be seen if See-more will fall in the useful category or not. For now he is keeping Calvin company, going on walks with me and fetching a knotted rope. You just never know when you might need a knotted rope fetched.

Sunday, February 8, 2009

52 Blessings—♫♪♫

I’m headed back to 52 Blessings for my Sunday posts because I’ve missed them. I loved writing about the little things with which the Lord blesses my life. When I find a quotable quote to tack on, sometimes I’ll do that too.

It doesn’t matter whether it is a folk song, jingle, ballad, hymn or anthem, with words or strictly instrumental, I love uplifting music. Thanks to Rachel Christensen, my piano teacher, after seven years I can find a beat (while we played she tapped it out with her pencil on the side of the piano until we found it). However, it appears ability has little to do with enjoyment because I don't sing or play well, in fact I'm fairly musically illiterate, but I know enough to know that I would be robbed of much spirituality, pleasure and happiness if there was no music. The fact that someone invented the violin just makes it that much better.
What instrument do you like to hear?
Did you appreciate this song?

Saturday, February 7, 2009

Life in My World—Smatterings for a Saturday

laundry makes a great book prop!

Calvin got a dog for Christmas. We’ve had lots of dogs through the years, but the last two vanished without a trace. There could be a good storyline in their abductions . . . if only we knew.

Our new dog’s name is See-more II. Whenever we go anywhere Calvin is on the look-out for wild game (even on the New Jersey turnpike). One day as we drove the back roads to a lake with a milkshake reward for whoever saw the first deer, Calvin boasted, “Do you know why they call me See-more?” We agreed that we did not and he said, “Because I see more of this and I see more of that and I see more game than anyone else.” A year or two later while driving through the mountain passes I cleverly responded to his repeated, “Do you know why they call me See-more?” with “Do you know why they call me Mrs. See-more? Because I see everything See-more misses.” So See-More II is joining See-More I and Mrs. See-more and we do hope he likes us and doesn’t chew on shoes, run between our legs or under our bike tires.Calvin has gone to Idaho to pick See-more II up from Trevor. Trevor calls him Pee-more and is more than ready to hand him over.

Ideas for meals are easy when Calvin is gone; I fix stuff he would curl his nose at if he was here. Today I made a big pot of split pea soup. It is ham-flavored, smooth and good. I do wish I knew someone who liked it; Calvin will thank me if he can’t smell it when he walks in the door.

My to-do list while Calvin is gone is:

1. Print mine and Ty’s journals. I love reliving the rich experiences in our lives, but it’s also several hours of tedious cutting and pasting and printing and hole-punching a year’s worth of entries.

2. Organize this year’s teaching files. They just get the best of me sometimes.

3. Read The Guernsey Literary and Potato Peel Pie Society, actually it is my reward for tackling the less-fun chores.

4. Do the page in my circle journal assignment. Last summer some of us started a Circle Journal Group. Twelve of us chose topics for our journals—everything from Good Things to Family Recipes—and set up a rotating order. I’ve really enjoyed the circle journals project. I have Heather’s journal of “Simplify” this month.

5. Find a home for the split pea soup . . . or freeze it.

6. Make a batch of fruit leather.

7. Do the ironing.

I just got a call from an old friend. She used to teach me in Primary. She remembered that I had helped our neighbor, a German woman who was raised under Hitler, write a piece of her life history and she wondered if I still had a copy of it. Sadly, I don’t, but it was fun to visit with my friend anyway. And, she confessed she did have a copy of the history somewhere, she just couldn’t find it. I hope she finds it as she promised to send a copy, but regardless, it was fun to hear her voice and shortly reminisce about our neighbor.

If your husband was gone, what would you fix to eat?

Would you curl your nose at split pea soup?

Thursday, February 5, 2009



Calvin has been attending a grape conference for work. Conferences mean free pens and notepads. The potato conference means free pens, notepads and, on occasion, hot pads. But the grape conference means free fancy hors d'oeuvres, shopping bags, mini-planners, a travel toothbrush kit, a sporty water bottle, pocketknife and pens and notepads. Calvin was dumping his loot on the kitchen table and I had a clear visual of what he must have looked like as a little boy emptying his trick-or-treat bag. With each advertising item he pulled out he’d say, “I thought you’d like this . . .” and then show me some unique feature. I started laughing at his enthusiasm and ever so quietly reached for the camera. He was completely absorbed with all of the surprises he’d brought home and didn’t see it coming . . . that is until he heard the lens extend. Then he looked up with his hand still in the bag and said, “Not on your life. No way are you putting this on the blog.” And then he saw how hard I was laughing and joined in. I said, “You’ve got to admit this is pretty funny that two adults-well-beyond-the-normal-excited-for-freebies-age are so excited about a bag of pens.”

And that is but one reason we’re a good team, we both consider freebies as gifts and I agreed not to put his picture on the blog . . . tonight.

Wednesday, February 4, 2009

Homemaking Tip—Copycat Drinks

To make non-alcholic, sparkling grape juice add diet or regular lemon-lime soda to home bottled grape juice concentrate instead of sugar and water. It tastes great. Or, if you are using store-bought, frozen, grape juice concentrate add sparkling soda instead of water when reconstituting it.

I should have posted this idea back when there was lots of fresh snow, but replacing ice in Italian sodas with snow works terrific. (Cash & Carry has the largest selection of flavorings for the best price in our area.)

And finally, sometimes we make 5 gallons of homemade root beer for parties or picnics—it’s easy to make and serve, good and fun. I had planned to make some for New Year’s Day, but worried no stores would be open that sold dry ice. Instead, I bought eight or ten (2 liter) bottles of A&W root beer, filled the cooler with a bag of crushed ice and poured it in. No mess, no waiting for the bubbling to die down and it tasted as good as homemade. It’s now my preferred recipe and costs a fraction less than home brew.

Great drinks, all three, and they work for us. Do you have a copycat drink you like? Do tell, do tell.

Tuesday, February 3, 2009

SPT—I love it when Calvin . . .


. . . starts the car for me on cold mornings and calls to warn me about slick roads.

How would you fill in the blank, "I love it when you __________________"?

Monday, February 2, 2009

Monday Memories—A Title Escapes Me

Wait…wait! When I mentioned Calvin didn’t want to be one second late to the ballgame in the previous post, I meant he didn’t want to be one second over three hours early!

Time warps for me badly. I can sit down to write at the computer and think I’ve been there ten minutes and find an hour gone, and I swear sleeping for eight hours does not feel like a whole work day has passed. I once read that clocks are man made images and therefore should not be worshipped. The author said it in jest, but it appears I soaked it in and avoid time like a curse. Which reminds me . . .

I went to Brigham Young University—Hawaii for my first semester of college and had Sister Swapp as my health teacher. I loved her. She repaired her broken eye glasses with a band-aid, wore large-flowered, bright colored clothing and was pragmatic but cheerful. She assigned each of us a partner. Mine was Hoe Sei Sing from Singapore. He was about six inches shorter than me and made me laugh.

Sister Swapp taught us a relaxation technique lying on mats on the gym floor. We lay motionless as she quietly called: “Flex the muscles in your toes. Hold it. Hold it. Hold it. Hold it. Reeeellllaaaaax. Now flex the muscles in your feet. Hold it. Hold it. Hold it. Reeeellllaxxxxx. Now flex the muscles in your ankles . . .” Up and up the body she’d go. Hoe Sei Sing told me she went all the way to our brains, but I was always out cold long before then.

One afternoon we were walking to the gym to practice our relaxation technique when Hoe Sei Sing said in a choppy, Chinese lilt, “It is so embarrassing. You always go to sleep and when she tells us to do something with our partner I am the only one who doesn’t have one. And . . . you snore.” Hoe, hoe, hoe. I promised to try harder to stay awake (one time I woke up to a people-less, dark, empty gym).

I learned lots of useful things in college, but that relaxation technique was the best sleeper move on little kids who fought naps. After reading our book, we did one of two exercises:

1. If the kids held still for five minutes and kept their eyes closed “quiet time” would only last for five minutes. If they opened their eyes, the time started all over. Stop a little body’s movement for five minutes and it was out. Of course, given my time warp five minutes may or may not have been 300 seconds.

2. Sister Swapp’s relaxation technique. Lying next to them on the bed, we’d flex our muscles from toe to head. It reminded me of Shel Silverstein’s poem, I’m Being Eaten by a Boa Constrictor.

Thank you, Sister Swapp. Flexing and resting next to those sweet, sweaty little bodies is still a very, very fond memory. It was time well-spent.

Ty, Cali, Abe
(Sorry, Ande. You don't join us in naps for another year, but I loved taking naps with you too. Especially because you’d always find the soft material on my shirt and rub it between your fingers as you fell sleep.)

Sunday, February 1, 2009

Quotable Quote—Blind Leading the Blind

by James Christensen

I love James Christensen art—it’s colorful, thought provoking and pleasing. What a talented man. I’m so glad he shares his talent with the world. This picture reminds me of many spiritual, emotional and physical situations and warns me of current and future ones.

Several weeks ago we were in Philadelphia attending the annual Army/Navy game. Calvin is a fretful sort and I’m a slopful sort when it comes to being early to big occasions. Having flown thousands of miles to attend the event, Calvin didn’t want to be one second late and asked the hotel attendants several times for subway directions to the game. Each time they gave him the same directions, “Just follow the crowd; everybody will be going that way.”

The morning of the game, Calvin, Grace and I did indeed follow the masses; however we broke away at the corner Dunkin’ Donut to get bagels. Calvin began to fret, but I assured him sitting hungry in 20 degree weather for 8 hours would wreck more havoc than losing ten minutes and there would always be a crowd.

With our bagels in a bag, we stepped back out on the street; except this time, the crowd was behind us. We were leading by default. We assumed we could ride the wave of their knowledge to the correct stop. Never assume. We crossed the street just like we’d seen the masses before us, but were not surprised to find the first stop closed because we’d heard the first crowd say it would be and that we’d have to catch it at the next. When we got to where the next stop should be, it appeared to be one big exit-only tunnel—no gate, no attendant, just a hole with several passage ways. Realizing our wave had shored with no knowledge and that everyone thought we knew where we were going, we turned and gave them a blank look. They asked, “Don’t you know where you are going?” We shook our heads. Everyone in the group turned and looked for a leader in the one behind them. None. No one knew. Truly, “And if the blind lead the blind, both shall fall into the . . .” tunnel and be late to the game. The group waited while a few of us scouted the different passageways looking for a subway. When “I’ve found it!” echoed, we hurried in mass to the voice and hurriedly crammed into the train. And the moral to this story is:

A) Listen to Calvin
B) Make certain you know who you’re following knows where they’re going
C) “Follow the crowd” is never good advice
D) All of the above
E) None of the above. The moral of the story is _____________________________.