Wednesday, July 28, 2010

Homemaking Tip—a Smidgen of Squash

A little squash added to your hamburger patty, sliced potatoes, carrots, and onions adds a lot of moisture and keeps your tinfoil dinner from burning in the fire. And besides . . . it’s pretty. Red potatoes + yellow squash + orange carrots . . . they match.

Today I was like my Idaho neighbor Teresa. She used to have all of her meals cooked by 8:00 am in the summer. She did not like a hot kitchen so she baked the lasagna, cookies, bread – whatever they were eating that day – early in the morning and then just reheated things later. This morning I had four loaves of bread out of the oven by 6:45 and I thought of her. But then I turned the oven on later to cook banana bread and supper, so I’m not really like her, but I still think she was brilliant to be so organized in the summer.

Tuesday, July 27, 2010

Tuesday—Quotes to Remember

I’m nearing the end of the Tuesday topics you sent me – this week and next. Thank you very much for all of the ideas. The suggestion for this week was Quotable Quotes. Here are a bunch of my favorite ones that I’ve posted in the past – I still think they are grand.

Today I have two more to add:

This one hung on our refrigerator door through the kids' growing-up years. It kept me from nagging too much; I knew they knew it and they knew they knew it.

"Don’t trade what you want most for what you want now."

And here is a brand new one I found today. Last year while visiting Pike’s Market in Seattle Abe was asked for a quote by the news team. He speaks his piece at 1:10.


“I think it’s nonsense. I don’t see any problem with it.
They’re animals. They’re meant to be eaten.”
-Abe Payne

And why wouldn’t he believe that?

Abe and Ty and their buddies fishing.  Abe is on the far left, Ty is on the far right.

Abe's first hunting trip at 3 years old.

Sunday, July 25, 2010

52 Blessings—You

Your comments, ideas, wisdom, prayers, e-mails, readership, letters, cards, gifts, blogs, kindness . . . you are a great blessing and I appreciate you. Thank you for taking the time and energy to make my life good.

Friday, July 23, 2010

Life in My World--There's no friend like an old friend . . .

I haven’t seen or heard from Rhonda in twenty years.  A few months ago she e-mailed me and when we realized we both had kids living in Seattle and would be visiting them the same week we planned to meet. 

Rhonda and Jane 2010 version

We decided to meet at a bakery about five miles from where Ray and Cali live.  Since Ray and Cali both had to work I planned to take the bus.  Last night we realized it was over an hour long bus ride – plus it would require a transfer.  I doubted I could successfully navigate a transfer with only one try, so I decided to walk to the bakery and call that my exercise for the day.  Cali gave me a walking map, Ray gave me his secretary’s phone number (and assured me she knew just what to do for situation lost), and Grace insisted I take a water bottle.  My only worry was what my walking shoes look like.  I’ve been wearing Calvin’s tennis shoes and you just don’t greet a friend you haven’t seen in twenty years wearing male shoes that are three or four inches too long.  I packed some sandals in a sack (with my water bottle) and switched shoes a block from our meeting place.  Senseless worry.  Rhonda is the same wonderful Rhonda and I could have been barefoot or wearing snowboots and she wouldn’t have even noticed or cared.  Rhonda is one good friend, always has been.

Rhonda, Jane, and earthworm parts 1978 version

Rhonda was good at biology.  She helped us find ALL of the worm parts and correctly identify them.  I wasn’t interested in biology, but I was interested in good grades.  Rhonda was a perfect bio partner because she was interested in both.

Rhonda was an incredible athlete, the kind the newspaper writes a full page article on and puts on the cover page of the sports section.  I loved being Rhonda’s teammate.  She was competitive.  She was compassionate.  Rhonda could throw a softball or hit a volleyball harder than anyone I knew and could throw a basketball the length of the court, no sweat.  I had some nerve damage in my right arm our senior year.  Rhonda would get behind me in practice drills and throw the ball for me when the coach wasn’t looking so I could save my arm and keep the coach from hollering at me.  On the other hand, Rhonda had serious knee injuries so I would get behind her in dribbling drills and promise to make us look good, but promised to never steal the ball from her so she could save her knees for the games.  We never tried to exploit each other and yet we both loved to win so gave it all we had.  She was a perfect teammate.

It just felt so good to see Rhonda and catch up with her.  It was fun to see her toss her head back and laugh that old familiar laugh (she’s always been a good sport and laughed at things I say that aren’t very funny).  It was good to see her son and meet his wife and to sit on the sidewalk in the sun near the beach. 

After we parted I stopped to eat some fish and chips down by the water.  A nervy seagull came and stood three feet away from me with his beak wide open.  He thought he could shame me into sharing, but seagulls aren’t supposed to eat deep fried fish with tartar sauce and potatoes with ketchup; they’re supposed to eat fish from the sea that they catch themselves.  I like to think he’ll be glad I helped him be self-sufficient today.

Then I walked back home – grateful to be alive, spend a few hours with a dear friend, smell the sea, walk a block with a little boy with bifocals (we be mates) and hear him tell me about his new red wheelchair, listen to Vitamin String Quartet, and think and think and think.  Grace greeted me when I got home and then after a nap (I’m not marathon material) we ate a bowl of ice cream on the deck.  Life in my world today was salty, sweet, wonderful, and one of a kind.

Thursday, July 22, 2010

Thursday Thinking—"It’s a Sociological Fact . . ."

Marjorie Hinckley said: “Oh, how (women) need each other. Those of us who are old need you who are young. And, hopefully, you who are young need some of us who are old. It is a sociological fact that women need women. We need deep and satisfying and loyal friendships with each other.”

I’ve been thinking of that quote a lot this week:  


~When we went on a long walk down on the beach and then stopped at the bakery for a Danish on the climb back home.

~When we sat in the front room and worked on projects.  Cali sewed an apron. Grace worked on Clara’s scrapbook.  I cut and pasted a Christmas gift.  Sometimes we visited.  Sometimes we listened to music.  Once we listened to a talk on leadership and then replayed parts again and again to discuss them.  

~When we went to the temple.  Our first choice would have been to have our husbands by our sides, but there was an unmistakable strength that came from the three of us sitting side by side.  There was a warmth and resolve to lift each other’s burdens and care for each other.

~When we ordered red velvet cheese cake and lived on cold cereal, fresh fruit, and peanut butter sandwiches.

~When we jogged up a hill and Cali could see that gravity was going to suck me back into the ocean so she chanted, “You can do it.  You can do it.  You can do it” until we beat the force.

~When we went to the fabric store to buy fabric for a special sewing project and spent at least 30 minutes selecting buttons and lace that were just right.

I only wish Ande were here, because women need women.

Tuesday, July 20, 2010

SPT - Blue, Bleu, Baloo

We are living the life of Baloo this week and just taking care of the simple bare necessities.  Like picking blueberries.  We picked seven pounds today at $1.50 a pound.  We had blueberry wheat pancakes for supper.  Best I’ve ever had. 

This is the skyscape from Cali and Ray’s home.  On any given night you can see nine shades of bleu, even the evergreens are blue in the evening.  It is bleutiful.

Last year I showed Ray a beautiful hydrangea plant down by the Sound.  He remembered how much I liked it and gave me one for my birthday.  Today it is pink trimmed with blue.  Who knows what color it will be after I plant it at home.  

Cali and I passed three Scottish terriers trotting smartly next to their master on the jogging path.  By the time we’d turned around and jogged back past them the man was dragging all three dogs.  Another man walks ten steps ahead of his wife on the path.  They keep the exact same pace, but don’t walk together.  I have conjectured all kinds of possible scenarios about the situation.  The dogs, master, and couple all walk along the blue water. 

Monday, July 19, 2010

Monday Memories - Odds and Ends

the mess continues . . . 

On Friday Ande, Grace, Cali, and I took a road trip to Monroe, Washington.  Our friend Donna had planned a scrapbooking day and invited us to come.  We had a grand time.  I discovered die cuts.  Oh, I’ve known about them for a long time but didn’t think they fit me.  I was so wrong.  They’re fast, easy, clear cut.  I whizzed through a project thanks to die-cuts.  It was fun to spend time with the girls and friends.  Really fun.  We came home to Cali's house and set everything back up, so the mess continues . . . 

Charlotte and Jay

Saturday night Calvin, Ray, Cali, Grace, Ande, and I drove down to the other corner of the state to attend a wedding open house for Calvin’s niece.  Charlotte and Jay, Calvin’s sister and her husband, live in Ohio so we seldom see them.  It was great spending a few hours with them.  They’re funny, happy, and animated.  Jay started telling old memories to the kids – like the time we put him on one of the horses and he lost his stirrups and the reins.  The more his legs flapped, the faster the horse ran.  The horse finally dumped Jay and we spent a long time looking for his dropped wallet.  It held all their trip cash.  They needed that wallet.  Every family needs a Jay. 

Charlotte and Calvin

Calvin and Charlotte enjoyed catching up. We enjoyed watching them catch up.

Ande and Grace

Ande loves to poke Clara so that she will kick and play with her.  The other day Cali asked Grace if Clara sleeps at night.  Grace said, “Sometimes she plays a lot, but sometimes she just plays quietly with her hands or her ear and lets me sleep.  She likes to fiddle with her ear.”  Grace says it in the funniest tone while she twiddles her fingers and imitates the baby.  Once when Calvin was reciting a Gunsmoke jingle about Matt Dillon and Miss Kitty, Grace put her hands over her stomach and said, “I’m covering Clara’s ears so she can’t hear you.”  Clara shouldn't hear such things says Grace.

three hours and a dollar's worth of gumballs – the cheapest shopping trip ever

Cali, Grace, and I are spending the week together at Cali’s house in Seattle.  Everyone else has a job that needs them.  Sometimes it’s nice not to be needed.  Today we went shopping.  We went into this little odds and ends store where Cali showed me some tiny little glass animals – hedgehogs, dogs, mice, donkeys, alligators.  We were pointing out each new discovery when I said, “This reminds me of shopping for little mouse figurines with Grandma Julia.  She would take us out to dinner at the hotel they owned and then let us pick out a little mouse from the display case after dinner.” 

Cali squealed and said, “Really?!”

I said, “Yup.”

She said, “Oh good!  I have checked all over trying to find mouse figurines so I could recreate that memory for you.  I couldn’t find any, but I did find these little glass things so I brought you here.  But, I started feeling really stupid when we came in the store because these aren’t like those at all.  I’m SO glad this reminded you of your grandma.  That’s what I was hoping for.” 

I gave her a big kiss on the cheek and then picked out the teensy, tiny fly.  Cali wondered where I would put it.  That’s a mind bender for it needs to be a place safe from Calvin.  He does not like flies.  I don’t like them either, but I don’t conduct a safari hunt when one buzzes by.    

We have a running game of dominoes going - once again, the loser must buy milkshakes at the end of the week.  Cali was skunking us all bad.  She started to do her Indian war whoop.  The very next game she tallied 334 points, she only got to lay two dominoes the whole round.  So much for whooping.  Ray and I are no longer in serious danger of coughing up milkshake money.  

Thursday, July 15, 2010

Thursday Thinking—Birthday Bullets

• Today’s my 48th birthday. I love birthdays. I don’t even need to do anything special, it just feels good to know I was born, have another year in front of me and another one behind me.

• Ray called and left me a message yesterday that said, “Janey Payney, you are a very important person to me; therefore I wanted to be the first to wish you a happy birthday tomorrow . . . I understand you are approaching 50, but you are not 50 yet . . . You are going to be like wine or cheese and get better with age. I sure love you and I can’t wait to see the aged Janey Payney.” Several hours later when I talked to him I asked, “Ray, what does old cheese look like?” He said, “Wrinkled. Hard. Moldy. Why?”

• Ty wrote me an e-mail this morning that said, “This is the only year where you will be twice as old as me. Before you were always more than that, and after, you will always be less. So in a way, it is like you are getting younger.” Now that’s certainly one way to look at it. He also included fifteen of his favorite memories.  Two of them were:  ~Meeting you for (general) conference my freshman year (at the academy). I stunk, you stunk, and everyone let us know that it was a problem. (Ty’s coat. My shoes. Pew. The memory is still odorous . . . and funny.)  ~I love that you used to read out loud to us. We loved hearing Mrs. Piggle Wiggle and other books like that. You encouraged us to read as well. I also fondly remember that you willingly listened to Ande and I read Harry Potter out loud to you even though you had no desire to listen to it. You knew it was important to us, so you made it important to you.

• On the kids’ birthdays Calvin always says, “Jane, tell them what it was like the day they were born” and we retell their birth day. The kids have heard those stories 27, 25, 24, and 21 times. One year on my birthday Calvin said, “Kids, I’m going to tell you what it was like when your mom was born.” And since he was raised in Arizona and I was born in Idaho, I don’t know where he got his information. “This is what it was like. It was a hot day because it was in the middle of the summer. She was born in the middle of the day. When she came out she took one look around, smiled at the doctor, and said, ‘Hi! My name is Jane! What can I do to help?’ And that’s the story of when she was born.” I had forgotten about it until Ray and Cali called this morning to wish me a happy birthday. Cali started laughing and said, “Ray, I have to tell you about the day my mom was born . . .”

• Grace asked me what she could cook for my birthday supper. I requested her manicotti, it tastes so good. She is making it as I type. She could be a food show host. She is wearing a long purple pregnancy shirt with an empire waistline and scooped neck, leggings, pretty jewelry, and has her hair fixed. All she needs is a microphone.

• Abe called to wish me a happy birthday. It is so funny to watch him on Skype. He fidgets the whole time. Grace mentioned to me the other day she finally figured out why their baby moves so much after watching Abe on the computer camera. The technicians are always telling the baby to please quit moving. (You should have seen the baby during the ultrasound when she had the hiccups the other day, it was pretty funny.)

• Back to Abe’s wiggling phone call . . . he is planning a family trip for Calvin’s and my 30th anniversary in a few years. He is one great event planner. It is a talent I never suspected in him. Which just goes to prove your mother doesn’t know everything.

• Ande has called me several times today and each time said, “It’s your BIRTHDAY!” punched full of enthusiasm. And that was all she called to say each time. She made sure one of the calls was at 2:19 p.m. so that I would know she was thinking of me the exact time I entered this world. She is a gift all in herself.

• I can’t tell you about Calvin’s gift. All I can say is it was funny. Very, very funny.

• Happy Birthday to me. It’s my birthday.

Wednesday, July 14, 2010

Homemaking Tip—Caramel and Crystal

Grace is serving in our church young women’s organization. For tonight's activity they met at our home so she could share one of her favorite desserts and an activity with the girls.

Grace chose brownies topped with ice cream, caramel sauce, and crushed Oreos. This caramel sauce recipe is an old stand-by. It’s really good and really easy - a prerequisite for stand-by.

Caramel Sauce

½ pound butter (no substitutes)
1 cup brown sugar
8 oz. heavy cream
Rum flavoring (optional)

Bring all ingredients to a boil. Let boil one minute and then cool. Serve over apple cake, ice cream, broccoli, mashed potatoes, roast, crackers, pizza, spaghetti, or just eat it by the spoonful. 

For a favorite activity they painted each other's toenails. Calvin and I went out for the evening, but Megan was still here when we came home so she was willing to pose.

Grace and Megan

thank you google images

The suggestion to own a glass crystal nail file is as great a tip as the caramel sauce recipe.  Ande gave me one several years ago and it is still working well.  I credit it with helping me to break a nasty nail biting habit.

Monday, July 12, 2010

Monday Memories—Alphabet Soup

We had the "fruit-room” of fruit-rooms growing up. I’ve mentioned our storage room before I think. It was like a mini-store in the basement and included cases of candy. There were also several different cases of canned soup on the shelf. When we kids were sick in the winter (measles, mumps, chicken pox) we went downstairs at noon and picked out a can of soup. I didn’t like being sick with my sister Janet because she always chose Campbell’s cream of mushroom. She didn’t like being sick with me because I always chose Campbell’s tomato. Some days, when we were sick but not mean and selfish, we compromised with Campbell’s alphabet soup. I still think of alphabet soup fondly, unlike how I feel about mushroom soup.

Here are some memories – alphabet soup style - from the last few weeks. This batch has no u’s or x’s.

Ray with the alpha rooster
Airplanes. The crop-dusters and roosters both wake up about 5:00 a.m. They are natural alarm clocks with no snooze button.

Junior, Travis, and Calvin serving at the ward party

Brisket. Calvin grilled 80 pounds of brisket for a ward party on Saturday. After he rubs the meat with spices and grills it, he puts it in roaster ovens to cook for 18 hours. It smells like we live in a restaurant when he slow roasts brisket - especially 80 pounds of it. It is wonderful for two hours of the day, but a tad overwhelming for 18. However, I don’t need to feed him when he’s cooking brisket, he samples all day long. That’s what comes from living in a restaurant I guess.

Checks and Balances. Calvin, Grace, and I attended a seminar on the Constitution where we learned about the checks and balances system of our government. I was taught a modified version in 11th grade history. I wonder if Mr. Wilson knows it wasn’t accurate. The presentation we went to was informative and gave ideas on how to be a better citizen.

Devotional. We had a family fireside on the Fourth. We gathered around the piano and sang patriotic songs. Then using the Book of Mormon and Doctrine and Covenants we talked about America, the constitution, and what is expected of us. It felt good. I like it when Christmas and the Fourth of July land on Sundays. It just fits.

Exercise. It is my friend - the friend that is sometimes rude and pushy and I don’t always like. One part of exercise that I love is when the girls go for walks with me. Grace and I go several times a week together. Once last week Ray joined Cali, Grace, and me. We answered two questions, "Who did you meet in the month of June that was interesting and why?" and "What is one thing you didn't do in June that you wished you would have?"

Fireworks. We watched two and a half shows this year. They were great. My favorite fireworks show was done by a friend of Abe's. He'd choreographed the blasts to music. The bursts were big and close enough we got spattered with sparks. My next favorite show was the half one. Ray and Calvin found a box of old, old, old fireworks in the shop. Ray set them off. Because of their age we weren't quite sure what to expect. The show wasn't in the colors; it was in watching Ray set them off.

Grace fixed my hair this week. Natural is not the best color for me. Grace knows just how to fix that.

Hot. I mentioned to Abe on Skype that it might hit 90 degrees one day. He said, “I don't have much sympathy for you.” I asked him how hot it has been there and he said, “Oh, it was about 120 degrees today.” I asked him what the hottest he'd ever experienced was and he said, "Well, with the heat factor included it was 148 degrees one day." I cannot imagine. I cannot imagine being in full gear in that heat. God bless the soldiers.

Inservice. I received some great training recently. I want to get better at asking good questions which promote great discussion. I learned what to do. Want to know how?

Just in case you were wondering, I'm missing a toenail.

Kids. Everybody is doing well.

Lybbert’s pond. Brenda called on the phone saying, “I’m hot. Do you want to meet me at Lybbert’s pond in ten minutes?” I reminded her, “But we don’t have any kids.” She said that didn’t matter. I told her I’d join her as soon as the last batch of cookies came out of the oven.

Lybbert’s pond is an irrigation pool surrounded by alfalfa fields. It has a big cottonwood tree, rope swing, diving board, raft, and grassy bank. Kids love to swim there. And so do women who get too hot. But I had never gone in the water, just sat on the bank and cheered the kids on. Peer pressure. It will get you every time. Brenda led the way and expected us to follow. The kids later said, “WHAT? You wouldn’t go in the water for us, but you went in the pond for Brenda?” Yes, kids. I did. I succumbed. BUT DON’T YOU give in to peer pressure.

Mcflurries. We got two this week: one for celebration and one for endurance.

Nematode. I discovered one in my character this week. Ick.

Oysters. Calvin grilled oysters last week over the Fourth. The chickens that have escaped the pen keep coming over to where the boys shucked the oysters and eat the shell shards. Sometimes we have to buy a bag of oyster shell to thicken the egg shells, but the hens found this shell pile all on their own and knew to eat it. That surprises me; I think I would only eat oyster shell if someone forced me to. The chickens also ate the lettuce in the garden. I don't like that, but I do love how they scratch and keep the bugs out. Chickens are such a good thing.

Peas & Politics. We sat and podded peas on the porch and visited about politics . . . and taxes. At one point the discussion became quite animated and Ande leaned over and whispered to me, “Are they arguing or agreeing? I can’t quite tell.”

Quote. I keep referring to this one: “We do not always receive inspiration or revelation when we request it. Sometimes we are delayed in the receipt of revelation, and sometimes we are left to our own judgment . . . Our life’s purpose to obtain experience and to develop faith would be frustrated if our Heavenly Father directed us in every act, even every important act. We must make decisions and experience the consequences in order to develop self-reliance and faith. . . Even in decisions we think very important, we sometimes receive no answer to our prayers. This does not mean that our prayers have not been heard. It means only that we have prayed about a decision that, for one reason or another, we should make without guidance by revelation. Perhaps we have asked for guidance in choosing between alternatives that are equally acceptable or equally unacceptable. Similarly the Spirit of the Lord is not likely to give us revelations on matters that are trivial. If a matter appears of little or no consequence, we should proceed on the basis of our own judgment. If the choice is important for reasons unknown to us, the Lord will intervene and give us guidance. When we are living in tune with the Spirit and seeking its guidance, we can be sure that we will receive the guidance we need to attain our goal. The Lord will not leave us unassisted when a choice is important to our eternal welfare.” Dallin H. Oaks (Sept 04 New Era)

Raspberry Picking. Our former home teacher takes really good care of his raspberry bushes. Such good care that they produce far more than they want so they offer them to others to go and pick. Pick one, eat one, pick one, eat one - that's my method. I took my iPod this time. A first. But I visited instead of listening to a biography of Alexander Hamilton. Pick one, eat one, make a comment. Pick one, eat one, make a comment. That was my method.

Spitting. Sometimes I look at the kids and think, “Where DID they come from?” And other times I know exactly where they came from. One night Junior and Maria brought us a bucket of cherries they had just picked. We were eating supper at the picnic table when they delivered them, and the minute the cherries hit the table we started eating them. And since we were outside, spitting pits soon followed. That’s when I knew exactly where the kids came from. No matter how many times I asked them to quit spitting pits at each other they wouldn’t. Not until a juicy red one from Calvin landed on Cali’s white cardigan. The cherries did not fall far from their tree.

Tent. Last weekend we had more company that we have beds. Whenever that happens in the summer we put up the tent. Calvin, Cali, Ray, Grace, and I slept in the tent. Oh ho. I'm so glad we did. The first night Ray said we should tell ghost stories and that I should go first. For three minutes I tried and tried to think of one, but couldn't remember the scary part. A ghost story is not a ghost story without a scary part. I told Ray that I gave up and he should go first. He was already asleep. I don't believe I've ever known someone who can fall asleep faster than me; I was never the life of the slumber party.  The next night I suggested grizzly stories. That never happened either. Calvin is the king of grizzly stories and he was too tired. We obviously need more nights in a tent.

Vacuum. There is a dealership in town that offers a car vacuum for free use. I needed it. It took me FIVE rounds to get the car clean. We have a Camry. Camry’s should not need five rounds. Free means I saved $5. I think I will buy a car from this dealership some day.

Worry. Some days more, some days less.

Yearling. Seemore is yearling, but I fear a perpetual puppy. He gets in trouble for being too eager and friendly. Grace and I were on the last half mile of our walk when we saw our neighbor Donna coming towards us with her two itty-bitty dogs on a leash in the distance. Grace said, “Aren’t you glad Seemore doesn’t fight with other dogs? That’s one good thing about him.”

A few minutes later we saw a puff of dust and Donna bent over trying to calm dogs, but the dogs were running circles around her yapping, lunging, and barking. Twice the dogs ran between her legs and at one point Donna was twirling a dog in the air by his leash. It was utter chaos. Seemore may not fight, but he doesn’t recognize the hint from the growls of itty-bitty dogs either.

Zzzzz. At night when we go to bed we hear thousands of these quarter-sized frogs. By themselves their croak isn’t much, but together they’re a force.   Like the crop-dusters and roosters, I like their sound.

Friday, July 2, 2010

Home of the Brave

I never much cared for history when I was a little girl. Probably for two reasons: one, I only had a few fairly uneventful years of my own to review; and two, I wasn’t exposed to many others’ history. I’ve changed my tune, glory, glory hallelujah, and I care for history very much now. Years of personal history and discovering its invaluable lessons, while also learning about the history of mankind has deepened my appreciation.

They say there are three ways in which people view history:

• Chaotic. Events happen randomly and by happenstance.

• Linear. Events of yesterday do not affect today or tomorrow.

• Cyclical. Events follow a pattern.

I’m a cyclical believer myself. I’ve lived enough seasons, seen enough moons, watched enough births and deaths to be convinced that there are patterns. One pattern in history that has me thinking is that of big American wars. The Revolutionary War was followed eighty years later by the Civil War. The Civil War was followed eighty years later by World War II. Eighty years after World War II is fast approaching and, well . . ., we seem to have a pattern going.

I appreciate the lessons from history and recognize my happiness that has come from the decisions made by our Founding Fathers and early patriots, those who fought to keep American united, and those who protected our country from tyranny. Because of others who have been willing to give their “lives, fortunes, and sacred honor” for freedom, I have learned.

Take Margaret Corbin for example. She was a patriot. Wives of the soldiers routinely cooked meals, laundered clothes, and nursed wounds, but they also watched the men do their drills and learned those drills from the sidelines. Margaret fought in the Revolutionary War next to her husband, John. In November 1776 they were stationed in New York fighting British troops. John was assisting a gunner until the gunner was killed, then he took charge of the cannon and Margaret became his assistant. Later, John was killed too, so Margaret continued loading and firing the cannon. She was wounded by grapeshot which tore her shoulder, mangled her chest, and cut her jaw. She was carried to the rear of the company where she received medical treatment, but she never regained the use of her arm. History and Margaret Corbin have taught me it is wise to prepare to do hard things if I want to maintain freedom.

Or what of Mary Lincoln? While her husband, Abe, was in office Mary frequently nursed the wounded men in the nearby hospital. She often took fruit or flowers to them too. Mary attended to all the soldiers, black and white, even though she came from a family that supported slavery and her brother fought for the South. Even those of the North did not approve of Mary’s presence in the hospital, and especially to the attention she gave to the black soldiers. History and Mary Lincoln have taught me that right is right whether it is popular or not and freedom isn’t always popular.

And then there was Audie Murphy. He was born in Texas, the sixth of twelve children. When his father deserted the family, Audie dropped out of fifth grade to help support them. He earned a dollar a day. He also became a skilled rifleman, knowing his family depended on his ability to hunt food. After the attack on Pearl Harbor, Audie tried to enlist but was rejected for being under-age. With the help of his sister, Corrine, he adjusted his birth certificate and tried again. The Marines rejected him for being too short (not quite 5’6”). The Navy rejected him for being too skinny (110 pounds). The Army said he was just right, but after he passed out on a drill they tried to send him to baking school. Audie insisted he wanted to be a combat soldier. He finally received his desire and became the most decorated American soldier of World War II, including being a Medal of Honor recipient. He is buried in Arlington National Cemetery, and while Medal of Honor recipients’ headstones are typically decorated in gold leaf, Audie Murphy requested his stone be plain and inconspicuous. History and Audie Murphy have taught me the definitions of perseverance, courage, and humility and that freedom requires all three.

History still has much to teach me. My hope is that those of the next eighty years can count on me to teach and do what it takes to preserve freedom like the ones before have, because there is a pattern . . . 

Happy Independence Day.