Tuesday, August 31, 2010

Timely Tuesday

Oh ho. I had a couple of asinine assignments to do for an on-line class.

1. Evaluate 50 complaints for Southwest Airlines and make a report, flow-chart, graph, and power-point presentation to tell about it.

2. Write an article for a magazine or journal about dishwashers, preferably with flow charts, bar graphs, reports, analysis, a power-point presentation, and maybe some donuts or bagels thrown in for good measure.

I really don’t care about Southwest Airlines’ complaints and all I care about dishwashers is how to keep that smell away. These reports were meant as busy work and would never be utilized.

I began to add up my points in the class. My pride could have taken the hit of a zero, but the next two assignments due are based upon these reports so three zeros looks rather suspicious, flippant, and lazy. I just want to finish the class, a “complete” written on my transcript. Lazy doesn’t earn complete.

In desperation I decided to take a newsletter/blog post, add a new introductory sentence about crop yields, and say it was written for the Farm Journal. I figured my instructor could not give me a zero for the page would be filled with words.  I sent it off hoping for 30% but crossing my fingers to get a 40%.

You got to the end of this story before I did: I got my grade back today. 100% with a FANTASTIC written in capital letters. The instructor encouraged me to get it published. Oh ho. No sir. Not gonna happen. I know how many letters you have to write to get published. I’ve still got two more assignments to do.

Monday, August 30, 2010

Monday Memories— A-Z Abridgement of August

Old Dan, Calvin, Little Ann

Ann and Dan. Make that Little Ann and Old Dan. Calvin has always wanted a mountain cur dog, the kind Old Yeller was. Several months ago he tried to convince me we needed one. He said, “Jane, they kill mountain lions and grizzlies.”

I said not-so-understandingly, “Yes, yes, because we have so many mountain lions and bears around here that we need protected from.”

Undeterred he said, “We need a good dog to protect us. Seemore runs up to every stranger that pulls in the yard, licks his hand, and jumps in the back of his truck.”

He has a point. Seemore is a friendly dog, a puppy brain in a dog body, which is exactly how he found himself his current owner – two boys looking for a happy bird dog. Seemore introduced himself.

So the kids bought Calvin a female mountain cur for Father’s Day and, well two dogs are as good as one, so when we picked up Little Ann the owner asked us to take Old Dan and see if we could find a home for him. Abe and Grace took Old Dan. Even if the two dogs never kill a grizzly, they’re valuable. Calvin's right again.  We needed them as much as they needed us this month.

Basin Air and Refrigeration. For the vast majority of my life, I’ve relied on open windows for cool air. No more. Shawn, one of the owners of Basin Air and Refrigeration, asked Calvin if he’d like to make a swap. Shawn would see that we had central air if Calvin would build him a black powder gun. Calvin didn’t even have to think on it, he loves cold air. I didn’t know what we were missing. It’s been a lifesaver with all of the company we’ve had this summer. And, who knew your house didn’t always have to be dusty and have stray flies?

Clara, Grace, Calvin, Ande, me, and Abe on Skype

Clara. Summer’s pinnacle. Such a love-filled and sacred experience. When I start to get sad I think back to that incredible opportunity of being a part of her life on earth and everything goes back into perspective.

Dreams.  Lots of them this month.  The ones where the kids are little again have been especially sweet.

Ty and Michelle

Engagement. Ty called the other night to tell us he and Michelle have set their wedding date. They had two dates to choose from – the day before mine and Calvin’s anniversary or our anniversary. They chose the day before ours. I said, “Ah shucks Ty, Dad and I wanted to renew our vows with you.” Ty snort-laughed, he wasn't expecting that.  We’re not a renewing-vows kind of couple as much as we are a hang-in-there-and-make-it-as-good-as-you-can-and-leave-a-candy bar-on-their-pillow-every-now-and-then kind of couple.

Cali, Cortney, Michelle, Nikki

Fudge. Trevor’s family stayed a couple of days after Clara’s funeral. The day we took Ty and Michelle to the airport everybody wanted to go, so we caravanned with a side trip to Cabella’s for fudge. Somehow the boys misunderstood and thought we stopped to look at guns.

Grace introducing her niece Adrian to the movie Seven Brides for Seven Brothers

Grace’s family. Six of Grace’s siblings and their families and her mom came to visit. It was great spending time with them. Celeste taught me what real walking is while she was here. She’s a good eight inches shorter than me but has a stride just as long and twice as fast as mine.

Happy times and a hamburger. There are some moments in life that time does not dim. I suspect that the early morning walks taken with Grace and Abe while Abe was home will be one of them. I also suspect the night Calvin, Abe, Grace, and I combined Clara’s bouquets into one and took them to her grave will be another. We sat and visited and imagined and then went to Woody’s to get hamburgers and french fries. We crossed the street and went down by the lake and ate on the grass and talked some more. We ended the evening with an ice cream cone. Hamburgers, fry sauce, each other – happy times.

Charlie, Bruce, Chris, Jake

Idaho Spuds. Whenever my sister Chris comes to visit she brings me a dozen or two Idaho Spud candybars. E.v.e.r.y.t.i.m.e. I love her visits for more than one reason - Bruce, Charlie, and Jake being some of the other reasons.   (Oh ho.  Chris always hopes that Legacy Chocolates is open when she comes.  She was not disappointed this trip.  We both secretly bought each other boxes.)

Jaynes, Fred and Lynn. My sister and her husband came to Washington. We, the Jaynes’ and the Payne’s, lived 100 yards apart for ten years.  Summer Sunday night hide-n-seek was a regular. It’s always fun to catch up with them, so fun in fact I didn’t even think of taking pictures.

Ryan, Haley, me, Calvin

Krumblis, Ryan and Haley. My niece and her husband came and stayed a few days with us. Haley has been teaching high school in Alaska while Ryan was deployed to Iraq. Now they’ve moved to Idaho so Ryan can finish his schooling.

Late.  Calvin asked me again yesterday if I would please try to be on Vince Lambardi time instead of Jane Payne time.  He said all I have to do is reverse which side of the clock my fifteen minutes is on.  Sounds easy enough.

Marcia and Krista. My sister, Marcia, and my sister-in-law Krista came to visit. It was eight and fourteen hour drives respectively and they were able to stay less than 24 hours. We didn’t know they were coming and it was the best surprise to see them walking down the hall at the church – such a surprise that I never even thought of taking a picture.

Necklace. A string of pearls with a matching set of earrings to be exact. Ty brought them home as a gift from China. A beautiful gift indeed, I’ve always wanted a strand of pearls. Always.

Organist. Calvin was released from the Singles’ Ward Bishopric a month or so ago and we are now attending our home ward again. I was asked to be the ward organist. When the member of the bishopric asked me if I would play I said, “Sure! But you do remember how well I play, right?” He got a sober-ish, sick-ish look on his face. Later the bishop thanked me for being willing to play and I repeated, “You do remember how well I play, right?” He said, “All I remember is you play fast and . . .” Yes, that would be true. Fast is the quickest way through the rough spots.  If fast is requirement enough I can fill it, but heaven help the congregation be deaf to the sour notes.

Garrett, Calvin, Tanae

Pay back. The day Calvin and the boys pulled into our home twelve years ago, Tanae and her dad were waiting to help unload our things. Calvin called on their way home and said, “There’s a little girl about ten years old with the cutest smile that lives close to us. She’d been out helping her dad change water and was still in her irrigating boots when they came to help us unload. She’s a worker – she carried box after box after box. You’re going to love her.” Tanae has been a sweet friend to our family ever since. Calvin was more than happy to cook the meat for her reception to thank her for all that help twelve years ago, and her friendship.

Quit. I sent the last Neighbor Jane Payne newsletter: #305.  That’s a whole lot of verbiage.  I've made wonderful friends through the six years of sending them and am grateful for the experience.

Calvin and Bruce

Rock and talk. Talk and rock. Occasionally they threw a game of gin in.

Sunsets. We have gorgeous sunsets. Ask any local and they’ll tell you so. Saturday’s sunset was trapped in the clouds and changed every 30 seconds or so.

To Save a Nation.” My friend Deidra, a fellow native Idahoan, sent me this print. It’s beautiful. It’s wonderful. It's meaningful.  It’s very humbling to have received such a gift. The picture was painted by her former bishop, Larry Winborg.

me, Grace, Ande

Underwater.  Ande, Grace, and I went swimming at Becky's pool a few times.  If I hadn't already used "R" I would have called this memory "restorative."  Those swims felt so good - relaxing and restorative. 

If I hadn't already used "F" I would have called this memory "fun".  On one of the swims, Becky was home and sat by the pool edge to visit.  She is a fun conversationalist and a great listener.  She laughs at all the right things and makes you feel funny. 

If I hadn't already used "M" I would have said mermaids because that is what Grace said we should try to swim like. 

Instead this is an Underwater memory because that is where Grace and Ande played a game.  They each got in opposite corners of the pool, put their head underwater, and took turns saying the name of a candybar.  After the word had traveled underwater they'd both pop their heads out to see if they'd heard it correctly.  Most of the time they did!  It was pretty incredible because from where I sat on the side it was just a bunch of bubbles and whale sounds. 

Ande took this picture using the camera timer on the opposite side of the pool.  No small feat.

Vehicle. Our tires are officially bald. Calvin told us we absolutely cannot go over 70 miles an hour. We also have 161, 000 miles on it.  I hope this car never wears out.

Wind. It’s been a windy summer. Thursday’s wind blew two bags of mulch away from the new lavender plants, and threw a branch at my head when I was out picking flowers in the garden, and blew this apple out of the tree. I’ve been checking on this apple regularly for the last month. I’ve just been waiting to pick and eat it when it got ripe. It has no worms or pock marks, and now it has no branch to ripen on either.

Xtraordinary Measures. The movie. Calvin, Grace, and I went into town and each picked out a movie and some candy -- Rolo’s, Junior Mints, caramel popcorn, salted nut roll, and sour apple rings.  It was a great movie.

Yields. Our red potatoes have the highest yields this year that I’ve ever remembered. And the new hens are laying eggs. They’re miniature, but they are still eggs.

Zoom.  The summer of 2010 has flown by.  When I was young I remember hearing the oldtimers talk about the cold winter of '18 or the wet spring of '83 - years that stuck with them.  I must be an oldtimer.  I will always remember the summer of '10.

**Hello and thank you to my friend in Alaska that made Cali feel so welcome at church yesterday.

Wednesday, August 25, 2010

Homemaking Tip—Hod Podge

Calvin checking on a prime rib before a meeting a few days ago. 

Calvin is not easily daunted. He and a few friends are cooking 200 pounds of brisket for a wedding reception tomorrow night. I was cleaning house on Tuesday and as I was getting ready to wash cupboards and throw the kitchen rug in the washer I thought of the upcoming brisketfest and decided to wait until it was over. I needn’t have waited. He prepped everything outside. I’m always happy to clean up behind him, but I am quite glad a hose suffices this time.

Along the same line, my favorite way to have friends for supper is when it is unplanned. There is no time to fret and worry about whether or not it will taste good or be fancy enough, it is what it is. Tonight was one of those nights. Two different families brought roaster pans over for Calvin to put brisket in and joined us for supper at the last minute. I just added more sauce and meatballs to the pot of spaghetti and we squished all the skinny bottoms onto one bench. It worked perfect.

After reading one of the quarterly Craft-Food magazines, I’ve started adding dry stuffing (instead of crushed crackers or breadcrumbs) to hamburger to make meat loaf. My, it’s good. It’s also cheap. A bag of stuffing at Grocery Outlet was only 25 cents a few weeks ago. That’s a whole lot of meat stretching with good flavor for not very much.

The other night Ande and I made chicken pot pies. She made the pie dough (she makes great crusts, I never fight with her dough) and I made the filling. Not surprisingly they were the best chicken pot pies we’ve ever made. After I boiled the potatoes, carrots, celery, and onions in chicken broth, I drained them. It bothered me to let all the nutrients go, but sometimes consistency and beauty demands it. Then I stirred in a can of cream of chicken soup and a couple of tablespoons of mayonnaise. We poured them into the unbaked pie shells, added top crusts, and baked them for an hour at 350-375 degrees. We made three big pies and four little individual ones so we’d have plenty to share. With the scrap dough I made peach dumplings. I’m sold on pie dumplings because you don’t have to be great with pie dough to have a good pie-ish experience. You just roll your dough out in a circle, put your filling inside of it, gather the dough together like a bag, pinch/twist it closed, and put it in a ramekin to bake. Grace, Ray, Calvin, Ande, and Cali wished I’d have made more than three.

Ounce per ounce body-wash is often more expensive than shampoo, at least Suave shampoo, so I refill the sturdy, body-wash, pump-bottle with Suave shampoo. It’s nice because it cuts down on the containers in the shower too -- one bottle cleans head, shoulders, knees, and toes.

Tuesday, August 24, 2010

exoTic Tuesday

There is one job I would hate: that of Andrew Zimmern’s, the man who travels the world eating bizarre ethnic foods. The man has mind over matter.  I cannot even eat a plain potato while watching his show for his matter takes over my mind. Not Calvin. He very nearly covets Andrew’s job.

With that said, the last Tuesday topic that was suggested by you blog-friends was exoTic Tuesday – a day in which I do something I’ve never done before; yea, perhaps even eat something exotic. Tofu would meet that criteria for me. Even humus could qualify.

Here’s to my adventure. I’m off to the grocery store.  Anything I definitely should not try?

I’ll be back with a picture later today.  Mind over matter, mind over matter, mind over matter.

I tried the hummus.  You are right, it is very good.

And then, since I have never had Haagan Daz in spoon form and it is foreign (and therefore exoTic), I got some of it, too.  As good as hummus is, Calvin, Grace, Ande, and I polished off the Haagan Daz while there is still plenty of hummus for tomorrow.


Thanks for your comments and ideas . . . 

Monday, August 23, 2010

Monday Memories—Kick ‘em With My Boots

Abe and Ande

I just kissed Abe good-bye and then stood at the window where our two blue servicemen stars hang and waved until he was gone. Yes, it was just as dramatic as that and if I were an actress instead of me, and had been standing at a clean window instead of ours with hard-water spots, and had some pretty music fading in the background, it might have made a good scene in a movie. But not as good a scene as the one that will be at the airport tomorrow morning when Grace kisses Abe good-bye.

Last night I heard Abe knock on Ande’s bedroom door to see if he could go in and visit with her. I imagine to give her counsel; he’s always been an Ande advocate. It reminded me of when Ande was a newborn and Abe held her on the couch. First he looked at her fingers with the new skin peeling and said, "She's rusting" and then he quietly whispered to her, “If anyone tries to hurt you I will kick ‘em with my boots.” He’s a good brother. He’s a good friend. He’s a good son. He’s a good husband. He’s a good dad.  And now he's a good soldier . . . with boots.

Thursday, August 19, 2010

Thursday Thinking—Hmmmm . . .

Oh I’ve been thinking all right. They just aren’t fully formed thoughts is all.

I used to love fall – the smells, the air, the activities. It was my favorite season of the year when I was a kid. When I became a mother that all changed. Fall became my least favorite season for the same reason it was my favorite as a kid – school started. I hated losing the kids at the end of each summer from 7:00 a.m. – 4:00 p.m. I should have been more grateful. College takes them from September until April or June. Deployments take them for a year. I’m trying to recapture the enthusiasm for Fall . . . first stop peach pie and caramel apples . . .

I’ve found myself wandering around the house looking for something only to realize nothing is missing except Clara. Who’d have guessed such a little girl would leave such a big hole? Today I thought, “I’m hungry.” Then realized, “No, I’m not hungry. I’m empty. Empty is different from hungry.” I can eat to make hungry go away; I just have to be patient and have perspective until empty goes away . . .

Two of my sisters and their husbands as well as nieces and nephews are coming this weekend. We’re very excited to see them, the reason they are coming is even more exciting (more on that thought next week). My brother-in-law, Bruce, is a rancher and livestock sale owner. He always comes bearing prime rib. We’ll see if we can dethrone Abe as the bocce ball champ while it cooks . . .

I've threatened before, but this time I mean it.  I'm never planting broccoli again.  Eleven worms crawled off two small bunches.  Who knows how many didn't crawl off?  I finally fed the broccoli (and worms) to the chickens.  Broccoli is too needy for me.  I like potatoes, flowers, peppers, and tomatoes that take care of themselves. . .

Hmmmm….. what have you been thinking about?

Wednesday, August 18, 2010

Homemaking Tip – Generosity Knows No Bounds

You’ve been there. When people are so kind and so generous that it makes your heart hurt and feel good at the same time. That’s where we’ve been the last few weeks. The generosity has known no bounds. We have been so grateful for each act of empathy and compassion given. Each expression came packed with love and prayers. You have just given and given and given - your time, talents, prayers, thoughts, means. Thank you, thank you, thank you. Each act of love has come with perfect timing and made our days happier and our hearts lighter.

Since today is Homemaking Tip day, I thought I’d share ideas of the foods that friends and neighbors shared with us. The outpouring of help has been bounteous. Six of Grace’s siblings, most of their families, and her mother came to visit for the week, as well as our children and their families. People bigheartedly responded to the needs of all of us. Even though the ideas are many, I wanted to share them all since I’m always wondering what to take to families that need extra love and support. Each thing tasted so good, so perfect. Usually I put a pot roast in a pan, add potatoes and carrots, and call it good. No more. I have new and improved ideas for the future now; I hope this generosity gives you ideas, too.
  • Cashew Chicken and Rice
  • Homemade french bread
  • Fresh Pineapple
  • Watermelon
  • Green Salad
  • Brownies
  • Barbecue Sandwiches
  • Baked Beans
  • Corn on the cob
  • Potato salad
  • Banana Bars
  • Lasagna
  • French bread
  • Chocolate Chip Cookies
  • Fruit Salad
  • Broccoli Rice Salad
  • Melon Salad
  • White Cake
  • Enchiladas
  • Refried beans (real ones)
  • Spanish rice
  • Tortilla Chips
  • Chocolate pudding dessert
  • Strawberry Shortcake
  • Rootbeer and Ice Cream
  • Chicken Pasta Salad
  • No Bake Cookies
  • Taco Chip Casserole
  • Scalloped Potatoes
  • Bundt Cake
  • A warm loaf of banana bread in the afternoon for a snack
  • Warm loaves of pumpkin bread in the morning for a snack
  • Two different neighbors kindly invited us to eat at their home after all of the family had gone. They supposed we needed rest. One family served pork roast, potatoes, and all of the trimmings, while the other served spaghetti, homemade french bread, garden green beans, mozzarella with garden tomatoes, and hot fudge and ice cream for dessert.
  • Still another neighbor, a farmer in his 70’s, came with a grocery bag filled with a brick of cheese, a half a ham, rolls, butter, and mayonnaise. It was so nice not having to go to the store for lunch incidentals.
  • Another idea came from a friend who brought a huge stack of paper products from Costco (cups, plates, silverware) for us to use all week. That was a great help that I had never thought of offering to others. She also brought five dozen eggs for breakfasts.
These ideas don’t even count the food that was served at the dinner after the funeral. Add several more salads, fresh rolls, desserts, and casseroles (homemade macaroni and cheese and shepherd pie were two more ideas) to the list. These last two weeks have been plain delicious and humbling.

Praytell, what food items do you take to families in need of comfort, encouragement, or congratulations?

Tuesday, August 17, 2010

Tuesday – Porous

As if you don’t know enough about me already, Ray says I’m porous. We were watching the fireworks on the Fourth of July when he said it. I hollered, “What?! I’m not porous. That means I can’t keep a secret. That means I’m not trustworthy.”

Ray said, “I didn’t say that. I said you were porous.”

I said, “But Ray. I CAN keep confidences. I AM trustworthy.”

Ray said, “Whoa. Whoa. Whoa. You are putting words in my mouth. I said you were porous. I didn’t say you weren’t able to keep confidences or weren’t trustworthy.”

It got too noisy and we couldn't finish our discussion so I finished watching the fireworks going off in my porous brain.

I love Ray. I enjoy Ray. I admire Ray. I respect Ray. I have his “Janey Payney is my hero” text saved in my phone. I also wanted to know what he meant by being porous, so I asked my sister, “What does it mean if someone thinks you are porous?”

She said, “That you absorb a lot.”

I asked someone else, “What does it mean if you're porous?”

She said, “It means you readily distribute and give back all that you’re given - Easy in, easy out.”

I looked porous up in the dictionary. It said, “Permeable.”

Not one place did it say that you can’t keep confidences or aren’t trustworthy if you're porous.  The more I thought about being porous the more I liked it. In fact, by the time I was through pondering on the thought of being porous, I quite liked the description and even agreed with Ray. (After all, I can redistribute leftovers into a concoction you’ve never seen, and love? I really absorb love. I’m permeable, too, I don’t have  elephant hide and, unlike snakes, have a conscience.)

And, I can keep a secret. Why, I’ve been sitting on this news for five days. They asked me not to tell until Tuesday and you haven’t heard one peep from me. But here it is 12:01 a.m. on Tuesday morning and it’s time to tell:

Ty and Michelle are engaged! We could not be happier. Ty asked Michelle to marry him while they were home last week and then, because Michelle’s ring won’t be ready for another couple of weeks, they did what any respectable couple would do and went to Wal-Mart at midnight and chose a ring from the jewelry counter so it looked official when they told us the next morning.  Congrats, congrats, congrats Ty and Michelle. Next May can’t come soon enough. 

Monday, August 16, 2010

Monday Memories—The Boys’ Club

The front door of Calvin’s shop, otherwise known as The Boys’ Club

The Boys’ Club has a few unspoken rules, the first one being no talking. The men can sit for hours out in the shop sanding, measuring, and nailing without saying a word.

Another unspoken rule is women are allowed to make brief visits, but they are not allowed to organize the tools or comment on the clutter.   They are allowed to take pictures only if they do not interfere with the work.

Man-food like jerky, seeds, and Pepsi are allowed in The Boys’ Club, but you won’t find even one square of chocolate.

The Boys’ Club may serve as a quail egg hatchery, gun club, or furniture factory, but it should never be confused with a repair shop. Broken chairs, tables, and lawnmowers will rot and return to Mother Earth before they will be fixed in The Boys’ Club.

Spiders, dogs, and mice are welcome in The Boys’ Club, but flies are not.

The Boys’ Club draws men from near and far, young and old.

The Boys' Club has special properties. It turns raw material into something beautiful.

Calvin turns out many wonders, all crafted in The Boys’ Club. I’ve shown you many of the things through the years –at least five cedar chests, a jelly cupboard, dozens of long-bows, a dozen black-powder guns, two fireplace mantels, a massive butcher block, frames – and they are beautiful. The craftsmanship is exceedingly fine. Last week Calvin, Ray, and Abe made perhaps the finest thing The Boys’ Club has ever produced, Clara’s casket.

Abe, Calvin, Ray

After the men finished their work, I made a little pad and pillow from soft pink fabric to put in the bottom of it for Clara to rest on. 

Making Clara's casket was a sweet experience.  I don’t know what we’d do without The Boys’ Club. It’s a place for men to be men and for grown men to cry.  It's a perfect place to take something raw and make it into something beautiful.

Sunday, August 15, 2010

52 Blessings--The Plan of Happiness

Abe and Grace

While Abe was deployed to Iraq he asked Grace to read lots of stories to Clara, so often in the evenings Grace, Ande, and I would sit on the couch and read a story to her. Grace liked to read The Little Engine that Could to Clara. It’s the story of a little train that never gives up. Ande’s favorite book to read to Clara was Heggedy Peg, the story of a mother who loves her children and would do anything to help them. I liked to read Fanny’s Dream to her, the story of a young girl who has a dream, but her life turns out differently than what she had hoped. Clara liked stories. Ande would poke Grace’s stomach and say, “Wake up Clara. It’s time to read” and Clara would respond with a kick.

I would like tell you a story. A true story. A story in which Clara, and Abe, and Grace, and every one of us in this room have a part. The story starts long, long, long ago in a place far away from here. We were living as spirits with our Father and Mother in Heaven and our Heavenly family. Our Father in Heaven wanted the very best for his children. Our Heavenly Parents love us very much and our Heavenly Father wanted each one of his children to have all that He has, so He called us all together in a large family council to tell us of His plan. Heavenly Father told us that in order to be truly happy, we needed to gain a body and then with that body learn to keep His commandments. We needed to be able to make choices. He told us about coming to Earth to get that body and be tested whether or not we would choose to keep His commandments.

Heavenly Father then said He needed someone to come to Earth to “mark the path and lead the way.” He needed someone who could unlock the gate of death so that we could all return to our heavenly home. Jesus Christ, our oldest brother, stepped forward and volunteered. He said, “Father, thy will be done, and the glory be thine forever.” (Moses 4:1) He offered to come to Earth and show us how to live. He would show us how important it was to love each other, to love God, to be baptized to show our Heavenly Father that we were willing to keep covenants with Him, and other things we would need to know. Jesus promised to be the perfect example of living on Earth far away from our Heavenly Home. He also promised that He would unlock the gate of death, so that we could all come through it and return to our Father and Mother in Heaven.

Satan also stepped forward and said, “. . . here am I, send me. I will be thy son, and I will redeem all mankind, that one soul shall not be lost, and surely I will do it; wherefore give me thine honor.” (Moses 4:1)

Heavenly Father chose the Savior to fulfill His plan and then He let all of us choose whether or not we wanted to follow his plan. A third of our family chose to follow Satan instead of our Heavenly Father. After a great battle, Heavenly Father cast out Satan and his followers. They weren’t allowed the opportunity to come to Earth to gain a body.

We were excited to come to Earth and get our bodies, in fact we shouted for joy. (Job 38:7) Some of us would come to live in hard times; some would come to live in hard places; some of us would live on Earth a long time; some of us would only live 50 minutes, but because we could see the whole plan, we didn’t care. We were just so glad we got to come to Earth, live and experience mortality, and have an opportunity to make choices.

And that is the part of the story where we are today, when it was Clara’s turn to be on Earth.

Seven months ago Abe and Grace called. Knowing that Grace would live in Washington during Abe’s deployment to Iraq, Abe asked if they could have furniture delivered to our home. Knowing that we only had an air mattress in Grace’s room, I asked what kind of furniture and he said, “A crib and a baby dresser.” And that was the very first part we knew in Clara’s story.

A week later, after Grace’s ultrasound, I asked Grace how the baby was and she said, “It looks like a little grain of rice right now.” The next week I asked Abe how their little grain of rice was doing and he said, “Oh, it’s not a grain of rice anymore, it’s the size of a blueberry now.” Week by week, little Clara grew and grew and grew. Before we knew it she was the size of a shrimp and then a lime. Each week Ty called Grace to find out the size of the baby and then he nicknamed her as she grew. The week she was the size of a green pepper he named her Belle.

One day Grace went to the doctor to find out what the baby would be, a boy or girl. Everyone guessed and guessed, but Grace wouldn’t tell until she had a chance to talk to Abe on the phone. And then . . . and then, they decided they would keep it their own special secret for a few more hours. Finally, Abe called. Grace answered and then handed us the phone, telling us Abe wanted to be the one to tell us the news. Grace began texting and calling her family while Abe told us that their baby was a girl.

The next day the doctor’s office called Grace and said they needed to discuss the results of the ultrasound. Grace immediately sensed that there was something dreadfully wrong with Clara. Grace asked Calvin to give her a blessing before she went to the doctor and in that blessing, our Father in Heaven told Grace that He was very much aware of the situation and that no matter what happened everything would be okay. The doctor explained there were severe problems with Clara’s development and sent Grace to Spokane for further testing. The next day when the ultrasound technician began to take pictures of little Clara, the first picture we saw was of Clara with her thumb up. The technician, not knowing of the blessing that Grace had received the day before, said “Look! She’s saying, ‘Thumbs up, mom.” We all felt as if Clara were letting us know that everything was going to be okay.

The ultrasound and doctors confirmed Grace’s suspicions that something was very wrong with Clara. Clara had a diaphragmatic hernia which meant that all of the organs that should have been in her abdomen had moved up into her chest and moved her heart over to the right side. With her stomach, intestine, and liver in the chest cavity there was no longer enough space for Clara’s lungs to develop. The doctor’s also discovered that there was some connective tissue missing in Clara’s brain that would make it hard for some parts of her brain to communicate with other parts of her brain. These problems would make it very, very difficult for Clara to live for very long if at all.

One of the blessings of having Clara with so many physical problems was the doctors wanted Grace to have an ultrasound every month so they could see how she was. Every few weeks, Grace would lie on the bed for an hour and a half while the technician filmed Clara. One of the benefits of so many filmings was getting to observe Clara. Sometimes I think the Lord gives you a little extra blessing when He knows you won’t have a little baby live very long by letting you get to know their personality while they are inside of you. At least that was the case with Clara. Because we got to watch her move and react for so many hours, we learned a lot about her. For example, she liked playing with her ear and once when the technician said something about her moving her hand so he could take a picture she covered her face and shook her head no. One time Calvin, Grace, and I watched Clara as she pushed her little bottom up into the air like a little stinkbug. Up and down, up and down, she moved her bottom. After seeing it several times we began to laugh. The longer we laughed the more Clara pushed up and down. Calvin, Grace, and I looked at each other. There was no doubt in any of our minds that Clara was very much aware that we were in the room and was showing us her very first “family night” part. While she was pushing up and down it moved her forward until her head was stuck in the folds of Grace. Clara couldn’t go forward, so she started flutter kicking until she was free. Again we laughed. And Clara continued to move around for us. Because Grace could breathe for Clara and take care of all of her physical needs, Clara was free to just be Clara without any struggling. It was a great blessing to see her in that blissful and happy state many times.

After Grace first received the news about Clara’s dim prognosis she sobbed and sobbed. First she put her head in my lap and cried and then she leaned against Calvin’s chest and cried as he held her. She called Abe and he added his tears to hers. They had so many hopes and dreams for their little girl and their little family. They were far, far apart and had to grieve separately. However, two days after the doctor told Grace of Clara’s condition, Grace quietly announced to the family, “I’m going to be happy. Clara does not need a mother who is sad or depressed. Clara needs a happy place if she is going to grow. I will give her that happy place to grow.” And she did. Grace was happy and positive; following the example that the Savior set when he came to Earth.

Because Abe and Grace knew their time might be very short with Clara, they didn’t waste any of it. Grace often put headphones on her stomach so that Abe could talk to Clara, and each day over the computer, they had their family prayers together. Grace has a beautiful voice, but quit singing once she left high school. Abe asked Grace to start singing to Clara and so Grace asked Shauna Roylance to help her sing again. While singing to Clara one day Grace sang “I Wonder When He Comes Again.” That song came to be known as Clara’s song. Shauna and her girls will sing it for you soon and you too will see why it’s perfect for Clara, and for all of us. It reminds us of what is ahead in our story.

One day Cali asked Grace if Clara let her sleep at night or if she kept her awake. Grace said, “No. She’s quiet. She knows I need my sleep and so she plays quietly with her hands or plays with her ear until it’s morning.” Grace would lie in bed quietly each morning until she could feel Clara move before they started their day together. One day Grace said, “Clara and I are going shopping today.” And they did at their favorite store: Target. Another time Grace said, “I think we should take Clara swimming today” and so off we went to Becky Earl’s swimming pool. Grace enjoyed every day with Clara and then she would report to Abe on what they had done with their day. Once Grace scolded Clara as we sat down to eat. She said, “No Clara. Today we have to eat real food. We can’t always just eat sugar.” A couple of weeks ago Grace told Abe, “Clara’s tired of being naked. She wants to be born so she can wear jewelry. She just feels so blah right now.” Sure enough. Clara was tired of being naked because she was born soon after.

Grace and Abe spent many days praying and fasting that they would understand what the Lord’s will concerning Clara was. They wanted to help her fulfill her mission here on Earth and to live as long as the Lord wanted her here. They needed to know whether or not they should let Clara pass quietly from this Earth or ask doctors to offer massive intervention. Each time they received the assurance that they would know what to do when the time came. And each received their own witness of the Lord’s plan for Clara.

Ammon said, “Therefore, let us glory, yea, we will glory in the Lord; yea, we will rejoice, for our joy is full; yea, we will praise our God forever. Behold, who can glory too much in the Lord? Yea, who can say too much of his great power, and of his mercy, and of his long-suffering towards the children of men? Behold, I say unto you, I cannot say the smallest part which I feel.” (Alma 26) That is how Grace and Abe feel about their experience with Clara. They feel the desire to rejoice in his goodness and in his miracles and in his promises, because there were so many.

Many miracles attended Abe, Grace, and Clara the night she was born. Doctors had wanted Grace to deliver in a larger facility, but Grace went into labor too quickly to be transported and so Clara was born here in Moses Lake. It turned out to be a very big blessing. The hospital was quiet and peaceful and her nurses, Tiffany Valdez and Laska King, were so attentive and kind and understanding. There was a sacred reverence in the room as little Clara was born and struggled to take a breath. Just two days before Clara was born doctors in Seattle had reported to Grace that essentially there was no lung tissue developed. But when the doctor and nurses gave Clara to Grace to hold, Clara took a slow breath and then another. Grace cried, “She’s alive!” and Calvin quickly and quietly put his hands upon her little head and gave her a name and a blessing. Loving her as the Savior asked us to love one another and to care for one another, Grace whispered to Clara as she struggled to breathe regularly, “It’s okay Clara. You can go now. You don’t have to stay and suffer. Don’t stay for me, you can go back home.” Soon Grace was on the phone with Abe telling him all about their little baby girl and Clara began to breathe more regularly. Grace put the phone to Clara’s ear so that Abe could talk to her. And Clara continued to breathe. Soon Ande had Skype connected and Abe could see the pictures of Clara and Grace while he talked to them. Minute after minute Clara kept breathing. Her little heart, pushed clear over and up under the right clavicle continued to beat. Clara grasped Grace’s finger at the very first and held it as Grace talked to her and we gathered around Clara to kiss her feet, fingers, and head. After thirty minutes I said, “Grace, sing her her song” and as Grace began to sing Clara’s little eyes fluttered in recognition. And still she kept breathing.

After fifty minutes, her heart beat and breathing began to slow down. Grace again whispered to her, “Go Clara. You did what you needed to do. Everything is okay. You can go now.” Abe and Grace watched as Clara quietly slipped away. For the next several hours we marveled at the miracle we had just been a part of. Not only was it the miracle of life, not only was it the miracle of Clara breathing with very little developed lung tissue, but it was the miracle of death and the miracle of angels in attendance to minister to the needs of the living as well as the passing. It was a sacred event. Grace was able to hold little Clara’s body through the night. She only slept for ten minutes and that was with little Clara nestled safely under Grace’s chin. I asked Grace if she wanted to sleep and she said, “I can sleep forever, but I only get to hold my baby tonight.”

In the quiet of the night, Grace reflected upon the moment Clara was born. She had witnessed herself that the clock turned 7:01 when she was born. The Spirit quietly reminded her that 7/01 is also hers and Abe’s anniversary — the day they had made their family a forever family through the power of the Holy Priesthood in the House of the Lord. Grace understood that the Lord was reassuring her that Clara would be hers and Abe’s for eternity and 7:01 would always remind them of that. Alma tells us, “. . . God knoweth all the times which are appointed unto man.” (Alma 40:10) Another little miracle that God knows us and loves us.

While Grace was delivering Clara, Abe was miles away making the sacrifice to protect mine and yours and Grace’s and Clara’s freedom. But just as the Savior comforted Grace while she carried and gave birth to little Clara, so the Savior comforted Abe far away in Iraq where he was unable to see Clara grow within Grace or hold her as she took her first and last breath. The Lord blessed him with a sacred reassurance that there was purpose in the way the events had transpired. Truly Abe and Grace can say, “Who can glory too much in the Lord?” for they have been so blessed and recognize the peace that passeth all understanding that they have been given.

And you, the friends and family of Clara, Abe, and Grace have truly mourned with them while they mourn and comforted them while in need of comfort. Your travels, calls, thoughts, e-mails, flowers, food, attention, prayers, homes opened and offered, errands run, booties and blankets crocheted, gifts given and made, dresses bought, a selfless and kind funeral attendant . . . you are all a part of the miracle of the Savior tending to the little Abe Payne family needs through the hands of his servants. Thank you for being a very real part of Clara’s story here on Earth.

Clara is now a few pages ahead of us in the story. She has in the words of Alma, “. . . (been) taken home to that God who gave her life.” She is in that “. . . space between death and the resurrection of the body” and in a state of happiness and peace. (Alma 40:11, 21) There she does not struggle for breath, nor does her brain struggle to communicate with her body. She is happy and there she will wait for Abe and Grace and the rest of her loved ones until the Lord comes again and her body and her spirit are reunited eternally. Then it will be as Joseph Smith taught, “. . . an infant child laid away in death (will) come up in the resurrection as a child and (pointing to a mother whose child had passed away) you will have the joy, the pleasure, and satisfaction of nurturing this child, after its resurrection, until it reaches the full stature of its spirit.” And what a joy it will be to raise Clara, for she is a celestial spirit. Joseph Smith also revealed that “. . . all children who die before they arrive at the years of accountability are saved in the celestial kingdom of heaven.” (D&C 137:10)

Abe and Grace will have the privilege of raising Clara. I know this. They know this. I also know that until that day when sometimes there arms ache and their hearts are homesick and lonely for their little girl that the Savior will give them strength and comfort, happiness and courage. The Savior understands what it is like to hurt and to be sad. Way back at the beginning of our story, the Savior promised that he would “(come) forth, suffering pains and afflictions and temptations of every kind; and this that the word might be fulfilled which saith he will take upon him the pains and the sicknesses of his people. And he will take upon him death, that he may loose the bands of death which bind his people; and he will take upon him their infirmities, that his bowels may be filled with mercy, according to the flesh, that he may know according to the flesh how to succor his people according to their infirmities.” (Alma 7:11-12) I know this is true. I know the Savior will succor us according to our infirmities, our hurts, our needs. Just as He will protect and nurture Clara while Abe and Grace are away, He will protect and nurture Abe and Grace while Clara is away. And then, when we are all reunited . . . that’s when the story gets to the really good part.

I’d like to close with Grace and Abe’s testimonies. They wrote these a couple of months ago when they realized the challenge that faced all three of them:

First Grace’s:

Abe and I know that Clara will always and forever be our little girl. We are so thankful that through the Atonement of Christ our broken hearts will be healed and that through the Resurrection, Clara will receive a perfect body and we will get to hold her in our arms again. We are so thankful to have been married in the temple where we are sealed to Clara for all eternity. She is our special little girl and we wouldn't trade her for anything. Even though this has been hard, Abe and I know that we will learn so much from this, and we feel so honored Heavenly Father would send such a special little girl into our lives. We feel so blessed and wouldn't trade her for anything. I hope that I get to carry her full term so that I can be close to her as long as I can. I ask for your prayers that this will happen. I love this little baby so much and I want to help her keep fighting.

This is so hard, but like I said I feel so honored to be Clara Ann's mother. I know I will be with her again and "everything will be okay!"

Now Abe’s:

I was crushed when I heard the news about Clara Ann. It broke my heart to know that she won't be the perfect little girl we had hoped for. I cry every time I think that Grace and I aren't going to get to hold our little girl more than a day or two. I'm never going to see Grace rock and sing her to sleep. It hurts so much to know that she's never going to grow up and play with dolls. She's never going to go to school. She's never going to play any sports. She's never going to go on a date. She's never going to do hair and makeup with her mom. It kills me to think of all the things my little girl is never going to get to do. I hate that Grace and I don't get to plan for things like clothes to buy, toys to buy, how to paint her room, taking her outside to play...instead we have to plan on where to bury our baby, what kind of casket to get, what type of headstone. This was not at all what we had hoped and dreamed for. Last night I broke down and bawled for 15 minutes when I thought of everything we couldn't do with Clara and all the things we were going to have to do instead. These past few days have been the worst days of my life.

However, I have learned a lot in the past few days. I've learned that babies definitely receive a spirit before they are four months old. There is no doubt in my mind that Clara has received her spirit. By seeing her pictures and hearing Grace talk about what she does during the ultrasounds, I've learned that she definitely has a personality...she's got a lot of attitude just like her mom. . . (Clara) never should have lived this long, but she has refused to give up. She's a fighter and she's stubborn just like her mom. I never knew I could feel so much love for someone I've never seen.

I've also found great peace and comfort in these past few days. It has been a comfort to know that Clara has the most amazing and loving mother in the entire world. Grace has done so much to care for and love her. I have felt a lot of peace from knowing that Grace loves Clara and still wants to do everything she can to make sure she has a good experience on Earth. It's also been a comfort to know that you all were there to support Grace and help her through this difficult time. I'm so glad that we decided to have her live in Moses Lake rather than stay in Colorado. I can't imagine these past few days if she had been alone through all of this. Heavenly Father has also done a lot to comfort me. Although I'm immeasurably saddened by this, I've felt peace throughout it. I know that Grace and I will have the opportunity to someday raise Clara. She'll have a perfect body and won't have any problems. I can't wait to see Grace be able to hold our little girl without all the heartache of letting her go. I know that the resurrection is real. Last night . . . I was pleading with Heavenly Father because I hurt so much. As I was talking to Him, I received the impression, "Now you get a small glimpse of what I went through with my Son." I'm grateful that I was able to get a small glimpse at what it was like and to gain a greater understanding of the pain it must have cause Him to have to leave His Son alone in the most trying time. I know that through the Atonement, Christ has made it possible for us to all be together again. I'm so grateful that he suffered so much pain and anguish to be able to comfort us and ease our pain. I'm grateful that Grace and I were sealed in the temple and that Clara will always be ours. I don't know how I'd make it through this if I thought she was gone forever. I've felt that when Clara goes, Grandpa Payne is going to be waiting there for her to be with her and take care of her. I've felt at peace throughout all this that everything is happening exactly as the Lord planned it. It was a comfort to know a smiling face was going to be waiting for her. I'm also excited to know that Clara was special enough before this life that she didn't need to prove anything here...she only needed to come and receive a body. I'm so grateful that we received Clara. I'm grateful that we received such a special girl. This has been a hard experience, but I wouldn't trade it and I wouldn't trade Clara for any other baby. I know that Heavenly Father loves us and is mindful of us.

Yes, the best of the story is still to come – the time when we are all reunited in our heavenly home with our Father and Mother in Heaven. But until then, we must take good care of this part of the story. We must develop it so that the end will be all we want it to be. We must live like Clara lived. As King Benjamin taught, “We must put of the natural man and become a saint through the atonement of Christ the Lord, and become as a child, submissive, meek, humble, patient, full of love, willing to submit to all things which the Lord sees fit to inflict upon him, even as a child doth submit to his father.”

I am grateful Clara truly taught me more about this scripture. I am grateful to Abe and Grace for their example of this. I know the Savior lives. I know Clara lives. Truly, “Everything will be okay.”  What a blessing to know this.

Monday, August 9, 2010

Monday Memories—Clara Ann Payne

She didn’t stay long – less than an hour – but like a flower pressed between the pages of a book, that hour will be a dainty, beautiful, bright spot preserved in our hearts and memories forever.

Clara Ann Payne
Infant daughter of Abe and Grace Payne
Weighed 2 pounds and 15 ounces and 15 ½ inches long
Born 7:01 p.m. on August 5, 2010
Died 7:51 p.m. on August 5, 2010

Services on Wednesday at 6:00
The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints
Nelson Road Chapel