Monday, November 29, 2010

Monday Memories – A Report on a Few Current Conditions

These are not black and white photographs.  This is the real color of our world.  Calvin thinks it looks like hell frozen over.  I think it looks like a winter wonderland.  Sometimes we debate who the optimist in our family is, but on foggy, wintry, cold, snowy days there is no dispute.  This morning while he was grumbling about the fog I suggested we move some place without fog.  He said he hates moving more than he hates fog.  Winter wonderland it is then.

Our Thanksgiving could not have been better. We had all of our kids there except Abe. Call me irresponsible, call me short-sighted, call me what you will we did not get a picture of all of us. But family picture or not, we had a marvelous time. Seven highlights from it:

1. The food. No picture, but you all know what prime rib, turkey, dressing (do you call it stuffing?), gravy, mashed potatoes, sweet potatoes, and a multitude of vegetables and pies look like anyway. Thanksgiving is all about food. (. . . and figuring out what to do with all the trash that the food generates. I was amazed at how many bags went out, I’m guessing there were at least two dozen bags full. I meant to take a picture, but that would be embarrassing to have a picture of the trash but not the family so it’s for the best.)

Ty, Michelle, Seth, Calvin, me

2. The people. Four of us sisters and our families ate Thanksgiving dinner together. A fifth sister, Lynn, joined us Thursday evening to visit. Ty, Michelle, Calvin, and I went to see my nephew and brother while we were there, too. (Good thing Seth insisted we take a picture.)
I’ve always been impressed with the Osmond family’s ability to get along – the fact that all nine children have functioning relationships with each other and, after fifty years, can still get on a stage without one throwing a fit or boycotting the show is remarkable. While we may not sing and I can guarantee someone would boycott the show if we tried to pull one off, we do have one great success: we can pile high and deep when we go on trips. Once when we went to see my sister Rachel, 22 of us stayed in a double-wide trailer with one and a half bathrooms for 4 days, and this past weekend 17 of us stayed in my sister’s three bedroom home. In the words of Ande, “This is what we do. It may not make sense, but it is how we do it.” Saturday morning I asked Ray how the 11 of them slept up in the loft and he said, “It was like sleeping in a zoo. There was barking, growling, and snoring all night long.” Next year we’ll hand out ear plugs.

Michelle and Ty

Crissa, Trent, and Kiara
3.  The barn garage dance.  My niece and nephew, Haley and Ryan, organized a dance for Thanksgiving night.  And since it is as Ray says, “Nobody cares whether or not you’re good, they only care that you participate,” we had a great time.  We hokey-pokied, two-stepped, swung, lined, polka’d, and limbo’d. 

Bruce insisted his new hip could do anything. 
Please note my nephewJake wrapped in the blanket behind Bruce since it's the only picture I got of him, and Marcia right under the light since it's the only picture I got of her, too

Would you believe the two with the longest backs won the limbo?  Ty and Ray can go very, very low.  Which just proves that stories with unexpected endings like the hare and the tortoise are true.

Grace and Chris

Nieces, Charlie and Haley

4. The shopping. Chris runs Black Friday shopping like a captain. She had everyone look at the ads and clip coupons on Thursday afternoon, and by 3:30 a.m. Friday morning was honking the car in the driveway. 

The 4:00 am stop was J.C. Penny’s for 45 minutes, with the instructions to not be late so we could get to Fred Meyer’s 5:00 half-price sock sale. On and on and on we went; Chris taxied and organized us the whole day.

Cali, Ande, Michelle

It was nice.  By 8:00 am we were hungry and by 10:30 am it felt like 3:00 pm, there is no doubt that Black Friday shopping, sleeping in a full loft, and late nights are tiring . . .   

Michelle on a Fred-Meyer bench

. . . but we had a great time and found some real deals. 

Grace and my niece, Jenny

5. The Black Friday swap. Thursday we drew names for a gift exchange and Chris gave everyone five, dollar coins with which to buy a present. It’s a fun, fun tradition. Last year we felt bad for the men who watched us exchange, but didn’t have any gifts. This year Chris had the men exchange names too, but since they were going hunting the Black-Friday women did the shopping for them. Their limit was 3 dollars. That night we gathered to swap gifts. Oh ho. What a funny time. What a fun tradition.

someone was not thinking when they gave Ty this bow and arrow

Michelle (protecting us by holding the arrows) and Grace (with her new scissors)

Joe happy as can be with mega jerky and Ande

Michelle, Cortney, Nikki, Trevor, and Cali (showing off her new earrings)

Ray, Haley (showing off her new earrings), Ryan

6.  Calvin’s 60th birthday.  Nary a picture (hence a favorite from the archives),

but we celebrated it.  We turned the leftovers into Hawaiian Haystacks, had a birthday cake, opened presents, played games and watched football.  It’s pretty amazing how much celebrating you can fit into 48 hours when you’ve a mind to.

7.  The drive.  Saturday morning before we left, we took a drive to show the kids where I grew up, where Calvin and I lived when we were newly married, and where they were raised. 

Chris and Bruce

It was an incredible weekend, thanks to Chris and Bruce for their warm hospitality, enthusiasm, and generosity.  Thanks to everyone for taking care of each other and making it fun.

My apologies to those who I didn’t get a flattering picture of and to the memories I did not record (like Jake sitting in the hot seat, or sighting in Ray’s gun [my ears are still ringing a bit], or Marcia doing the Filer fight song, or the drive in the snowstorm from Idaho). Call me short-sighted, call me irresponsible, but call me happy and grateful that we had such a great time.


Wednesday, November 24, 2010

Well Fed -- A Commandment

"Thou shalt thank the Lord thy God in all things."

John Howland came on the Mayflower as a servant. One night at sea when the “winds were so fierce and the seas so high . . . a lusty young man called John Howland was . . . thrown into the sea; but it pleased God that he caught hold of the topsail halyards . . .” The crew rescued him with a boathook. And while many pilgrims died, including John Howland’s master and his master’s wife, John Howland lived to marry and have ten children. H.U. Westermayer said, “The Pilgrims made seven times more graves than huts. No Americans have been more impoverished than these who, nevertheless, set aside a day of thanksgiving.”

Abraham Lincoln instituted the Thanksgiving Proclamation of 1863 while we were in the middle of a bloody war. There was much to be discouraged about, but he chose to focus on expressing thanks for our blessings. He said America needed to be grateful that no other nations had taken advantage of her in her weakened state while internally fighting. He said America’s prosperity was a “gracious gift of the Most High God, who, while dealing with us in anger for our sins, hath nevertheless remembered mercy.” He suggested that it was fitting and proper for the American people to solemnly, reverently and gratefully acknowledge that.
Both John Howland and Abraham Lincoln had much about which to be discouraged. But they chose to be grateful. Now that is thanks giving.

Hundreds of years later, science has proved that practicing gratitude makes us healthier. Robert Emmons, PhD, and professor of psychology at the University of California, Davis conducted a study on the affect of gratitude on people. He used three groups in his study. The first group was assigned to focus on hassles or things wrong in their lives. The second group was asked to focus on things for which they were grateful or enhanced their lives. The third group focused on ordinary life events. It was discovered that those who found something to appreciate every day were less materialistic and less likely to see a connection between happiness and possessions. Those who consciously expressed appreciation were also

• more empathetic

• more helpful

• felt better about their lives

• were more optimistic

• were more energetic

• were more enthusiastic

• were more determined

• were more interested

• were more joyful

• exercised more

• had fewer illnesses

• got more sleep

• were more likely to have helped someone else

• had clearer thinking

• had better resilience during tough times

• had a higher immune response

• were less likely to be plagued by stress

• had longer lives

• enjoyed closer family ties

• had greater religiousness

• experienced more joy

It appears that gratitude pays again and again and again. 

Of course it would be good for us . . .  it's a commandment.

Well Fed -- A New Member of the Family

Joe and Ande

It’s official!  Sometime soon.  Welcome Joe, welcome!

Tuesday, November 23, 2010

Well Fed -- Snow Day!

Nothing like a snow day.  Nothing.  Unless it's when Daylight Savings ends and you gain that extra hour.  But a snow day gives you 12 extra hours so even Daylight Savings doesn't really compare.  I took full advantage of the extra hours today:
  • cleaned the bathroom
  • did the laundry and ironing
  • made a batch of strawberry jam and a batch of blackberry jam
  • made a batch of conglomeration fruit leather (strawberry/blackberry/grape/pear/apple)
  • sent a couple of lengthy and overdue e-mails
  • vacuumed and dusted
  • prepared a lesson
  • went on a short drive with Calvin and was surprised at the number of snowdrifts  
  • cleaned the rubble out of my snowboots that sit in the garage (no dehydrated frog like I found in Calvin's one year, but there was an extra key or two)
  • carried water to the chickens
  • walked down to the mailbox (it's only twelve or thirteen degrees this afternoon)
And . . . the whole evening is still ahead!  I'm reading Decision Points by George W. Bush and thoroughly enjoying it.

Oh the things you can do when you have no place to go.  What would you do with a snow day?

Monday, November 22, 2010

Well Fed – Static Control, Memories, Stew, Assigned Friends, and Parenthesis’s

Tis the season for static cling.  Everything sticks to everything and everything itches.  Thank goodness for fabric softener, hairspray, slips, and lotion.  (Have you tried the bodycology lotion at Wal-Mart?  I really like it.  Gardenia is what I brought home today.)

We’re spending Thanksgiving in Idaho with a couple of my sisters. Calvin, who watches the weather forecast, has warned the kids who are driving to expect snow, to leave early, drive slow, and that those who are going hunting should bring wool clothes. I’m glad I’m in Calvin’s car.

Thanksgiving has long been my favorite holiday. You can imagine how out lucky I felt when I discovered we had ancestors on the Mayflower (my brother-in-law had an ancestor on it, too, but his was soon hanged for being a horse thief).

I was thinking about childhood Thanksgivings today. One year my little brother and sister had the chicken-pox. Talk about a downer year. No cousins came. It was like a regular Sunday dinner. No nut cups. No place cards. Turkey instead of roast, Thursday instead of Sunday, otherwise very, very similar.

Another year Heber, one of my folks’ close friends, died of a heart attack. Mom was in the kitchen early in the morning stuffing the turkey and crying. (Now as I’m typing this I’m wondering if maybe it was onions, but at the time I was certain she was in mourning.) I carefully watched Mom (I didn’t want dinner called off and another chicken-pox Thanksgiving) while I played with my pet pretend mice. (I had three jellybeans that I glued little paper ears to and put them in some cotton in the bottom of a little box. They lived for several days.)

I loved the Thanksgivings when our Chadwick cousins came. They loved to play home-made games like Up-Jenkins, The Liars Game, and Cat & Mouse. Chadwick cousins didn’t put age limits on who could play. And then after we’d eaten Thanksgiving dinner, we went down to the basement and sat around the fireplace and piano while Dad and Uncle Duane sang. I remember them laughing more than singing. They accompanied each other – Uncle Duane played the saw, Dad played the spoons, and Aunt Pat played the piano. They sang songs like Down in the Valley, You are My Sunshine, and Home on the Range. But they also sang “Cigereeeeeettes and whiskey and wild, wild women . . . they’ll drive a man wild, they’ll drive him insane.” (Mom and Aunt Pat didn’t think they were funny.)

I also loved the Thanksgivings when my sisters brought home their college roommates.

It’s been snowing all day. I fixed stew and breadsticks for supper. (I put a handful of barley and little cubes of winter squash in the stew and they made a very nice difference.)

I went visiting teaching today.  I explained visiting teaching to one of my friends who is not a member of the same church I am by saying, “It’s kind of like we’re assigned friends.  I’m assigned to be a friend to some women and other women are assigned to be my friend.  And . . . it works.  It works because we all do it.”  (Remember the monster mash? It did make cute pilgrim mix and I took it to “my assigned friends.”

Tis the season for lots of good things.

Sunday, November 21, 2010

Well Fed – S’s


I do love a good Sunday.  Good meaning not too many mess-ups on the organ, a bag of peanut m&m’s in my church bag, quiet inspiration, reflective thoughts, the Sacrament, a good dinner, a nap, popcorn, and a fine book.  It is as Joseph Addison said, “Sunday clears away the rust of the whole week.”  I’m glad God made Sundays.


Yesterday morning was our first snow.  The flakes were big and bushy.  They didn’t stay long, but they did land.  I’m glad God made snow.  Calvin’s dad always kept track of the weather.  Always.  Calvin does the same thing.  I find it endearing.

Sore and Sweaty

Grace and I jogged three miles Friday.  Now I know it's not that far, but I haven’t jogged that far since college.  I usually walk a mile to warm up, jog two, and then reward myself with a mile walk at the end.  However, when Grace and I jogged together she said, “Let’s push it and do three.”  We were surprised how much we sweat in the cold and that one mile more made us sore the next day.  I’m glad God made Grace and told Adam sweat was good for him.


Our ward harvest supper was last night.  Grace made a pumpkin roll, I was assigned rolls, and Calvin helped with the meat.  The cultural hall was decorated beautifully, the food was really good (I don’t know who made the rolls at our table, but they were wonderful), and the conversation was fun.  Anytime you sit at a table with Ludeen the conversation is good.  Not too many years ago she and I delivered a cake to a family and she ran to the car afterwards – she’s pushing 85.  I’m glad God made church families.


I bit my fingernails off this week and it wasn’t because I was bored.  I’m glad God expects us to make peace. 


A cat has adopted us. It feels kind of good. Cats, let alone stray cats, don’t adopt us nor do they last long in the land of coyotes and cur dogs. This cat is not only a stray, she’s a smart stray. It took Cali three days to find her kittens.

Awhile ago I saw a mid-sized kitten streak across the parking lot at work. It ran straight for the fence and the bushes; she wanted nothing to do with humanity. I wasn’t sure what the stray’s kittens looked like as I’d only seen them once or twice in the dark, but I was pretty sure that streaking orange kitten was one of the stray's. That night Calvin confirmed it. It must be simply unnerving to ride on some ledge under the hood of a car at 70 miles an hour. I’m sure it’s not as scary as getting caught in a fan belt, but I still can’t help but think it would be the undoing of me as it seemed to be the orange kitten. Within the week all three of the kittens were gone, but the calico stray stays on.  She is content to live on mice and an occasional helping of leftover gravy. I’m glad God loves all strays.


I got a letter in the mail this week notifying me that I received a B in my communications class.  A B is OK, but I'm glad God doesn't grade me on power point presentations and sentence structures. 

How would you fill in the sentence, "I'm glad God ________" ?

Friday, November 19, 2010

Well Fed – The Constitution of the United States of America

The Old Man Wept 
by Del Parson

A couple of weeks ago I read The Great Little Madison by Jean Fritz. Tonight Grace, Calvin, and I attended a seminar on the Constitution given by Glen Kimber. This is the third lecture we’ve attended by Dr. Kimber. He advocates learning the Constitution and how and why it was created. Then in a kind but pointed way, he helps seminar participants to recognize how our apathy, distraction, and ignorance have contributed to its undermining and suggests ways to correct our behavior.

Until the 1950’s Americans were taught the Constitution in school classrooms and taught about our Four Founding Fathers. Can you match them?

Benjamin Franklin

George Washington

James Madison

Samuel Adams

         The Father of the Revolution                 

              The Father of our Country                       

             The Father of the Constitution                        

                      The Father of Morality                                  

 Luckily I had recently studied about them and could match them, but that was about all the farther my ignorance took me.

The Father of the Revolution: Samuel Adams

The Father of our Country: George Washington

The Father of the Constitution: James Madison

The Father of Morality: Benjamin Franklin

Mr. Kimber reports that by Congress’ calculation over a billion dollars have been spent defaming the Founding Fathers. By denigrating the creator, you can devalue the created. (I thought it telling that the most money was spent on vilifying Benjamin Franklin, The Father of Morality.) Sweeping curriculum changes fifty years ago stopped the teaching of the Constitution and of American History in our public classrooms, and I am certainly a product of those changes. I’m trying to correct that.  It's so easy to take for granted something that didn't cost me anything in time, talents, energy, or resources.

Calvin, Grace, and I went to Baskin Robbins afterwards and discussed what we can do to correct our ignorance. Improving our reading was one thing we decided to do, and taking this FREE BYU on-line class: An American Citizen’s Guide to Government and Politics was another. Things are much easier to commit to if you have a world-class-chocolate ice cream cone in hand.

Several years ago I went to Israel with my grandparents, aunt, uncle, and two cousins. Cleon Skousen was our tour guide. Not long ago, I discovered that Glen Kimber and his wife, Julianne, were also on that trip. (Julianne is Cleon Skousen’s daughter.) Small world. It’s not every day that you run into a fellow camel riding travel-mate. Mr. Kimber had just returned from the Middle-East two days ago (he’s made over fifty trips since our trip thirty years ago) and it was fun to hear some of his recent experiences in relation to the Constitution.  It reminded me of our trip so long ago.

Do you wish you knew the Constitution better?

Thursday, November 18, 2010

Well Fed – Shortcuts

Deb and I divvy up assignments for the retreats. She’s the heart behind them; I’m the check book register. One of my jobs this year was to make sugar cookies. I’ve tried several sugar cookie recipes through the years, and like them, but none of them are very soft three days later. I was in a crunch and decided to buy cookies at the grocery bakery. I told Deb my plan and she said, “You can’t do that! They have to be homemade.” I gave her a resigned look and said, “Deb, you can’t even eat the cookies.” She laughed (Deb always laughs, it's one of the things I most appreciate about her) and said her vote still counted.

Time passed and duties mounted. Making 80+ sugar cookies seemed less and less feasible. I went the Safeway route and didn’t tell Deb.

I frosted them with homemade cream cheese frosting and decorated them with royal icing Raggedy Ann’s and Andy’s. They were really cute.

Especially after they were tied with gingham ribbon in a cellophane bag with a tag. 

After Alyson, Deb’s daughter, had eaten her cookies she came to my table and whispered, “Can I please get the recipe.” Tiffany echoed, “Me, too. Can I get it?”

I laughed and whispered back, “Tell your mom she’s very funny.”

They both looked a bit confused and Alyson said, “What?”

I said, “Tell your mom I get it. She got me.”

Alyson said, “Why would I say that?”

I said, “Didn’t she tell you to come and ask me for the recipe so I’d have to fess up that I bought the cookies after all?”

Alyson said, “Nooooo. All I know is those cookies are good and I want the recipe.”

Sugar cookies with homemade frosting and royal icing toppers – it’s my Safeway shortcut secret and Alyson promised she wouldn't tell. 

Though life could certainly go on without shortcuts, I do appreciate when something comes together easy.

(The royal icing Ann and Andy’s come from The Peppermint Place in Alpine, Utah. They sell seconds there and my sister buys them and gives them to me regularly as a surprise.  She gave me a box of 200 or so and said it cost her less than $5.)

(I took the picture of the Raggedy Ann that sits on my sister’s bed then added cartoon effects, text, and a frame at, then printed them on cardstock to make the cookie tag.)