Sunday, August 28, 2011

52 Blessings – Knowledge, Wisdom, and the Like

Yesterday I picked a bunch of tomatoes out of the garden (our outdoor refrigerator that keeps things fresh) and it reminded me of this saying pinned on Ande's pinterest board:

So true.  So true.

That saying reminded me of a conversation I had years ago with Abe and Ty.  They were little boys and had joined me on my daily walk.  We visited about school and recess and I told them that Albert Einstein had said that imagination was more important than knowledge and what did they think about that?  They debated the issue for two miles.

More than a dozen years later, Abe wrote in a letter, “Mom, I remember you used to always talk to me about Albert Einstein’s quote that knowledge without imagination is nothing.  I would always argue that knowledge was more important, but Albert was right.”

I have no idea what prompted Abe's discovery.  I just know that he came to understand for himself that imagination makes knowledge useful.  And when you imagine how that knowledge can help others and then apply it . . . well, then it becomes wisdom.

Knowledge tells you that when light meets water it makes a rainbow.  Imagination puts the color into the rainbow and the little pot of gold at the end of it.  Wisdom appreciates and reverences the wonder of God when light meets water, and remember that blessings, like the rainbow, always follow storms well endured.

Marion G. Romney said that the capacity to convert knowledge to wisdom is one of the blessings of the Holy Spirit.  And in my estimation and imagination, that makes perfect sense.  I'm grateful for the gift of the Holy Ghost that helps knowledge become wisdom, and for men and women everywhere who use their knowledge, imagination, and wisdom to benefit all of us.  And . . . for tomatoes, which reminded me of all of this in the first place.

    Saturday, August 27, 2011

    Life in Our World – Our Outdoor Kitchen

    Nope.  Not this one.

    Nope.  Not this one, either.

    Yup.  This one.  It's ours.  All ours . . .

    The trash compactor.  

    The stove top.

    The hot pads.

    The blue sink.  The green faucet.  The natural wood counter top with a polyethylene, non woven fabric overlay. 

    The dishwasher.

    The garbage disposal.

    It works like a charm.  Today Calvin and I froze 150 bags of corn in it.  

    Thursday, August 25, 2011

    Thursday Thinking – “I only hope that we don't lose sight of one thing - that it was all started by a mouse.” Walt Disney

    I’m having a hard time thinking of anything but the smell of a dead mouse that is somewhere in our house.  I’m thinking it’s behind the kitchen cupboards since he nibbled on a Big Hunk candybar on top of the fridge before he . . . . before he began to smell . . . and he's not behind the fridge or the cupboard drawers.  

    Here are a dozen or so interesting thoughts on the subject of smell to think about: 

    1. Humans are able to distinguish over 10,000 scents.
    2. Each person, except identical twins, has his or her individual smell.
    3. One in 1,000 people are insensitive to the smell of skunks.  (Calvin is one of them . . . oh, I shouldn’t say that is insensitive, he is highly sensitive . . . he loves the smell of skunks.  It reminds him of bow hunting.)
    4. Smell is 10,000 times more sensitive than taste.
    5. Ninety percent of what is perceived as taste is actually smell.
    6. Ninety percent of the women who were tested identified their newborns by smell after being exposed to them for only 10 minutes to 1 hour.  All of the women recognized their baby’s smell after they had been exposed longer than 1 hour.
    7. By as early as 3 days a baby can discriminate between his own breast-feeding mother and another lactating mother.
    8. Women, particularly women of reproductive age, have a more acute sense of smell than men.
    9. Dogs, horses, and women can detect the “scent of fear.”  (Female subjects wore underarm pads while watching a scary movie or a neutral movie.  The pads were presented to a panel of women who were able to discriminate between  fear and non-fear sweat pads.  How would you like to have been on that panel?)
    10.  We tend to prefer the smell of people who have different smells to our own and tend to be repelled by people whose smell is similar to our own.
    11. A Chicago lab found that the women in their study rated human odor more pleasant than common household odors.
    12. Around $24 billion is spent annually on scented products in the U.S.
    13. Experts believe that sperm may smell their way to the egg.
    14. People are very sensitive to the smell of green pepper.  It can be detected when it is mixed with air at only 0.5 parts per trillion.
    (This information was compiled by Tim Jacob)

    I think people are very sensitive to the smell of decaying mice, too.

    But three smells that I do love are lilacs, bread baking, and Johnson's baby lotion.  How about you?  What are three smells you love?  

    Wednesday, August 24, 2011

    Homemaking Tip – Easy, Fun, and Inexpensive Ideas

    Here are a few fun ideas from the past week:

    • Krista, my sister-in-law, made a couple hundred suckers for Eliza’s wedding.  Suckers are a family favorite, especially since Krista puts gumballs in the center of her suckers.  What a clever idea to make your own blow pops.  I’m going to do that next time. 

    • For a new baby gift to a family of six children I gave the gift of “keeping the brothers and sisters busy” instead of something new for the baby.  I supposed that they already have plenty of baby clothes as the new baby is brother number five, so I filled a little plastic crate with $tore items like bouncy balls, old maid/crazy eights/matching cards, silly putty, rubber band bracelets, sidewalk chalk, blow pops, book with cd and stickers, and pixie sticks. (I had hoped for a treasure chest look or feel, but it more resembled the guts of a piñata.)  I added a gallon of ice cream and some ice cream cones, too.  The little kids were so excited when I delivered it along with supper to their family. 

    • I went to the post office a week ago and Postmaster Phil laughed when he saw the package.  He said, “I always love to see what you’re going to try to send through the mail.”  I was relieved that he didn’t think the idea was stupid, and even more relieved when my niece received them and then went straight out to buy some to send to her friends.  I saw the idea on Givers Log  to mail a pair of flip-flops as is with the address written in a permanent marker on the inside sole of the shoe.  Phil weighed them and affixed the postage.  The only thing was that I forgot to send one flip-flop one day and the other flip-flop the next day so that she got a random surprise one day and then could anticipate receiving the other.  Someone at the post office tried to be helpful and put a rubber band around them so that they arrived together.  My niece didn’t know it was supposed to be any different and loved the idea anyway. 
    • The last idea is to run a paper lunch bag through your printer.  Who knew?  I love the free graphics from Just Something I Made  and she suggested the idea.  I tried it and printed a tomato on a sack.  Oh, oh, oh . . . the possibilities are endless.

    Tuesday, August 23, 2011

    Sunday, August 21, 2011

    52 Blessings – Socks & Chivalry

    The winner of this week's 52 blessings is socks and chivalry.  Definitely socks and chivalry.

    This morning when we got to church, I realized I didn't bring my bag that has a pair of socks in it for organ playing.  I thought, “Oh well.  There aren’t that many notes on the feet, I think I’ll be okay picking at them rather than sliding to them.”  Nope.  Wasn’t going to happen.  My sweaty feet kept sticking on the notes.  I looked around at the early-bird members of the congregation and wondered which woman would be willing to donate her knee high nylons to the cause for an hour.  There was no one with knee highs.  So, I slipped off the bench and went down to Calvin and whispered, “I need your socks.”  He gave me that "no way, no how" look.  I said, “Really.  I do.  I can’t hit the notes because my feet won’t slide.  I need your socks.”  He just wagged his head and followed me back up to the organ, sat down behind it, and took his socks off and I slipped them on.  They weren’t dainty black Sunday socks, no sir, he had on his big, thick, brown, boot socks.  My feet have never slid so well.

    I'm telling you the man saves me again and again and again.

    Saturday, August 20, 2011

    Life in Our World

    The first of the week

    This past week I flew to St. George, Utah for my niece Eliza's wedding.  My brother and his family recently moved to Utah after living for many, many years in Alaska.  I haven't been around Lee and Krista's kids much so it has been really fun to be around them twice in the last three months -- once for Ty and Michelle's wedding and now for Eliza and Brad's.  

    When Tate saw me at the motel he said something to the effect of, "Hey look!  It's that lady that is fun to play Werewolf with."  I'm honored.  Werewolf, witch.  Someday I may need those on a resume.

    Lee is four years younger than me, but we were both included in the batch of "the little kids." (We had the "big kids" and the "little kids" in our family.  Did you?  I don't know what the middle children were called; they must have been forgotten.)  Lee's son Owen reminds me so much of him in looks and personality.  I love to watch him.  It's memory lane.  Owen is only missing glasses.  Lee is such a kind father and Owen is kind, too.

    I have decided that weddings are sad.  People say they cry because they're happy at weddings, but not me.   I cry because nostalgia seeps out of me.  I cried seeing Brad and Eliza across the alter.  I cried watching Krista watch them. I cried watching the slide show.  I cried during the "I Held Her First" song, I cried watching Lee cry while he was dancing with Eliza.  Thank heavens I'm not a gully-washer cryer, I'm just a sprinkling cryer, but still . . . weddings are saaaaaad if you're prone to nostalgia crying.

    But, I cried at Ryan and niece Haley's wedding, too, and that was four years ago and I'm perfectly happy when I'm with them now, so I do recover.  Haley was our chauffeur and Ryan was our bodyguard at the wedding.  They were attentive and fun and I was glad we got to spend time together.

    I had the very unique experience of being the first person checked at the airport.  I was first in a race once, but can't remember any other firsts.  I waited here for my flight all by myself for several minutes.  Calvin would have been proud.  Much to the kids' vexation he likes to be two hours early for a flight . . . just in case.  I was plenty early and got several pages read while I waited.

    The end of the week

    A member of our ward congregation died.  His funeral was this week and Calvin was asked to cook the meat for the dinner after the funeral, while I was asked to play the organ for the funeral.  And since I didn't take a picture of either of us, I'll plug a picture of our bishop (right) and his first counselor (left) at the dinner in instead because it's a good one and they are good men.  The two songs I was to play were supposed to be played "with dignity" and "reverently".  Those two words describe our ward member that passed away.  For several years he couldn't even hear what was being said from the pulpit, but he sat in the center-front half of the chapel with a big smile during the entire meeting anyway.  He was just glad to be in church with his friends and fellow members.  He was a good example and it was nice to help lay him to rest.

    Later that evening we celebrated friend Kathy's 50th birthday with a picnic at the park.  Kathy is in the hotel industry and she once told someone on the phone that we were sisters so that we could get a motel in New York for Abe's graduation.  I didn't want to put her in a compromising situation, but I did need her help with getting those tight reservations.  When she said that we were sisters, she mouthed to me, "We are.  You are my sister."  Sisters we are.  I have sat on her most comfortable couch with my feet on her ottoman and her cat crawling on my lap many, many times as I have visit taught her.  I love Kathy and it was fun that she would spend her day with so many of us.

    Calvin and I closed the funeral and birthday party day by going to a wedding reception.  The bride and groom are both former students that met in my class.  It's been fun to be a part of their life through the years.

    Today Calvin and I worked in our tired and neglected garden.  He weeded while I threw the overgrown squash down the canal bank, fed the flowered broccoli to the chickens, and picked the berries.  While Calvin sprayed weeds I made Huckleberry Bread.  Except I didn't have huckleberries, I had giant berries so I made Berry Bread.  The recipe calls for pineapple, but I didn't want to open a can of pineapple for just one cup so I added grated zucchini instead.  I believe Berry Zucchini bread is every bit as good as Huckleberry Bread.

    This evening we're going to the rodeo which means I have to dig out my long pants.  Argh.  I don't think I've worn pants since May.  I do love summer shorts.

    And that's our week in a nutshell.  What's new in your world?

    Thursday, August 18, 2011

    Thursday Thinking – Always Learning

    Marcia, Lee, me

    On Monday I flew down to St. George, Utah to attend the wedding of my niece Eliza.  My sister Marcia and I shared a motel room.  The first night we stayed up until 2:00 am visiting. Marcia is a learner.  She is always reading, always studying, always traveling, always attending lectures.  So when you’re with her, there is always something to visit about.  (I know “always” is an absolute and I didn’t misuse it in those sentences either – Marcia is always learning.)
    One of the conversations we had was whether or not we are where we thought we’d be at this point in our lives.  Frankly put, are we as successful as we planned to be.  Marcia said that she’d gone to lunch with a group of women a year ago and confessed there that she thought she’d be more successful by this point in her life.  The women were surprised.  Marcia has her doctorate in education and has been a principal and a university professor for many years.  She has impacted a lot of students’ and teachers’ lives.  The women reminded her of her success.  Marcia deflected the praise and one woman said, “You’re a mother.  You have a wonderful daughter.  That is a very big deal.”  Marcia responded that anybody can be a good mother, but the woman countered, “Not so.  I have three children.  One committed suicide, and the other two are in prison.  Not just anybody can raise well-adjusted children.” 

    I’ve obviously thought about the importance of being a mother since hearing that comment.  I remember when it really occurred to me what power I had been given.  It was about ten years into mothering.  Cali told me recently, “I just realized that I am to Levin what you are to me.  I can’t believe that I could be so important to someone.”  I am so glad that she has learned that early.     

    I’ve thought about the woman’s honesty.  Perhaps the other women were aware of her children’s circumstances, but Marcia wasn’t.  The woman put herself on the line to help another gain perspective.  I’ve thought about when and where is the time and place for revealing, and whether I reveal too little or too much to others.

    I’ve thought about forgiving yourself (mostly because that was our lesson in Young Women’s on Sunday).  I don’t know the woman’s circumstances.  I would imagine she has blamed herself (whether accurately or inaccurately).  I don’t know if she continues to, but I thought of myself in that situation and what it would take for me to come to peace with it.  Sterling W. Sill said:  “God’s forgiveness is often nullified because the sinner does not forgive himself.  What good does it do for God to blot our evil from his mind, if we continue to let it dominate our thinking by rerunning it in our own?”   Like I said, I don’t know the woman’s circumstances or if she struggles with forgiving herself; I was just imagining myself in that situation.

    It was really good spending time with Lee and his family and Marcia and her family.  Really good.  I’ve thought a lot about that, too.  I’ve thought about what it takes to make a family work and our families.

    And that’s what I’ve been thinking about . . .

    Oh, and salt.  Lee’s uncle-in-law taught us all about the value of salty soil in the disposal of nuclear waste.  It was quite fascinating, and it added one more reason to the list on "why the Savior said we should be the salt of the earth" lesson – we have the capability to deflect the poisons and evils of the world.  

    And hairspray.  I borrowed Marcia's and my hair didn't move or fall once during the day.   

    What have you been thinking about?

    Wednesday, August 17, 2011

    Homemaking Tip – Tangible Memories

     I received an e-mail from Tracy Follett yesterday telling me that Izaak loved his family reunion photo album.  She said he wouldn't let it go on the plane ride or for the first couple of days when he was home.  She said he showed it to others before finally putting it on his bedroom window sill with his other treasures.

    During the week of the Follett family reunion we took several photographs.  I had each camera man pick out his favorite twenty (or seventy three) shots and then we had them printed.*  We developed enough pictures so that everyone would be able to choose at least 24 photos for their book.  

    We laid all the pictures out on the table and everyone circled around choosing the photos they wanted for their book.  

    After the pictures were chosen, each put his in a little vinyl, 4 x 6 inch photo album ($1).

    Ande helping Mason put his pictures in his album

    Zina had asked everyone ahead of time what the highlight of the reunion was for them, and Tracy typed up the answers.  We printed those quotes and everyone pasted them onto the inside cover of the album.  On the outside cover, everyone added the tag that said  


    The project didn’t take long to do, but everyone had a great reminder to take home of what a fun time they’d had with each other and the family unity that had been added to that week. 

    This is one idea we’ll be using again and again. 

    * while we had lots of pictures to choose from, there weren't many left over so the waste was minimal

    11 on 11 of August '11

    Joe:  Here is the flower at our table. The head is in a small bowl of water
    and I'm sure Ande will usurp the idea for a future dinner decoration.  
    Michelle -- (and Bianca)  Also in the picture is a couch and love seat, a table and six chairs, a coffee table, an end table,
    a dresser, and a few other odds and ends.  We were loaded pretty well and probably didn't look too safe
    driving down the road.

    Grace:  playing with my cousin Vickie's baby
    Ty:  Michelle and I going to the temple.  
    Abe: Grace’s cousin Vickie and her husband, Matt, and their baby, Carter.
    Ray:  waking on the Lake of Moses
    Calvin:  calling out "Bonsai"  and holding the front of the boat down at the Follett Fest
    Cali:  Dad, Levin, and I in front of the grill filled with all kinds of hot dogs and corn
    Follett Fest
    Ande:  This is Joe at a comic book/game store. Joe compares every price to amazon
    on his phone and reads the back of almost every game. Sometimes this makes for loooong
    trips at the store, but we always get the best price and funnest games!
    Jane:  "Help!"

    Sunday, August 14, 2011

    52 Blessings – A Follett Family Reunion

    I’ve always admired families that have reunions.  Our family is just now getting to the stage where we can have official ones and Calvin and I are bound and determined to have them.  This week we borrowed a family to have a reunion with and now we are in withdrawals.

    with·draw·al /wiT͟Hˈdrô(ə)l/ Noun

    1.  term referring to the feelings of discomfort, distress, and intense craving.  These physical symptoms can range from mild discomfort resembling the flu to severe withdrawal that can actually be life threatening. 

    This past week Ray and Cali hosted a portion of the Follett Family Reunion at our home.  Last night, after the last sleeping bag was crammed back in the closet, Calvin and I experienced feelings of discomfort, distress, and intense craving.  We had a grand time with Ray’s 3 brothers and 3 sisters and it was great to be a Follett.


    Ray’s family came from Texas, Alaska, Utah, and Idaho to celebrate the blessing of Levin.  Last Sunday everyone gathered in Seattle

    After church we went to the park to eat lunch and visit . . . 

    Oldest sister, Holli

    Youngest sister, Tracy

    . . . and play a few games of bocce ball . . .

    niece, Zina

     . . . and hold Levin.

    friend, Rayme


    nephew Mason pushing brother Izaak in the tire swing

    youngest brother Rob holding the limb while oldest brother Johnny saws it
    and younger brother Alan and niece Zina watch

    A few days later, the Follett siblings came to our home. 

    Calvin staked the big wall tent in the back yard and some slept there, while others slept on the trampoline, Rob slept on a cot, and a lucky few slept in beds. 

    Tuesday night we had a crab pot clear full of potatoes and onions from the garden, fresh corn from the neighbor’s fields, clams, mussels, a few King crap legs, and shrimp from the grocery store, and a few crabs that Rob and Johnny had caught while scuba diving on Monday.

    older sister Melanie carrying the crabs to Calvin while Ande watches

    left to right:  Melanie, Tracy, Mason, Alan, Izaak, and Zina


    We spent Wednesday at the water park.  And while I didn’t get one red, sunburned, blistered, torn-up-toe, or diving picture to show for it,  I did remember the food and towels.  We had a rib and corn feed that evening.  Most of Ray’s siblings live in Alaska so good, fresh fruit and vegetables are a rarity and a premium.  Not everyone met the five ears per person quota that night, but some did.  Later we topped it off with fresh peaches and homemade ice cream and a game of Werewolf.  I was the witch.  I saved Zina from the werewolf.


    Melanie, Tracy, Holli


    Thursday the Folletts rented a boat, jet ski, and water paraphernalia and we went to the lake. (*Note to Payne's....we're definitely going to do this next time we're together in the summer.)

    At one point I thought, “This is the best.  This even beats Splash Mountain.”  

    Tracy and me

    And then I went into the lake.

    It was great fun.  Except those boys were not happy until we were dumped.  And we could hang on for a very, very, very long time, too.

    Calvin, Cali, and Levin

    Ray and Johnny, buddies and brothers

    And . . . we had corn again, and rootbeer, and hotdogs.

    The Folletts
    front row:  Mason, nephew
    second row:  Izaak, nephew
    third row: nieces Sydnee and Zina, and sister Melanie
    fourth row:  sister Tracy, Cali and Levin, sister Holli, brothers Rob, Johnny, and Alan
    fifth row:  Ray

    Zina and Ray

    On Friday, we slathered on the sunscreen again and went tubing down the coulee.

    brothers Ray, Johnny, and Alan

    Izaak and Sydnee, brother and sister, niece and nephew

    the floaters

    One of my favorite parts of floating the coulee was having an ottoman to share between several of us.  We had an extra tube so we put our feet up on it and visited as we floated.  Until a narrow spot came, and then it was each man saving himself from the weeds and aphids.

    Friday evening Calvin and I stayed home, but everyone else drove up to Coulee Dam to see the museum and laser light show.  Calvin said once was enough for that experience and he had it twelve years ago.


    Ray and nephew Izaak

    brother Rob

    Saturday morning they held a black powder shoot.  And then . . . and then . . . it was time for them to go back to their homes.  



    It was a grand week.   In the words of Rob, "It's what this is all about . . . families," or as Ray said, "I like having my entire family around visiting me, because I never get to see them enough."

    Calvin and Levin

    It couldn’t have been any sweeter.  (Well, it could have been a little sweeter if Mark, Holli's husband and Zina, Sydnee, Izaak, and Mason's dad had been able to come.)

    In fact, Calvin even wrote an e-mail to the kids a little bit ago and he only writes e-mails to missionaries.  He wrote, “the guns are all cleaned…..the tent is taken down and put away…………….the tables and chairs are all put away….the grill is parked under the willow tree…..i’m sweaty…..joe and ande and the folletts are all gone……and we’re sad…….dad”

    Even Dan misses everyone.

    Johnny and Dan

    After the Folletts left he promptly went and killed a chicken.

    In conclusion

    I’m grateful to have been a part of the Follett’s reunion this week.  Reunions glue people together.  And in the analogy of the coulee, they remind you that you’re not alone floating through life, there’re a whole bunch of you sharing a tube.  God’s plan to put us in a family was utterly brilliant.

    (Thanks to Rob and Ande for the majority of the pictures.)