Thursday, September 29, 2011

Thursday Thinking – Mimicking

A few years ago I attended a workshop on teaching children to read.  The instructor, Jim Stone, said that studies show that babies begin to mimic within the first hour that they are born.  Those conducting the study took photographs of adults making different expressions.  They put the photos inside of the bassinets with the babies and within minutes the babies were trying to mimic the different expressions on the faces. 

I visualized 50 babies in the hospital nursery

doing their best to mimic what was in front of them.

Because of this workshop, I have been much more aware with Levin mimicking than I was with our babies.  I am still surprised that though he still has no control over what his arms and legs do, he can control his tongue and mouth.*  Levin opens his mouth when I open mine, sticks his tongue out when I stick out mine, and tries to click it and shape sounds around it.  It’s pretty daunting to know he’s trying to follow me so carefully.  But now it makes even more sense to me why the Lord would say, “Follow me.”  Even as babies we're real good at mimicking, and confident, happy, and hopeful are much more attractive than hysterical, enraged, and smug.    

*(Funny how that switches when we're adults isn't it? We can control our arms and legs really well but struggle with managing our mouth.  It's a conundrum.)  

Wednesday, September 28, 2011

Homemaking Tip – Judaism for Dummies

One of the books most frequented on our bookshelf is Judaism for Dummies, a Reference for the Rest of Us.  It’s helped me understand lots of Jewish vocabulary and traditions: terms like Rosh Hashanah and Yom Kippur.

Though I have seen Rosh Hashanah and Yom Kippur written on calendar dates since I was a little girl, until a few years ago, I never knew what those days were for or who was supposed to celebrate them.  But Judaism for Dummies gives an explanation of both events and with a bit of tweaking, they can even be celebrated in our non-Jewish homes.   

Rosh Hashanah is like the Jewish New Year.  It comes six months after the Passover (the celebration from slavery to freedom) and is the time to reflect and ask yourself if you’ve used your freedom for good and if you’re on the right track.  Rosh Hashanah precedes Yom Kippur by several days.  Yom Kippur is the Day of Judgment.  So, Rosh Hashanah is the time to set new goals, repent, and prepare for the judgment.

Jews gather to the synagogues for Rosh Hashanah and two stories are read to celebrate:  the story of Abraham sending Hagar and Ishmael away, and of Abraham offering Isaac as a sacrifice.  The purpose of the two stories is a reminder of the importance of faith through the upcoming year, for Abraham entrusted the lives of both his children into the hands of God.

One of the traditions of Rosh Hashanah is the blowing of the horn (sometimes Rosh Hashanah is referred to as the Feast of the Trumpets).  The horn is traditionally blown not one time, but one hundred times.  It represents calling the people to “wake up,” prepare, gather, repent.  After the evening service in the synagogue, it is customary to serve apples dipped in honey. 

Rosh Hoshanah is a fun Jewish holiday to incorporate at home.  In anticipation of it I made caramel last week because caramel is dark like honey, and thick like honey, and sweet like honey, and I'd much rather eat caramel on apples than honey.  For scripture reading, we’ll read the stories of Abraham.  And it never hurts to reevaluate goals and set a new one.  In fact, “What’s one thing you wished you’d have accomplished last year that you didn’t?” is a good sentence starter at the supper table.  So is, “What’s one thing you are so glad you were last year?”  But then, “What’s one thing you want to make sure you are next year” is a good one, too.

For members of The Church of Jesus Christ ofLatter-day Saints, Rosh Hashanah is especially meaningful.  The angel Moroni delivered the gold plates to JosephSmith on Rosh Hashanah in 1827.  By the power of God, Joseph translated the engravings on those plates and The Book of Mormon was published from those records.  The Book of Mormon calls all men to “wake up,” prepare, repent, gather, and come to Christ.  There is a statue on the top of many of our temples of the angel Moroni blowing a trumpet calling all men to prepare for the great Day of Judgment when Christ will come again to reign on the earth.

So . . . a Happy Rosh Hashanah to you.  Here is the caramel recipe I use for turtles, caramels, cake topping, ice cream, brownie filling, pretty much everything . . . and Rosh Hashanah apples.

Caramel Apple Slices

2 cups light cream
2 cups sugar
1 cup light corn syrup
½ tsp. salt
½ cup butter (no substitutions)
1 Tbsp. vanilla

In a heavy saucepan, heat cream, sugar and corn syrup until boiling.  Cook and stir over moderate heat for 5 minutes, then add butter and salt.  Turn heat to low and boil gently, stirring often until the temperature on candy thermometer reads 228 degrees.  Remove from heat and when cooled slightly, stir in vanilla.  Cool ‘till warm to the touch and pour into jar.  To serve, cut, core and slice apples into a dish.  Drizzle warm caramel over apple slices.  

Tuesday, September 27, 2011


A few years ago while we were in Washington DC we visited the World War II memorial.  The first time we saw it was about midnight.  We were the only ones present.  The concrete pillars surrounding it set it apart, while the water fountain spilled in the lighted center.  It was beautiful.  The next morning we went to see the memorial early.  The water fountain was still spilling in the center of the memorial.  But this time there were dozens of World War II veterans milling, pondering, and visiting.  The memorial was three times as beautiful as it was the night before.  It was evident that it was the blood of the milling veterans that provided life to the monument, not the water fountain. 

Two men, veterans, were sitting on the bench visiting.  They were picture postcard perfect. 

I asked them if I could take their picture and promised to e-mail the man on the right a copy of it.  After I thanked them for serving our country, George, the man on the right said, “We’d fight for you any day.”  He might as well have winked and tipped his hat in my direction. 

The man on the left mumbled to his buddy after I’d left, “you’ll never see that picture.”  But George bet a dinner that he would. 

George and I have been corresponding ever since I sent him that first picture.  After all, he made a bet on my honor and I won him a dinner.  You keep friends like that.  A couple of weeks ago I sent George an e-mail full of World War II era pictures that I thought he’d appreciate.   Here’s one of them:

Women workers employed as wipers in the roundhouse having lunch in their rest room,
Chicago and Northwest Railway Company.  ClintonIowa, April 1943.  Reproduction from
Color slide.  Photo by Jack Delano.  Prints and Photographs Division, Library of Congress.

George responded, requested more e-mails, and told me about his upcoming 61st anniversary and Old North State's recent win. 

It’s a little thing, offering to take a picture and send it, but I have done it for others since meeting George, and the pleasure has been all mine because of the people I've met in the process.  

Sunday, September 25, 2011

Life in Our World

1.  A couple of days ago I was talking to Ande on the phone.  She was telling me about a party she and Joe are hosting and I kept inserting ideas.  She didn’t need ideas.  Ande is one creative woman and she already had lots of plans pinterested and floating in her head.  Finally after my tenth interrupted suggestion she laughed and said, “Hey Mom!  I’ve got an idea.  How 'bout you host your own party.”  It made me laugh.  I hate it when I get overzealous and push my ideas on others, and am appreciative when the kids and Calvin patiently deal with it and help me correct it.

Every year the women’s organization of our Church, the Relief Society, hold a general satellite broadcast so that every woman in the world can hear messages designed for women today.  I look forward to this broadcast every year.  It is as Marjorie Hinckley said, “It’s a sociological fact:  women need women,”  and every year I feel increased strength, courage, and compassion as women the world over come together to hear these messages of hope, counsel, and correction. 

As a last minute thought, I invited the women that I visit teach over to our home to watch the broadcast.  I was making a 25-pounds-worth-of-tomatoes batch of spaghetti sauce to freeze, and a half-gallon-of-cream batch of caramel for something else.  I thought, “I’ll just boil some pasta and slice some apples and we’ll eat that afterwards.  I will not stress.  I will not over prepare.  I will not make a salad.  I will just do this and not worry about whether or not the furniture is dusted, the yard is company ready, the big world map in the family room is off center, or that our TV is not big or flat-screened like most people are used to.”    

After we’d watched the broadcast, we moved to the kitchen table to eat and visit.  We had just listened to President Dieter F. Uchtdorf remind us as women to be patient with ourselves and that God is fully aware we aren’t perfect.  I asked everyone what their biggest weakness is that they try to hide from others.  It was insightful, and a sweet conversation.  I didn’t say that one of mine is being overzealous as it is hardly hidden, but it is one that bothers me.   However, having just been reminded that God is fully aware I’m not perfect and loves me just the same was very comforting.  In fact, it makes me want to try harder to not be overzealous (now that's a paradox).  It’s doubly comforting that He put us in families to work out our imperfections.  It's an extra bonus when we have a society of women to help us as well.

I'm so glad that these women came and watched the broadcast with me and Barbra (we're visiting teaching partners).  I appreciated their conversation and their laughing.  I appreciated the informal-ness to it all.  It's true.  Women do need women, and I appreciate them and their love and acceptance.

2.  Saturday our Stake (several congregations of our Church) finished a service project for the irrigation district that we’d been working on all week.

Our ward primary president with some of our ward kids.  After the service project Calvin
said, "You weren't kidding.  She really is good with kids, isn't she?"

The project was to beautify the entrance to a lake front park.  Wednesday the youth cleared the rock, Thursday the high priests laid the pipe, Friday the elders filled the trenches, and Saturday the families raked, planted, and laid sod.  It looks great.  It was fun to be a part of the project and help make our community better.

3.  We got some great surprises in the mail.   

Grace sent us a Halloween banner that she had made.  I knew the boo banner was coming, but Grace also put a witch in the box as an extra surprise.  My witch’s name is Hazel and Grace has her sister Matilda.

Joe and Ande sent us the movie 17 Miracles with a note saying "just because . . ." and that they hoped we'd enjoy it.    

4.  Other significant parts of our week were:  Going to see TWO MOVIES -- one for family night, the other for date night (The Help and Contagion). Calvin spoke in church and memorized a 5 page typewritten story for it.  I had a great visit with a new friend who is a journal keeper.  We're wondering what to do with 75 pounds of tomatoes (they might as well be zucchini).  I heard the Winston Churchill quote: "Success is going from failure to failure without losing enthusiasm" for the first time.  We had some fall weather and some summer weather.  Calvin fixed a bow.  We listened to our local sheriff talk about our county.  We came home from church today and ate grilled cheese sandwiches with tomato soup instead of a big Sunday meal like normal -- that is significant.   

Want to tell the blog world one imperfection you hope others don't notice?
What was something significant from your week?

Thursday, September 22, 2011

Thursday Thinking – Out of Order

I don’t like it when I fret.  I’ve been fretting. 

Julie Beck, president of the General Relief Society organization, gave a wonderful example of how to prioritize.  She said she divides things into three categories:  essential, necessary, nice-to-do. 

As far as the body goes, I understand essential.  Essential is our brain, lungs, heart, liver, kidneys.  Essential is really important.

As far as the body goes, I understand necessary.  Necessary is our torso, arms, legs, neck, feet.  Necessary is important, but not essential.

As far as the body goes, I understand nice-to-have.  Nice to have is a good complexion, no cellulite, strong fingernails, healthy hair, strong nails.  Nice-to-have is nice to have.

When I read Julie Beck’s method of prioritizing into three categories, I visualized three baskets (wire, lined with muslin, with cute tags or little slabs of chalkboard paint signs on the front of course, sitting on the top of our refrigerator) saying “essential, necessary, and nice-to-do.” All I had to do was sort my goals and activities into the baskets.  Since I’m a pretty good sorter – socks, rocks, clods, beans – I figured sorting my priorities would be easy.  And it was . . .

I sat down and wrote the three category headings in my notebook.  Next I began to sort my goals and activities under the categories.  My list was similar to Sister Beck’s. 

Like her, I wanted those things that were absolutely essential to my eternal well-being in my essential basket.  Since receiving personal inspiration is the only way that I can know the Lord and follow Him, I put that at the top of the list:  Receiving Personal Inspiration.  In order to receive personal inspiration I need to pray often, read my scriptures frequently, ponder (which I do best while exercising), go to the temple, study and learn new things, and serve other people.  I put those in bullet form underneath Receiving Personal Inspiration.  Since Calvin and the kids are so valuable to me and depend on me to help them reach their eternal potential, being a wife and mother who honors her covenants, teaches and nurtures, and strengthens her family was the next thing on my list:  Being a Woman Who Knows (What is Important).  Specific ways that I can help my family are put in bullet form under this title. 

In my necessary basket are the things that help me and others to feel the Spirit of the Lord in our home – things that make our home clean, safe, comfortable, and attractive.  It means cooking meals and keeping the garden and chickens alive so that we have food to keep us strong.  It means learning new skills and understanding the things of the earth and the things taking place on the earth so I am prepared for opportunities and challenges.  It means being a good teacher at my job, and serving those around me.  It means keeping a record of our family.  This basket is clear full.  

In my nice-to-do basket I put the things that I love to do that make life pretty and more fun – things like scrapbooking, blogging, pleasure reading, craft projects, computer time.  There are lots of ideas in this basket. 

And those are some of the things in my imaginary priority baskets.  And sometimes they’re neat and orderly, and sometimes they’re not. 

This afternoon while I was jogging I thought, “You’re fretting again.  What in the world do you have to fret about?”  I mentally listed the things that I’m responsible for and couldn’t think of a thing that deserved undue worry.  But the fret feeling has been nagging for a few weeks and I wanted to get to the bottom of it, so I prayed that I could figure out where it was coming from so I could put it in its rightful place.  I continued to jog and as I did I thought of my priority baskets.  The necessary and nice-to-do were especially messy – they were spilling into each other.  I began to mentally resort and immediately things became clearer and the fretting ebbed. 

Funny how life works.  Funny how there is enough enthusiasm, energy, and time for the nice-to-do things if I do them when the essential and necessary things are done first.  Funny how there is seldom enough enthusiasm, energy, or time for the essential if I do nice-to-do first.  Funny how I know these things, but I still let my baskets get mixed up.  And just as soon as I get all my essential and necessary baskets in order I’m going to do a nice-to-do craft project with three cute wire baskets . . . and muslin liners . . . and cute tags.

Wednesday, September 21, 2011

Homemaking Tip – Two Little Tips

I’ll bet I give this tip every fall, don't I?  I'm sorry if I have given it before, it's just that I’m always so glad for it about now:

One of the best things in our garden is the three rows of flowers.  Oh sure, the marigolds are supposed to keep the bugs out of the tomatoes, but that’s not why I love flowers in the garden (we didn’t even plant marigolds in the garden this year).  I love flowers in the garden because you don’t have to eat, cook, or can them.  They’re a relief – a bright spot – especially this time of the year.  So here is tip one:  consider planting a row of flower seeds in your garden next year so that you can have a fresh bouquet all summer long and something to give.

As for the second tip, I doubt you need to make domino cookies very often, but just in case . . .

Today I used cookies to teach the domino effect – the principle that your decisions affect others for good or ill.   

Mix your favorite sugar cookie recipe and form into a rectangle on a piece of waxed paper.  Wrap tightly in waxed paper and chill for two hours.  Slice and place on a greased baking sheet.  Score the center of the cookie with a sharp knife and poke chocolate chips, point side down, on the top of the cookie in the shape of domino dots.  Bake at 375 degrees for 8 minutes.

These cookies certainly aren't fancy, but they did bring an enthusiastic reaction when the kids saw them.

Monday, September 19, 2011

Monday Memories – Dear family

(Most Sunday evenings I send a lengthy e-mail to all the kids.  Last night I was reading this aloud to Calvin before I sent it and he said, "Wait.  Is this a blog or an e-mail?"  I said it was the weekly e-mail and he said, "You might as well use it for a blog, too."  I have taken his suggestion and edited the family e-mail for today's blog.)
Dear Family,

We’ve had one fine week.  It had all kinds of things in it.  And you know how I like stew because it has so many things in it.  Hey, while I’m thinking about it:  just today while I was sitting at the table waiting for your dad to finish eating, I asked him if he minded what I did with the roast.  He said he didn’t, so I put it in the gravy.  Then I asked if he minded if I added the green beans.  He raised his eyebrows a little bit and I said, “Stew.”  I didn’t even ask permission to add the little bit of rice that was left over, I just added it when he wasn’t looking.  While I was stirring everything together thinking about what a convenient supper this would be in a night or two, your dad said, “You're just like my dad.  Just add a few sunflowers seeds.”  That was a fine compliment indeed.
On Monday your dad called on his way home from work and said he was bringing home meat.  SoilTest bought two steers at the fair this year and they were cut and wrapped and given to the employees.  I went out to the garage and cleaned out the freezer to get ready for the meat.  I emptied it, defrosted it (it wasn’t bad for eight years worth of ice), washed it out, and organized it . . . and found a bottle of black raspberry jam in the bottom for a bonus.  It felt so good to have it clean and organized.  When we'd finished adding the new meat we felt grateful and humble that we have so much.  (Actually “bring on the zombies” went through my head.)
While I was defrosting the freezer, your dad was putting a switch out at the irrigation pump.  No longer do you have to plug it into the post.  Your dad said, “We should have done this years ago.  We could have killed the kids.”  I said, “Yeah.  Like that time it knocked Ty on the ground when he tried to plug it in in his bare feet?”  So, should you help us do sprinklers now when you come visit, you will see a post right by the pump with a SWITCH.  It is really nice.  We ended up calling the post and the freezer family night because your dad helped me and I went out and admired the switch . . . and it was all about family preparedness.  

While I was organizing the meat I kept thinking of my time working at BYU’s meat lab the summer after your dad and I got married and of Laura and Mary Ingalls in Little House in the Big Woods when they butchered the pigs and made a balloon from the pig’s bladder.  Remember?

 I also thought of all of those butchering days in Idaho – the rabbits, the pigs, the year your dad got seven deer, cutting up the steers over in Aunt Lynn’s garage, the moose, the chickens, etc. etc. etc.  And . . . of course, the family night your dad planned where we butchered quail a few years ago since Ande wasn’t too much help in the Idaho butchering days. 

 Tuesday we were sad, sad, sad.  We lost Dan.  Your dad looked and whistled and walked around, but Dan didn’t come running.  I’d been canning tomatoes and I hadn’t seen him for a few hours, but assumed he was lying in the shade in his favorite spots.  Your dad drove around the whole mile honking and calling to him.  His voice carries.  I could hear him clear back through the kitchen window.  The neighbors had been combining beans and they had several new people down in the French bean patch.  Your dad figured someone stole him from there.  I went on ahead and fixed supper.  I called your dad in to eat and he said, “I’m not hungry.  I just don’t feel like eating.”  I didn’t either.  It was just too sad.  (I swore I’d never be this attached to a pet.  Nita [my childhood buddy that I was attached to for twelve years] couldn’t even go to school for two weeks after butchering her 4-h steer because she got so sick for sadness . . . I thought that was pretty unnecessary and wasn’t about to miss school for a pet dying.  But suddenly, on Tuesday, I had new found empathy for Nita and felt badly I hadn’t been more understanding in 2nd grade.)  I looked out the kitchen window to tell your dad I didn’t feel like eating either when there was Dan sitting with him on the picnic table.  Your dad started laughing and said, “I found him!”  And you know what?  Suddenly we were both hungry.  Your dad had accidentally locked him in the shop.  He had come home in the middle of the day to to do some stuff for work out in the shop and after an hour or two when he was finished he forgot that Dan had followed him into the shop and shut the door on Dan.  It was one happy evening.

One of my students told me he’d read a really good book that he thought I ought to read.  I asked him if I could borrow it and he brought it one day this week.  Your dad and I spent the week leap-frog reading it.  I’d read it in the evening and then when we went to bed, he’d read it until he caught up to where I was.  Except Thursday night.  He read past where I was until he finished it.  It was a fun book to read.  Really fun.  I’ve been trying to decide whether to tell you the name of it or hold it for a possibility as one of our favorite things for Christmas.
Wednesday I went down to a training meeting and brought home two softening boxes of apples for $5 each.  They rode around in the trunk of the car with me for a few days.  It smelled so good every time I opened it.  I finally made them into applesauce on Friday afternoon.  It reminded me of living in the trailer.  Why?  Because the trailer had the best counter for attaching the victorio strainer (the applesauce machine) – I’ve never had such a great place to make applesauce as that trailer counter.  Which just goes to show that biggest isn’t always best . . . or for that matter, quality isn’t always best.  Your dad and I were talking about the trailer a while ago and your dad shuddered all over again thinking about it.  For those of you new to the family, we used to live in a double wide trailer in Idaho.  Calvin and my brother-in-law Fred moved it themselves from the farm where it was.  They pulled it with a tractor about fourteen miles on the back roads.  When they parked it, they couldn’t get the two halves to line up properly so they did the best they could and then just ran a sheet of tin down the center of the house to cover the gap.  Yes.  Yes.  You’re right.  Tin pops when you walk on it so whenever you walked on the tin underneath the carpet you could hear it pop.  Sometimes on windy nights, as there are lots of windy nights in Idaho, Calvin would wake me up and we'd just lie there in bed worrying we would blow away.  One windy night he was sitting out in the living room in a chair in the dark.  I asked him what was wrong and he said he was just waiting for the roof to blow off and for me to go back to bed and he’d keep watch and let me know when it happened.  Calvin hated that trailer, but it was one of my favorite houses we’ve lived in . . . AND it had a perfect applesauce making counter for a bonus.
The best part of Wednesday however was getting a text from Ty and Michelle saying that their little baby was the size of a cinnamon bear with a heartbeat of 169.  Now that I can visualize!  A kumquat not so much, but a cinnamon bear, yes.  (The baby websites compare the baby to the size of a fruit for the week.)  Exciting news that baby Payne is growing.
On Thursday night I went with a friend to a jewelry party at another friend's house.  I thought I wanted a bracelet.  Turns out I wanted earrings.

Ray and Cali gave me President Monson’s book on tape for my birthday a few months ago.  I listen to it in the car.  (Wait.  This is sounding like déjà vu.  Have I already told you this?  Well, if I did, I’m sorry, but I know I didn’t tell you this story because I hadn’t heard it yet . . .)  President Monson LOVES chickens.  Still has some in his son’s back yard.  Anybody that wants to borrow the cd’s when I’m done is welcome to them.  I have really enjoyed them.  I only have about 500 – 600 more miles worth of listening.
Friday night and all day Saturday your dad and I went to a class on the constitution.  This time it was on how to restore the constitution so that it is used as the Founders wrote it.  We have really, really enjoyed the classes and have learned much . . . and it's been cheaper than my BYU credits.  Even when I read the constitution, I don’t understand it, but this class has helped us to see what the wording means and also the effects of the different amendments and the purposes behind the different articles.  The classes start again in November and we’re considering taking them again.  You have to know they’re good for your dad to keep giving up Saturdays to attend them.  I would have never guessed when we got married that this is one of the joint interests we would share.  I knew we would always share our love for our kids and for the Gospel, but I didn’t know our love for America would be one of those great joint interests.  It’s been fun to learn and discuss these things together.  Because we often went riding (horses) when we were dating, I assumed we'd do that our whole lives.  We haven't gone riding since we left the ranch.  Funny how the things you expect aren't always your reality . . . but usually it is better than you hoped.
Levi, the 17 year old son of a fellow constitution student, has Down’s Syndrome.  Saturday he came to our class.  During the break I was visiting with him.  I asked him a few questions and then told him I was so glad I had a new friend now.  He smiled huge and said, “Me?”  I said, “Yes!  You!”  He gave me a great big hug and said, “I love you.”  I told him I loved him, too, and then told him he smelled so good.  He smiled and whispered to me, “It’s ‘cause I showered today.”  His family lives lives on a farm and raises cattle and he was in his long-sleeved collared shirt and wranglers.
It sounds like the Our Favorite Things Christmas idea is a go from your e-mails.  Dad says to tell you we have some good ideas so get excited.  It'll be fun. 
I love you all and appreciate the good you do in the world.  I’m grateful, too, for your testimonies and lives of faith.  Thank you, thank you.


Tuesday, September 13, 2011

Tuesday – I Can

(Thanks for the heads-up on the pictures, Ande)

Oh ho.  This pretty much sums up my day.  I canned a couple of batches of diced tomatoes, peppers, and onions, and a couple batches of jalapeño pepper jelly this afternoon.  They're both good.  Should the zombies come, you’re welcome to bring a spoon.      

Sunday, September 11, 2011

11 on 11 of 9 - '11

Joe:  It's 9/11/11. Big Pop was buried on 9/11/01. I was on my way to his 
grave-side service when the first plane crashed into the World Trade Center
I watched in real-time as another plane crashed into the towers,  smoke rose over 
Manhattan across Raritan Bay, and the Twin Towers fell. I never made Pop's burial.  

Calvin:  Remembering 9-11 at our city’s memorial by the library.
Watched several programs on the TV about it.  Sang America the Beautiful at church.

Jane:  Today for Church we had a satellite broadcast from Salt Lake for our stake conference.
President Packer told a story about my Uncle Ernest that I’d never heard before.

Ande:  After almost a month, I am finally "in" to our book club book.  Now I have three days to finish it.

Abe:  Grace kissing me goodbye before I leave for duty

Grace:  Me with some of the Young Women

Trevor and Michelle:  Freezing corn

Ty and Michelle:  Us with all of our dishes that we have to do but won't do until tomorrow.
(We had friends over for dinner.)

Ty and Michelle:  Us on our love seat adorned with an Air Force blanket from Abe and Grace with the wall that Michelle decorated and that Aunt Lynn gave us (well, not the wall, but the hangings).

Ray, Levin, and I went to church over on Vashon Island today, which means we got to ride the ferry.  Lucky for us, there was a HUGE vintage motorcycle rally over there as well.  The ferry was packed full of hundreds of motorcycles and we were one of the few cars.  Ray spent the whole ferry ride walking around the ferry looking at all the vintage bikes and talking to the riders.  Levin spent the whole ride eating.  I spent the whole ferry ride feeding.  We went to church and then drove out to the island lighthouse with the Eltons.  We had both packed a picnic and shared our hodge-podged lunches with each other.  We had a great time.

Ray and Levin enjoying the afternoon sunset.  Ray's shopping for a new hunting rifle and Levin is staring at all the pictures of the hunting rifles and oohing and ahhhing (or maybe just cooing).

52 Blessings – Heroes

flowers and flags left at our city 9-11 memorial made of two basalt columns standing next to each other

Calvin and I’ve listened to the stories of heroic men and women all day long on the 9-11 commemoration programs on TV.  The stories have been inspiring and humbling and I love hearing them over and over.  One man told of men that continued to rescue the trapped and wounded as he made his way for the exit.  He said that was the difference between him and heroes.

This afternoon our home teachers came to see us.  "As part of their responsibility to watch over the members of the Church, home teachers visit their assigned families at least once each month to teach and strengthen them.  Home teachers establish a relationship of trust with these families so that families can call upon them in times of need."  

These are both good men.  I used to babysit Kaden and now he looks after us.  He idolized our kids and made them live better because he was watching.  Carl has always been kind to our family.  He's gone out of his way to talk to us, share our celebrations, donate to the kids' causes, laugh at our stories, share his dutch oven rice pudding, and make us feel loved and necessary.  In short, Kaden and Carl look out for our welfare even when it isn't convenient and that's an important definition of a hero.

I'm grateful for heroes, the ones I know and the ones I don't.

Saturday, September 10, 2011

Life in Our World

We’ve been inundated with dragon flies this year; and I do mean inundated.  Not all of them are as pretty as this one.  Those big blue eyes are certainly big. blue. eyes.  He was kind enough to spend his last few hours by the garage door.  (And that is the difference between Calvin and me:  I saw the bug, looked at him for a minute, thought, “My that’s pretty,” stepped over him, and came on in the house.  A little later when Calvin came home he had the bug on his hand examining it.)

Larry, Sally, Cali, Levin, Ray

Cali lived with my cousin Larry and his wife Sally while she was attending nursing school.  When they left to serve a mission in Sweden, one of Larry and Sally’s sons – Trevor and his wife Melissa – moved into the family home.  Cali lived with them also until she had finished nursing school.  After Larry and Sally’s first mission to Sweden, they were asked to return so that Larry could serve as the mission president there.  Having recently returned home from both missions, we drove down to Tri-Cities to have dinner with Larry, Sally, Trevor, Melissa, and kids and to see Larry and Sally’s new home.  It felt really good to reconnect with them and hear their stories.  Larry and Sally have collected several James Christensen paintings.  

I am going to go back after they get them hung in a grouping on their tall living room wall.  It will be like a museum.

I'll be darn.  I didn't notice those dollar bills in my hand until now.
Hmmm.  I think I bought a chocolate dipped ice cream cone from McDonald's with them.
No.  No, I did not save them or donate them.  I ate them.  

I owe Mother Teresa.  I owe her for her example and famous quote: 

“We must not drift away from the humble works . . . it is never too small.  We are so small, we look at things in a small way, but God, being Almighty, sees everything great, therefore, even if you write a letter for a blind man, or you just go and sit and listen, or you take the mail for him, or you visit somebody, or bring a flower to somebody – small things – or wash clothes for somebody, or clean the house, very humble work, that is where you and I must be.”

I think of that quote often.  Mother Teresa makes it so I don’t feel stupid with less than perfect offerings.  If it weren't for that quote I’d often sit on good intentions because I couldn’t execute the ideas well enough.  But because of that quote, I can give bouquets of dandelions without thinking twice that they aren't bouquets of roses.  I’d be sooo poor without the interactions that I have had when others accept my bouquets of dandelions.  Someday I'm going to tell Mother Teresa so.  

The rest of life in our world consists of doing the things that humans do to stay alive -- work, eat, sleep, work some more, eat some more, sleep some more.  Oh.  I forgot.  Calvin took me out on a date twice this week.  I think he forgot.  No sense reminding him . . . he hates it when I nag.

Thursday, September 8, 2011

Thursday Thinking – A Good Excuse

My sister once read to me what was written on a hypochondriac’s epitaph – “See.  I told you I was sick.” 

Today I went to give blood.  They said my blood was too weak.  I came home and told Calvin in an imagined hypochondriac’s voice, “See.  I told you I was tired” and then, since he was dishing up the tamale pie, “better scoop me a double portion.”

He responded, “What you need is Geritol.”  That was the answer to every “iron poor blood,” Lawrence Welk viewer in the 60’s and 70’s.   

Much as I hate having my blood rejected (the least of my worries being everyone politely nodding as you walk out while wondering which very personal question you must have failed), it felt good for someone to validate that indeed, my blood was tired today.

I’m thinking I need to be in bed by 8:30.

Wednesday, September 7, 2011

Homemaking Tip – ♫ The Biscuits at the Payne House ♫

Grandpa Payne and Abe

Calvin’s dad always sang, “The biscuits at the Payne house, they say are mighty fine.  One rolled off the table and killed a pal of mine” every. single. time. we had biscuits.  It was as expected as butter and honey.

Calvin sings, “The biscuits at the Payne house, they say are might fine.  One rolled off the table and killed a pal of mine” every. single. time. we have biscuits.  It is as expected as butter and jam.

Abe sings, “The biscuits at the Payne house, they say are might fine.  One rolled off the table and killed a pal of mine” every. single. time. we have biscuits.  It is as expected as sausage gravy.

It’s not real healthy for the cook’s ego, but it rang a note or two of truth with my biscuits.  They were . . . shall we say . . . filling.

But no more.  I found a new recipe that is all over the internet.  There is no way these biscuits are good for you, but my, oh my, are these biscuits good. 

The New and Improved Biscuits at the Payne House

2 cups of Bisquick baking mix
½ cup sour cream
½ cup 7-up
¼ cup butter

Preheat oven to 450 degrees.  Melt butter on cookie sheet and set aside.  Mix baking mix, sour cream, and 7-up together.  Knead lightly.  Roll dough out on floured board to ¾ inch thickness.  Cut with biscuit cutter and dip top of biscuit in melted butter, then rest the bottom of the biscuit in the pool of butter.  Bake at 450 degrees until browned (12-15 minutes).  Makes 8 - 10 biscuits.

I know they’re expensive.  I know they’re fattening.  I know they are really, really good.

Tuesday, September 6, 2011


Every now and then Cali takes a swat at my sacred cows. 

One time she mimicked the hero in one of my favorite novels.  My sister Rachel and I were retelling the most romantic scene.  The one where the hero’s best friend tells the damsel in distress that the hero has loved her all along even though he has been aloof and even scary at times.  Cali laughed at our admiration.  She had no respect as she quoted the hero in a sing-song tone: “Damn your wagging tongue, Paddy.”  

I cried, “No, no, nooooooo!  That was not how he said it.”  The book reads that the hero said it ‘tight-lipped’ which certainly means it sounded masculine.

Another time Cali came home from church and said, “We sang the corniest song on earth in young women’s today.  It was something about rubies and women.”

My cow twitched.  “Caaaallliiiiiiiiiiiiiiiiiiii, THAT song is based on scripture – Proverbs 31.  Don’t you dare make fun of it.  (Pause.  Long pause. Then quitely,)  Besides . . . it’s one of my favorites.” 

Proverbs 31:10   Who can find a virtuous woman?  For her price is far above rubies.  (Of course I’d like that scripture; my birthstone is rubies.)

Proverbs 31:14   She is like the merchants’ ships; she bringeth her food from afar.  (I do love shopping at WinCo and it is 73 miles away.)

Proverbs 31:15  She riseth also while it is yet night . . . (I hardly ever miss a sunrise.)

Proverbs 31:17  She girdeth her loins with strength, and strengtheneth her arms.  (If I take this literally it’s a suggestion, yea permission, to buy a girdle.  [I remember my grandma’s, do you think they’ve improved?]  My legs are strong, but my arms are terribly weak.  I could definitely improve there.  I haven’t done a push up successfully in . . . well, a very long time.)

Proverbs 31:27  She looketh well to the ways of her household, and eateth not the bread of idleness.  (I’ve lumped all of those homemaking tasks that I love to do in this verse – cooking, baking, vacuuming, making things, organizing, gardening, decorating, cleaning, canning.)

Cali didn’t properly heed my warning that day for she sang selected lines from the song that she could remember without the reverence I thought it deserved.   

But for the last several days, Cali has not only smiled at my sacred cow, she has fed it.  We spent Labor Day weekend eating not the bread of idleness.  We bottled 95 bottles of peaches, 50 bottles of pears, 10 bottles of jam, and 3 bottles of fruit cocktail (it slowed us down too much).  Levin cheered us on from the counter;

Calvin and Ray cheered us on from the shop and gun range (they were fixing and sighting in guns for deer hunting).

Proverbs 31:31  Give her of the fruit of her hands; and let her own works praise her in the gates.

Isn’t there a poem out there about fruit looking like jewels in the bottle?  Something about the beets looking like rubies, the peaches like amber, the pears like opals?  Well, if there’s not there should be.  Everything looks beautiful, and somehow 99 bottles of beer on the wall does not capture the virtue of it all.

Monday, September 5, 2011

Monday Memories – More than a Guess

Once when I was in college, my sister and I sat on Waikiki Beach and tried to guess the occupations of the swimmers, bathers, and suffers as they walked by.  It was rather difficult as they were all similarly dressed; their collars couldn’t give them away.   

A few days ago I waved at a strange man working in the bean test-plot as I jogged by.  He half-heartedly waved his hoe in reply.  On the next sweep past him I was walking; I wondered whether to initiate contact again.  I knew he was bored.  I’ve done that job myself and know how monotonous it is, especially early in the morning by yourself.  He and I were the only people around in a half mile radius so to ignore him would have been, well . . . rude.  So I hollered over to him, “Are you glad the season is about over?” 

He hollered back, “Nah.  I need the hours before I go back to school.” 

Impressed he was not only working early in the morning, but glad for more monotonous hours I called, “Where do you go to school?”

He called back, “Boise State.”

“Oh!”  Remembering the Broncos had a great season last year and that would give me something besides the weather to ask about I called, “Do you go to the games?”

“Sometimes.  Lots of times I have to work.”

Impressed he was willing to work in the bean fields by himself and during school, I asked, “Where do you work?”

He named a popular clothing chain with a store by the same name. 

I was temporarily back at Waikiki, “Hey!  I’ll bet you could be their model.”

“Uhhhhh . . . Yah.  Actually I do model for them.”

How do.  I pegged the man’s profession in a bean field, 50 yards away.  He was dressed in irrigating boots, shorts to his knees, an oversized sweatshirt, and a ball cap.  Collars are way overrated.