Sunday, March 31, 2013

52 Blessings - Easter, Of Course

My words are so grossly inadequate for what I feel on Easter morning. The Atonement of Jesus Christ is not only fundamental to who I am, but to all Christianity. It is completely encompassing and yet very, very personal as the power of the Savior adapts to our individual needs. The blessing of the Atonement is something one feels deeply and frequently and yet is so difficult to describe. Today I thought I’d simply share three thoughts:

When I was eighteen, Susie’s nine year old daughter, Heidi, died from leukemia. Susie and I were visiting a few years later and she said, “After you lose a child, Easter becomes the best holiday of them all and it’s the one I look forward to most.”

I thought about Thanksgiving with its tribute to our blessings, peace and prosperity. I even considered the Fourth of July with its rousing appreciation for a nation with so many freedoms. I thought of Christmas with celebrations of the birth of Christ and the angels announcing “Peace on Earth.”

But, I understood Susie to mean that even those wonderful and significant holidays didn’t offer the peace and hope that the empty tomb on Easter morning held. For Susie, the fears and grief that may have bothered her throughout the year were swallowed each Spring as she remembered the hope of the resurrection.

Susie passed away from cancer a few years ago, but each Easter season I remember her saying, “(When you lose someone you love) Easter becomes the best holiday of them all,” and sensing the peace she felt as she said it.

I feel the same. It’s just such a quiet, peaceful, and hopeful holiday. On Good Friday I can’t help but think how sad all of Christ’s believers would have been. On Saturday, I can’t help but wonder what despair they must have felt. On Sunday, I like to imagine the joy they felt that they’d never felt before. I’m grateful for faith which allows me to trust that there is a Resurrection. 


Shannon, a cyber-neighbor, shared this once and gave me permission to share it again:

Our son, Adam, drew a poster for a poster contest in Sunday school. On it, he drew a picture of the earth, and at the top was a picture of Jesus on the cross. There were tears rolling down Jesus' face, and big scary nails poking out of His hands. My husband and I listened as he showed the picture to his brother, Stephen, in the backseat of the car. Stephen asked, “Why is He crying?”

“Because,” Adam answered, “he was hoping the bad guys would use tape.”


Happy Easter everyone.  What a happy day to celebrate that He lives.


Saturday, March 30, 2013

Life in Our World - A Baby

Monday afternoon Ande called and asked a few pregnancy questions.

Tuesday at 2:00 AM she called again with a few more.  

Wednesday at 2:00 AM she called with lots more and a few tears.

The whole process was wearing her down.

Wednesday at 12:10 PM there were no more questions and no more tears.  There was a beautiful little boy.

His name is Zeph and . . .

. . . he's wonderful from head . . .

. . . to toe.

Ande, Zeph, Joe

Make no mistake, little Zeph is a miracle.  Truly "THE FAMILY is ordained of God . . ." and ". . . is one of nature's masterpieces."

I'm here spending time with them and enjoying every minute.

Wednesday, March 27, 2013

Wednesday - Frugal Living

The Senior Citizen's Center has a gleaners program for $20 a year (farmers in the area allow people to come in after the bulk of their crop is harvested and glean what's left and the Senior Citizen Center gets the money from the passes).  In May there is asparagus, June has berries and cherries, apricots in July, corn, peaches, melons in August, and potatoes and apples in October.  I haven't ever signed up for it before, but a friend said she loves it, so I signed up this week.

This band was playing in the Senior Citizen's Center when I went in to pay the dues.  The lunch crowd hadn't shown up yet, but they played to the few ladies sipping coffee like they constituted a full house. I quite enjoyed them and their enthusiasm for their music.  I even lingered.

Free music and $20 gleaning fees.  What a bargain.


I resupplied our dry bean storage this week with 150#'s of beans.

I've been using beans that I dry-packed 23 years ago.  The kids were little then and carried can after can after can to the storage shed.  The old beans are still good, and I'll continue to use them, but it is taking them longer and longer to cook and I thought I ought to get new ones while the price is still decent.  I see where 70% of the nation is in a drought and they expect whole commodity prices to rise this summer and fall.


I re-purposed a Christmas container by putting a chalkboard label (also a Christmas gift) on it and filling it with chocolate chip cookies for a hospital gift for a new mom.  

I downloaded some free apps for my phone.  It still blows me away how incredible technology is.  A flashlight, a radio, an alarm clock, 3000 pages of scriptures, maps, a camera (with more megapixels than my first three digital camera combined), the internet, and a phone . . . all in something the size of an old-fashioned coin purse and costs less per month than our old wall-mount phone service.  Amazing.

How about you?  What are your frugal accomplishments this week?

Tuesday, March 26, 2013

Tuesday Tried It - Ode to Joy

Ande sent this and I found it simply inspiring.

I even used used it in class and asked them to tell me how it related to mutual respect.  Their insights made it even better, for they saw angles and applications I hadn't even considered.

I hope you like it too.

Thursday, March 21, 2013

Thursday Thinking - Beauty

Earlier this week Calvin and I looked at one of those less-than-inspiring internet articles that showed thirty or forty movie stars then (in their prime) and now.  Some of those movie stars had made some big mistakes in trying to preserve their youthful appearance.  Their pictures made me think about getting older and accepting the challenges, responsibilities, and new roles before us - no matter what our age.

Yesterday I read an old e-mail from Ande.  She'd been in Europe on an art study tour and included a picture of one of the paintings she enjoyed seeing in London.  

She said, "This is called The Grotesque Old Woman by Quinten Massys. It satirizes women who idolize their youth. (As I studied the picture) my teacher, Brother Geddes, leaned in close, smiled his wrinkly-eye smile and said, 'You know, beauty isn’t a gift. It’s something you earn. Eventually you’ll lose your pretty, but if you earn it, you’ll exchange it for beauty.'"

Like most faults, vanity is much easier to see in others than in myself.  Long-live my double chin.

Not so long ago I wrote an e-mail to my sister Rachel.  We were bemoaning weight-gain, sagging . . . you know the things women bemoan.  I wrote that I had learned a couple of things:  

One, that I had noticed that a woman can carry extra pounds as long as she is happy and comfortable with who she is and doesn't tug at her clothes trying to hide a lump or roll or doesn't constantly talk about her weight.  

Two, that I had learned to look in the mirror less and never early in the morning, it's just too easy to pick yourself apart.  I would never think, let alone say, to someone else some of the things I've said to myself about how I looked.  I've been downright rude.  One day it was like I saw my body as a little girl on the playground that another little girl was making fun of.  It was so mean and rotten of the little girl.  I realized that pretty much that is what I'd done to myself.  I'd let one part of me beat up on the other part of me.  I realized that my body had done incredible things for my spirit through the years -- those ample legs had held me up and carried me from place to place and let me walk, run, and climb wherever I'd wanted to go in the world; those sturdy arms had allowed me to hold and carry a lot of people through the years; my generous stomach had grown babies; that padded rear-end had allowed me to sit comfortably through many programs, meals, graduations, church meetings, etc.; those thick fingers had written a lot of notes and letters, wiped away a lot of tears, tickled, patted, rubbed and consoled; and all of those organs pumping, flushing, and expanding that I couldn't even see moved in concert to let me do and feel and be.  Suddenly I felt very stupid that I had ever picked at anything on my body.  I was a miracle and that miracle was incredibly beautiful.  How dare I judge it so unmercifully and be so rude to it.

Now when I look in the mirror and want to start picking something apart, I remember the girls on the playground and remember that beautiful, created body that has given me so much opportunity and dare myself to pick at something so trivial as a double-chin or a scar or a fill-in-the-blank.

And that's what I've been thinking . . . 

Wednesday, March 20, 2013

Homemaking Tip - Frugal Living

A month or two ago I started reading a blog called The Prudent Homemaker.  She and her family have been living from their food storage for many years.  She has incredible, edible flower beds.   Her family has learned to live on less due to the current economic situation and her husband's line of work.  Each week she posts her frugal accomplishments.  I enjoy reading her list and the comments where her readers are encouraged to share their ideas.  I'm sharing a few of my frugal accomplishments with you this week.

Calvin needed a couple dozen hamburger buns for a scout activity.  Store bought hamburger and hotdog buns are a rip-off and homemade buns are quick and inexpensive to make. 

One Hour Buns

5 cups flour
1 1/2 Tbsp Saf yeast
3 Tbsp sugar
3/4 Tbsp salt
3 Tbs oil
2 cups hot tap water

Mix dry ingredients together and stir well.  Add oil and hot top water all at once.  Continue to stir or mix for five minutes.  Let dough rest five minutes then roll out on lightly floured surface.  Place buns on a cookie sheet and let rise for 20 minutes.  Bake at 350 degrees for 15-20 minutes or until nicely browned.

The secret to making good hamburger and hotdog buns is the can.  I'm not fooling.  Baked bean cans work great.  Just cut the top and bottom out with a can-opener.  If you want to make hotdog buns, squish in the sides of the top of the can into the shape of a long skinny bun. 

Another perk when you make your own buns is that you can make the right amount (instead of buying a bag of 8 buns for your 10 pack of hotdogs).   

 We bought chicken feed with money collected from selling eggs, and fed the chickens leftover food scraps (a moldy squash from the storage room, lettuce core, etc.). 

Made Ray a birthday gift by covering a cocoa can with paper and filling it with a batch of homemade caramels.   

Pureed old fruit and dried it into fruit roll-ups. 

How about you?  What were some of the ways you saved money this week?

Tuesday, March 19, 2013

Tuesday Tried It - PB & BP

Puzzle Blocks

When Cali and Ande were here a couple of weeks ago we did a couple of fun pinterest projects.  The first one was these puzzle blocks found here:   

We sat here at the kitchen table visiting and mod-podging for a few hours.  Because we were doing multiple sets, this project got confusing to me very quickly -- so many monkey heads, doctor suits, and fox tails, besides six sides to every block, and nine blocks to every set.  I wondered how I would ever make sure each set had them all.  Ande kept straightening my piles for me and when I accidentally grabbed from the wrong pile and started to get confused all over again, she'd straighten me out.

I finally said, "I just don't get why this is so confusing to me."

Ande said, "I'm a visual learner, remember?  These pictures bring order and sense."  And it did to her.  In fact, she even coordinated hers in such a way that all of the sides of her blocks can match up perfectly at the same time.  I settled to just get all heads on one block, feet on another, and middles on the third block.

We put Levin in the high chair next to us and he painted his blocks with water and was happy to be considered a big people.

We made draw string bags out of ducking fabric and the sets turned out really, really cute.  I'm so glad we made them . . . and that we made them together.  It was a fun project made even better by the visiting.

Bread Pudding

We also made bread pudding from the recipe posted here:

Calvin, Cali, and Ande are all bread pudding fans and they thought this raspberry version was very good.

I highly recommend both pins.

Monday, March 18, 2013

Monday Memories - Good Movie

Last night Calvin and I watched an old movie:

We've seen it several times.  It makes me want to read more books, and listen to more music, and try to think of more solutions rather than fret about the obstacles.  Ben Carson, a famous neurosurgeon, is a great thinker.  But most of all, this movie makes me want to be a good person and a good mom. 

The real Ben Carson said he is so grateful that his mother believed in him and refused to see herself as a victim (even though she was one of 23 or 24 children, grew up in foster care, married at 13, and later discovered her husband was a bigamist).  He is quoted as saying, "I not only saw and felt the difference my mother made in my life, I am still living out that difference as a man."

Moms can never be reminded too much that good mothering is indispensable, especially when those moms are in the trenches of everyday serving and loving and believing. 

You're welcome to borrow our movie if you'd like. 

  • What are some uplifting movies that you can watch again and again? I'd love your recommendations.
  •  Did your mom believe in you?  If she did, how did she let you know it?

Sunday, March 17, 2013

52 Blessings - Dan the Dog

Dan winks at me. Calvin says it isn't so, but then Dan has never winked at him.

It is very gentlemanly. He only does it when I've been looking into his eyes for a long while. Then ever so subtly, he winks with one eye.  It's a very, very sweet thing. He is a very good friend.

He is also protective. More than once men have honked their horns from the driveway so that I'll come call him off.   He's a fierce defender . . . unless of course he's holed up asleep in the garage and then he'll let you steal the car.

Dan is one of our blessings. In all of our dog years, I've never loved another one as much.

Friday, March 15, 2013

Life in Our World – Whodunit?

Someone tried to steal our car last night. When I went outside this morning, the car wasn’t there; it was out on the road. I went back inside and asked Calvin, “Did you play a joke on me?” I took him outside and showed him where the car was parked.

He said in his correcting tone, “Jane I’ve told you a thousand times not to leave the keys in the car. You did, didn’t you?” I didn’t even have to answer because he quickly followed that accusation with another, “I wonder if Ray did it to pull a prank on you. “ He quickly answered his own question, “No, Ray wouldn’t have done that. He’d have known I had a gun.”

We walked out to get the car, but when I tried to start it the battery was dead. While Calvin went to get jumper cables I waited and thought,“Someone has been sitting in my chair.”  I never did much care for Goldilocks.

It was all quite strange. Nothing seemed to be missing and, other than my sunglasses were in the seat rather than in the console, nothing was out of order. After the car started, I went back into the house to grab some toast and to hear Calvin again warn me of the dangers of leaving the keys in the car. I assured him, with a kiss, that the thief had effectively taught the lesson that his thousand warnings had not and left for work.

Later this morning I wondered about the gas card stored in the console and hidden among extra napkins. Sure enough, it was gone. I called Calvin and he notified the gas company and cancelled the card. The service representative verified that someone had attempted to use the card early this morning but the purchase had been denied.

Argh. What could have happened? Why did the car quit? Did it quit or did I just spook the thief when I got up at midnight for a drink? The car is ten years old and only had a quarter of a tank of gas in it, was it just not worth the effort to finish stealing it? How did they find the gas card without making a mess of the whole car? That is the mystery.


Everything else in life is marching along. (Ha. I didn’t even see that pun coming.) A mourning dove coo’ed this afternoon, a frog is croaking now, and the hydrangea bush sent up shoots; we’ve even gotten into the 60’s this week. Amazing how hopeful you feel when things start to warm up and move again.


Our Relief Society president has a hard time speaking English and it’s difficult to decipher conversations especially over the phone. She called yesterday and I think this is what she said, “Sister, I tell all the Americans to come to dinner at 7:00 and I tell all the Mexicans to come to dinner at 6:30. You come at 7:00 tomorrow night, okay? Mexicans always late.  You come at 7:00.”

I’m delivering the birthday cake so even if I got the message wrong I’ll be in time for dessert . . . that is if I quit blogging and go.

Thursday, March 14, 2013

Thursday Thinking – The Orange Roll Blunder

Orange rolls were recently served at a baby shower for Ande. I suspected when I saw them in the muffin pans that they were my mother’s recipe – they had a pulled apart center and a crystalline, crispy coating just like hers. After I ate one of them I was almost sure it was my mother’s recipe and when I read the recipe I was certain it was the same.

For several days after, Cali and Ande raved over those orange rolls. When I told them, individually, that it was the same recipe I grew up with they both wondered why I hadn’t ever made them if I knew they were so good. I said, “Well, my orange roll recipe was that one originally, but I thought I could improve it so I made some changes.”

They were both mystified and with slightly raised eyebrows said, as politely as possible, “You think your orange rolls are an improvement to that recipe?”

I explained, “Well, at the shower we ate the orange rolls fresh out of the oven. It’s a completely different roll when it is a day old. The crust is so hard you have to peel it off to get to something soft. So the first thing I changed was to bake them on a cookie sheet instead of in muffin pans to eliminate that crusty outer layer on each roll.”

Each girl said that the outer layer was their favorite part and was what made them so good.

I explained that the refrigerator dough in the orange rolls was the rage back in the 60s and 70s. Mom and Aunt Pat made them (with or without the orange peel) for wedding receptions, wedding dinners, Thanksgiving dinners, and every other fancy dinner you can think of. But, after a few years of making the new and improved orange rolls on the cookie sheet, I decided what they really needed was a softer and different dough. I experimented with several different recipes over the years until I found the current cinnamon roll dough I was using.

Both girls said, “But orange rolls aren’t cinnamon rolls.”

Mind you, this same conversation happened with each daughter at different times. At this point of each conversation I laughed and said, “I guess I know that now. Funny how I thought I was making improvements all those years. I think it’s time to go back to the original recipe.”

I now know the only thing I needed to change was the batch size. I didn’t need to revolutionize the roll. It’s not like anyone had ever raved over my orange rolls anyway; in fact, when the two flavors – cinnamon and orange – were offered side by side few people ever took the orange. Lesson learned: improving something by changing it isn’t always better, sometimes better application is the only change necessary.

I know I’m not alone.  Society is making the orange roll blunder:
  • “We can improve the family organization,” society said, and then replaced the expectations and responsibilities of the father to preside, provide, and protect and the mother to nurture with selfishness, social programs, and alternate families and lifestyles. 
 We don’t need to improve the family organization; we need to improve us, the people, within the family organization.
  • “We can improve the Constitution,” society said, and then usurped authority and granted pseudo powers with mandates, orders, agencies, services, programs, and bureaus. 
 We don’t need to improve the God-given and divinely-inspired Constitution, we need to better use it to preserve freedom.
  • "We need a new morality with more freedom of expression,” said society, and then threw away the virtues that make people free while championing the vices that enslave. 
 We don’t need a new morality, we need to better live the old morality.

I wish society would go back to the tried and true recipe.  The adjustments we've made to the family, government, and morality in the last several decades are not working.    

Because I had long ago gotten rid of the original orange roll recipe, tonight I copied the new, old one into my cooking journal and added, “Be careful where you make the changes to this recipe” in the margin.

Society, take note.

Wednesday, March 13, 2013

Almost Thirteen Pictures on the Thirteenth of March in the Year Two Thousand Thirteen

Afton  - Enjoying her birthday present from
Grandpa & Grandma Payne a little early.

Ty and Michelle - After putting an initial coat of paint on Michelle's birthday present.
(Jane speaking:  Ty made Michelle this bench.  He also made wooden boxes/crates 
that go in the spaces where their heads are.  It's very cool.)

Dan has made himself a nest.  This picture shows no depth-perception, 
but it looks like a big old goose nest. 

Jane -  The conglomeration of things I read today.  I finished Endurance
the incredible story of Ernest Shackleton and his expedition to the South Pole.  
The article in the Imprimis  pamphlet is a disturbing and enlightening piece on educational trends 
(the strings that trail from it come from sewing on it one day 
to correct the tension on the sewing machine because I didn't have spare fabric near).
Writing for Children and Teenagers is for a class I'm taking,
The blue book is The Book of Mormon, I picked some chapters from Mosiah 
and a few from Alma today. 

Calvin - a.k.a. Happy the Pack Mule.

Grace - Getting ready to move to Georgia!  Just 8 more days.

Abe - Hiding from Grace so I don't have to help pack.

Levin - Caught in the act of escaping.  He looks neither properly sorry or scared.

Ray - Debriefing on his day.

Joe - Delicious food.
(Jane speaking:  what do you think it is?  I see a swirl of olive oil and a sprinkle of
green herb [mint?] and a bread of some kind, but I don't have a clue beyond that.)

Update:  Mystery solved.  Foie gras.  

Ande:  I'm 8.5 months pregnant.  The end.

Homemaking Tip - Shhh, Be Still

A couple of weeks ago while Cali and Levin were visiting, Cali gave Levin a haircut.  When she pulled out the little chair and sat him in front of a cartoon with a sucker to keep him still while she cut, it brought back many memories of cutting our kids' hair.  

Ande's head was very tender when she was small.  She had a lot of natural curl too, so her hair was full of tangles every morning.  To keep her still and from crying while I brushed her hair, I told her stories about Mr. and Mrs. Rat and Mr. and Mrs. Snarl and their adventures in her hair while she slept.     

What tricks did/do you use while you cut/comb kids' hair?

Tuesday, March 12, 2013

Tuesday Tried It - Two Good Ones

I co-hosted a baby shower last Saturday and one of the games we played was sculpting a baby out of play-dough.   I'll use these mini-tubs of play-dough again in the classroom this week.  I  thought I made good play-dough until I tried this pinterest recipe; it's even better!  There is less salt in this recipe so the dough (and your hands) don't dry out as much.

There are several pins with the same recipe so I don't know to whom to give credit.    

Play Dough

1 cup flour
1 cup water
1/4 cup salt
2 tsp. cream of tartar
1 Tbls. vegetable oil
food coloring

Dump all of the ingredients into a large pot.  Stir well.  Heat on medium heat, stirring constantly, until it clumps into one big mass.  Turn out onto the cupboard and knead well.  When cool, store in an airtight container.

The lidded condiment cups (found at Cash & Carry type stores) have come in handy often, and they are the perfect size for individual containers of play-dough.  They're a great thing to have up in the cupboard on the shelf with paper plates.        

This Easter idea also had several contributors so I don't know who gets credit for it either.  All I know is they turned out cute.

Edible grass is in the bottom of a (recycled) empty fruit jar with a few Cadbury eggs.  A chocolate bunny is nested on top.  The jar lid is spray painted and finished off with an edge of washi tape.

Did you try a pinterest pin you liked this week?  Please, do tell the rest of us in the comments.

Monday, March 11, 2013

Monday Memories – Hello, Hello

When Cali was a little person she called the telephone a “hello, hello.”

When I was a little person . . .
  • Our phone number was 655-4266 and my best friend’s number was only one digit different. I had dozens of phone numbers memorized. 
  • We were on a party line with our neighbors so we had to pick up the receiver carefully when we used the phone in case someone was already talking. 
  • We only had to use the last four digits of a local number to place a call. 
  • We had a rotary dial phone and later a push button. 
  • The kitchen phone had an extended 15-ish foot cord so that while we talked we could sit on a couch or go in a bedroom, shut the door, and talk in private (assuming no one was listening in on the party line). 
  • Long distance phone calls were 30 cents a minute. We didn’t call long distance often. 
  • The Jetson’s had futuristic, fantasy screens they talked into and saw and heard people talking back to them, but that only happened in cartoons to people that traveled in space ships with robot maids. 

Now that I’m a big person . . .

  • I only have three phone numbers memorized. If I get thrown in jail I’ll be in big trouble when it comes time to place my one and only phone call if Calvin doesn’t answer.  Speed dial has stupefied me. 
  • I have a phone with my own number as does Calvin and every single one of our family members. I can talk whenever I want without waiting for someone else to hang up. Phones today even interrupt and tell me when someone else is trying to call. 
  • I touch a screen and the phone dials the number for me. 
  • I can write messages, take pictures, play music, record videos, pull down maps, surf the internet, and read books on a phone. 
  • There is no cord and I can answer a phone in the middle of the living room floor or the middle of a field. 
  • There is one flat fee for all of my phone calls. I call long distance a lot. 
  • The phone has a fantastic screen you talk into and see people talking as they talk back, but there is no robot maid in the background.  

Today I got my first iphone. You and everyone else in the family has had one for years and today I finally joined you.  Good bye sweaty ear and kinked neck, hello bedazzled phone cover and facetime.

(I couldn’t believe what I saw! Abe was in a beret and captain’s uniform, Afton had grown a foot or two and was walking all around the furniture, Ande’s baby belly had stretched another inch. Amazing.) 

Do you still remember your original phone number? Would you be in trouble if kidnappers nabbed you and you could only sneak away long enough for one call?

Sunday, March 10, 2013

52 Blessings - Life

This week I had a terrible dream. There were bombers flying overhead and I was carrying a baby when I spotted them. They weren’t from our air force. I looked around for a place for the baby and me to hide and ran to a culvert under the road. Once there I realized it wasn’t safe, so ran to warn others as the planes zeroed in. The town had already been infiltrated with the enemy and they kept trying to take the baby from me. To put it mildly, the dream was disturbing.

I woke up thinking, “Whoa. Life is pretty darn good. I may be worried about a lot of things going on in the world, but at least I’m not looking for a culvert.”  That thought has stayed with me the rest of the week:  life is so very good.  Here are two things we enjoyed recently:   

Good life one:

A few weeks ago, Levin came and stayed with Calvin and me for five days while Cali accompanied Ray on a business trip. Each morning when we went in to get Levin out of bed, he greeted us with a great big “Hi” followed by a happy dance. His enthusiasm makes you feel like no one in the world is more important than you to him at that moment. Calvin fixed him breakfast each day – sometimes it was oatmeal and other times eggs, but always it was peaches.

In the afternoons Levin and I would go out and gather the eggs and I’d pull him in the wagon on a walk. Then, while I sat in the wagon, he’d wander around the yard and sweep the leaves with a branch, watch the crows caw, dig in a gopher hole, or play behind the row of trees. I don’t ever remember feeling as patient with our kids while they explored.  More than once, as I watched Levin walk and explore, this poem came to mind:

I like to walk with Grandma, she takes small steps like mine.
She never says "let's hurry-up! she always takes her time.
I like to walk with Grandma, her eyes see things like mine.
Shiny stones, a fluffy cloud, stars at night that shine.
People rush their whole day through, they rarely stop to see.
I'm glad that God made Grandmas unrushed and young like me.

However, I did teach him to “Hurry, hurry, hurry” as I thumped loudly after him chasing him. When he wanted me to chase him, he’d yell “Hurry, hurry, hurry” and run.

The week after Levin stayed with us, Cali and Ande both came and stayed the week while Ray and Joe were traveling. We worked on a fun project , tried a great new recipe, and each afternoon we’d go on a walk. The highlight of the week was on Friday when we went down to Tri-Cities baby shopping for Ande. Both girls are noticeably pregnant and they looked so beautiful walking up and down the diaper and one-sie aisles pointing and looking. Ande was a bit overwhelmed at the reality of getting ready for a baby; by the end she was not only comfortable and ready, but excited.

We ate lunch at a little bistro. We shared a basil-tomato-chicken Panini, Caesar salad with house dressing heavy on the horseradish, and an apple, chicken, caramelized onion pizza. We topped it off with a red velvet, coconut, and a salted caramel cupcake. It was just such a fun and satisfying day.

On Saturday two friends threw a baby shower for Ande. The generosity of people continues to warm me through and through. Though Ande moved away from here years ago, the women continue to show maternal support in her life.

Good life two:

We made some new friends a month ago via the friend of a friend of a friend who bought something on Craigslist. We needed to get rid of some old layer hens and they offered to take them. Sergei brought his daughter, Anna, and her children to come and catch the chickens. After Anna and I caught them, Sergei tied their feet together, threw them in a banana box, and loaded them in the back seat between the grandkids. While Calvin and Sergei talked, Anna and the kids followed me inside to wash hands and visit and eat cookies. Anna became a quick friend and since then we’ve swapped recipe secrets, apples, squash, potatoes, onions, bread, pickled vegetables, cookies, and cake. Last week she went to Seattle and picked me up some special flour; this week I’ll go to her house and teach her how to make fruit leather. Each week Anna and the kids come and buy eggs.

A few weeks ago Anna invited us over for dessert. She failed to tell us that dessert came with four other courses. We started with a zuppa toscana soup and bread. Oh-la-la. It was good. The soup was followed by pickled vegetables and salads, and that course was followed with meat and potatoes. Then we had two desserts: a Russian ice cream cookie and a rich, creamy dessert. Calvin and I waddled home.

Anna and her family moved to America from Moldova a few years ago and there are several families who emigrated from the Ukraine who attend church together in a small community forty miles from here. Anna had invited their church family and us to Lavinia’s 7th birthday party tonight. What a grand time we had. 


The Ukrainians are meat and potato people and Anna graduated from culinary school in Moldova, so how can supper at their home not be good?  We had grilled pork, beef, and shrimp kabobs. We also had several salads – a broccoli, bread, tomato, and mayonnaise salad, a purple cabbage salad, pickled mushrooms, and a green salad as well as potatoes and bread. There was lots and lots of food, and the men just kept bringing out more and more meat. Calvin was in heaven.

The birthday cake had several layers.  Whipped cream and fruit – berries, oranges, peaches, kiwis –were in between each layer.  It was wonderful. 

And as good as the food was, and it was very good, my favorite part of the evening was the singing. First the children stood and sang. They sang with great volume, clarity, tune . . . and parts! (The oldest was Willie who is only 9.) All of the songs were in Russian and Ukrainian. In between the songs they recited bible verses with gusto. The program lasted ten or fifteen minutes. The parents expected their children to be well-behaved and if a child got out of line, he was pinched or corrected.  The children responded quickly and positively.

After they performed, the children ran outside to play.  When I told the adults how impressive it was they projected so well and in tune, one mother replied, “They’d better. They’re part of the choir.” I asked if she sang in the choir and she nodded and then nodded towards everyone in the room and said, “We all are.” I said, “Oh, please sing.” So they did. Just like that. No begging. No hemming or hawing or saying, "Not tonight,"  they just opened up and sang a song (in parts) about the Savior. Soon, the pastor of the group came to the party with his guitar and the whole room started singing hymn after hymn after hymn in Russian and Ukrainian. It was all sung in parts – the bases were deep, the altos were solid – and they sang with great fervor and volume for the better part of an hour. They included How Great Thou Art and Amazing Grace so that we could sing along in English. And before Calvin and I left, they sang us a song in parting.  There was such a sense of community and conviction.  It was easy to understand why the children had sung with such fervor.