Tuesday, February 25, 2014

Tuesday Tried It - It Ain't Shower Power, But It Works

I told you once that I've been looking for a shower cleaning solution ever since they took Shower Power off the market.

I found a concoction on Pinterest that holds promise.

1/2 cup white vinegar
1/2 cup Dawn dishwashing soap
2 Tbsp baking soda  (it gives that little bit of grit you need to scrub soap scum)

I've used this recipe three times now and have been pleased with it each time.  However, it doesn't combat mildew so I still have to spray diluted Clorox on mildew susceptible areas.  I still like this homemade recipe better than any commercial cleaner tried since Shower Power.

Monday, February 24, 2014

Monday Memories - The Ride

One event can spark a half-dozen memories.

Event:  I rode the bus to Abe and Grace’s when Henry was born and then caught the train back home. 

Memory Spark:  My grandmother used to ride the Greyhound to our house when I was a kid.  I never expected to be my grandmother.  As the bus swayed along I thought of her riding the bus in pink curlers and going to the depot to pick her up at 11:00 at night.

Memory Spark:  I used to pump gas at Rogerson Service when I was a teen-ager.  One summer a man came in and sat at the counter to drink a pop.  He was hitch-hiking and said he hitch-hiked every summer to give him perspective.  He was a dentist and he said that hitch-hiking allowed him to meet interesting, everyday people and see things he missed being in a white jacket and office every day.   

Riding the bus, I think I understand what he meant. The clientele of those who ride buses is different from those who buy plane tickets or drive their own vehicles.  Many bus-riders are down and out, and  I have met some very interesting people on the bus.  One of them was the toothless woman I sat next to this time.  She was riding from North Dakota to California to take care of her 93 year old mother.  She was fascinating and friendly and hungry.  I only had a coarse, dry peanut butter sandwich and an apple to offer and neither was of help to her.

Memory Spark:   Between here and Seattle is a bad mountain pass, and during the winter the freeway sometimes closes because of storms and avalanche warnings.  As the bus slogged its way through the snow-covered mountain pass, it reminded me of a scene from Seven Brides for Seven Brothers.  The scene when the Pontipee brothers capture the town-girls and carry them away to their farm up the canyon.  Adam tells his brothers to keep the girls quiet or their screaming will cause an avalanche. They boys clamp their mittened hands over the girls' mouths until they're safely through the pass and then Adam tells them to let the girls yell. The girls' screams cause an avalanche which secures their capture until Spring. 

ceiling in King Street Train Station

Memory Spark:  On the train ride home we stopped at King Street Train Station.  It was ornate and reminded me of the train station in Chicago with wooden, high-backed benches, marble looking pillars, fancy ceiling, and big clocks.

Not my Greyhound Grandma, but my other grandma took most of us grandkids on an Amtrak train from Milwaukee, Wisconsin to Ogden, Utah when I was 12 or 13 years old.  We slept in berths and ate in the dining car on tables with white linen tablecloths and single roses in their very own vases.  There is nothing quite like walking between cars on a moving train.  It was a bit boring sometimes, but it was a wonderful experience seeing the countryside and when I first heard this quote . . . 

"Life is like an old time rail journey...delays...sidetracks, smoke, dust, cinders and jolts, interspersed only occasionally by beautiful vistas and thrilling bursts of speed. The trick is to thank the Lord for letting you have the ride” (Jenkins Lloyd Jones)

. . . it made perfect sense to me because of that experience.

along the Washington coast

Memory Spark:  No one makes you take your necklace, shoes, or jacket off and walk through an x-ray machine when you board a train or bus.   No one opens up your suitcase or sends it through a scanner.   No one weighs it and charges you an extra $50. No one tells you to throw away your bottle of water or confiscates your pocketknife.  No one tells you to turn off your computer or keep your lap clear.  No one checks your ID or tells you to stuff your bag in the overhead bin.  No one panics when the train is 20 minutes late that you'll miss the connecting train.  You are the connecting train.  Your seats are big and soft.  I fondly remembered how air travel used to be.  

Memory Spark:  Pulling into the train depot near home and anticipating seeing Calvin gave me that fluttery feeling as if we were still young and dating . . . and reminded me of every romantic homecoming I’ve ever seen in the movies.

Except, life is like a rail journey and better than the movies.  

Sunday, February 23, 2014

52 Blessings - A Man with a Goal

Calvin hauled fifteen pieces of bow wood to the church so the boys could each pick out a piece.  He is helping ten or twelve young men make long bows.  Not only that, he and Brent, another scout leader, are helping the boys find work so that they can each earn $100 to pay for their supplies.  

It's an ambitious project to be sure, but he's helped several scouts make bows and black powder rifles before, so it's not an uncharted ambitious project. 

Friday evening Calvin and I went to the temple.  Because of life's distractions and demands, it seldom seems convenient to get to the temple, but the "peace of God, which passeth all understanding" (Philippians 4) is one of the sweet rewards of getting there.

We ate at a little off-the-beaten-path Italian place afterwards.  Calvin had lasagna and I had chicken parmigiana - and, albeit much smaller, eating out is a perk to going to the temple too.

Calvin has a little goal card on the top of his dresser that says:

No swearing
No road rage
Treat others nicely

It has sat there for a couple of months now.  And while I regularly clear off the rest of his dresser – bullets, pliers, gum, toothpicks, receipts, ticket stubs, insulin caps – I leave this paper.  It's good for a man to have his goals in front of him.  He also set the goal three weeks ago to make me feel like a million bucks.  He is succeeding.  Another goal he set a few months ago was to read the Book of Mormon daily.  He has only missed a few days.  The cap on his striving-to-be-a-better-man was making the grandkids’ bow this week.  He started it Thursday night.  He made it from a strip of cedar and reinforced it with rawhide.  Friday night after we came home from the temple he went out in the shop and worked on it until 3:30 am. painting the sun, moon, and stars on it.  When I asked him why he chose that design he said, “So I can teach the grandkids about the 3 degrees of glory while I teach them how to shoot.  The bulls-eye is like the sun.  I'll teach them to always aim for the sun and celestial kingdom.”  

And as if that weren't enough . . .  

. . . the man eats his stinky sardines in the shop instead of the house.

(Dear Readers,

When blogging first began, I used to return a comment on every comment you left.  After a couple of years and writing pages and pages of returned comments, I discovered most of you were no-reply commenters. Which meant all of the return-comments I wrote went into the internet black hole and you never saw them.  I felt like Amelia Bedilia and quit return-commenting.  It's bothered me ever since that when you comment it appears you are ignored.  No more.  I will return-comment in the post's comment section.

Thank you for being such faithful readers.

Your neighbor,


Tuesday, February 18, 2014

Tuesday Tried It - Timeless

I like to pin things on my "Make Room" pinterest board from Timeless Interiors.  (You should see the bread rack!)  Timeless Interiors is a furniture store with modern and well-crafted furniture.  I've admired many pieces from there on the internet as well as in Joe and Ande's, and Abe and Grace's homes.  

Recently Timeless Interiors hosted a give-away.  They encouraged patrons to submit a charity of their choice for the chance to win an office make-over.  I enjoyed reading about each charity and what they offer to the local community.

Here is Zeph carefully choosing the grand-prize winner while his grandmother, Holly Dixon, and Joe watch.

Today I'm guest-posting on Timeless Interiors.  I hope you'll read my post Heap O' Livin' about making a house a home.

Thank you Timeless Interiors for your commitment to your community and the opportunity to write for your blog.

Monday, February 17, 2014

Monday Memories - The Presidents

I can still see my second grade teacher as we copied sentences from the board to practice our penmanship. She wore a tight, white, red polka-dotted dress, spiked heels, and filed and blew on her bright red fingernails behind her desk.

Had I not been so preoccupied with her personal habits, I might have better etiquette.

At least, historians tell us that is how George Washington developed such impeccable manners. When he was a schoolboy he copied Rules of Civility & Decent Behaviour In Company and Conversation, a collection of truisms that "no gentleman's library could be without.”

President Washington’s biographers give credit to this school exercise as a major influence in shaping his behavior.

Some of my favorite sentences that President Washington copied are:
  • Shake not the head, Feet, or Legs rowl not the Eys lift not one eyebrow higher than the other wry not the mouth, and bedew no mans face with your Spittle, by approaching too near him when you Speak 
  • When in Company, put not your Hands to any Part of the Body, not usualy Discovered. 
  • Shift not yourself in the Sight of others nor Gnaw your nails. 
  • In visiting the Sick, do not Presently play the Physicion if you be not Knowing therein. 
  • Give not Advice without being Ask'd & when desired do it briefly.
  • Let your Recreations be Manfull not Sinfull. 
  • Use no Reproachfull Language against any one neither Curse nor Revile. 
  • Be not hasty to beleive flying Reports to the Disparagement of any. 
  • Play not the Peacock, looking every where about you, to See if you be well Deck't, if your Shoes fit well if your Stokings sit neatly, and Cloths handsomely 
  • Labour to keep alive in your Breast that Little Spark of Celestial fire Called Conscience 
One of my favorite stories of George Washington is the one that happened during the French and Indian war when all of the other mounted officers, except George Washington, were shot and killed.  Mr. Washington wrote, “I luckily escaped without a wound, tho’ I had four bullets through my Coat, and two Horses shot under me.”  After this experience, the Indians referred to him as a “particular favorite of Heaven and who can never die in battle.”

And a Happy President's Day to you as well, Mr. Lincoln. 

Duty.  Honor.  Country.  Presidents Washington and Lincoln lived with integrity, great character, and personal sacrifice what General Douglas MacArthur later taught "custodians of the nation's defense" or soldiers to do:

"Duty, Honor, Country: Those three hallowed words reverently dictate what you ought to be, what you can be, what you will be. They are your rallying points: to build courage when courage seems to fail; to regain faith when there seems to be little cause for faith; to create hope when hope becomes forlorn." (General Douglas MacArthur)

Thank you Mr. Presidents.  I hope I don't let you down or take for granted what you helped to establish.

Sunday, February 16, 2014

52 Blessings - 5 & 21

I had a writing assignment on Thursday that asked 22 personal questions.  The answers to #5 and #21 are two of this week's blessings.

Abe and Grace were just quietly watching Henry swing.
I don't know which was sweeter, Henry swinging or them watching him.

5. What's the most exciting or memorable thing you did in the past year?

Had four grandchildren. At each child’s birth I went and stayed in the homes for a week to help the new parents as they launched their little human. Each experience was incredible, each grandchild unique.

Calvin made this arrow out of bamboo while I was gone.  He attached an arrowhead
(with pine resin) that he knapped from flint several years ago.  (He convinced a friend that
it was a genuine Comanche arrow he bought off e-bay for $350.)

21. Note which of the following you would want to have with you if you were stranded on a tropical island. (Assume that you have the scriptures & necessary equipment with you already).

Animal: Our cur, Dan. He would let us know when the rescuers came.
Person: My husband, Calvin. He’s resourceful and would keep us alive.
Item of your choice: Fire or chapstick

The babies (and their incredible parents) and Calvin's skills are great blessings in my life.

Another question on the assignment was what dessert best describes you.  Dessert would definitely be considered a blessing as well.  (And I'm a berry pie in case you wanted to know.)

Friday, February 14, 2014

Fourteen pictures for the 14th of February 2014

This Valentine's Day found the family scattered hither and yon:  Michelle and the girls were in South Carolina with Joe and Ande's family (Ty has been in extensive pilot testing), and I was on the other side of the mountain with Abe, Grace, and Henry.

Nonetheless, it was a day of love (said in Too Slim's voice from Riders in the Sky Go Commercial)

Zeph - With Afton and Eliza wishing the world a Happy Valentine's Day

Afton - The scary vacuum got babysitting duty for the
crib climber.  
Level expert Mom.

Eliza - Just thinking Mom's the funniest.

Ande - "Crazy Eye Joe"

Joe - How we celebrate Valentines Day.
With rib bones, fries, and sweet potato casserole.

Michelle - Lonely Hearts Club

Ty - Michelle had a friend deliver this for me for Valentine's Day!
It is to help the drive go quicker on Saturday when I go to pick them up.

Ray - Climax of the day . . . a movie.  Monsters Inc.

Cali - Because love gave us a family of four . . . and that is how the grocer packaged them.

Atlas - Atilla the nun

Levin - Reading the instructions on how best to play.  

Grace - Henry is happier than he looks.

Henry - Tuckered out from playing with Grandma Jane all week.

Abe - Testing out my new Hennessy Hammock

Jane - Bet you can't guess what Henry just did.

Calvin - (text sent to kids) Happy Valentines Day to all of you . . . 
but I get the best valentines today . . . . 

(Jane speaking here:  This was on the table when I walked in the door at 10:30 pm:
mother mary candles with the labels taken off, a couple of West Point goblets,
sparkling cider, shrimp, cocktail sauce, hot fudge sauce, and strawberries. It was the sweetest.) 

Thanks family for the pictures.  Your dad and I love you.  “You can kiss your family . . . good-bye and put miles between you, but at the same time you carry them with you in your heart, your mind, your stomach, because you do not just live in a world but a world lives in you.” ― Frederick Buechner

Tuesday, February 11, 2014

Tuesday Tried It - Chilly? Chili?

I'm having a wonderful time spending the week with Abe, Grace, and Henry.  

Today we gave Henry a bath . . . 

He hates getting chilly.  The warm wet washcloth helped.  

We also made Jalapeno Popper Chicken Chili from a pinterest recipe (we followed the recipe with the exception of doubling the amount of beans).

It was good!  Really good..

 I'll definitely be making it for Calvin.

Sunday, February 9, 2014

52 Blessings - Fathers

Some of us have good fathers and can readily feel love.  We know what it feels like to have someone deeply concerned for our happiness.

Some of us don't have good fathers and it's hard to imagine being loved.  We don't know what it feels like to have our welfare and growth as someone's main concern.    

Knowing that we have a Heavenly Father who loves us perfectly and whose whole purpose concerns our well-being brings happiness to the fathered, who knows what a father's love feels like, as well as hope to the unfathered, who must imagine.  

I see evidences of Heavenly Father's love for me every day when I pay attention.  When I ask Him about it, He helps me to feel, recognize, and understand that love.  It is a great blessing to be able to trust Him and it's reassuring to know my well-being is His concern.  

I am one of those who had to imagine what a good father does, and it has taken patience and effort to understand Heavenly Father's love.  However, this video reaffirms what I've come to feel and know:

Today I love nothing more than watching Calvin as a father and grandfather.  Our kids are lucky to have such a good dad.  He's been willing to provide for, preside over, protect them, and to admit his mistakes. He goes to great lengths to let all of his children know that he loves them.  Consequently, they trust him. Likewise, Calvin had a good dad.  

It is a great joy to see Ray, Abe, Ty, and Joe as parents.  They father with purpose, patience, responsibility, and great love.  Because of their examples, I imagine their children will grasp Heavenly Father's love for them easily.

Just before Henry was born the doctor asked Grace if she wanted immediate skin-to-skin contact with the baby.  Grace said, "I want you to hand the baby to Abe when he's born.  He missed Clara's birth so I want him to hold him first."

The look on Abe's face and the tears on Grace's cheek personify love. And if it as Joseph Fielding Smith said (and I believe it is), "I feel most assuredly that our Father in heaven is far more interested in a soul—one of his children—than it is possible for an earthly father to be in one of his children. His love for us is greater than can be the love of an earthly parent for his offspring," then we are so very loved and cared for. That makes me very happy.

Wednesday, February 5, 2014

Homemaking Tip - Have a Baby

The best homemaking tip I know is:

Have a baby.

They bring a part of heaven to your home . . . 

. . . and extra laundry, and hunger, and crying, and laughing, and someone to be rocked and bathed, and someone who desperately needs and gives acceptance and love.  

Which makes all those little things we do to make a home worth it.

Have a baby.

Henry Calvin Payne
February 4, 2014
7 pounds 10 ounces
19 1/2 inches

He is absolutely beautiful and just as sweet as he can be.  He is perfectly content as long as he is in his mom and dad's arms.  Abe and Grace are perfectly content as long as he is in those arms.  

Families really are God's masterpiece and grace a home like nothing else does.

Welcome to the world Henry, thank you for coming to our family.  

Tuesday, February 4, 2014

Tuesday Tried It - Road Conditions and Traffic Report

(We often had pile-ups.  They're just part of life.)

I've seen masking tape roads several places on Pinterest, so the last time Levin was here he helped me build some all over the living room floor.  Occasionally we'd add a new road.  The first day he played with the roads about an hour as long as I was playing with him, the second day not at all, and the third day for several hours, many of those by himself.

The road in the picture is up the side, over the top, and down the other side of the ottoman.  After we laid the road, I used it first.  As my little truck was going up the side, I was calling out (in true Little Engine That Could fashion). "It's hard!  It's hard!  I don't think I can do it!  Help!  I don't think I can do it!"  Levin leaned over and yelled even louder, "YOU CAN DO IT!  C'mon little truck. YOU CAN DO IT!"

I puffed and grunted up the ottoman and when I reached the top Levin yelled, "YOU DID IT!  YOU DID IT TRUCK!"

It was the sweetest.

Later, I went to get in the shower and when I came back out into the living room he was talking to his trucks as they struggled to climb the ottoman.

It was pretty darn sweet.

I'm definitely remembering this pin.  I'm going to keep a roll of masking tape in the ice cream bucket of cars from now on.  I'm also going to make up a few truck buckets as birthday gifts, too.

Monday, February 3, 2014

Monday Memories - Over in a Meadow

Last summer I rewrote the words to the counting rhyme Over in a Meadow.  I did it because of this:

Levin loves the book.  And so did Ande.  We sing it over and over and over. There is a good chance I have thirty more years of reading it aloud, and even if I only read it once a week that is still 15,600 more verses to go (it has ten).  That's daunting. Plain wearisome. Especially since our old version has poor pictures and rhymes that don't make sense.

So, I made up new verses and asked my friend Megan to illustrate them so that it would be a pleasant experience. Megan did a wonderful job, and the book is now one of my favorites to read aloud.

(When we Facetime, Afton repeatedly asks in her little husky voice, "Gramma, read book," until we adults stop talking and read.  It's fun to read to Afton because she loves it.  I am so glad Kathy, my co-grandmother, thought of this way for us to interact with her long distance.)  

Here are two of the pages of Over in a Meadow . . .

Over in a meadow as the rain falls from heaven
Lives an old mother hog and her little hogs seven.
“Wallow!” said the mother. “We wallow,” said the seven.
So they wallow and grunt as the rain falls from heaven.

Over in a meadow where the creek runs straight 
Lives an old mother trout and her little trouts eight. 
“Jump!” said the mother. “We jump,” said the eight. 
So they jump for flies where the creek runs straight.

I ordered several copies of Over in a Meadow and gave them to the grandkids for Christmas.  I'm almost out so I'm ordering more.  It was a fun project.

The next one I'm doing is "Five Little Monkey's Jumping on the Bed" using photographs of the grandkids. Except mama doesn't call the doctor, grandma calls grandpa.  Can't wait for that one!

Saturday, February 1, 2014

Life in Our World - Fitting


You know how some names just fit people?  Like mine.  Plain Jane.  It suits me perfectly.  I like bland food, muted colors, and simple things.  I find comfort in my name.

Meet Angel.  She's standing next to Cali in the picture.  They both worked at the same insurance office before Cali went away to college and Angel quit working to stay at home with a new baby.

This week we went to McDonald's and saw Angel.  Neither Cali nor I had seen her for a few years. Angel introduced us to her children.  All of them.  She and her husband have adopted 7 children since we last saw her.  The oldest is seven years old.

Angel had taken all 7 to the dentist earlier that morning and then brought them to McDonald's "to eat and get the wiggles out" so that she could take them to Wal-Mart and buy groceries before driving home.  Her girls wore little dresses, her boys collared shirts.  They were so happy and well-mannered.  Angel told us the stories of how they got each child, and how she teaches and nurtures them now.  It was inspiring.

As we left her I thought how fitting it was her mother named her Angel.  She's incredible and so is what she is doing with her little family.

Our dishwasher finally quit this week.  It's been threatening to for a few years, but it finally followed through this week.  If only it had let me know it didn't feel good before I loaded it to the gills.  But, it could be worse. There are only two of us now, we've lived several years without one before, and this one was fairly pathetic as it was.  It was fitting that this was the appliance to go since washing dishes is the homemaking chore I like most, next to vacuuming.

Joe and Ande gave Calvin the gift of Graze for his birthday.  Every two weeks a package like this comes in the mail.  He loves it when they arrive and it is a very fitting gift for a snacker.

This made me laugh.  I think Word also sees some of the words I use and says, "Dude. Do you even know what that word means?  It does not mean what you think it means and it definitely does not fit in this sentence."

Our good friend Betty Lou died and her funeral was today.  Betty Lou was 92.  It was a great funeral with lots of anecdotes.  One of my favorites was that she played Cinderella with her granddaughters. One granddaughter liked to be the wicked step-mother and boss Cinderella around.  Betty Lou hurried from task to task to please her.  Betty Lou fiercely loved her children and grandchildren.  It was a good thing there were Kleenexes in my purse.  I laughed and cried as her family spoke of her love for them.

I will miss Betty Lou, especially since I've gone to see her most every week for several years now.  Her eyesight began failing badly a few years ago so, before she entered assisted living and while she still lived at home, I sat on a stool by her feet so my face was in the light and she could see me.  I learned a lot, literally at her knees, in those visits.  One time when I was vexed she said, "I learned a little phrase once, 'Let go and let God' and it's helped me.  Just remember that.  I think it will help you."

A generous woman, she also gave our family many gifts.  Soon after our granddaughter Clara died she gave me a pink peony plant and said, "Plant this and it will bloom every year about Memorial Day so you'll have something to put on her grave."  She gave a gift to Abe and Grace at that time, too.  She called Nordstrom's and asked them to ship a package of something for a baby boy in the latest fashion.  Nordstrom's sent designer jeans, shoes, socks, and a shirt all prettily wrapped in a silver package with a blue bow.  Betty Lou had lost a child of her own and she knew how Grace was grieving.  That gift of a little boy's outfit was wrapped hope and trust in God. It was very fitting, and meant the world to Grace.  In fact, she showed me the little outfit again a couple of weeks ago, now washed and ready for their new baby that will come any day.

Our week had many fitting things in it.  How about you?  How was your week?