Friday, December 28, 2012

Chicken Cave and Other Important Stuff

As you can tell by the depth of the snow on the roof of the chicken coop and run, snow has been falling in our corner of the world.  I suspect our snow amount is a pittance when compared with what Steve has in New York, or what Elizabeth has in Preston. We are thankful for what this means for next summer, as in water for the garden and yard. Because of the snow, our chicken project has taken on a whole new perspective.
The depth of the snow means there is no going outside the coop for the chickens and any running to look for anything green or wiggling on the ground has been put on pause(as in they are all "cooped up" and are now suffering from "cabin fever").  Each time we go in the run to check their feed and water, we are greeted with a chorus of scolding chickens, each in their own cleff.   Each morning either Paul or I go out and turn on the light in the coop so the chickens think there is sunshine.  We have had to put a light bulb under their water container to keep the ice at bay.  And lots of straw in the run and coop seems to help with the scratching impulse - something to kick around is evidently a happy thing.  Yet, we are finding it very amazing to gather between 10 - 12 eggs a day.  Hmmm, it is starting to feel a little like the zucchini wars in the summer.  I wonder who can use a few eggs today.  If we go over the "fiscal cliff", will this be our bartering chip for a little milk??  Or, should we just eat one or two?

May you all be warm and safe, wherever you are.  I must admit, having animals of a sort has brought back warm memories of our Penrose world.  Do you remember what winters were like, with the cows, pigs and chickens trying to survive the Wyoming winters?  I think it is such a blessing to know how difficult things can be, but to be able to live in such incredible comfort.  If you are ever close to my house, please stop by for a dozen eggs.

Wednesday, December 19, 2012

A Visit With Grandma and Grandpa

In a conversation with Dwight I happened to mention some letters I have that Grandma wrote to Mother and Dad.  The hints of loneliness and missing the farm, missing noisy kids coming and going and someone to share her gingersnaps and hot cross buns with, was so apparent in her writing.  Dwight "suggested" I should share some of what is written in the letters so here goes.  The holidays seem to bring back so many memories for me, and one of those sweet memories is of Grandma and Grandpa in Penrose.  I see hints of Grandma's illness creeping in by what she wrote, but at the time I don't think anyone suspected what was going on, other than she was just getting old.  (I haven't corrected anything, these are as Grandma wrote them.)
(No date and no envelope with this letter)
Thursday morn.
Dear Folks:
How are you all? We don't see or hear anything from up that way so am wondering how all are.
We hope all well, and know you are busy as usual.  The weather continues spasmodic all kinds during a day.  Dad did plant a row of potatoes, peas, lettuce, etc, but it stays so cold cant see that any thing can even sprout.  You know we got a stove but the instruction book was not with it, and I sure need it.  They promised to send it but so far, not.
Now I am bothering you as usual, if you happen to go in town would you please go to the Modern Electric and ask if they have found an instruction book if they will please send it.
It works different than the old stove did and I have not got how to work the oven and some other things.
Dad is feeling some better this morning, but had a bad night.
Hope you are all well, and come to see us when you can.  There was something Dad was wishing for the other day, if Russ came down but don't know now what it was.
Guess this is all for today, know you are all busy.
Love to all
Dad and Mother

April 13, 1959
Dear Folks
Dad is so anxious to plant garden, has a row of spuds, lettuce and peas planted but it is to cold for them to even sprout.  So I talked him out of planting more right now.
Dad says if you should happen to come down would you please bring him a can of used oil and about 25 pounds of amonia phosphate.
I am so forgetful have to have him stand here and tell me while I write.
Then we will pay you.
Thank you,
Dad and Mother

Jan 4, 1960
Monday Morn
Dear Folks:
Thanks for the nice day we had at your house.  Hope you will forgive the monoply we made of the time telling our tale of woe.
We have been wondering about the folks and hope they got home alright.  We had nice sunshine in the afternoon but the roads were icey and yet people drove like they were sent for in a hurry.
Hope you get adjusted to your new job Minnie.  It will help to keep you out of mischief.  It has turned colder here, my Mother used to say "when the days begin to lengthen the winter begins to strengthen: which seems to come true here.
Best love to all of you
Dad and Mother

Lovell March 28, 1960
Dear Folks:
Haven't seen or heard any thing from you so wonder if you have gone on a vacations too.  Did see Stephen name in the paper.  Dont know if it is my glasses or just my eyes but seem I can't follow the lines.
It gets quite lonesome around here.  Of course people have been very good to take us to SS and Church,  Dad has had some bad days and that don't help to pass time.  But yesterday and today he has felt fairly good.
Suppose you are busy getting arranged for farming.  Cant think of any news, thought I had so much to tell when I started but now I've run down.
Let us hear from you if you have time to write, and we would not turn down a visit any time.
Love to all of you,
Dad and Mother

Sunday, December 9, 2012

The Little Red Wagon

I was five years old in 1937 in the heart of the Great Depression.  I had few toys, but my one most treasured possession was a little red wagon.  I hauled everything in it, coasted where I could with one knee in the wagon and the other leg pushing.  That little red wagon was the joy of my life.  And then the handle broke, the metal just fell apart, and I could no longer play with my wagon.

I remember clearly the day when I was told to go up to Grandpa Wasden's, three-quarters of a mile or so from where we lived.  I walked up the road and went over to his blacksmith shop, and he presented me with my wagon, the handle welded together again.  Grandpa Wasden was a self taught master at fixing things and the forge and anvil in his blacksmith shop are part of our indelible memories of his life.  With a light heart and, I am sure, a smile on my face, I pulled my treasured wagon back to our house.

When things are broken, we try to fix them.  Some things we can fix, other things are not fixable.  We feel a sense of relief and, some times, a sense of joy when we can fix something that is dear or important to us or that we need in our daily lives.  And we feel a sense of despair when we realize that we must cast something aside or accept things as they are and make the best of them. 

As we grow older, our bodies begin to  betray us, and we seek fixes and repairs for whatever we can find remedies to help us.  The fixes and repairs become more problematic, more uncertain, the older we get.  And, at times, age is no respecter of betrayals in the ways our bodies work.  One of the most difficult lessons in life is to learn to fix the things we can fix and to live with the things we cannot.  Typically, this means our activites are curtailed; we can no longer walk or run as we once could, our hearts act up in uncomfortable ways, the rows of our pill bottles expand from year to year, and the frequency of our doctor's visits seems to multiply.  Our bodies, once free from pain, are often racked with excruciating pain.  And life becomes uncertain and unsettling.

Out of all of the experiences and changes and attempts to fix the things we can fix, though, our lives become more peaceful, more tranquil and settled, when we learn to live with what we have been blessed with.  Each morning, we have another day, another sunrise, and each night the curtain on the world comes down and we welcome the dark and the rest that comes with it.  And, over time, our thoughts go back to the little red wagons in our lives, and to the joys we experienced when we could fix them. And then we thank heaven once more for the moment that is now ours, for the chance we have to fix what we can, to mend the fences, to take take care of business, and to find the happiness and peace from having done all we can do to take care of ourselves and those whom we love.

Another Silent Night

This is the piece of marquetry that reminds me of Silent Night.  Maybe this is the old version and the one that is on the home page of the blog is the new version?  Either of them work, don't you think?

Comment Too Long for a Response

I have temporarily borrowed Steve's wonderful photo of snowy New York and have tried to make it large enough to spread across the top but have been unable to do so.  Steve, may I use this photo on a couple of Christmas cards, with credit to you for it being your photo, of course?

I have been trying to convince my dear wife that I need a panini press.  She admantly refuses to allow me to buy one.  I adamantly maintain that I absolutely need one.  So what to do?  Just scorch another grilled cheese in the frying pan.

I have a request for a guest post on our blog, which I will post when she sends it to me.  I thought we might as well spread a little help beyond our own family bounds once in awhile.

BYU beat the U of U last night, as is only fitting and proper.

The Daily Spectrum of Saint George is switching Sunday funnies, getting rid of many of my favorites and adding the new "mod" ones which I hate.

The sun is shining.

The election of 012 is over.  The election of 016 has begun.

When is a response to long for a comment, or a comment too long for a response?  We need some analysis here.

Friday, December 7, 2012

Friday Morning December 7 2012

Who remembers December 7, 1941?  Some of us were playing in the yard in Ralston when we were called in to listen to the radio when the attack on Pearl Harbor was occurring.  Our lives were never the same after that day.  Similarly, we remember other days.  I was home with a cold and everyone else was gone when the news came on the radio that FDR had died.  I had just finished the oral exam defense of my doctoral dissertation at the U of Michigan when I stepped out into the other room while they voted and discussed my plight when the secretary said, the President (JFK) has just been shot.  I immediately returned to the exam room, interrupted their deliberations, and broke the news.  Several of them had held high positions in the Kennedy administration.  My exam was over.  Not another word.  Just a somber, dark and heavy pallor over the group of distinguished economists.  It was ironic that their student was the one to break the devastating news to them.

Our brains are seared with the landmark events of our lives, which forever haunt us with sadness and forever permeate our perspective and respect for life and remind us that our existence is temporary, often fraught with fear and disaster, but still blessed with a new day, a new sunrise, a new appreciation for the beauties of the earth and of the sky.

I soon became ill after that December 7 day, and spent three and one half months home in bed.  A little radio Dad was throwing away was sitting on the shelf.  I tinkered with it, took out the tubes and replaced them, and behold, it worked.  That radio became my lifeline to the War and the world outside as I still remember Edward R. Murrow from the rooftops of London and H.V. Kaltenborn and the somber and fearsome moments of the war.  Now we reminisce, and give thanks for all those who sacrificed and for the wonders of each new day.

Wednesday, December 5, 2012

Response to Ann's Response Which Was Too Lengthy for Comment

I feel ambushed, schnozzled, one-upped, and demolished.  All by a younger, less-mature sibling who is defending her panini pan.  It has taken several hours to recover from the shock of reading her learned and eloquent reply to my commentary on the panini pan.  Ann must have spent hours, days, cogitating and writing and rewriting this masterpiece of clear and logical thinking.  I congratulate you for what surely is a literary masterpiece.

A couple of observations:
  • From Chapter 56 of Pride and Prejudice: "For what do we live, but to make sport for our neighbors, and laugh at them in our turn?"
  • From Nelson Demille's novel, Night Fall, p. 173:  "As a wise man (me) once said, 'The problem with doing nothing is not knowing when you are finished."
  • My $5 Costco sea salt grinder is Mediterranean sea salt, a definite cut above sludge out of the Great Salt Lake.
  • We have not been provided with any recipes, testimonials, tutorials, or discussion of how to use a panini pan.  We remain in the dark.
  • How can you toss a pressure cooker after one try? 
  • How did Noah clean out the Ark?
We await your continued enlightenment and guidance.

Response Too Lengthy For Just A Comment

Hmmm, for an extremely bright, well educated economist, I can see there is a need for enlightening a wondering/wandering mind.  I feel a little like Mr Darcy, when in writing to Miss Elizabeth, he states that what he has written is a true narrative of all his dealings with Mr. Wickham.  This is written to share my innermost thoughts and feelings about my journey toward the panini press.

First point, as to the effect of my careful, well planned purchases over the years, there has been much pondering as to how this came to be. My thoughts go back to the first time we were at Mother and Dad's house in the woods and Mother got out her well cared for griddle to cook pancakes for our little army.  She had made a pillowcase type cover out of flannel that she carefully tucked it in after each use and cleaning. Oh, how I admired that griddle.  It meant I no longer had to cook two to three pancakes at a time in my cast iron frying pan, but could, instead cook eight pancakes at a time, thus making breakfast/lunch/dinner ever so much more efficient and quick with fewer dirty dishes to wash when the little mob of hungry mouths had disappeared.  So, my wish list consisted of a griddle, with non-stick surface, and one day, when there was a bargain, and our budget could handle it, I bought my griddle.

And thus began the quest for something to make life a little better, a little easier, or maybe just a little more enjoyable.  It took several years to perfect the ability to discern between what was needed and what was wanted.  Along the way I discovered I didn't want wigs, and didn't need 500 pair of panty hose.  I also discovered, I couldn't sell soap or the latest and greatest supplements.  And, more recently a careful purchase of a small pressure cooker has proven to be an unwise purchase.  I wonder who wants it for Christmas?  I did, however discover there were things I could do quite well, which meant I had to break away from the mainstream and go it on my own.  This meant discovering things like a little hand held scanner to carry with me so I no longer tear out pages from an old magazine at the Drs. office that contains a recipe I can't do without (although I must admit I have not always followed through with making said dish), or more important findings that required just a quick scan.  It has also meant the discovering of a different sewing machine, little gadgets in the kitchen, or chickens laying "real eggs" in our backyard.  It cannot be denied that the influence of siblings has played a role in my education along this line, however there came a time when I needed to become my own person.  I found I could no longer wait for someone to say "you should try this or that".  Time was flying by, there were things to do and a world to discover.

Lately the influences of my siblings has led to planning a place to plant a hydrangea in the spring (Judy), considering a new hoop for doing handwork (Elizabeth), looking into other scanning programs(Steve),  encouragement to keep going on my projects (Louise), and a need to check out Costco to see what is new (Dwight).  So much to do, so little time to do it in!

So this brings us to the current debate about the panini press.  First, in order to make a fair argument it must be stated that this is not called a panini press, but a "griddler-gourmet", which puts it in a whole different class  than "just" a panini press.  My reasoning for purchasing said wonder was (1) my George Foreman imitation grill was dying; (2) this was on special at Costco; (3) I could cook two hamburgers/pork chops/chicken breasts or thighs on the grill side in very short order with a minimal amount of mess and a quick clean up; (4) I could cook two pieces of bacon and an egg on one griddle plate -when opened up wide so both plates lay flat - and two pancakes on the other griddle plate, thus eliminating two frying pans and the larger griddle, which means fewer dishes and easier cleanup; (5) grilled cheese sandwiches are a breeze to make - no more flipping them over, and ending up with one burned side and one side barely done.  Both sides will be the same - either burned or well done.  The only time they would be barely done is when the sandwich is removed too soon, an issue which any cook knows how to resolve.  (6)  Hot ham sandwiches,  etc. are made quickly with little fuss and muss; (7) It is easily stored because of its size; (8) It sounds cool to ask if anyone wants a panini sandwich to go with their tomato soup.

I guess the bottom line is, if the world is ending in a couple of weeks, we won't need food storage, we won't need a new coat to replace one that is worn out.  Perhaps a good way to spend this time is to sit back, relax, enjoy life, cook dinner, whether it is in a "griddler-gourmet" or over a nice warm coal stove, and marvel at how life was when we all started out in our little white house compared to where we are today.

There is another line from Pride and Prejudice where Bingley is leaving the Bennet home after asking Jane to marry him.  As Bingley is leaving Jane to go and talk with Mr. Bennet, Jane and Elizabeth are talking and Jane says she never imagined she could bring such happiness to her family.  I must admit, I take great delight in providing a source for merriment and curiosity, however, that does present a challenge.  Where shall  I look for the next great adventure?  If Dwight would just follow instructions and go buy said item at Costco, this would be over and done with.

Tuesday, December 4, 2012

Ann's Panini Press

Several days have elapsed since Ann's birthday.  The euphoria of being treated like a queen and being showered with love, gifts, etc., is now diminishing.  So it is time to bring up Ann's panini press.  Actually, to be honest, since I usually lie, I considered buying a panini press before I learned Ann had wandered the halls of Costco and stumbled upon one and took it home.  Thinking, ha!, I now have something that no one else has.  So now we are holding extensive discussions about Ann's panini press.  Essentially, the panini press is something Italians use to smoosh otherwise robust thick sandwiches into thin toasty and smooshy sandwiches.  Velna claims that I am not allowed to buy one.  Judy says use the household iron and smoosh it down in the frying pan.  Or use the George Foreman grill and smoosh lines into it creating a fake panini sandwich.

I might dismiss all negative remarks since I read Mel on Mel's Kitchen Cafe food blog, linked on the Professor blog, says that the three most valuable things she has when away from home awhile are a grill pan from Williams-Sonoma (go look it up, Ann), a panini press, and, oh! I forget the third one.  Oh dear.  I am now seeking testimonials and evaluations on the usages and virtues of the panini press and invite any and all readers to provide input.  According to Amazon, each panini press generates a zillion negative remarks along with some superlatives.  So, who to believe?  Will the panini press merely find its way into the Smithsonian collection of discarded kitchen appliances?  By the way, we have not yet discussed dutch ovens and cast iron frying pans.  But we will.  Ann says buy it at Costco.  They take everything back for any reason whatsoever.  So if you go through three panini presses in a year, who cares?  Happy holidays.

Saturday, December 1, 2012

Happy Birthday Ann Dec 1 2012


I'm sure this picture has been posted before, but here it is again.  The interesting components of this picture are (a) baby Ann, (b) Mother, (c) surely one of the most curious cats ever who was clearly wondering what was going on here, and (d) the family wash tub bath tub hanging on the front of (e) the cellar.  Did Elna take this picture?  Or Dad?  Mother didn't have a camera the rest of her life after her precious Kodak was lost or stolen one year at the Cody Stampede, thus we were without family pictures until we got Baby Brownies.  Elna must have brought a camera?
Here are some little known facts about Annie:
  1. Ann is addicted to infomercials and kitchen doodads.  The mere mention of a new doodad sends all of her siblings to the store (except Judy) to buy whatever new doodad Ann is trying.  Judy thinks I am gullible, so my new policy is to wait 2 years and see if Ann is (a) still using whatever she bought, (b) if it is still working, and (c) if it has been taken to DI or to the basement store room.  The last thing I fell into was the nucular salt and pepper shakers, which cost 29 bucks.  Imagine my dismay when I discovered this fall that Ann's nucular matched set had been discarded.  In fact, one of them got broken.  Who by? I asked.  By Paul, Ann said.  So after paying $20 for batteries to power my nucular shakers, I instead bought a new Tellicherry pepper grinder and a new sea salt grinder from Costco for 5 bucks each and, instead of having them powered nucularly, I merely give them a quick twist and Voila! I have pepper and sea salt and I don't have to buy any more batteries.
  2. With no experience and without a bachelor's degree in agriculture from the University of Wyoming, Ann is raising eggs for $20 a dozen. 
  3. Ann is perpetually busy finding new handyman construction projects for Paul.
  4. I have been trying to figure out what Ann is so busy at, but then she lives a stone's throw from Costco.  I don't know how much stuff she just makes up.
  5. Ann has hidden treasures of family knowledge which she has squirreled away and periodically sticks one on our family blog.
Here are some well known facts about Annie:
  1. Ann will cheer you up on the most dismal day, her infectious laugh and great glee over questionable humor making the phone call worth while.
  2. Ann has studied every known cure for every malady extensively on the internet.
  3. Ann is a good source of information that I can pry out of her and then surprise the other sisters that I know stuff they never heard of.  "Well, she never told me that," I huffily hear periodically. 
  4. Ann has the patience of Job, the optimism of Adam and Eve getting kicked out of the Garden of Eden, and the perseverance and bravery that have carried her through some dark and dismal days.  You can always count on a smile and a laugh.
  5. Ann is a genius when it comes to figuring out stuff and patiently explaining it to the rest of us.
So now you are informed about our sister.  I left home when she was still very young, and through all of those years I wandered I knew she was there somewhere.  But only in recent years when we have all had a bit more time to spend sharing our nonsense, wisdom, and extensive knowledge, have I come to more seriously appreciate the fact that Ann is a very smart and talented person.  I should have given her more credit for this when she was little and always running to Mother when I was bugging (entertaining?) her.  But now I see the light.  And the laughter she leaves with me makes my phone call always worthwhile and echoes awhile longer.  Happy Birthday.  Stretch out the day as long as possible, days, because after it is over no one will basically care for another year.  Love, D.