Tuesday, December 27, 2016

Finally! I understand why I don't know how to do anything.

My whole life, I have struggled to learn from my Mother, Judy.  First there was the sewing lessons.  I remember sitting in front of the Singer, trying to learn the basics.  I just wanted to learn how to follow a pattern, but Mom knew of a much better way to sew whichever stitch.  My little brain wouldn't remember all of these sneaky, tricky little ways to "properly" assemble a skirt or whatever.  Sewing became a deep, dark mystery that I just wasn't meant to figure out.  Next came making bread.  Again, I just wanted to learn the process, but no, more secret combinations were required.  First, there was the temperature of the water.  It needed to be "not too hot, not too cold, but just right" to dissolve the yeast.  (I insisted on using a thermometer to learn this secret temperature.)  Then there was the process of adding just enough flour for the dough to "look right" and "feel right."  I tried to take a mental picture of this perfectly crafted dough that the master baker had created.  The rest of the process went alright, but then it was time to put the bread in the oven.  Instead of just making sure the temperature had been properly set and oven was heated, she opens the door, puts her hand in towards the center and declares, "That feels about right.  It's time to put the loaves in."  I won't even comment on rolls and pie crust.  

After reading this...recipe(?)...written by my beloved Grandmother, I now understand that this wasn't Mom's fault.  She comes from what is probably a long line of these mystical women who knew how to turn a few garden vegetables into a feast, or a couple of yards of clearanced fabric into a beautiful gown.  I thought the secret was just to learn how to follow the directions and the magic would happen.  Now I realize that you should never settle for "simple" when there is really a better way, to not be afraid to wing it, and make do with what you have.  That's magic.

I'm sure there is a story behind this gem that Mom will share with you.  Much love to you all.

Shannon Ann

Sunday, December 18, 2016

Old Brown Coats

This is my favorite gardening coat, mostly warm and water proof, with a hole from our last burn.  When it is really cold, this is the scarf I wear on my head.  I got it for Christmas in the second grade. It was to keep out the cold Wyoming winds.

While in my favorite thrift store this week, I spotted a little lady dressed in the same coat and a similar scarf.  She was happy and not shy about talking with people.  When she turned around, crudely written on the back of her coat with yellow paint were these words:  “Jesus Christ is the Lord”.   I smiled to myself.

Then she approached me and told me she liked my shoes and asked where I got them.  Without thinking I replied that I bought them at a store on the mall.  For a moment, her face fell and then she brightened and looking down at her shoes, proudly said she had bought her’s  in the store we were in. I looked at her feet and saw shoes that were exactly like my rubber garden shoes. 

She said that she only paid $10 dollars for them and that she knew God had put them there for her because she needed to keep her feet dry.  She said, “God is so good.”  And then asked if I knew that.

Later, she was one ahead of me in the checkout line.  With a big smile she turned to me and said:  “God put an extra dollar in my purse.  I counted my money before I left home and I had exactly $2.  And now I have $3.”  Then she asked me if God had ever done that for me………

She laid one dollar on the counter and walked out the door with her small purchase.  I wanted to follow her……I wanted to understand her great faith…..I wanted to answer her question, “Has God ever done that for you?”

Thursday, December 8, 2016

Record of Historic Trip to Laramie, Salt Lake City, Provo, and Penrose, December, 1952

It is very appropriate that I found this little jewel at this time of year, the season of Christmas and the marriage of Dwight Blood and Velna Black.  The above pages are from a little spiral notebook that Mother had, where she recorded various things, including sayings, quotes, and these pages that tell a story about the trip I took with her to see Dwight and Velna married.  Sorry we don't have the dates, but we know that they were married on the 18th of December (correct me if I'm wrong.)  The bottom two pages represent the cost and mileage that our trip took.  I was a senior in high school, but didn't have my driver's license, so Mother had to do all of the driving.  She finally took a nap in Wheatland.  We stayed overnight in the  home of Velna's parents, Pearl and Volney Black.  The next morning, we started for Salt Lake with Dwight driving.  Velna and her parents went by train.  by the time we were part way across the State of Wyoming, the snowstorm commenced - it was almost blinding in intensity (at least that's the way I remember it.)  Dwight was nervous, and very worried that we wouldn't make it to Salt Lake in time to get the license...If we didn't get the license that Friday, there would be no way to get one until Monday, and the temple was closed until Tuesday.  I think we made it to the courthouse with 15 minutes to spare, and Dwight met Velna there.  (By the way, you will note a couple of the gas purchases were made by Dwight - see the (D) after the purchases.)
     I stayed in Dwight and Velna's room in the Hotel Utah across from the temple and lighted temple grounds.  There weren't lots of extra lights on the grounds, but it was beautiful with snow drifting down, and lots of snow on the ground.  My evening was miserable because I ended up with a blinding migraine, which didn't go away until the next day.
    The $4.00 motel had paper for walls, and I hoped that Mother could sleep because I couldn't because of all of the noise - people talking, etc.  We woke in the morning and went to pick up Louise in Provo - where pansies were blooming!  The trip home was still exciting for me because we went over South Pass.  Louise slept all the way home - or so it seemed.
     As you can see, we took the whole trip for less than $30.  Mileage on the car was kept on the right hand side of the page.
     The pages above these two tell a different story - the one on the left lists extra costs for the trip.  (I think we took home-prepared sandwiches and the old red water jug.)  The list on the right tell the story of Christmas that year.  We bought a Christmas tree in Basin - small enough to fit in the trunk of the car.    I'm still trying to figure out the outing flannel purchases.  Was that for pajamas, or to back a quilt or what?????  I'm sure that more of you can add to this story.  Please do.

Thursday, December 1, 2016

Happy Birthday to Ann

To our dear Annie:  I believe today is your birthday.  I remember well the day you were born as I discovered Dr. Coulston's fancy car, probably the only Cadillac in Powell, was not parked behind their clinic when I went on my mandatory walk down town at noon.  You bring a smile and a cheerful word and an infectious laugh whenever we see you.  We know you have had your share of trials but you have borne them graciously and without complaint.  We honor you on this day and we all wish we were there to share your birthday cake, watch you blow out the candles, and sing Happy Birthday to you.  Just imagine it.  It's done.  We did it.  Love from your adoring sisters and brothers.

Friday, November 4, 2016

For Dwight

This morning I had such an enlightening conversation with Dwight that ended with a discussion on the origin of the saying, "mind your p's and q's". Dwight had expressed that admonition to me, as my dutiful older brother, but then he wanted to know where on earth that expression came from. I told him it meant watch your pints and quarts and suggested, or rather confidently said it referred to back in the pioneer days when people were watching every little thing they had stored in their pantry. Well, I suspect being partly right is ok for a Friday. I did suggest to Dwight that he look it up on Google, which he dismissed as probably not being productive. So, like the good little sister, I couldn't resist giving it a try - and here is what I found.

Wikipedia says attempts at explaining the origin of the phrase "mind your p's and q's" go back to the mid-19th century. However, even they contradict that timing by the end of their information. It goes on to say that it is supposedly an English expression meaning "mind your manners",  "mind your language", "be on your best behavior", etc. Or yet another explanation is that "Ps and Qs is short for "pleases" and thank-yous", because somehow, somewhere thank you contains a sound similar to the pronunciation of the name of the letter "Q". I think that is a stretch - I'm just saying ------. 

And then there is this possibility that comes from the 17th century, (see the contradiction - don't think this is still the mid 19th-century as stated earlier), when the bartenders would keep a watch on the pints and quarts of alcohol consumption of the patrons at the English pubs and taverns.  The bartender would tell them to "mind their "Ps and Qs". 

So - there you go, just in case you were really wondering, and if not - oh well.

Saturday, October 29, 2016

Remember This?

It's been so long since I posted anything but I couldn't resist on this one. As I am going through some of my "stuff" I ran across this. Does it bring back any memories?

Sunday, June 12, 2016

A tribute to Dad on Father's Day

Dear Dad,
Today is father's day and I want to honor your memory on this day.  Being a father to six children and making enough of a living to support and raise them against some times overwhelming odds against you was perhaps your greatest accomplishment.  As your children, we were well aware of your struggles to get through the Great Depression and to eke out a bare-bones living on Grandpa's farm.  I don't know that you were ever really cut out to be a farmer, but being a farmer was your lot in life and you made the best of it, getting up at 4:30 summer mornings to change the irrigation water, coming back at 7:00 to milk the cows and then getting down to a day's work, followed by more cow milking and chores.  You barely had time to read the Saturday Evening Post, your favorite magazine.  We had a few painful differences, but I never lost my respect for you or my love for you, full well knowing the challenges you faced, hoping for enough grain and hay to get through the winter and enough sugar beets to pay some of the bills.  Your love for marquetry (we called them inlaid pictures in those days, the term marquetry seemed to have grown in from somewhere after I left home) gave you some peace and respite from other worries and concerns and your artistry and talents grew and shone, now treasured and hanging on the walls of your extended family.  

Despite our meager financial resources during my 17 years at home, those years remain among the most treasured times of my life.  We didn't have money, but we learned how to work from both you and Mother and that ability would send me on my way and guide me through my own life challenges in eight years of college and 45 years of teaching school.  We always had strawberry jam and canned peaches and tomatoes and endless ears of corn in summer and gallons of fresh milk to drink and fresh homemade bread and cinnamon rolls.  I have been able to survive many of my own difficulties by reflecting on the perseverance and endless hours of hard work you demonstrated, but didn't preach. You did the best you could and you never gave up.  For all of your lessons by example, for all of the love you showed to all six of us, for never giving up, for your hearty laugh in the face of  daily woes, for all of these blessings and lessons I  and my brother and sisters honor you once more on this father's day as we take a moment or two to reflect on your legacy and your gifts to us.  From your children, June 12 2016

Sunday, May 8, 2016

Remembering Mother

Just in case anyone remembers the old Penrose Mornings blog and is looking here for a reminder of our mother, here she is!  I want to be just like her: inspiring, loyal, funny, intelligent, smart, resourceful, and encouraging.  And so much more....We could all make our own list.  The years pass, but love never dims.