• “Sometimes the questions are complicated and the answers are simple. Dr. Suess

Sunday, January 30, 2011


As we headed out this morning I tore a sheet from a small note book, tucked it into my pocket and grabbed a pencil.  I so need help sitting still and being quiet in church.

These are the notes that pencil made on that paper.

Remember Miss Bright Eyes?

As church began Miss Bright Eyes and her momma arrived. They sat down just in front of us.

Missy did not help me at all - to hold still that is.

Last week we sat on the other side of the chapel.
I did pretty good over there - new view point, people, and etc.

This week were back to our 'usual' place.

She looked at us and positively beamed!
That may have made my day - or week!
It is so nice to see a face light up just for me - and us!

B.E. has perky little pigtails that stick up over the bench
and a quirky little smile
that can charm even crusty old bats like me.

As the organ began the opening hymn B.E. began to sing -
a solo - using the terms loosely that is . . .

Her diligent mommy shushed her until I leaned forward and said,
"She is just singing, you know.  It is always OK to sing!"
B.E. flashed me such a beaming smile that we all knew it was so.

I admit to giving significant encouragement (from behind mom) by setting an example. "La, laaa, la, - la, lalalaah," -  I sang loudly with exaggerated mouthing.  B.E. joined in - and had more fun than some think church should allow her or me.

I told her mom later that I always encouraged my children to 'sing' in church.  It gave them an appropriate time and a way to use their voices AND they did learn to sing (and I hope love) the hymns. I remember my youngest son's cheerful loud singing.  He still loves to sing.

Several grandmas, my age, told Missy that she should be in choir - apparently she was amusing and charming more of the congregation than just me.

Bright Eyes was having a hard time holding still herself today. She spent some time on the floor and under the bench fussing.  Looking at my boots and touching the toes distracted her - funny thing - those boots kept doing tricks - I am sure they had a mind of their own.  I was trying to behave.

Later I loaned her my pencil -
and my paper -

and another piece we found in my pocket.

She liked my shiny pencil almost as much as I do.
I drew her a '2 second stick portrait' and handed over the pencil.
I pantomimed for her to draw me.

She did. That is just what I look like every morning.

I had a novel idea as she learned to use the eraser. Maybe ... oh never mind. I don't think an eraser works on real people.

I tried to listen to the speakers - honestly I did.

One of them was talking about a teacher that had a lot of pie charts on tests to correct. I have no idea how that fits into the topic he was discussing. A good analogy stuck with me though.

He asked the teacher about the work involved to correct so many charts. The teacher explained the simplicity of making a transparency of the correct chart and laying it over the student's work. Deviations, and where corrections are needed, can be easily seen. So it is with the scriptures - they are the 'transparency' we can lay over (or hold up to) our lives.  The scriptures and the words of modern prophets, that we receive in general conference and the Ensign magazine each month, will show us where we are not aligned with God's commandments and where corrections are needed.

See I was too listening - at least a little bit ...
when I wasn't peeking under the pew
or singing over it.

Maybe I should join the choir.

And her mother was able to stay in church too.
She heard the messages also.

Do you think children realize the influence and impact they have?

Saturday, January 29, 2011


Where did your father go to work every day and what did he do?
Journal answer ...
written about 2001 with comments inserted today.

My father worked as a carpenter, a sheep-shearer, managed the Ross Lake Community Pasture (also routinely called 'The Pasture'), maintained a small farm and did many other 'handyman' jobs as needed.

He also knew how to have a good time.  When he was about 50 years old he learned to downhill ski (one of my sisters took a class in college and invited him) - and then he took most of the family skiing so they could learn too.

That is very characteristic of my father, at work or at play.  He enjoys life, keeps learning and then shares 'all good things'. He is the greatest! We all agree!

It seemed he knew how to do everything.
I 'knew' he knew everything.

As a carpenter he could also contract the plumbing and electrical work. In later years he told me that he would take a job and learn how on the job - doing it and figuring it out as he went by counseling with his dad, brothers, or one of the Schaffers. He worked for Gibb Schaffer Construction for a number of years and was often gone for a week or two at a time to 'do a job' some place that was too far away to come and go, back and forth.

I don't know how mom manged - there were not only cows to milk and lambs, pigs, and chickens to feed, and eggs to gather, but sometimes hay to stack, 1/2 an acre of garden to tend, and 10 children to raise (without TV, videos or Internet).

We lived 10 miles out from 'town'. We usually only had one vehicle and he had it! Walking several miles was not a big deal - it is easy to walk anywhere you may want to go. Or ride a horse - we had lots of horses. For short distances walking was easier than catching and saddling a horse.

My father's father was a carpenter/handyman.  Many of his brothers worked in the construction industry also. Dad has shared many memories of working with his father and brothers.  Although he raised cattle, hogs, or sheep at various times carpenter work was a mainstay of income for our family. When children were old enough to safely obey instructions they were permitted to go to work building with dad and to the pasture.

Of course, the obedience part was well tested in the lab of home and farm life. I think my father knew the most important work he did was teaching and being an example to his children.

We have been able to record some of his memories of carpentry and ranch work as sound clips.

Shearing was also a significant source of income. He never particularly liked it but when money was tight he'd accept the jobs.  I did hear him turn a few down but money seemed to always be tight.

from Dad's 'job' photo album - a copy of a picture someone had

As a sheep-shearer he worked with several other men (often Floyd Stewart, Johnny Walburger, or a Cahoon brother - Edwin or Edward, and others.) I remember especially the big celebration and fuss it was when they could shear 100 sheep in one day. Later he got even faster. Time was money - literally.  Shearing tools were also a significant investment. He used an electric hand tool and a 'sling' to support his upper body.  This job is not easy on the back.

You can watch a clip of a fairly typical sheep shear here.

Dad paid us kids to sort, wash and scrap clean the combs and cutters for his hand pieces. He had dozens and dozens of them. They were extremely sharp and had to be handled with care.They arrived home with him - both (he and the combs and cutters) heavily coated with a waxy, dirty black, grease from the wool. It had to be painstakingly picked out of grooves on the back. He had a large jam can full of hot water and dish soap for each type. We would hang them on a wire to dangle/soak them and dip them repeatedly to 'wash' them. The wire also helped us handle them safely taking them in and out.  After the soapy water, scraping, and a rinse there was still the drying process.  A tool wasn't clean until it was completely 100% dry.

I would beg to do it without pay, even though they smelled truly horrible - if he let me help he paid me too. I was a girl and younger than 4 older brothers. They were faster and better at picking the hardened, packed filth out of the deep grooves. Helping meant I was a 'big kid'. There were five children and a foster brother that were 'little kids' - 3 boys and 3 girls. 'Little kids' never got to do 'big kid' stuff.

When dad came home from shearing mom would make him strip and bathe as he came in the door.  Yes, the water had to be pumped at the well, carried to the house, heated on the stove in a large oval boiler and poured into an even larger tin bathtub with one sloping end; it was so short that his bent knees were exposed (but it was large enough for 5 or 6 small kids to splash and bath at the same time).

Sometimes Dad had sheep ticks on him. Mom had a fit! His clothes stayed in the back entry until she could inspect and wash them. He'd come in the house in his long underwear to the tub in the large kitchen and we'd turn our backs while he got into the tub.

He would lay back in the tub of hot water and tell her about his day while she carefully inspected every inch of his head and back for ticks.  Seldom was a tick missed.  (Perhaps that is where the saying 'never missed a tick' comes from.)  Sometimes the tick was already feeding with its head buried and body bloated with blood.  That always caused some 'finnagaling' to get it to back out and let go of him (match to hind quarters). Usually they would just be found floating or crawling around.  We would sit on the floor furnace - a metal grid about three feet square - cleaning combs and cutters, and avidly listen to them talk. It was often late and 'little kids' would be in bed. No wonder I begged to help.

His adventures, and ours, at the Ranch/Pasture, taking care of the farm and erecting buildings are documented in other places. Each would be a post - or two - of its own.

That will be another day!

Monday, January 24, 2011


Dragging through the deep gray days of January
with cabin fever building
and the sparkle of Christmas in a box -

tiny angels bring new thoughts,

winging off to loved ones -

new hopes,

new dreams,

new plans,

new expectations!

I'm hoping for a thaw,

and watching for the miracle!


Remember this?

Christmas is hidden in the attic
but 'love is in the air ...'

and around the house too.

Sunday, January 23, 2011

PAPA - DOIN' ???

Cynthia thinks Skype is normal.
I suppose it is ...
She always tries to see who she is talking to.

My grandfather once told my father that someday we would talk face to face when we were far apart.  No one believed him.  It is hard for me to fathom. I remember when just being able to hear a voice was an amazing feat!

"Doin' - Papa, doin'?" Cynthia asks Grandpa.

Bob and Cynthia are great friends.
We found him under the table yesterday.
Do you think he was trying to tell us something?
He refused to come out.

After we sang Happy Birthday to her - together of course - on Skype, he relented and sat on the couch with us.  She blew kisses and said, "my papa, MY BOB".

Bob had lots of fun looking at pictures - on the computer.
Life has changed.
The world my grandfather lived in exists no longer, yet still we look at pictures and yearn for loved ones.

I remember Aunt LuRay showing me old sepia toned photographs in fragile albums.  How she missed her loved ones.

When Cynthia first came Grandma needed lots of help to walk -
and to remember to rest - lots and lots!
I had 'help' almost every day! It is so easy to stay on the couch when someone else 'needs' the walker or the cane.

I can wear my high heels again - Cynthia did such a good job showing me how to do it!

And Papa-pa always liked help when it was time to go get the mail.

Bob says he especially liked helping Cynthia eat popcorn.

He wants her to take him to the candy factory.

She better not - Bob likes candy TOO much.

Grandma misses making Cynthia's hair pretty.

And now I only have Bob to help me make cinnamon buns - I have to make him stay on a chair away from the sugar!

We had lots of fun playing the piano -
of course Papa-pa showed her how the hammers make sound,

fixing water for hanging pots,

roasting marshmallows -
golden brown,

 and finding pumpkins in the field.

Bob says the big pumpkin is almost as big as he is.

 He wonders if Cynthia liked that one or the little ones the most.

Picking apples was a new adventure.

Bob has been helping Papa-pa eat them.

Grandpa eats some every day!

Cynthia asks, 'What doin' Papa?' every time we Skype.
She asks and asks.
I think she wants to see.

I do too.

I want to see all my loved ones,
here - and beyond - past, present and future.

Saturday, January 22, 2011


Now that snowmen are hopefully looking the worse for wear be sure to let that make you think of spring.

Meanwhile turn the oven on and bake something.

OOOOoooo - I LIKE my new convection oven!

Happy Birthday to me every time I use it!
Thanks - again.

This fellow is really trying to hold it all together.

I choose to spend yesterday cozied up in the kitchen.

It's been a long time since I baked anything (except a random pie every so often that doesn't count because I purchase the crusts and just pretend to bake - but don't tell that part - apple pie always smells and tastes good.)

I made 3 loaves of bread (mixed in a bread machine), and some very fun cookies.

Want to make some 'spring thinking' cookies yourself?

You can look up 'melting snowman cookies' or just read about the ones I put together. There are several websites that say they are the first and the original but I will let you toss the coin, if you are so inclined, while I decorate cookies.

Let's go in reverse today and start at the finish and finish with the start - the cookies really are so easy that I think you need to see the final fun before you even think of getting flour out.

hmmm - WHO ate the rest of that new loaf of bread?

Fresh bread is the ultimate 'comfort' food to me and I never had a sweet tooth.  If I can do 'cute' while waiting for the bread though - why not? Even small children can create a melted snowman.

there is a little fellow as cheerful as his sunny buttons

The buttons went on last - (just after the heart) after the nose was settled at a nice angle. Use any available and suitable edible material - come on get creative - these noses are an ancient gummy bear that was abandoned in the candy dish. It happened to be orange and I happened to not feel like making orange icing for such a small amount. I cut it into 4 strips that are cut in half on an angle. A tiny dot of white icing, applied directly to the cookie, secures buttons and noses as they are put in place.

Before the buttons and noses I pressed the scarves out of decorating tube 47 (Wilton). I chose green because today I am thinking spring! Just squiggle and wiggle it around the head/ neck area - be sure the grooved side is up. You may need to practice on wax-paper or foil if you feel a bit insecure.  Other options abound - cut strips from fruit rollups or use licorice strings ... any other good ideas?

[Children decorate better with small candies. Piping may be beyond their abilities.]

Dots of chocolate frosting (of course it was ready made - do you think I am totally insane?) from decorating tube 4, mimic lumps of coal for the eyes and mouth but any color or candy could be used.  What about Nerds? mini M&M's? chocolate chip miniatures? or any number of other bits of things. It is like building a snowman - use what you have on hand and get creative.

While I had chocolate frosting in the bag I pushed some 'sticks' for hands/arms randomly onto the cookie.

After sprinkling with edible glitter I let the cookies and melted frosting/marshmallows cool over night.

Half a marshmallow seemed to be enough for this size of cookie. I cut them with my kitchen shears before I start and set them aside.  When I needed to pop them into the microwave (about 5 seconds - don't let them puff too large) the cut side had dried a bit.  I put it down onto a lightly greased saucer.

The marshmallows are coated with a powder so I could carefully, but very quickly, pick them up and set them onto the cookie - where? - pick a place!

 I turned the saucer upside down and tugged gently without squeezing and they pulled away readily.

We all know that if we put frosting on warm baked goods it melts.  I don't like royal icing (never have) so I decided to thin my butter cream slightly - just enough for it to almost flow.  I then placed a sufficient spoonful onto the cookie and spread it out to the edges. Sure enough it ran and dripped and then dried - viola! Melting snowmen needing heads! Best of all no waiting for the cookies to cool.

While waiting for the cookies to bake mix some butter cream frosting - be sure to use at least 1/2 shortening and add a drop of lemon juice. The tangy tart offsets the sweet nicely.

Bake the cookies at about 325 degrees F (or as your favorite dough directs) until the bottom is golden brown but the brown does not come up onto the top - about 15 minutes for cookies this large and thick.

I hate rolling dough - why not pat out a ball and 'mis-shape' it after I flatten it?

 worked I think - and super easy.  Kids would love this part -
 WHERE are the kids when you need them??

After mixing the cookie dough I put it in the fridge while I mixed the bread and washed some dishes.  I like clean counters to work on - no I need them to keep my books and papers clean as I multi-task.  I can study some Old English Scripts for Family Search Indexing (if you haven't tried that you are missin' out) and mess around in the kitchen chasing away the chill gray of January rain and even pay bills or talk on the phone/work on the Internet too!

I used a shortbread recipe that is intended for a cookie press.  It always works and what's not to taste good? It's all butter and sugar.  I added enough flour to make a stiff dough that could be handled easily when chilled.

Cream 2 cups butter [ thoroughly - and yes that IS an entire pound] with 1 cup of icing sugar - and add a drop of real vanilla. Add 1 cup of flour and 1/2 cup cornstarch blending in gradually. Add up to 2 cups more flour but only until dough is the correct consistency - for the press I sometimes only use 2 cups total flour (besides the cornstarch). On very humid days the dough may need more flour.  Some flour is very dry, other flour is more moist. Blend well and use immediately if using the press. For rolled or shaped cookies chill several hours or overnight in a sealed container.

I love how this guy seems to be holding up his britches

Thinking of baking something?

Get out the flour and sugar.

And real vanilla - put it in everything.