Friday, February 29, 2008

Leap Year

Hey, it's Leap Year, and today is the big day! I've always wondered what it would be like to have your birthday on February 29th. I know that February 29th really messed us up 28 years ago. Three of our children were born on the 18th of the month. We were going for number four. I guess somebody forgot to tell Quinn about Leap Year. He was born by emergency C-section on March 17th. We were disappointed not to hit the 18th (It makes it so easy to remember your kids birthdays), but St. Patrick's Day is a pretty cool day. We had already picked the name Quinn, but I must confess that we added Patrick as his middle name. Doesn't Q. Patrick Peterson sound distinguished?! During his growing up years we almost convinced Quinn that a leprechaun stole him and put him under a cabbage leaf where we (fortunately) found him.

Thursday, February 28, 2008


Yesterday I was watching Oprah while I walked on the treadmill. She introduced me to Freegans. Freegans are people with money who very well could afford to buy the things they want, but choose instead to get their food, their furniture, and clothes from trash dumpsters. I decided that I have a little bit of Freeganism in me. As you know, I love a bargain. Can't tell you how many times I've pulled to the curb on trash day and loaded up something being discarded. This beautiful chest is an example. The legs were broken off, the veneer top was peeled back. There's not much I can't fix by refinishing, reupholstering, painting or remodeling. This chest is now one of my favorite pieces of furniture.

I think my dad may have been a pre-freegan freegan. He raised pigs and arranged with the manager of a nearby grocery store to pick up their daily discards for the pigs. It didn't take long for him to decide that much of what was being thrown away was too good for pigs. He started delivering things around town to widows, single-parent families, college students. I certainly have not resorted to getting our food from a trash dumpster, but I do think we are a wasteful throw-away generation. I always loved President Kimball's little quote about Fix it up, Wear it out, Use it up, or Do without.
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Wednesday, February 27, 2008


As you will remember from this previous blog, I love to write letters. But even more than that, I love to get letters. There is nothing quite like a letter that arrives in an envelope. Very few people send that kind of letter these days. We are a telephone, texting, email generation. And so a letter like this one is priceless to me. You may have to zoom in to read it, but it is well worth reading this letter from our 10-year-old grandson, Max. (Especially since he paints such a great picture of his "wonderful" grandparents.)

This is Max and his three sisters. I was there on the day that each one of them was born, and those first few hours of life are precious memories to me. Max was born on Bastille Day, which is a special day in our family history (another story for another time). I've never known another baby that was so engaging. Max smiled all day long, just looking around and hoping that someone would notice him. And people did -- everywhere he went -- at the supermarket, at the bank, at church, at the doctor's office, riding in his stroller. He's smart, he's a picture perfect swimmer, he's had his own laptop since third grade and can do a lot more than his grandma can, he's polite, a great brother, and has very good manners! Thanks, Max, for remembering your grandparents. We're looking forward to hearing from you again soon!
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Tuesday, February 26, 2008


We had a beautiful winter snow storm during the night. I love the world dressed in white. I love the sound of the snow blower, which means that my man is clearing a way for me to escape. I realize that I am a really lucky (I should say blessed) woman. What does a 23 year old know about what will make for a happy marriage?! If I had been making the decision by myself, I probably wouldn't have married Randy. But, we had an arranged marriage of sorts -- arranged by a higher power -- by Someone who knew my needs better than I, by Someone who chose for me a man with the qualities that have helped us through the difficult times that come to all marriages. Randy is a "server" who truly cares about those he serves more than he does about himself, and he enjoys nothing more than serving "the one." Years ago when Randy was the bishop we were tying ourselves inside out trying to arrange our schedule so that he could go home teaching. I said, "Randy, you're the bishop. You spend so many hours serving this whole ward. You have other important things to do. Can't someone else do the home teaching?" He said, "If I don't have the time to be a faithful home teacher, I have no business being the bishop." Now he's the stake president, but still serving as a faithful home teacher. One of the young men he home teaches has a part in the high school musical. Randy has stake president responsibilities every night of the performances. You'd think that was a pretty good excuse, but no, he has taken a day off work to attend this morning's matinee performance for students. You need something? Just call Randy.
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Monday, February 25, 2008

Bryce Canyon

This is my sister Anne. She invited me to come to the Quilt Retreat. Not only that, she paid for my registration, my hotel, and all my food. She's been like a mother to me most of my life. She is one of the most amazing people I know. She has an incredible mind, can do everything, has a near-perfect family, is loved and admired by everyone who knows her, and is kind and generous to everyone.

This was the first time I've ever been to Bryce in the winter. It was beautiful with a fresh coat of soft snow.

It was so bright outside my viewfinder screen was completely black. These photos were strictly "point and shoot."

We were following two busloads of French tourists. As we arrived, they were leaving. Other than that, we pretty much had the place to ourselves. I was struck by the silence. Being at Bryce brought a flood of memories of the years I worked at the Grand Canyon. Oh, the stories I could tell. But that's for another time.

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Sunday, February 24, 2008

Quilts, Quilts, and More Quilts

This past week I attended my first-ever Quilt Retreat. I joined my sister, five of her girls, and about 250 other women at Ruby's Inn just outside Bryce Canyon National Park. This is serious quilting -- Mormons have to be among the best in the world, and these women are the Best of the Best. It's an experience just to watch these women check in. They bring their sewing machines, ironing boards, power steam irons, cutting boards, rotary cutters (they even have medical help on hand for those who inadvertently cut off their fingers), and multiple storage tubs filled with quilts, fabric, sewing kits, etc. If I were a scout master in Tropic or Panguitch, I would certainly haul my boys to Ruby's Inn for a lucrative fund raiser. These women would pay big bucks for a strapping fourteen-year-old to haul all this stuff in and out of the hotel.

I took a class on Wool Applique. The wool fabric used for this design costs $65.00 a yard. This is not a cheap hobby.

Never before have I seen so many beautiful quilts, eaten so much pure unadulterated chocolate (I didn't realize until I became enlightened at the retreat that you really can't quilt without chocolate. I'm completely educated and compliant now), or done nothing but stitch from early morning until the wee hours of the next morning without feeling a single twinge of guilt.

Meet the May sisters who entertained us with their delightful quilting experiences. They were extremely funny, but they couldn't hold a candle to the Judd sisters and their quilts and experiences. If we can just come up with the costumes for next year, we could put together a trunk show that would knock the thimbles right off their fingers!
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Sunday, February 17, 2008

A Test

I know I said I wasn't going to be blogging, but I haven't gone yet and I want to post this last little experience so that I don't forget it. (I have so many things I want to blog about. Even before I post today's blog I'm thinking about other things I don't want to forget to blog about.)

Last Monday I was talking to Isaac. I told him that I had just mailed him a valentine. It was clear from our conversation that Isaac, at just five years old, isn't exactly sure how the whole mail thing works. So yesterday when I was talking to him I asked him if he got the valentine that Grandpa and I sent. He hemmed and hawed around and then said, "Yeah." I wasn't so sure he had put everything together so I decided to test him. "What was inside the valentine?" I asked. He hemmed and hawed around and then said, "A dollar!" "Yep," I said. "You're right." Isaac said, "Hey, how did you know there was a dollar in there?" "Because I'm the one who sent it to you. It was from Grandpa and me." There was a long pause and then Isaac said, "Grandma, if you already knew there was a dollar in there, why are you asking me?"

Saturday, February 16, 2008

He who has a book has a Friend

I love to read! I remember being in fifth grade and my friends coming to the door to get me to come out and play. I was reading a Cherry Ames mystery and declined their invitation. They were a little unhappy with me, but hey, a book is about as good a friend as you can get.

While I always like to have a book on hand, there is nothing worse than being in an airport without a book. I've spent a lot of money at airport book stores, which drives me crazy, as you know that I hate to pay full price for anything. So in preparation for an upcoming trip, I asked a friend if she could recommend a good book. She brought it to church on Sunday. That afternoon while I was waiting for Randy I decided just to take a peek to see if I thought it was a book I'd enjoy. I finished it up that night. Then another friend said she had a good book I could borrow, but when I went to pick it up she couldn't find it. I borrowed a book from my daughter a few years ago that I enjoyed so much I never returned it. I decided I could re-read it on my trip and then leave it with her when I left. But I couldn't resist the temptation to get started, and finished that this morning. Please tell me your favorite book or books. If I were "Pioneer Woman" I would give a prize (like a computer printer or a Wii) for the best suggestion, but I'm waiting for my readership to increase before I give away the big prizes. I will, however, share with you a list of books that I've read (or re-read) and enjoyed during the last year.

Ella Minnow Pea, by Mark Dunn
A Thousand Splendid Suns, by Khaled Hosseini
The Mormon Way of Doing Business, by Jeff Benedict
My Sister's Keeper, by Jodi Piccoult
A Train to Potevka, by Mike Ramsdell
Twilight, by Stephenie Meyer
Digging to America, by Ann Tyler
About Alice, by Calvin Trillin
The Peace Giver, by James L. Ferrell
Gift from the Sea, by Ann Morrow Lindberg
My Grandfather's Son, by Clarence Thomas
Beethoven's Hair, by Russell Martin
Plain Truth, Jodi Piccoult
I am a Mother, by Jane Clayson Johnson
The Last Summer of You and Me, by Ann Brashares

I look forward to reading all of the books you recommend. As I won't have access to a computer, I won't be blogging for a few days. Gotta go! Just noticed that Part XXIX of Black Heels to Tractor Wheels is out. Happy reading!

Thursday, February 14, 2008

You're Invited

Happy Valentine's Day. Wish you could all drop in for dinner tonight!
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Wednesday, February 13, 2008


We're having some of the people who serve in the stake over for a Valentine's dinner. I have wanted a wreath for my front door. It always seems so bare when the Christmas wreath comes down. I looked at a lot of expensive wreaths, but they just weren't what I was looking for. So I decided to make my own. Voila! I love it and it cost less than ten dollars.
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Tuesday, February 12, 2008

The Power of the Pen

When I was in 9th grade, our school did something that was very forward-thinking for our day. They took a group of honors students and put them into a "Functional Math" class. The idea was that in two years we would cover all the material that the other students would cover in three years--Algebra, Geometry, and Trigonometry. The first year our teacher was Mr. Woodbury. We loved him and we knew he cared about us. We worked hard and tests showed that we were doing well and were on a trajectory to successfully complete the class. The second year, Cedar High hired a new (very young) math teacher and assigned him to our class. We missed Mr. Woodbury. This Mr. Baxter didn't know us (or our families) and from him we sensed the same affection that he might have felt toward a rutabaga. It soon became clear that we were on a collision course. Some students fired spit wads at him. Others banged on the side of their desks or howled like coyotes. I don't remember any specific behavior that I exhibited, but he claims that I was tardy 24 times, and that's not good. This was my group of friends, and so I'm sure that at the very least, I was guilty by association. At the end of the second grading period, he decided to wield the power of the pen and gave 17 of us failing grades.

I was devastated! I walked straight out of class to the phone booth in the hall, shut the door, called my mom, and burst into tears. It created a huge hullabaloo that resulted in our parents having to come to school for a meeting with the teacher and the principal. In the end, it was decided that Mr. Woodbury would teach our class for the remainder of the year. Mr. Baxter did not return the following year. The failed grade has never been a big deal to me. It certainly didn't represent my ability as a student. But Mr. Baxter wrote something on the back of my report card that's been in my mind for 50 years. He said that I was a very selfish child and that it would probably affect me for life. I confess that a million times (give or take a few), I've come to the realization that I was being selfish (You're shocked, I know!). And how many times have I thought to myself, "He was right. It has affected my whole life. How could he have known? At age 16 was it so obvious that even a near stranger could see it!"

The other day I was organizing some memorabilia and ran across that report card. There was the big black F right next to the A he had scribbled out. I flipped the card over and read, "Judy is a very spoiled child." Spoiled? Not selfish? Spoiled? I confess that there are lots of labels that could be appropriately applied to me -- selfish, stubborn, stupid, insensitive, proud. But spoiled? Never! I grew up in a family with seven kids and very few frills. My parents had very high expectations of us, and we were all compliant and worked our fingers to the bone in everything we did to make sure they were not disappointed. We paid our own way, and any growing up "toys" we might have had (such as a hi-fi or a Brownie camera) were paid for out of our own baby-sitting money. I learned to sew and almost everything I ever wore was made by me or my mother. I got my first wrist watch when I was sixteen years old. We never asked for money. We even paid our own way through college. Spoiled we were not!

I am really sorry that we were such stinkin' rotten teenagers, and I hope that Mr. Baxter went somewhere else and was a successful math teacher. I wish that I could go back and be sixteen again with the knowledge and experience I now have. I'd do things differently. But I'm also sorry that one sentence written on the back of a report card (incorrectly remembered) has caused 50 years of anguish. The report card is now a non-issue. However, that little word "selfish" is still an issue. I'm working on it!
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Monday, February 11, 2008

6.0214 x 10 to the 23rd

People have always known that IQ is important, but in the last few decades experts have come to realize that CQ (Creativity Quotient) is also very important. Quinn was born with a CQ that is off the chart. For years, my kids have begged me to write a book about Quinn. I think I still might do that, but for today, just a glimpse into his mind.

You probably know that a mole is a little burrowing animal with small eyes, concealed ears, and soft fur. Did you know that it is also a unit of measurement -- 6.0214 x 10 to the 23rd, to be exact. At our high school, they celebrate Mole Day on October 23rd at 6.02 a.m. The chemistry teacher passes out mole shaped cookies to the students and wears a "Mole Day" T-shirt. He hands out a pattern for a six-inch mole, and students can earn extra points by making a mole. Well, Quinn's brain simply couldn't wrap itself around a six-inch mole, so he and a friend decided to make a twelve foot mole. They went to JoAnn Fabrics and purchased the cheapest fabric they could find (which happened to be pink). They multiplied out all the dimensions, cut, sewed, and stuffed this twelve foot mole. They spent days working on it and finished it very late the night before Mole Day. They strapped it on top of Quinn's car, and early the next morning they drove it to school. It was a huge hit. I'm sure they got the maximum number of extra points. However, in their zeal to make a mole, they forgot that there was also a chemistry test worth 100 points that day. It's a good thing that, in addition to CQ, Quinn also has IQ!
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Sunday, February 10, 2008

Winning, Part V

Here's our most recent winner. Adam competed with 300 other skiers at the Brighton races on Saturday. He had set a goal to place in the top ten, which is pretty ambitious for a ten-year-old. He placed 8th. Here's a cute story. Dell called Kristin on the way home. She asked how the race went. Dell said, "Oh, we had a good time," which is code for things didn't go so well--better not to ask right now. When Kristin got home, Dell was gone and Adam was in the shower. She started folding laundry, thinking through how she would respond to Adam when he got out of the shower. Suddenly, there he stood in the doorway, dripping wet from the shower, a towel around his waist and wearing a huge smile and his medal. Surprise!! Sorry, no picture of that available.
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Saturday, February 9, 2008

Winning, Part IV

There are different ways of winning. When Heidi was in high school her Consumer Ed teacher assigned them to write either a letter of thanks or a letter of complaint. Heidi asked for help with an idea. We had purchased the one (and only) new car we’ve ever owned—a Dodge minivan. Within a few years, and while it was still under warranty, something “expensive” went wrong, and for reasons which we didn’t understand, they said it was not covered by the warranty. We worked our way up the supervisor ladder arguing our case, but with no success. We were not happy campers!

We suggested that Heidi write a letter of complaint to Chrysler Corp. She wasn’t exactly excited about the idea, but became suddenly more interested when we said that if they reimbursed us any of the cost, we would split it with her. We figured we had nothing to lose. She wrote the letter, and a few weeks later we received a check for the entire amount. SCORE! We had double winners. Heidi was very happy, and so were we!

P.S. Just a little trivia which might make you feel happier about wherever you may live other than Chicago. It said in the paper that so far in the month of February (that's 9 days), Chicago has had 11 minutes of sunshine.

Friday, February 8, 2008

Winning, Part III

A couple of years ago, Randy won the grand prize at the ward Men's Gourmet Dinner Potluck. This was rather miraculous, because I was out of town and couldn't even coach him. Randy has so many great qualities, but he's really not too good in the kitchen. He likes to think he's kind of a "breakfast specialist." His biggest problem seems to be multi-tasking. We usually end up with toast that is way too brown, probably because we're still using the toaster we bought for $1.50 at a garage sale 17 years ago, which has to be manually popped up. By the time he remembers to pop the toast up, it is time to turn the "over easy" eggs. When he remembers the toast again, it is already cold, so it has three or four blobs of cold butter on it. While he's buttering the toast, the over-easy fried eggs overcook to the hard stage. Nothing else goes wrong, because that's really all there is. But, I do love my man dearly. He gets A+ in almost everything -- nobody comes much closer to "perfect" than he does. Anyway, he entered the Dessert category and won. No prize, but lots of praise. Here's the recipe for his Schaumtorte.


1 cup egg whites
1 t. vinegar
1/2 t. cream of tartar
Combine and beat very stiff at high speed. Add 2 cups sugar a little at a time, keeping mixer at high speed.
Spread in 2 well-buttered pyrex pie pans.
Bake at 300 degrees for 10 minutes. Reduce heat to 250 degrees and bake another 30 minutes.
Turn oven off and allow meringue shells to cool in oven.

When serving, remove from pans and place on platter. Fill with fresh fruit (peaches, raspberries or strawberries),
which have been sweetened with sugar to taste.
Whip 1 pint heavy cream (1 c. per pie) with 2 Tablespoons sugar and 1 teaspoon vanilla. Spread over fruit.
Refrigerate for several hours before serving.
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Thursday, February 7, 2008

Winning, Part II

When our daughter, Kristin, was in high school she worked at Bennigan's restaurant. One night she finally answered a ringing telephone that everyone else was ignoring. It was a radio station, and she was "on the air live." They asked her what her favorite radio station was. She came up with the right answer and won $1000.00. Thanks, Z-95!
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Wednesday, February 6, 2008


Okay, the bottom line is I'm a poor loser! So I'm not willing to even start on the outcome of last night's primary election. I want to talk about winning. Good fortune has smiled on me from time to time, and I've experienced some pretty "big" wins. Last fall Randy and I participated in the "Giving DuPage" project to commemorate 9/11. Our job was to gather seeds and seed pods from indiginous prairie plants. The surveys we filled out at the end were put into a container for a drawing, and "TaDa", I was the winner. The prize was a canvas tote-bag filled with numerous dandy items such as key chains, a frisbee, luggage tags, a computer mouse pad and a t-shirt, all emblazoned with the DuPage County Forest Preserve logo.

For my other "big" win, I have to go all the way back to Jr. High. I entered a party-planning contest sponsored by Seventeen Magazine. You had to choose a theme, plan out the invitations, decorations, refreshments, activities, etc. I don't recall what my idea was, but growing up in a family that didn't even have birthday parties, I'm sure I must have been a deep untapped well of clever ideas. I didn't win the $100 prize, but I did get "Honorable Mention," and the prize for that was, believe it or not, a bottle of A1 Sauce. Whoohooo! That's something that a fourteen-year-old can really get excited about! The day that prize arrived in the mail will long be remembered. Well, actually, it has been remember by me for a long time. Now that you understand the thrill of winning that I've experienced, perhaps you can better understand why losing is so difficult for me!

To be continued . . .
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Tuesday, February 5, 2008

A Hole in the Ground

Life is full of precious moments. I experienced one the other night. Isaac asked if he could stay up late to "sing and play the guitar with dad." Look at the picture -- a boy and his dad in a world of their own. Isaac's first request was "A hole in the ground" (you know, And the green grass grew all around, all around, and the green grass grew all around) After about 30 minutes of singing and strumming, Trav said, "One last song -- "With a Ball of White String." After the song, Isaac said, "Dad, can we sing the hole song?" Trav said, "We did sing the whole song." "Well, can we sing the hole song again?" Travis sang "With a Ball of White String" all the way through, again. "Thanks, Dad, but can we please sing the HOLE song one more time." And the green grass grew all around, all around, and the green grass grew all around. Communication isn't easy!
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Monday, February 4, 2008

A Heavenly Instrument

This is my granddaughter, Emily. She's 12 years old and absolutely adorable. She's been playing harp for a couple of years and plays like an angel. I wanted to share this video with you.

Sunday, February 3, 2008

Where in the World is Enon Beach?

From time to time, Randy likes to play "Name that Place." He Google-Earth's some place we have been, and zeroing in with an aerial view gets me to try and guess where it is. Who needs money to travel the globe?! Yesterday, friends invited me to drive to Dayton, OH with them for an overnight visit. Travis and Britt live less than an hour further in Columbus. They agreed to pick me up for a "less than 24 hour visit." The question was, where to meet for the hand-off. Using a MapQuest aerial function, Travis picked Exit 47. "As you turn onto Enon Road you will see a building on the left with a parking lot. That's our spot!" However, from the aerial view he was not able to see the locked chain link fence that surrounded the property. And thus we came to end up across the street at Enon Beach. For young people today, the miracles of cell phones and GPS systems are so common as to be taken for granted. I've been in a lot of awkward situations in my life which could have been avoided had we known this kind of miracles. I'm so grateful to be part of a day where these things bless our lives in so many ways!
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Friday, February 1, 2008

James Woolf, Pioneer of 1847

I'm grateful to be able to say that I come from pretty good "stock." My great grandfather was James Woolf. His father converted to Mormonism, sold his farm in New York and moved the family to Nauvoo, Illinois when James was seven years old. Their new farm was kitty-corner from the Prophet Joseph Smith's farm. On two different occasions, James' father had the privilege of lending money to the Prophet. Just prior to his martyrdom, the Prophet came to the Woolf home and asked for money. James' father loaned him five hundred dollars. When the Prophet asked him what security he wanted, he answered, "None, your word is all I ask." The Prophet then turned to Willard Richards, who had accompanied him there, and said, "Brother Richards, if I do not live to pay Brother Woolf back, I want you to see he gets his money." The Prophet was martyred soon after that incident. The Woolfs forgave the Prophet's debt. After the Prophet was martyred, James and his family were driven from Nauvoo. They crossed the plains, arriving in Salt Lake on October 6, 1847. As I was looking at some pictures on my computer, I saw these pictures which I took a few years ago of some medals that were given to James Woolf. They were handed down to my father and are now in the possession of my sister.

This small gold medal was given out at the Pioneer Jubilee, which took place in Salt Lake City on July 20-25, 1897. It was given to every person still living who had crossed the plains in 1847. James was eleven years old when his family made the trek, so he would have received the medal when he was 61 years old. On the back it says, "Presented by the State of Utah to James Woolf, Pioneer of 1847." It came in the little box, which reads, "Utah Semi-Centennial Pioneer Jubilee, Salt Lake City, July 20th to 25th, 1897." There is a picture of all those who received one of these medals. To the best of my ability to count, there were only 298 individuals still living.

This other medal was given to James for his participation in the Blackhawk war. It's kind of a special feeling to know that you descended from people who were a part of a history and heritage that we honor. It's really fun to take a peek into his life. I can only wonder how he would feel about a "peek" into my life. Would he be amazed to find a picture of himself and his medals (which are not even in my possession) on a blog that people would look at all across the world? I think so.

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