Thursday, July 31, 2008

All Good Things Must End

Today is our last full day at Aspen Grove. Tomorrow we check out and head for Southern Utah. These are the bands that have entitled us to three square meals a day without so much as lifting a finger to prepare it or clean it up. Not only have we been fed physically, we have feasted spiritually. Our Sunday evening fireside speaker was Cheryl Lant, General President of the Primary. In addition to her talk, I've had several personal conversations with her that were intimate and sweet. We've attended lectures on strengthening marriage. We've listened to five lectures by Susan Easton Black. I met my brother's grandson whom I've never met (He works here at Aspen Grove). We had two days of challenging and productive meetings. I love the people I've met and worked with through my Executive Committee assignments. We played games together in the evening and our fearless leader taught us how to play "Scum." Come on over and we'll play a few hands. We've met wonderful people from all over the country. The only thing better than new friends is old friends. Another family from our very own ward is here this week. So fun to bump into the Clarks. We've napped and read (I just finished There is no me without you, the account of one woman's efforts to save the orphans of Africa. What an appropriate read, since Kristin is in Africa right now.) We've watched movies and eaten ice cream from the Creamery -- about the best ice cream you can find. We've enjoyed one of God's most beautiful creations and breathed a lot of wonderful mountain air. Life is good!

Tuesday, July 29, 2008

Do I have to be responsible?

Oh darn, I guess I have to put on my BYU hat. Two full days of Executive Committee meetings. I shouldn't complain. That is, after all, the reason we are here!

Monday, July 28, 2008

Aspen Grove after 41 years

The year that Randy and I were married we were students at BYU. Most everything in our lives was diminutive -- our apartment, our car, our income, and yes, believe it or not, even our bodies (Randy was a whopping 155 pounds and I tipped the scale at 120. I hope that is the weight on record when my body is restored to its "perfect" state). We drove a little green Volkswagon Beetle, which could go just about anywhere. One night as we prepared to go to bed we noticed out the window that it had begun to snow -- big lacy flakes. Clad only in our PJs, we tucked ourselves into the car; no coats, just slippers on our feet, and our new wool car robe spread over our laps. (What were we thinking?!) We drove up Provo Canyon and turned off toward Sundance, anxious to see just how far our little beetle bug would make it. Once we turned off the main road we entered a virtual fairyland. Every twig, every branch, every pine needle was coated with snow. Not a tire track anywhere. Not a sound of any kind. Like the Energizer Bunny, our little car could have gone on forever, but when we reached Aspen Grove we got to thinking about what might happen if we slid off the road. We sat and watched the snow fall, then inched our way back down the canyon, through the dark streets of Provo, and straight into bed. We both remember this magical adventure with clarity and detail. It never crossed our minds that some day we would spend an idyllic week enjoying Aspen Grove with Emily and Adam. Gotta run -- it's lunchtime!

Saturday, July 26, 2008

An Interesting Exchange

Randy grew up "on the hill" in St. George, Utah. He and his friends scampered around the red rocks, ledges and sandstone caves near his home. They played "war", and heroically won every battle against "the bad guys." Randy was a very popular playmate because his dad had fought in a real war not very many years before, and Randy had real army stuff to play with. They would dress up in military clothing -- flight caps, fur-lined flight boots, jackets, and parachute harnesses (the parachute itself had been made into curtains for Randy's bedroom) and romp around in St. George's 110 degree temperatures. What fun?! One of the things Randy loved to carry around in his pocket was a small military shaving kit. It wasn't until this year that I learned about the shaving kit.

I recently completed a project (that had been years in the making) sorting and compiling all of the information we've gathered about Randy's dad's escape from German-occupied France. In the process, I watched hours and hours of videos of the various trips we have made to France, interviews with individuals who had been involved, etc. There was a little clip I had not seen before (Randy was at the camera and you can see me in the kitchen with the women doing the dishes). His dad is standing with Henri (the man who at age 18 risked his life to hide Ted from the Germans) and another man and he is holding a small khaki-colored case. He opens it to reveal an old safety razor. He tells this story.

In 1918 (First World War), an American soldier gave this razor to a French soldier. In 1943 (Second World War) this French soldier gave the razor to Ted, an American soldier. He used it during the three months that he was in hiding and escaping from occupied France. In 1987, the razor comes back to France. Ted removes the razor from the case and shows it to Henri. The video clip ends.

WAIT! What happens to the razor? Did he give it to Henri? Did he give it to the other man? Has anyone seen the razor since? There is too much history there to simply disappear. Both Henri and Ted are gone now. I write to Henri's family. They have not seen the razor.

Yesterday we solved the mystery. Randy's brother has the razor. We were able to photograph it. What could the Gillette Company do with this amazing 90-year-old story of international exchange? I guess it's true that "Quality Lasts."

Friday, July 25, 2008

Pioneer Day Celebration

Next to being in the nation's capitol on July 4th, perhaps the very best time to be "in the right place at the right time" is Salt Lake City on July 24th -- the day Mormons celebrate the pioneers' arrival into the Salt Lake Valley in 1847. We're here!

Some of my earliest memories of the 24th include decorating our bikes and tricycles with red, white, and blue crepe paper. We loved to attach playing cards with clothes pins in such a way that they flapped against the spokes, creating the closest thing we knew to the sound of a motor. We turned Radio Flyer wagons into little covered wagons. We dressed up in sun bonnets and cowboy clothes. We shot off rolls of caps in our cap guns, or laid them on the cement and dropped rocks on them to fire them off. It was a day for parades, home-fried chicken and potato salad picnics, watermelon and homemade root beer (which we made with yeast and sealed into glass bottles. These were put into crates, covered with a blanket, and stored in the dark "fruit room" for a few days to let the yeast work. There isn't a root beer on the market that can begin to compare.) We sang pioneer songs -- "All is well. All is well." We square-danced -- parents and kids together (with a real caller) -- swing your partner, alamand left and dosiedo. And when it got dark, the best part of all. We had sparklers. I love my Mormon heritage and treasure these memories.

So here we are in Salt Lake City. No crepe paper streamers, no square dancing, no sun bonnets. But we did trek to Snow Basin, the site of some of the 2002 Winter Olympic events. It was beautiful! And it was a day spent with family members that we don't see often. "All is well. All is well!"

Wednesday, July 23, 2008

I'm ready!

So long, farewell, Auf Wiedersehen, good-bye! Tiao, Hej da, Adeus, Adios! We're leavin' on a jet plane. Don't know when we'll be back again. But stay tuned. I'll be posting.
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Monday, July 21, 2008

Ruminations of a Mormon Woman

I was born and raised a Mormon. My ancestors crossed the plains with the ill-fated Willie Handcart Company in 1856. I have loved and believed in this Church for as long as I can remember. My parents served faithfully in everything they were ever asked to do. No sacrifice was too great. I owe everything that is good (and there is a lot of it) in my life to the teachings and practices of this Church. I would love nothing more than to have opportunities to explain its beliefs to anyone who might listen. Although the doctrines of the Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints are as close to “perfect” as is possible, its members are not. While members are generally known for their high standards and genuine concern for others, misinformation occasionally lead to criticism or misunderstanding.

Something that has been bothering me for the past few months is the very bad media coverage relative to the topic of polygamy. In April, authorities raided a polygamist compound in Eldorado, Texas, removing 416 children and placing them in foster care. There have been multiple interviews, TV programs, magazine articles and newspaper write-ups. In many instances, the media has referred to these polygamists as Mormons and their church as the Mormon Fundamentalist Church. These people have nothing to do with our Church, and our Church (The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints) has not practiced polygamy for 118 years.

Here are two short video clips I’d like you to watch. They will help you to understand why it is offensive to us when people wrongly associate these people with us and our beliefs.

Ruminations of a Mormon

In this month’s Ensign magazine (the official publication of the Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints), Russell M. Ballard (who is one of our 12 Apostles) wrote an article entitled “Sharing the Gospel Using the Internet.” If you are interested, you can read the full text of his message by clicking here. He points out that while the internet, if misused, can expose you to unthinkable pornography and sleaze, it can also be a tool to help spread the message of the gospel to the world. It can explain gospel principles, demystify the teaching and practices of the Church, and illuminate the blessings that come through living the truths of the gospel. I’m not foolish enough to think that my little blog is reaching a significant number of people. But, if my ideas and thoughts could be combined with those of hundreds of thousands of others who communicate through the “new media”, our combined effort could be a significant contribution.

Among the expressions of my random thoughts and ideas there have been precious few which have spoken of things of real importance to me. At Elder Ballard’s suggestion, I intend to do better. And so I have decided to periodically post the “Ruminations of a Mormon.” You can look for the first of such posts tomorrow.

Friday, July 18, 2008

Midsummer Blick

I don't suppose that many people get excited about looking at other people's yards. But this blog is for me, too. I spend such a significant amount of time doing yardwork that it is fun for me to chronicle what is taking place there. Besides, I do get excited when the zinias I've planted from seed are 30 inches tall and begin to bloom. I get excited when my Annabelle hydrangeas are as big around as basketballs. I get excited when birds build nests in my birdhouses. Last year our blue spruce was getting so big it scraped the car when we backed out of the driveway. So we cut the bottom branches off and created a woodland shade bed. I get excited when I see how it has filled in and flourished. Sometimes I go across the street to visit my neighbor just so I can enjoy the view of our yard from their house. Our yard looks great from across the street. I get excited when people stop their cars and call out how much they enjoy watching our yard as it changes throughout the spring and summer. I get excited when I learn something new about gardening. For instance, I heard on the radio how to get rid of Japanese beetles. DO NOT put out those beetle traps. That just attracts more beetles. Early in the season when you see the first ones on your flowers, fill a number 10 can with water containing dish detergent. Hold the can underneath the flower. Gently tap the flower until the beetle drops into the water. Good-bye beetles! It really worked for me. Since the beetles are attracted to each other, when you get the early ones they quit coming. I get excited when I hear it is going to rain. I get excited when the breeze rings our windchimes. I get excited when I see birds splashing around in the birdbath outside my kitchen windows. Believe it or not, I also get excited when I hear it is going to freeze.

Thursday, July 17, 2008

Wednesday, July 16, 2008

How goes the Project?

The Project is progressing! And I promise, I'm going to do a "real" blog soon!
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Tuesday, July 15, 2008

Stand by continued

Please continue to stand by. Another project is in the making!
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Monday, July 14, 2008

Stand by!

Stand by! There's a project in the making!
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Friday, July 11, 2008

How many grades are there?

My son just started the 24th Grade. And you thought getting your kids through high school was a big deal. Getting Travis through the first 12 grades was quite an accomplishment. He had an early morning paper route before 6:00 a.m. seminary. Gymnastics and diving kept him at school until around 8:00 p.m. By the time he got home he was completely spent. And then there was homework. High school was four years of sleep deprivation. That hasn’t changed. As a fourth year medical resident he works 80 hours a week, is a great dad to three little boys, and serves as a caring dedicated elder’s quorum president. And yes, he still has homework. Good luck on your paper, Trav!
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Wednesday, July 9, 2008

Times are Changing

When our boys were little it seemed like everything you handed to them became a gun or other sort of weapon. Times are really changing. I think these pictures speak volumes about our society today.



Remote Control

Cell phone

Battery Charger

Hello! Hello! Can anybody hear me?
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Monday, July 7, 2008

When you think of the Fourth of July do you automatically think of homemade ice cream? Fourth of July -- homemade ice cream. Fourth of July -- homemade ice cream. We don't make homemade ice cream very often these days. Four quarts of ice cream is a lot for two people to eat. Since we were invited to a cookout with a group of friends and instructed to bring something to share, we decided to whip up a freezer of my current "favorite".

BoAnne's Lime Ice Cream

2-3 Quarts Half n Half
3 cups sugar
1 12 oz. can frozen limeade concentrate
juice and zest from 3 limes
6 oz. pkg. lime jello

Dissolve the 3 cups sugar in 2 quarts half n half. Combine the limeade concentrate, lime juice and lime zest in sauce pan and heat to lukewarm. Add the lime jello and stir until dissolved. Pour into the cream and sugar mixture. Put into freezer and add the additional quart of half and half until the freezer is 2/3 full. Freeze. Enjoy!

Saturday, July 5, 2008

Happy Birthday, Elise!

Nine years ago today I was in Geneva, Switzerland, for the birth of my #2 granddaughter (#6 grandchild). She may very well have been the most beautiful baby ever born in that country (I thought she was). In some ways, giving birth "the Swiss Way" was progressive and forward-thinking, but very different in many ways.

During the four or five days mother and baby were in the hospital, Elise was dressed in the routine and very practical green or yellow sleepers the hospital provided. The day she was to go home, other parents preparing to take their babies home brought similar green or yellow sleepers to adorn their babies. But not our little Swiss Miss. She was dressed in an adorable pink flowered outfit. She had ruffly little white socks with little pink shoes. Topping things off was a sweet white headband with ribbons and flowers tucked inbetween her long dark hair.

The word spread. Nurses from all over the hospital came to ooh and aah and say good-bye to this little American princess, the likes of which that hospital had never seen before. Each one wanted to hold her and examine every little detail before saying good-bye. I wonder if that hospital has ever experienced anything like it since. Happy Birthday, Elise!

Friday, July 4, 2008

Happy Fourth of July

Last night we attended the Naperville Municipal Band's annual Fourth of July concert. The NMB is made up of volunteers and has been providing weekly free summer concerts for 149 years. We’ve been attending their concerts whenever possible for 31 years. They are really amazing.

Ron Keller was the band director at our children’s junior high school when we moved to Naperville 31 years ago. His great grandfather was a member of the original band. Ron began playing with the band in 1951 and became the director in 1966. He’s been the director of the NMB for 42 years.

The Fourth of July is always the most popular concert of the summer. Thousands of people bring their kids, their folding chairs, and their dinner. Those who are serious concert goers fill the benches. Teenagers and families with children spread blankets on the lawn at the back where kids can run around, play on the playground equipment, and babies can fuss without anyone being bothered.

The highlight of the Fourth of July concert is the 1812 Overature. It is more than exciting to be a participant in that experience. There are canons shooting off rounds, the bells from the four churches on the neighboring corners are ringing their bells, all somehow synchronized perfectly with the band. Hats off to the NMB for another outstanding performance! What a great start to the Fourth of July weekend!

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Thursday, July 3, 2008

Laundry day blues

I had a roommate in college who came from an affluent family and had never done her own laundry until she went away to school. She told me that when she lived at home she loved laundry day. She would stand in front of her closet and touch each freshly ironed shirt and think, "Oh, I can't wait to wear all of these." Now on laundry days she would stand in front of her closet looking at all the freshly ironed shirts she had ironed and think, "Oh, I wish I didn't have to wear that one. Oh, I'm never going to wear that one again!" I know exactly how she feels.
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Tuesday, July 1, 2008

Lunch, anyone?

Today is a perfect summer day. Randy and I got up early and spent a couple of hours in the garden. We’re now on our way to Starved Rock State Park to do some homework for our family reunion. Days like today should be spent at a place like Starved Rock, Centennial Beach, or Six Flags Great America. Can I just share my favorite Great America story?

As I have previously mentioned, Quinn is a genius. In addition, his Creativity Quotient (CQ) is off the chart. I learned years ago to stop trying to figure out how his mind works, and to simply rejoice in the knowledge that the way it worked was preparing him to become a scientist who would be able to think about things in ways that no one else would.

When Quinn was about 12 he was invited to go to Great America with a friend. He was supposed to take his lunch. I had somewhere to go the evening before, but as I left I told Quinn to make his lunch and put it in the fridge to keep it cool. The next morning I got up to fix breakfast. I opened the fridge. No lunch. I, of course, thought he had forgotten, so I went up to wake him and told him he better come down and fix his lunch. He said, “It’s already made.” I looked in the fridge again. No lunch. I looked behind the milk jugs. No lunch. I looked in the crisper. No lunch. “Couldn’t be,” I thought, but I opened the freezer. Not only had Quinn kept his lunch “cool,” he had provided a way to keep it cool for the whole day. He froze it inside a gallon-sized ziplock bag filled with water. That’s my little genius!
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