Nov 17, 2015

Tomato-y Goodness

My Daddy told stories with the best of Texans! He was born in 1897! No, that is not a typo... he was 55 when I was born.

When Baby-Jake was just toddling about some kind neighbor brought by a bushel basket of tomatoes and left them on the porch. Back then, in the rural pan-handle of Texas, folks believed raw tomatoes would poison you. (I never could work that one out!) Baby-Jake was a sickly little guy but he managed to get over to that bushel basket of ripe tomatoes and ATE THEM (dun! dun! dun!) Almost immediately he stopped being so sickly. He always credited his improvement in health to those tomatoes.

CIRCA 1898

Thankfully, we know that tomatoes, particularly garden grown, are marvelous! And my little grandchildren totally agree with their great-Grampy!

Lasterday was our early Thanksgiving (I'd rather have ALL of our [local] children on any day than only part of them or stressed-out kids on THE day!) After dinner Fiona came up from the dungeon with a tomato and it reminded me that I have several boxes of ripening tomatoes ferreted away weeks ago when I put the garden to bed for the winter.

I had Kaia and Elise bring them up to the dining room table in hopes that I might be able to *pedal* some of them to the family. (It always amazes me at how hard it is to give away garden produce this time of year. We are all *so done with that* and just want them gone!)

Camille and I were sitting at the table visiting. I was holding my sleeping baby-boy, but when he woke up he wanted his Mama!! She was trying to send an email to a co-worker and not paying attention to Mr Chunka-Monka- who I was watching as he and his big sister, Miss Bitty, were sampling Grammie's tomatoes (THEY are not *so done with that*!)

That's one of the wonderful things about being the Grammie... most things amuse me rather than aggravate me! Chunka, with only his two little teeth, was making a good job of demolishing eating tomatoes!  (Those CHEEKS! I DIE!)

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When Camille noticed she wanted me to get photos of his tomato-y goodness... all down the front of him...

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And all down the front of Mama! (She texted me later and told me he needed a bath because he smelled like tomatoes! Imagine that?)

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He thoroughly enjoyed his Thanksgiving feast of first yams and then tomatoes for dessert! (Grammie had some of Suzi's wonderful salad for dessert!)

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As Camille and I talked about how precious he was with his tomato-eating we remembered that last year, almost to the day, Miss Bitty did the same thing at Grammie's house.

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She has her tomato in one hand and her [banned and illegal] Kinder toy in the other. (Stuart and Stephanie smuggled brought it back to me last fall when they returned from Europe.)

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I can hardly believe that the little girl who speaks paragraphs to us today was this tiny girl just one year ago.

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I was quite certain I'd blogged about this day, when Miss Bitty was alternately gnawing on the tomato AND the fingernail file! But I could find no trace of it. I even had to dig... dig DEEP, to find these photos. That's what I get for taking photos with my iPad instead of my iPhone. Fortunately I hadn't deleted them!

Nov 15, 2015

Lord, Be Thou My Helper

Today as I was pondering on the scriptures Psalms 30:10-11 jumped off the page at me and I knew that it would need to be this week's #ponderizing scripture!

My mind has been on the trials of this world that we all must face and how taxing that can be. My prayers go out to them in their grief and struggling.

Fortunately, my trials are very small; for which I am very grateful.

This year I have spent much time in prayer pleading for relief from the years of grief. And as always happens, Heavenly Father was just waiting for me to ASK to have this burden lifted and has been quick to grant my plea.

As I pondered this completed graphic formed in my mind. I may not be able to do much... but I stand as witness that our Heavenly Father and His Son, Jesus Christ never leave us to *go it alone*!! They will reach out to comfort, strengthen, uplift and guide us.

They want us to be successful in our journey back to them!!

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I share here, as well, last week's ponderizing scripture.

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Oct 25, 2015

October Pondering

The first Sunday in October I introduced my first of many ponderizing scriptures. Even before we learned this new word I've been someone who loves to ponder, and memorize, scriptures. They feed my soul, lift my spirits and strengthen my faith. And in recent years, since I started making graphics, I've created other photo/scripture combos.

So, without further ado, I will share the remainder of this month's images.

This has always been one of my favorite scriptures. I love that Christ is the center of the plan of salvation and the prophets have taught of Him since the beginning.


This is a new scripture to me. Sister Ashton shared this hidden gem in our Temple prayer meeting. I immediately saw this photo and scripture coming together just as you see it here. Oh, how I love the word of God!


This is another of my favorite scriptures. I'm so grateful that the Lord's has made my weakness strong in Him: because of my dyslexia I've learned to memorize... usually memorized words and numbers will stay straight. But even more I am so grateful that HIS grace makes the difference. HIS grace lifts and strengthens me even, and maybe most especially, when I am weak HE will lift me in a very real and tangible way.

 21 OCTOBER 2015

** This is the first scripture image I created from June 2010

Oct 23, 2015

Sewing Lessons

One of my favorite things is sewing! I started when I was 8 years old and have never stopped! I realize not everyone likes/wants to sew... but I love it.

It is a great pleasure for me to teach this skill to my daughters, granddaughters, and, yes, even a son or two!!

Miss Roxie just turned 9 this month so prior to her birthday I asked her if she would like to do sewing lessons with Grammie! I received a very enthusiastic *YES* from this little sunshine girl. That made choosing a birthday gift a no-brainer!

I took my plethora of JoAnn coupons to Juanita's (you know! JoAnn's in Spanish! Bwahahaha) and put together a little sewing box for her complete with: 2 pairs of scissors, hem gauge, seam ripper (aka un-sewer), tape measure, pins, and then...

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I made her a cute flower pincushion to match the happy gerbara daisy sewing box.

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I started by telling her how I took 4-H lessons at Mary Greiner's house (where she always had something smelly cooking on the stove!). I'm so glad for all of the advances in sewing paraphernalia in the past 55 years. Instead of  *pulling a thread* to get a cut on the straight of the grain I whipped out my cutting mat and rotary cutter and showed her how to cheat that time-consuming process! Mary's first project was always an apron!

We talked about measurements and how addition and FRACTIONS are so important to the process. She very adeptly added the hem and seam allowance to the finished length, cut (with a learning curve) her apron body and sash with the rotary cutter.

This little cutie shows great aptitude for sewing. It took very little instruction to teach her how to use the sewing machine to run a double row of gathering threads, then pull the threads to make the fabric gather and distribute them evenly.

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Today's lesson took us to having the waistband sewn onto the apron and then Mommy arrived. Roxie really wanted to finish her apron TODAY! (I so get that... it took me years to be able to enjoy the process and not just the finished garment!)

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We folded the fabric neatly and returned it to her box, along with the extra fabric and some needles in case she feels the need to create before next week's lesson.

THIS! THIS!! is one of the very great pleasures of being a Grammie... Roxie's Grammie,

Lucky Grammie!

Oct 4, 2015

Ponderize- I love the Lord

I've always been blessed with a believing heart and most of the time obedience is easy for me. I realize the great truth that the Lord will bless me when I obey His commandments.

Today in General Conference Elder Devin Durrant gave us two challenges... tonight I want to talk about the second one (but the first one is excellent advice also).

He introduced his made up word-

(And anyone who knows me knows I love made up words!)

So in that spirit of obedience I accept the challenge! I want my *packets of light* to increase. I want my confidence to wax strong. I want to enjoy the blessings of having a closer relationship with my Heavenly Father and His son, Jesus Christ.

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And why have I chosen this scripture over all the thousands there are to choose from? As part of my commitment to increase my spiritual strength I will go back to my paper scriptures instead of my electronic scriptures. So tonight I opened my scriptures at random and found these words- already loved and highlighted from an early time.

Prayer has always been a great comfort to me and I bear testimony that the Lord hears and answers our prayers...

Do we always get what WE WANT? Thank goodness, no. The Lord, in His wisdom, guides us down the path He wants us to tread... carrying us when necessary.

Sep 28, 2015

Grammie's Helper

This fall I have the blessing of having Fiona and Liam come to my house every other Monday. I can't even begin to describe how much I enjoy this time with these sweet babies. There is just something magical about have being with grandchildren one on one... but to have them at my house is even sweeter.

I bought a flat of strawberries at Ream's on Saturday evening and put the directly into the fridge. This morning I noticed that a couple of the boxes had a *hairy* strawberry in it and needed my attention. After putting Liam down for his morning nap Miss Bitty and I tackle the job of strawberry washing.

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Call me silly, but I don't just rinse my strawberries. I like to  put them into a sink of water and swish them around. *Nona* helped me put them into the cold water... some got the dump and others got to go in one at a time. Of course there was a liberal amount of tasting.

This little girl (who JUST turned two) speaks in complete sentences, just like a big person. It always blows me away that we have conversations!

When we'd fished all of the washed strawberries out of the left sink and into the waiting colander I pointed out to Miss Nona how dirty the water was and that is why we wash them.

Without missing a beat she said, "Looks like they pooped in the water!" Bwahahaha!

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Since all I planned on doing with this flat of berries was to freeze them for *Grammie's Shake-its* our job was soon completed. Such a happy day.

Sep 23, 2015

Alpine Loop & Cascade Springs

Last week was, well, let's just say... stressful. I was in the final preparation for the Primary Sacrament Meeting presentation (which I'm in charge of), did Grammie-duties three times, bottled spaghetti sauce, forgot and, fortunately remembered, that I needed to come up with the printed program for Sunday's meeting, remembered in the nick of time that I was also getting the popcorn treat for Sunday's reward sharing time, planning and having 3rd Sunday Grammie Dinner, plus lots of other things I'm forgetting like walking, mowing, etc.

So when Monday morning dawned I was READY for a little R and R! I suggested that Gordon and I make the annual Alpine Loop drive (that my Dee-Lor-EE-Ous and I used to make) in his 1990 Reatta convertible... the best way to enjoy that drive!

As we were leaving Gordon hinted that perhaps we should bring Harley, who heretofore has been banned from a ride in the classic car! He was DE-lighted to be included and behaved himself like a very responsible doggy-boy in Poppa's special car.

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There are so many happy memories on this drive... most of them with DeLoris, but also a fair-few with Gordon. It is just one of those drives that makes my heart happy.

This was always our first photo-op, looking back down at Sundance.

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The colors are more muted this year. Perhaps we were a little too early. Maybe we will have to go again.

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Gordon asked if I'd like to take the detour down to Cascade Springs. I always love this sweet place.  The first time I remember visiting here was in August 1981 with Gordon.

As I walked the trail that loops around the three different areas of Cascade Springs I was taken aback by a memory...

This beautiful trail...

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used to look like...


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"On Sept. 23, 2003, a prescribed burn to treat 600 acres of oak woodland near Cascade Springs on the Uinta National Forest went out of control, resulting in a 7,828-acre wildfire that sent smoke into the Salt Lake City-Provo area for a week."
2005 was the year that DeLoris and I started our annual tradition of driving the Alpine Loop together. I loved that first trip so well that Gordon, Buddi and I  repeated it a few days later and revisited Cascade Springs. I was grateful, this year, when I realized that the forest had regrown!

The upper springs always amaze me... all of this water just appears out of nowhere!

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As I was looking at the comparison photos I recognized that I had this same shot now, looking down into Cascade Springs...

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and 10 years ago.

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If you'd like to read more of my adventures from this annual tradition, just click on the Cascade Springs tag below the post.

Sep 15, 2015

The *Joys* of Home-Canning

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The following diatribe is somewhat tongue-in-cheek (I think!) but if this was my first experience with home canning it would also be my last.

I've worked for the last 6 hours to *put up* 8 pints of spaghetti sauce. Of course, these tomatoes came from my garden so that 6 hours doesn't include the time it took to have turf-war with the neighborhood swine-deer or the planting;  then the picking, washing, sorting and initial cooking done last night.

I put the pot of hot tomatoes in the garage last night to cool so the only thing I had to do this morning is send them through the Vitorio, add onions, celery, garlic (oops, forgot the garlic) and spices. The first setback arrived when I knocked the half-full pot of tomatoes off the counter (bending my good pot!) where they shot across the floor in a tomato tsunami and spattered all over the cabinets.

Gordon: Are you ok? Do you need help?
Joanie: No. Yes, bring me the two old pink towels from under the bath/laundry room counter.
Gordon: Sure sorry that happened.

Insert scene of Joanie spatulating, wiping, mopping, and cleaning cabinets and floor. Then a trip down to the the laundry sink to soak the mess out of the towels.

Joanie: Please help me remember to turn off that water. (Exit to dungeon to get onions while starting to feel frazzled.
Gordon: No problem. How long will that be?
Joanie: Until it is half full: about 5 minutes.

Insert more cleaning and chopping in the Ninja (thumb still intact!)

An indeterminate time later...

Gordon: Dam!
Joanie: I could have done this! (maniacal laughter)

Good thing I have quite a supply of old towels under said laundry sink counter to clean up the flood on the floor!

Cook and stir. Watch. Repeat. Continue cleaning all of the implements used to make this mess sauce.

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Tell me again... what is so wrong with buying that case of Prego spaghetti sauce?

Oh! I remember! It's because I love how home grown tomatoes taste and there is nothing like it.

Sometimes I wish I'd never tasted a home-grown tomato!

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Aug 16, 2015

Tomato-snatchin' Swine-Deer

This post has been two weeks in the writing... not that I've sat at the computer for 2 weeks, but the incident that perpetuated this post happened two weeks ago today.

I've learned a wonderful truth... if I keep moving DAILY I don't hurt as much. I used to *take Sunday off* from taking my walk but soon realized that those are the days that I REALLY hurt. Welp, I love walking enough that adding a 7th walk each week is, frankly, a delight.

So, Sunday a fortnight ago, Harley and I were just returning from our evening stroll. As I rounded the corner into my backyard movement in the tomato patch caught my eye. I caught two 4-legged thieves in the act of pilfering my prized tomatoes. (I'd noticed a partially eaten tomato a couple of day before and thought, stupidly, that it was the birds!) THEY were surprised at my untimely return and bolted, not towards me and out of harm's way, into the backyard... from which there is no escape! (Dun! Dun! Dun!)

I brandished my dog-deterring, fly swatter, sans the swat, and challenged, "And now what are you going to do?!" They stared mutely back. I loosed my fierce hound-companion on them. They quickly sized up the situation and decided that this Grammie looked less intimidating than said fierce hound and bolted past me and sailed crazily over the newly erected fence and existing hedge meant to keep THEM out and ran home to their mommy.

I waved my swatter-less swat again and hollered, "And don't come back!"

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I suppose that it was too much to hope that they would actually leave my open tomato patch alone, even though they've never ventured there before. This meant, you guessed it, more fence building.

My original plans from nearly two years ago had included this section that closes off the raised garden from the side parking area but I had hoped that I was really finished with the fence. No such luck.

I got another section of hog-panel and made a temporary fence whilst I build the new, TALLER section.

The first order of the business was posts. I measured and the center post, at 8 feet, landed right behind the beautiful boxwood bush on the left (pictured below).

WELL, THAT WASN'T GOING TO HAPPEN! I've nursed these babies for 10 year and they were finally filling the measure of their creation.

Plan change! I trussed up Bush 2 and Bush 3 like a couple of big fat Christmas turkeys and dug the center post hole between them.

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The weather has heated up (it is summer, ya'know!) so I didn't work as fast this time. I took 3 days to put in 3 posts. That used up most of week 1.

Then a wonderful thing happened. I got a surprise visit from my niece, Jill, and her family. They've never been here before and wanted the 10 cent tour. When I showed them the partially constructed fence Doug, her husband, suggested that I carry the picket area at the same level as the first section of fence and then go taller from there, keeping a more cohesive look. I loved that idea!!

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Saturday I completed the second gate that leads into the raised garden all by myself (remember I had a great teacher). But when it came time to hang it I called son-Kevin to the rescue me again. He brought Chloe and Ethan and they had a wonderful time climbing Grammie's new fence and finding *hidey-holes* under the grape vines.

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Monday and Tuesday this last week I finished the fence off. I'm so pleased with how it turned out. The other thing that is an unexpected bonus is that, since I am slow, the new wood is taking on a wonderful patina in the elements. I like it so well that I'm not going to stain it, but seal it in a couple of weeks when all of the new wood is burnished red.

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Gordon points out that the deer can still jump over the lower fence into the backyard and then into the garden. I just hope that the swine-deer don't figure that out before I get something tall planted along the inside of the backyard fence.

Keep it on the down-low for me, OK??

Aug 3, 2015

34 Years

This morning dawned cool and rainy, always a rich August blessing in our desert. We got 200% of our August rain total TODAY! As I prepared to take my walk (yes, in the rain!) the thought flashed through my mind, *The heavens weep.* I immediately replaced it with the thought-


I rejoice that my precious Tony and Amanda are safely in the arms of our Heaven Father, freed from the trials of this life. They wait patiently for our joyous reunion.

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I mentioned on Amanda's birthday that I'd been praying for, and received, relief from the years of debilitating grief. As this 34th anniversary day has approached I've offered that same prayer and continue to feel my Father's loving support.

After my morning walk I headed to the Provo Temple. I can't be sure, but I think that I've been each year on this day (or the next) all but the 2 years I was visiting in California. It is a wonderful, spiritual blessing to be able to serve there.

I've also found that it is helpful to stay busy so I spent the afternoon helping Camille get ready for her 9th year of teaching!!

Gordon texted me that I'd received flowers from my dear friend. She has been so thoughtful and kind in sending this yearly remembrance!

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What I hadn't expected it this...

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A sweet and thoughtful gift from my Temple friends, the Mechams.

Of course these gifts made the tears come... but not the sad kind... the grateful kind! These are some of the beautiful tender mercies of the Lord as He works through the hands of His faithful children.

I am so grateful to be at this end of these 34 years! I'm grateful for the understanding that has been given to me. I'm grateful for the healing... which often seems so slow and painful. I'm grateful to know that I will be with my Tony and Amanda again! I'm grateful for my wonderful family who loves and supports me but most of all understands that this is a difficult time and gives me the extra patience I so desperately need.

I want to bear my testimony, once again, that I know that my Heavenly Father loves me. He will never give me more than I can withstand. He will carry me through the darkness until I am able to walk and be whole.