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Friday, December 31, 2010

A Rundown of 2010

Perhaps because of all the huge and amazing things our family experienced in 2009, I thought we would have similar experiences in 2010. Years are different though...just like people. There are exciting and fun years and there are years filled with sadness and hard things. Some years are sort of boring, not providing loads of memorable experiences and some years are a mixture of ups and downs.

2010 went by so quickly and seemed so full of things, good and bad that I wanted to recap for myself some of the events. As I thumbed through my 2010 planner a few memorable times stood out:

We started out the year in anticipation of sending Bryan off to Budapest, Hungary. That was our main focus one year ago. His call came last December right after we returned from our Korea/Japan trip. So by January we were busy purchasing missionary items and getting Bryan packed for his March 10th departure.

Those months at the MTC and then off to Hungary were filled with learning and joy and, unfortunately, also physical pain as osteoarthritis plagued Bryan's knees. He was examined by an orthopedic surgeon in Budapest, had an MRI performed, and was sent home at the end of July for bilateral knee surgery. For months Bryan has been doing physical therapy. He saw his orthopedic surgeon for the final visit on December 29, 2010 and was told (again) that he will not be able to return to Hungary. So his focus now is being a student at the University of Utah starting January 2011 and hopefully resubmitting missionary papers for another area (one he can ride in a car and not spend 10 hours a day walking stairs).

Another event of 2010 which I recall fondly, is our trip to Baltimore/Pennsylvania/DC/NYC and Franklin/Nashville in March and April. Rob, Cami and I had a marvelous time visiting Dani and Kelly in their new home state of Maryland. Every day of the vacation was filled with day trips and adventures. On our way home, we made a side journey to see Rob's brother in Tennessee. Now at the end of 2010, Dani and Kelly are here at our house to wrap up another year with us. They've been here since December 23 and we've enjoyed every minutes of these days together.

Camille got her driver's license in 2010. She wasn't all that interested in driving when she turned 16 in '09, in fact, she preferred someone drive her everywhere, but about six months later she decided she did want her license and so she took the test (more than once) and obtained her learner's permit. After six months, she was finally able to get her license and now she drives all the time. Cami and her cousin, Lindsey, spent the month of July 2010 at their Uncle Kevin's and Aunt Tanja's in Franklin, Tennessee. Cami had access to a Rav 4 and drove herself and Lindsey all over for those four weeks.

We did some remodeling projects on our house in 2010. We painted the entire upper floor and had new hardwood and carpet installed. Since Bryan's been home we've also refinished his furniture and repainted his walls and ceiling.

The garden is an annual event for me, but in 2010 I branched out and planted some different items which will become staples of future gardens. We had a record-breaking raspberry year in 2010, but as winter enfolds us today, the garden of 2010 is just a fond memory and the garden of 2011, a pleasant anticipation.

The 2010 Stake Indexing goal of 2,000,000 names has been a big part of my year. I have indexed nearly 37,000 of those names personally, but there are some stake members who have been absolutely amazing in their efforts to take us to our goal. With one day left we only have 5,351 names remaining in what seemed like an unobtainable goal even one week ago.

My niece, Amanda, was married in May 2010. This pulled family members to Utah for the event. I traveled to Arizona in September to see my Mom, she came to Utah once during the year too. We had Rob's Mom live with us for a while after she fell and broken pelvis in October.

I attended my 30th Class Reunion this summer and was also able to spend some quality time with my best friends from school a week later. I lost a couple of friends this year. Natalie Jolley passed away on August 14 and Bettie Hoenhe passed on December 10. I miss them both and look forward to those reunions beyond this life. I made some new friends this year and am truly grateful that I have such amazing people in my life to look to as examples.

Happy New Year everyone!

Sunday, December 19, 2010

SpudNuts and Gallon Glass Milk Jugs

Those who lived in and around Delta, Utah in the early 70s may remember what a stir was caused when a SpudNut shop opened up in town. It is easily compared to the excitement generated along the Wasatch Front when an In-and-Out Burger or a Crispy Creams opens. I recall trying to convince my parents that we should try donuts made from potatoes, they were probably really healthy. The shop had been in business for some time before I finally talked my Mom into stopping in at the SpudNuts store.

Even though I grew up on a small family farm, we never milked cows. The cows we raised were for meat and ended up in the freezer. My family always purchased milk from a local dairy farmer. When I was little we went to the Warnick Farm at the east side of Hinckley and bought raw, unpasteurized milk from them. That was what my parents had grown up drinking and so that is what they wanted. I remember a few times following one of the Warnicks out to the barn and watching them strain the milk and pour it into the jars we brought. At some point, the FDA shut down all those little Mom and Pop type dairies for selling unpasteurized products.

The shutting down of milk sales at Warnick's Dairy coincided with the opening of the SpudNut shop. Along with delicious donuts they also sold fresh, pasteurized, local milk. One day while we were in town grocery shopping, I convinced my Mom to buy the milk at the SpudNut shop and then we could pick up a dozen donuts too. It worked out well because my family liked the milk and I LOVED the donuts. A few weeks later we were at the SpudNut shop again, but she insisted we get milk only, no donuts. I asked her if I could go into the shop by myself and buy the two gallons of milk. She reluctantly agreed and handed me the cash. When I got into the store, I told the nice lady what I wanted and she sat the two gallon jugs on the counter and rang up my purchase. The way the store was arranged, I could look right out the glass wall behind the cashier to my Mom sitting in our car. I felt so proud that I could do this task by myself. Mom smiled at me as I paid for the milk and then took the two red plastic handles to pull the jugs from off the counter and carry them out the door. Everything had gone smoothly until those glass jugs came down weighing more or being taller than I anticipated and slammed into the tiled floor of the SpudNut shop. Both of them smashed simultaneously leaving me standing in a huge puddle of whole milk holding red handles attached to jagged broken glass jugs.

I've replayed this event in slow motion in my mind at least a million times. I was still looking into my Mom's face as the jugs slammed into the ground and I recall that her smile changed into a grimace before she climbed out the car and came into the store to apologize and to offer to clean up the mess. Two gallons of milk makes a big mess! I was crying when she came into the store so she sent me to the car while she tried to make amends with the cashier.
I do not recall ever going into the SpudNut shop again. Perhaps because we were banned or because my Mother was too mortified to ever enter the shop again? I'm not sure, but it was shortly after this event that we started buying our milk at Ekin's Dairy on the north end of town. It was on the road going out to the reservoir and it seems like we always hit at least one rabbit every time we went out there for milk. I hated that drive and I missed the chance to buy donuts along with our milk. Curse my wimpy arms and short legs!

Tuesday, December 14, 2010


Almost four weeks ago Rob's Mom came to live at our house for a while. Earlene is 87 years old and has been remarkably healthy until she took a fall in October and broke her pelvis in two places. Since then, she has seemed frail. It also seems her memory has slipped quite a bit. At first we thought perhaps it was the pain medication she was on, but she only took the Percocet for a few days because it was causing too much trouble with her stomach and her mind.

After a couple of weeks of home health care, physical therapy, and Rob's sister, Julie, trying to spend as much time as possible at her Mom's house to help her out, we realized that she shouldn't be left alone any more so the decision was made to have her come live here while Julie and David finish the mother-in-law apartment in their house.

We all call Rob's Mom Mimi. When Kevin, her oldest grandchild, was a baby she tried to get him to call her 'Grammy', but it came out as 'Mimi' and it stuck. Now everyone calls her Mimi. Mimi is a wonderful grandmother. She has loved every one of her grands and they all think she is grand. She was a get-down-on-the-floor-to-play kind of grandmother. Her seven grandchildren all have such fond memories of playing 'city bus' on her bed with a round pillow as the steering wheel, Author's Cards, The Hair Net Lady, I Spy, Spoons and many other games.
It has taken a little getting used to having another person living at our house, but Mimi makes it as easy on us as she can. She is very unassuming and quiet. Rob brought her TV to our house and hooked it for her, so she spends a few hours of each day in room watching it. She goes to bed around 9:00 or 9:30 each evening and wakes up around 10:00 a.m. We have to remind her to eat. We believe the reason she has gotten so thin is because she just forgets to eat. She is diabetic, so this is a concern beyond weight. We keep popcorn, crackers, fruit, vegetables, sugarless cookies and hot chocolate mixes out on the counter and encourage her to snack in between meals.

We are happy to announce that Mimi's gained four pounds since she's been staying here. Perhaps having the Thanksgiving feast since she's been here helped. She loved the sweet potatoes, mashed potatoes, rolls with lots of butter and stuffing covered in gravy and had quite a number of plates full of those things on Thanksgiving and for a few days following.
I took Mimi to Weber High School's production of White Christmas on December 3rd. She loved it! She kept commenting throughout the production how amazed she was at the talent of these young people and that it didn't seem possible that this was a high school musical. She tapped her toes and clapped her hands and truly seemed to enjoy the evening. Unfortunately, by the next day she didn't remember attending the program. She has become really forgetful. She knows she doesn't remember things and it really bugs her.

I guess there are some good things about Mimi's forgetfulness. She laughs at the same jokes over and over, the not-so-good things about her lack of memory is that she keeps asking the same questions over and over. She asks every day when we are taking her home. Hopefully we can make her comfortable and happy here and eventually she'll forget to ask that question. We love Mimi! We feel very privileged to have her staying here now and hope she'll remember it as a good time.

Saturday, December 4, 2010

Bryan's Project

Bryan has been anxious to stay busy while he has been going through 12 weeks of physical therapy. He started back to work last month, he got registered for another semester of school at the University of Utah starting in January, but he decided he needed a project for while he is home. Thus, the ‘Remodel Bryan’s Room Project’ was born.

The furniture Bryan has had in his bedroom for nearly his entire lifetime, was some Ethan Allen pieces which had been in Rob’s parent’s cabin in Tahoe. They are nice, solid pieces of furniture, but they were pretty scraped and dented with all the moves and spending the last 17 years in a boy’s room.

So we purchased some stripper, plastic scrapers, three different grits of sandpaper, black paint, paint tray, rollers, mineral spirits and some new nickel hardware and we were off.

It took several coats of the Citristrip stuff we bought to remove all the old finish. I’m not sure if it is because the varnish was so ancient that it had practically turned to rock or if it was because we bought the most non-toxic stuff we could find. After scraping all the goo off, we wiped down the pieces with mineral spirits. Then we started with roughest grit sandpaper and went over every piece thoroughly then moved to the middle and then finest sandpapers until the wood was as smooth as glass. After a final cleaning, each drawer, door and frame received three coats of black paint.

We did four dresser pieces and a pedestal bed frame. After a thorough drying time, we attached the new hardware and the sprayed-painted old pieces we didn’t change out.

During the furniture drying time, we started on Bryan’s walls and ceiling. We filled holes, sanded and cleaned and applied fresh paint. We did a focal wall a color called, Paprika. After all the painting was done, we cleaned his carpet, bought a new bedspread and decorative pillow, made and hung new curtains and moved everything back into the new room. We even put up a hook for Bryan’s Hungarian Whip to hang from because it is so beautiful it deserves to be displayed.
We've ordered some art work and have bought a new clock to hang on the walls. The changes make the room seem very grown up. There is only one Lego contraption on the dresser. All the other toys and little boy things have been put away.

Saturday, November 27, 2010

School Days Part IV

I want to complete my commentary about school memories with the four years I spent at Delta High School.

After battling through the junior high years, high school was actually tolerable. I had struggled with shyness so much during my elementary and junior high years. When I was a sophomore, I finally decided I had to overcome that shyness and start getting involved and meeting and working with others.

I got involved in some activities which made high school quite fun. I sang in several musicals, I was FBLA president my senior year and a member of FBLA and FHA three other years, I was a Tall Flag Team Member my junior and senior years (an officer my senior year), I was in acapella choir and I was Business Sterling Scholar. These involvements helped to make things much more enjoyable.

One of the greatest things about high school was I figured out that I didn't have to be friends with only those of my own grade. I found fabulous new friends, older and younger, who added dimension to my high school years. The only regret I have about that is the reunions we have don't include other grades. I must look into what it would take to change that policy.

I still rode the bus to school most of my high school years. Only during Marching Band in the fall did I get a ride into school because it was an early-morning activity. We had some fun times, did some great shows, and made good friends in the marching band. I enjoyed the competition season when we would travel to Salt Lake, Provo, and Cedar City to compete with other bands in the state. A tradition was to stop at Trolley Square when we attended the U of U competition. Everyone would eat dinner and spend a little time shopping before catching the bus on up to the university. My junior year, we left two girls who didn't make it to the bus in time. We were going to be late for our check-in and inspection if we waited any longer, so Mr. Holt made the decision we would leave the girls and make the deadline. How much more simple this situation would have been if we had cell phones like every kid does now.

A major memory I have of riding the bus during high school was when I was a senior and my little brother, Mark, was riding the same bus going to first grade at Delta Elementary School. Hinckley Elementary had closed by then so all the Hinckley kids, K through 12 rode the same bus. Mr. Taylor took a dislike to Mark within the first week of school that year. I truly don't know how anyone couldn't love Mark. He was so cute, he was really small for his age, and he had a sweet, little innocent face. He did; however, have a very big voice for such a small child. So maybe because of the noise he made, Mr. Talbot assigned Mark a seat on the front row. He wasn't allowed to sit anywhere else on the bus. My other brother, Jim, was also a passenger on this bus each day during this time. Usually, both of them would be off the bus and walking home by the time I disembarked. One day when I got off the bus, Mark was standing there crying, with two long, red welts across his face. I was immediately furious and started questioning him. He told me about an older boy who had whipped him with a coat as he got on the bus and walked past Mark in his front-row seat. Mr. Taylor sitting right there in the driver's seat had not said anything, though I'm sure he would have seen it happen.

I immediately looked around for the kid because this was his bus stop too. I saw him about a half a block down the road. I started yelling his name and running towards him, when he turned around and saw me coming towards him, he started running. I chased him for about a block before I caught him. I spun him around, grabbed him by the collar, got in his face and asked him why he hit my little brother. He gave me a smart-mouthed answer so without thinking, I slapped his face. I gave him a shake and told him if he ever touched Mark again he would have to deal with me. Then I threw him to the ground and ran back to Mark.

As we walked home, the guilt started flowing. I knew this other kid's parents and I was sure his Mom was going to be angry at me for grabbing, slapping and throwing down her fourth grader. By the time we reached the house, I was in agony over my impetuous actions. I confessed to my Mom what I had done and she said perhaps I should call Mrs. Talbot and apologize for roughing up her son. I got on the phone and told her who was calling, expecting an immediate angry outburst, when she didn't say anything I started telling her about the situation. I first told her about her son hurting Mark and then what I had done in retaliation. As expected, she exploded. She screamed at me to never touch her son again. I yelled back at her to tell her kid to never touch my brother again. After our little shouting match, I slammed down the phone and marched off to my room. I knew I had mis-handled the problem, but as a 17-year-old I wasn't equipped to deal with the situation.

Over the years of raising my own children, I've thought about that experience many times. I know I've had terrible 'Mother Bear' tendencies to protect my own at almost any expense. I hope that I've learned some discipline and restraint so that I don't enrage other mother bears in my quest to guard my own cubs.

I guess, like everyone else, I gained an education in high school. That education isn't just from books and teachers at school. I hope I can remember the lessons I learned riding buses, roughing up town kids, dealing with angry moms and loving little brothers.

Friday, November 19, 2010

Memories Under Glass

One year ago at this very moment, Kevin, Bryan and I were in a plane somewhere over the Pacific Ocean.

We flew out on the morning of November 19, 2009 bound for Seoul, South Korea and in the process completely lost November 20th because when we landed it was late evening of November 21st. Poor Bryan lost his nineteenth birthday someplace over the ocean a last year.

Does that mean he actually will only be turning 19 tomorrow instead of 20? Hmmm, I’ll have to give that some thought…

That trip with my sons was one of the all-time favorite things I’ve ever done in my life. We had such adventures in Korea and felt Kevin’s love of the country and its people as he worked so hard to make sure we got to see, hear, taste and touch all the things he remembered so fondly from his two years there. We weren’t there long enough to do that; a lifetime may not be long enough, but I will always remember the way Kevin was so intent upon every scene, word, tree, street, sign, restaurant, and person we saw. The most poignant of my memories of him was our last day in Guanju. We rode in a taxi, to take a bus, to ride a train, to pick up the subway, to catch the ferry that took us to Fukuoka, Japan. The whole day, Kevin was looking out the windows of all our transportation and just soaking in Korea.

Our adventure in Japan started with not being allowed into the country when we arrived, missing the bullet train and riding a bus all through the night across the country. The next day when we pulled into Tokyo and Mark found us, everything started looking better.

We spent five days seeing amazing and wondrous sights including the Imperial Palace, Shogun Castles, Buddhist Temples and gardens which were beyond compare. We will be forever grateful for the incredible hospitality Mark and Nana extended to us while we were there.

Of all the memories that stick in my mind, every one of them is combined with astounding autumn colors. Everywhere we went fall was at its height of glory. I gathered leaves each place we visited. A few of them are in a glass and wood frame hanging in my bedroom.

I’m so thankful we had this opportunity and a year later it is still as brilliant in my memory as the leaves of Korea and Japan in November 2009.

Sunday, November 14, 2010

Pope Joan

I'm going to interrupt my trip down memory road to write a book review. I follow several blogs where books are reviewed and I have appreciated those critiques and recommendations.

Today I finished the second of my two Book Club selections for November. Pope Joan was a rich and fascinating work of fiction based on historical facts which Donna Woodfolk Cross spent many years researching. It is the tale of a girl whose origins should have kept in in squalid domesticity. Instead through her intelligence, indomitability and courage, she ascended to the throne of Rome as Pope John Anglicus.

Joan assumes the role of her brother who is killed in a viking attack. She dons her brother's clothing, cuts her hair and goes to a monastery for protection and education. Her sharp mind takes her places she could never have gone as a female in 814 AD.

It really was an interesting story and the Author's Notes and Reader's Guide at the back of the book add a dimension to the tale as Ms. Cross sites references and proofs of the reality of a female Pope and what the Catholic Church has done in the years since to bury the evidence that it truly happened.

School Days Part III

Moving on from elementary school to junior high was a distressful event. This was mostly because the Hinckley students had been isolated while the rest of the West Millard students had all been integrated into Delta Elementary years before. It seemed that we were the new kids, alone against a large group who were already acquainted with one another.

Another trauma about junior high was that there wasn't a separate building for the students, we were thrown right in with the big kids at the high school. The junior high had two hallways of lockers at Delta High School. That changed while I was in high school and they built the Middle School, but for my part it truly was stressful and upsetting to go straight from sixth grade to mingling with high schoolers. The older kids teased and tormented in a way I had never experienced in my life (as I was the oldest in my family). I was a homely and shy kid so being in this environment just accentuated my awkwardness and seemed to make me a target for additional teasing.
A third terrible thing about junior high was I had to get up so much earlier in the mornings because I had to ride the bus from Hinckley to Delta AND I had to do chores before I could catch the bus. Seventh grade was the beginning of my 4:30 a.m. arisings; to this day I have not been able to disable that internal alarm clock.

In the fall and spring waiting at the bus stop wasn't too bad, but the winter months were unbearable. I remember that dusty, frozen snow blowing around us as we stood and waited. Arlo Taylor, the bus driver, wasn't known for being punctual so there wasn't a 'set' time he was at our stop every morning. Some days he would come early and we would be running up the street to catch the bus. Many of those mornings, he didn't wait, he would close the bus door and drive on down Main Street. Luckily, we could cross the street and wait on the opposite corner and he would usually stop and pick us up on his way back as he headed to the highway. Other mornings, we stood and waited for an inordinately long time. You can bet no one ever asked him why his schedule was so random. I had seen him ban students from his bus for small infractions. I'm certain he would have considered questioning his driving as a major violation.

The first quarter of junior high school was quite a shock for me. The moving from class to class in the crush of bodies in the halls, large classrooms of pupils I hadn't known since kindergarten, no time off for finishing work ahead of the rest of the class, no creative outlets for acting, writing, coloring, dancing and all the things I'd come to love during sixth grade. However, I remember being pleasantly surprised when grades came out and I had achieved a GPA which placed me on the honor roll. At that point, I determined I would work hard and always have grades which allowed that distinction.

I've said many times in my life that there isn't enough money in the world to make me go back and be junior-high-age again. Sometimes I think maybe if I was paid a great deal, I would go back; hopefully I would be able to retain the knowledge and experience I've gained and make those years happier than the ones I remember.

Friday, November 12, 2010

School Days Part II

Here are a few more memories of Hinckley Elementary School:

Monty our make-believe monster on our coat room floor.

My friends and I drew a big face with marker using a hole drilled in the wood floor of our upstairs coatroom as the mouth. Monty was always hungry and we were constantly stuffing things down the hole, thus feeding Monty. Many of our school papers became Monty food. If a sweater or mitten spent more than a couple of days in that coat room, it got fed to Monty. One time (that I know of) that got us into some big trouble.

It would be very interesting to find out where all that stuff ended up. It had to have been a huge pile since there were five of us feeding Monty from fourth through sixth grade and we never did fill up Monty.

The Blue Willow Plate, Robin Hood and Little Women

When we were sixth graders, Mr. Farnsworth allowed his students to work on other projects (which had to be approved by him) when we finished our school work. Several of us would work as quickly as we could in order to have extra time. During that school year, we adapted three books into plays. We then assigned parts, rehearsed, came up with costumes and built scenery for our plays. It took two or three months for each one, but we ended up presenting three plays that year. I still remember how exciting it was being creative with our dialogs, costumes, props and backdrops. Hinckley Elementary had an auditorium complete with raised stage and a heavy, blue velvet curtain. It felt like the big time; we thought we were headed to Broadway with our productions.

Trilabites and other fossils

For some reason there was a large pile of slate rock behind the school. For months of my second grade year, I spent every recess out in that pile of rock smashing pieces together to split them apart on a quest for fossils. We found all kinds of little fish, leaves and occasionally a Trilabite. We would take them in to Mrs. Hales, our teacher, and she would make a fuss over them and then display the chunks of rock in the window sill by her desk.

For awhile I considered paleontology as a possible occupation, but by third grade I decided I didn't like being dirty and dropped that from my career plans.

Thursday, November 11, 2010

School Days Part I

My blog friend, Tina, is from Abraham, another tiny Millard County town adjacent to my home town of Hinckley. Her most recent blog post reminiscing about her school bus driver, brought back memories of the Hinckley school bus driver. His name was Arlo Taylor, the thing I remember most about him was how terrified I was of him. Before I rode a bus (because I didn’t have to go into Delta until Junior High School), Arlo was the custodian at Hinckley Elementary School. That gave me several vulnerable years to develop a suitable fear of him so by the time I rode his bus, I wouldn't even make eye contact with him let alone say a word.

Because of my many memories associated with those school years, I decided to do a series of blog posts about attending school in Hinckley Elementary and Delta High School.

Here is the first in the series about Hinckley Elementary which was originally the Millard Academy completed in 1912. Later it became Hinckley High School and was used in that capacity until 1953 when it changed to Hinckley Elementary School. The community didn’t have enough students to warrant having a teacher for every grade so the second graders were split between first and third and the fifth graders were split between fourth and sixth. Even still, the biggest class I ever had was 18 students.
This is how the building currently looks with the doors boarded up and all the window missing. It was a beautiful, stately and well-proportioned building with many large trees surrounding it and a large playground to the northwest side and several baseball and football fields in the back.

I walked to and from Hinckley Elementary from kindergarten through sixth grade in every kind of weather. I don’t think it ever occurred to me to ask to be driven to school. We lived about a half mile from the school so it wasn’t a great distance, but the thing to bear in mind is that girls wore dresses every day no matter how high the snow was piled up or how hard that Millard County wind blew. Also for the first few years of elementary school, I walked back and forth for lunch each day too. Fourth grade was the first time I remember eating lunch at school. Hinckley’s cafeteria wasn’t in the school; it was a barrack building from Topaz Interment Camp which had been located west of town. The building had been brought from Topaz sometime after 1948 when the Japanese/American citizens who were relocated there for three years during World War II had finally been allowed to disperse.

A photo of Topaz camp circa 1944. One of these buildings served as my lunchroom at Hinckley Elementary School.

The Hinckley students would have to walk from the school along a sidewalk to the north of the school and wait in line outside for our turn to get a tray and collect our lunch from the counter before sliding into a long table and eating a hurried meal so there would be enough time to have fun on the playground. Some of my favorite memories of recess activities were playing Go-To-The-Bars on the swings. It was a tag-type of game where the one who is ‘it’ tries to catch someone who isn’t clinging to one of the metal bars between swinging. We had elaborate rules including having to swing at least once between the time ‘it’ ran from the end poles. The other favorite recess activity was spinning on the monkey bars. We used our coats to limit the friction and would use one knee up on the bar and then spin around and around. I would do it until I was so dizzy I couldn’t stand up, it was so much fun! It did cause a problem when we moved to Pleasant Grove in third grade because I tried to show someone the trick and realized the bars were closer together at that school when my nose impacted on the lower bar. I had never before or since seen so much blood as the day I broke my nose.

I loved all of my Hinckley Elementary teachers, but the two who stand out most in my mind was Mrs. Hardy, my fourth and fifth grade teacher and Mr. Farnsworth, my sixth grade teacher. They were both instrumental in helping me discover who I was and finding worth in myself. Mrs. Hardy died of cancer a few months into my fifth grade year and that was a monumental occurrence in my life. I still think about her often and miss her.

In addition to teaching sixth grade, Mr. Farnsworth was also the school principal. He was an amazing man. I understand he is still alive and about four years ago I wrote him a letter to tell him how much I appreciated his efforts on behalf of his students. Until Mr. Farnsworth started teaching me, I was convinced I was stupid. He made me realize that I had strengths and abilities and always praised me in a way that made me want to do even better. While in sixth grade, we had a school paper, we put on several plays, we learned and performed different dances and we decorated the bulletin boards in the halls of the school. The sixth graders also were in charge of keeping the school grounds looking nice. We had a day in the fall and a day in the spring when we brought rakes and shovels to school and worked outside all day cleaning and pruning and burning to keep the grounds looking nice. I have never before or since heard of a school that does that.

I still have dreams which take place inside the walls of Hinckley Elementary. Going to school there was the best thing about living in that tiny town. I am so grateful for the education I received there, for the friends I made there, and for memories which warm my heart all these many years later.

Sunday, October 31, 2010

End of an Era

It is official. We are no longer the ‘Crushed Velvet Couch Crouchs’

Back in 1983 when Rob and I got married, we paid $50.00 for a long, green, crushed-velvet couch my boss was selling at his garage sale. It was our living room sofa for the first several years as we finished college and started our family. When we moved to Bountiful, it became our family room sofa when we purchased a new living room set of furniture. Our kids grew up playing on, watching TV from, making forts with, and jumping off of that big, green couch and I didn’t realize how much they had bonded with it.

One of Kevin's many cushion forts

Kevin reading to new baby brother on the end of the green couch

Dani assuming the favorite TV viewing position on the green couch

When we purchased a hide-a-bed sofa for the family room, we decided to get rid of the green couch, but because of the attachment we had formed with it during 15 years of ownership; we took it on a farewell tour around our neighborhood on New Years Day 1998.

After we took it to the kids’ schools, the church and many of our favorite neighbors’ yards and took photos, we donated the couch to Deseret Industries. I didn’t expect the outcry we received from our children. They were always making comments about how much they missed playing with the cushions and how they could stretch out on the green couch and how cramped the new sofa was, etc.

Our couch in the church parking lot

Kevin at his Jr. High School

Dani and Bryan at Bountiful Elementary

Some of our neighbors who joined in the fun of the couch tour

Just over a year later, we moved to Pleasant View and the kids would occasionally wax nostalgic for the green couch so when I started visiting teaching a sister in our new ward with a gigantic, orange, crushed velvet couch, I told her about the affection my family had for a similar piece of furniture. A couple of months later, she phoned me and said she wanted to get rid of the couch and wondered if I’d like to have it. I didn’t even hesitate, I said, “yes”! We found out when we went to pick it up that this couch was about two feet longer and at least 100 pounds heavier than the green couch (hard to believe there could be something bigger and heavier!).

We brought it home on Pleasant View’s Founder’s Day and watched the fireworks while sitting on it that night out in our backyard. The next day, it made its way into our unfinished basement.

Fireworks from the big, comfy orange couch

Over the ensuing years, the basement was finished around the big, orange couch. It was pushed from one place to another while walls were built, sheet rocked, mudded, primed, painted, moldings and doors installed, carpet layed, etc. It finally came to rest in front of Bryan’s TV/Video gaming center and has rested there for many years…until yesterday.

October 30, 2010 ended the era of big, long, heavy, old, crushed velvet couches at our house. The orange couch made its way out of the house with a brief stop out front for a quick photo shoot before it was tied into the back of the van and delivered to the Ogden Salvation Army.

So it is with a little melancholy, we wish adieu to our couches and move into the new era without crushed velvet furniture. To whomever ends up with our old velvet couches, we wish you many years of joyful couch-cushion fort-making and stretching-out without touching the ends of a couch and joy in not worrying about what a child can do to your furniture.

Thursday, October 28, 2010

Hinckley Halloweens

Every year when the leaves change colors and fall off the trees, I think about being a kid and how much I enjoyed Halloween. It is far from being my favorite holiday now but growing up in Hinckley, it was a great day and night to be a little kid.

At Hinckley Elementary we wore our costumes to school on Halloween. Those teachers knew how to make Halloween a cool day. Midmorning, the fifth/sixth grades class started a parade and went through the fifth/fourth grades classroom. These kids then joined the parade and went through the second/third classroom adding those children to the back of the pack. Next it picked up the first/second graders and then finally down to the kindergarten room. After every kid and teacher in the school (which would have been about 70 people) was in line, we traipsed in all our glory, down to Main Street and promenaded for the townsfolk who assembled by the church, post office and store. We waved at our parents and all the old farmers and housewives who would stand on the sidewalk and watch the procession of children dressed in every kind of costume.

I always wanted to be a princess or a fairy or someone beautiful…wishful thinking for the homeliest child in the school. My fifth grade year, my mom used some kind of heavy, old fabric and made me a long, flowing dress. The material was off-white and not very pretty, but she dyed it royal blue which made me very happy. She also made me a crown. I thought it was wonderful; in fact, I wore that same costume again the next year but with wings and a wand.

After our parade, we wound around the block and back to the school from another direction. Then we had a massive party in the gymnasium. The PTA set up ‘fishing’ booths, ring toss, beanbag throw, and darts-at-balloons type games. It was a carnival-type atmosphere and I looked forward to it every year.

THEN, there was the trick-or-treating in the evening. I would meet up with one or more of my school friends and we would go to the non-scary houses in town. We learned there were some houses you just didn’t go to. After a few years, we figured out which homes had the best treats and started planning our route in advance to hit the good ones and skip the places where old bachelors and ornery ladies lived.

The second year I wore my blue-dyed long dress, it snowed and I recall how cold it was as the snow encrusted the bottom six or seven inches of the dress and froze into a ring around my legs. My Mom had tried to convince me to wear my coat, but I figured my wings wouldn’t look right over my coat, so I went without it and regretted it by the time we were a few blocks from home. That was the year I was literally frozen blue. All that snow on my dress caused the dye to run and it colored my skin blue for a few days.

My Mom didn’t believe in kids dressing up or trick-or-treating once they were out of elementary school. Lucky for me, I had a baby brother born the summer after I turned 10 so when he was two or three years old, my Mom let me take him around town to trick or treat. Mom thought I was being such a great sister taking Mark in his adorable little costumes to get candy, but I was totally cashing in because he was so cute, everywhere we went I would get a piece of candy too.

Fun times! I bet Hinckley is still a great trick-or-treating town. I'm pretty sure the old Hinckley Elementary School is haunted; it sure looks it! I wonder if I could borrow someone's sweet little kid on Halloween this year to go visit my old hometown?

Friday, October 15, 2010

Just Us Girls

Rob, Kevin and Bryan rolled out of bed between 3:30 and 4:00 this morning to pack, pick up Larissa and make the trek to Moab and Arches National Park. They are going canyoneering. I hope this will be good therapy for Bryan's knees and his spirit to spend time with people he loves doing his favorite activity in a fantastic part of the state.

Cami asked me yesterday why I never go with the guys to camp out, hike and rappel into slot canyons. I had to tell her that other than being with people I love, I wouldn't enjoy any of the stuff they do. I grew up in a 'camping' and 'fishing' family and never appreciated being out in the wilderness without my shower and blow dryer that much. I like nature, but I want to sleep in my own bed at night. I also like nature on the surface, not dangling somewhere high above it or in a canyon full of stagnate water somewhere below it.

So Cami and I have two days to be together. I know her plan involves spending most of that time at the mall with my credit card heating up as it is swiped over and over. My ideas involve being wrapped up in a blanket and visiting with her on the couch, watching some chick flicks or having a read-a-thon while eating popcorn. I wonder if we can compromise and find some activities to do together we can both enjoy and won't leave me needing to buy more hangers for Cami's closet and/or wondering how to balance the checkbook this month?

Thursday, October 14, 2010

Ornamental Grasses of Autumn

Even though I do love fall, as I have previously blogged about, there is certainly an element of sadness about the season. I find it very depressing pulling out my garden and dismantling the flower beds which I spent all spring and summer planting, watering, deadheading, fertilizing, weeding and enjoying.

Last week I started the inevitable winterizing projects in the yard. I’ve found that it doesn’t do any good to put off doing these important jobs like cutting back perennials and digging out annuals including the vegetable plants in the garden. I learned the hard way, leaving them under a layer of snow all winter just makes for a bigger, messier job next spring.

One of the last things I remove or cut back in the fall are the ornamental grasses in my yard. I’ve become very fond of these decorative grasses and I actually have several varieties this year. One of the best things about them is how little maintenance they require and most of them will grow back next spring without coaxing. The only one I have to replant each spring it the Purple Fountain Grass, which is one of my favorites, and if we lived somewhere other than a cold zone, it would be considered perennial too.

Here are some of the grasses growing in our yard this autumn.

Varigated Chinese Grass

Purple Fountain Grass

Pampas Grass

Black Grass

Moor Grass

The Pampas and this Moor Grass will get prettier as the weather cools because their heads become larger and fluffier later in the season. After the first snow, I'll have to bundle up and cut these beautiful feathery plumes and stalks down and allow the stubby remains to sleep all winter under a blanket of white, regenerating enough strength to do it all again next year, hopefully on an even bigger and grander scale.

Tuesday, October 5, 2010

Happy Birthday, Baby Girl

17 years ago today Camille and I were at Lakeview Hospital in Bountiful. We spent the evening and a great part of the night looking each other over and becoming acquainted. Cami had just entered the world earlier in the day and seemed enthralled as her big, bright, intelligent eyes checked out her new surroundings. Seeing my beautiful new baby girl brought such joy to my heart. There aren't words to describe the way I felt looking at her and feeling those clouds of glory trailing behind her from Heaven.

October 5 has been a special day at our house since 1993. Each year we try to do something special to let Camille know how much she means to us. She has brought sunshine and laughter into our house. She loves clowning around and making everyone laugh. She is such a beautiful young lady and a joy to spend time with. I always look forward to having her home to keep me company and to keep me entertained.

At 3:02 this morning I thought Camille came in and knelt by the head of my bed and asked where her presents were. I told her and she left. After a few minutes I got up and went into her room to see how she liked her gifts. Unfortunately, I had just been dreaming the whole scenario, and I woke her up knocking on her door and asking her if she liked her presents. My poor children and husband have all been victims of my sleep disorders. I walk and talk in my sleep and think things are going on which really aren't. Poor Cami, she got her first birthday wish early this morning when she was trying to sleep.

Before she left for school, she opened her gifts and after school she saw the birthday banner the Young Women's President hung on our house. Then we went to the frame shop and ordered the mat and frame for the Edgar Degas print of ballet dancers we ordered for her birthday.

We rented a couple of movies to watch this evening and made Pizza Marguerite for dinner with chocolate donuts and milkshakes for dessert (all her choice).That was how we celebrated our baby girl's 17th birthday.

I love you, Camille. Thank you for being my daughter and bringing sunshine into my days and sweet dreams into my nights. (I promise I won't disturb your's tonight.)


Thursday, September 30, 2010

The Most Wonderful Time of the Year

Remember that Staples Office Products commercial with the kids dragging dejectedly behind the happy dad with the shopping cart while the
Christmas song,
It's the Most Wonderful Time of the Year, is playing?

Fall really is my favorite time of the year!

The cooler nights and days.

The way we eat fresh food from the garden this month.
Today I picked a peach and walked back to house
peeling and eating it warm off the tree...yum!

All the jars of beautifully preserved foods lining
the counter and then the storage room shelves.

The v-shaped formations of Canadian Geese flying south for the winter.
Huge, honking birds which make such a contrast
against the early-morning, water-color-washed sky.

Fluffy tufts of milkweed popping out of pods
along the ditch banks.

Color sneaking into the leaves on the trees.
It seems to happen overnight.

Not using the furnace or the air conditioner...
I don't even mind getting my utility bills.

The sun slants across the yard differently in the fall
making everything seem more brilliant and sharply contrasted.
The sky seems bluer, the grass is greener,
the sunsets and sunrises are more spectacular.

I can wear my sweaters and jackets that have been unused all summer.
My tall boots with wool skirts.
Long sleeves and turtle necks.

Flannel sheets and an extra blanket on the bed.

Being forced into a schedule because Cami is back in school.
We're going to bed and getting up earlier each day.

Going off Day Light Savings Time!

Thank you, Lord, for giving us Autumn before slamming us with Winter.

Saturday, September 25, 2010

A Suppressed Random Childhood Memory

This week I was stung on the knee by a yellow jacket. That shouldn’t be a big deal, but it had been so long since the last sting I received, I had forgotten how much it hurts. A few days later, two of my children made references to Steig Larsson's trilogy, the third book of which is called The Girl Who Kicked the Hornet's Nest.
Those experiences brought back a memory I had suppressed for years. When I was eight years old, my parent; brother, Jim; and I moved away from Hinckley for a few months. My dad took a construction position in Utah County building a condominium complex. While this project was going on, we lived in Pleasant Grove from October 1969 to May 1970 and in Provo from May to August 1970. I attended third grade at Central Elementary in Pleasant Grove and then we spent the summer before fourth grade living in a trailer next to the Provo River. When I lived in Provo as a student 12 years later, I went to the location of that trailer park and found it is now a city park.
I was pretty blue the summer of 1970. Jim and I only had each other to play with because we didn’t know any kids around there. Most of our belongings (books and toys) were packed in boxes and were staying that way because we would be moving back to our house in Hinckley in a short time. After a day or two of living in Provo, I found the best way to pass the time was to sit on a large, flat rock that overhung the river. I could throw sticks and rocks into the water, I could watch the wildlife in and around the water, or I could listen to the sound of the fast-moving water. I was quite fascinated by the river. On my first day visiting the river, I saw an enormous gray, papery wasp nest lying on the ground about 10 feet from the edge of the water. It was about 15 inches long and shaped like a fat football. Apparently a storm had blown it out of a nearby tree. I had to walk past the nest every day as I went to my favorite rock by the river. I instinctively gave it a wide birth, even though it seemed deserted and was lying on the ground instead of hanging in a tree as it had been at some previous point in time.

This routine went on for what seems like weeks, but was perhaps only days—I’d get up, dress in my shorts and t-shirt and walk down to the river. On this one particular day, I must have been feeling especially frustrated about living in a trailer down by the river because as I walked barefooted through the muddy grass to the river’s edge, I decided I was sick of seeing that old wasp nest lying on its side on the ground and I gave it a mighty kick. My bare foot sunk deep through the papery layers of the nest and as it was lifting off the ground and into the air it was tearing apart and wasps were pouring out of the shattered mess and looking for the culprit who had just destroyed their home.
Those wasps were mad as hornets! I was instantly engulfed in the swarm and stings were coming so hard, fast and furious all I could do was run, scream and swing my arms. I was wailing like a siren as I tore up the hill and down the road to home. It must have been quite a spectacle for all the residents of the trailer park who saw the skinny kid screaming and running over the speed-bump-riddled road surrounded by a swarm of furious, buzzing insects.
My mom had to swat and kill quite a few wasps which came right into the trailer with or attached to me and were still trying to seek revenge on their home wrecker. When Mom could finally get down to treating my stings it took her hours to cake my wounded body with baking soda plasters. There were lumps and bumps on nearly every inch of my little nine-year-old body; I even had stings between my toes.
The rest of that summer must have been even more boring because I only remember one more visit to the river and that was on the day we moved back to Hinckley. I walked down to look at my rock and the remains of the wasp nest. There wasn’t too much of it left, but the biggest chunk still had a few wasps circling it so I didn’t stay long.

Saturday, September 18, 2010

Weeks of Bryan

As my blog readers are aware, my son, Bryan, was serving a mission in Budapest, Hungary until July 19, 2010, when severe pain in both knees required him to be sent home for surgery.

He had bilateral knee surgery seven weeks ago on July 27. Since that time Bryan has been here at the house recovering and allowing me the chance of getting to know him on a new level.

Bryan and I have had some opportunities to do things together in a way that has not happened since he was my little buddy while his older siblings were in school all day. Some of the things we’ve enjoyed over the past few weeks are:

Taking in a temple session every Wednesday

Driving to and from Arizona together

Visiting and laughing with one another

Riding bikes all over Pleasant View and North Ogden

Attending doctor and physical therapy appointments

Going out to lunch together

Talking seriously about his future

Watching/listening to him ‘whip’ with his Hungarian whip

Learning about Hungary’s culture, people and language

In a little over two weeks, Bryan and I will once again go to Dr. Pepper Murray’s office in Bountiful. This time it will be to hear the final verdict on whether this surgeon will allow Bryan to return to missionary service or not. Dr. Murray has already made it perfectly clear that he will not support Bryan returning to Hungary (which is heartbreaking for my son). But on September 30, we will learn if he will permit Bryan to resubmit mission papers to serve in another location; one that doesn’t require him to climb stairs or walk great distances on his arthritic knees. I hope and pray that both of us will be prepared to hear that verdict and move forward with faith in whatever comes next.

Sunday, September 12, 2010

Confessions of an Evil Egg Flinger

During a recent visit with my Mother, I finally came clean about an incident that happened more than 32 years ago. Since Mom is now aware of this episode and Dad was probably informed when he arrived in heaven a few years ago, it is time to make it known to anyone else who is willing to read my ramblings.

This event took place that same summer we moved onto Main Street, Hinckley when I was 16 years old. After we transported the chickens, Jim and I were given the responsibility of moving the eggs stored in our cold room. Mom and Dad evidently had not realized just how many eggs were stored there because the area prepared in the new house for egg storage wasn’t nearly large enough to hold all those dozens of eggs. The cartons were stored by date, so Jim and I took the newest eggs and stacked them in the fridge in the mud room of the new house. After filling that fridge to capacity, we still had 114 dozen eggs left with no place to put them. So what do you do when you have that many eggs? When you are 16 and 13 years old and your parents are in Salt Lake City for the day, you simply divide them equally between the two of you; set up your fortress of cartons on your side of the long sidewalk that equally divides the front yard; and you have a huge egg fight.

That’s right, we threw eggs at each other in what we are sure was the largest egg war in the history of Hinckley, Utah.

The house on Main Street had two very distinct features that made it the perfect egg-fight venue. First, even though it was on Main Street, it was completely private due to the nine-foot-high hedge that grew around the entire front yard. (I was the trimmer of that hedge and that is another story for another blog post). Second, this yard was huge. You don’t see gigantic front yards anymore. Now days the lot is divided so the extra space is in the back of the house for yards, gardens, decks, pools, etc. But in the late 1800s when this home was built, it was a boarding house (where Camilla Kimball lived when she taught Home Economics at the Millard Academy in Hinckley—possibly another blog post someday?) and it had a very long sidewalk from the gate near the road to the large front porch. That long, straight sidewalk made a perfect division for our battleground.

I claimed the south side of the lawn, which I thought would be the best side for combat--it had the biggest and the most trees in the yard. I figured I’d be able to stand behind the trees and hurl eggs at Jim on his less protected side of the lawn. I assumed my three years of superior understanding and knowledge would serve me well; but that wasn’t the case at all. As the fight began, Jim quickly realized I didn’t have a very good throwing arm. He also recognized that by throwing the eggs in the limbs of the tree I was hiding behind, they dripped and dribbled down on me. He didn’t have to be accurate; he smashed those eggs into tree branches above my head and drenched me in the wet, sticky mess. I figured we each had nearly 700 eggs. Most of mine ended up in the grass or the hedge behind Jim, but it doesn’t take very many eggs on your clothes and hair to make a huge mess. I think most of Jim’s eggs were smeared all over my body. I could have stood over a skillet and made an enormous omelet with the egg dripping off of just one arm.

When the last egg was tossed, we met at the sidewalk and we started laughing at each other. Our hair was plastered to our heads by yellow-tinged slime. Even our eye lashes were stuck together in the gunk that streamed off of us. We laughed and laughed and then suddenly we stopped laughing because as we looked around the yard, we realized we had a lot of work to do to hide the evidence of our 'clash of smash'. The grass was completely covered in the shattered shells, not to mention the ooze of egg still dripping from tree trunks, limbs, the hedge and even the brick of the house.

Oh, we were going to be in so much trouble if we didn’t get this mess cleaned up soon! We each grabbed a hose and started washing down trees, bushes, the house, grass, each other, etc. We gathered arm loads of shells and tried to find a place to hide them. We eventually filled the wheelbarrow and hauled them into the garden and buried them to conceal the evidence that could be used against us.

Even after the hose washing, our hair and clothes stiffened as we dried. We removed clothing at the back door and slipped into the bathroom to shower, shampoo and repeat many times to get the goo off. We also had to do that load of laundry several times. The egg just kept sudsing and foaming up in the washing machine.

Jim and I thought we did a fairly good cleaning job; we looked spick and span by the time the parents showed up. But a few days later when our irrigation turn came and the water was turned down our ditch, I was helping Mom irrigate the yard and garden when I noticed millions of egg shell shards floating everywhere. I don’t know how Mom didn’t notice, but apparently until last Tuesday, she was completely unaware of our escapades with eggs all those years ago.

It makes me wonder what kind of antics I'm completely oblivious about that my kids will share with me a few years down the road...

Monday, August 30, 2010

Brewing up a Storm

This morning as I stepped out of my garage a little past 4:30, the three-quarter moon was shining overhead with plenty of stars scattered around. I walked up to the track breathing in the fresh morning air. Shortly after stretching and starting my first lap, a wind began blowing. By my fifth lap, the wind was nearly pushing me backwards; the clouds had billowed up over the mountains on three sides of me while the wind brought in another batch from the west. During the next couple of laps, I realized the temperature had dropped at least 10 degrees. Then lightening flashed brilliantly along the southern horizon. I cut my run a little short and started for home as the wind began driving raindrops diagonally into my face and thunder rolled across the valley. As I stepped into my garage, the clouds burst open and it just poured! After flipping off the sprinklers, I stood in the doorway and marveled at what I had just was magical!

Sunday, August 22, 2010

Trying Some New Things

I planted a few new things in my garden this year: Basil, Cilantro and Tamatillos...and it has been GREAT!!!

I've been trying some new things in the kitchen this year. The smell of fresh basil forced me to create a Pizza Margaurite recipe that has become a huge hit here at the Crouch House.

A very simple dough recipe contains just flour, water, salt and a small amount of yeast.
Garlic and oregano in olive oil is the only sauce on the thin-rolled crust, then fresh diced tomatoes (also from my garden).

Basil is plentiful, so load up the pizza with plenty of the sweet-smelling herb.

I roll the crust out on a pastry cloth and then place it on a 500 degree pizza stone, spread on the garlic and oregano oil. Layer on the tomatoes, basil and thin slices of mozzarella.

Bake the whole thing at 500 degrees for 7 minutes, slice it up and serve immediately...yum!

Oh, yeah, I also used a few of my tomatillos and some cilantro to make a green salsa. We will be trying out some enchilada recipes with that this week...stay tuned.

P.S. If anyone would like chilies, jalapeƱos or green peppers, PLEASE come and get some; and don't forget raspberries...loads of raspberries ripe for the picking.