Wednesday, April 29, 2009

Raspberries..And Not Enough Else

The title is somewhat misleading. I did get the raspberry plants into the ground, but as tomorrow is the start of Women's Conference (yea!) and I will be effectively out of commission for two days, I didn't get everything I needed to for Thursday and Friday done. Oh well. I'm sure the list is not going anywhere. Most of the regular Wednesday stuff wriggled it's way in somehow. It has been strange to spend the day before Women's Conference planting raspberries and grocery shopping instead of driving, but that's another story for another day.

The raspberry plants came to me as 5 or 6 foot long sticks with a few leaves. The man who gave them to me said to plant them, cut them down to 18 inches, and fertilize next fall. I like that- short, easy, and all things I understand and, better yet, know how to do. Especially the "not" fertilizaing part. I can "not fertilize" really well. So, here are our raspberry sticks. I had 6 plants, but two were stuck together so well that I just planted them in the same hole. Good thing, too, be cause I was getting tired of digging. (The cute legs and shadows you see are the kiddos who live next door. There are three- twins almost 4 and another 2-1/2 year old. They are true boys and love all things to do with tools and dirt. We are becoming good friends this week. I can finally tell them apart!)

The idea is to grow a raspberry hedge along the side of the house. We'll see. I know, you can't see the sticks in the pictures. So here's the double stick up close.

They look eerily similar to, but should not be confused with, the cocktail fruit tree stick I planted last fall. It is still standing and is still firmly attached to the ground, so I hope that means it (and the raspberries) will eventually do something besides be a stick. (Thanks you dear-next-door-neighbor for mowing our yard right before I came out to take pictures. Otherwise, there would be lots and lots of pretty dandelions included!)

As a prize for making it to the end of this post, you get a free bit of trivia. If you didn't already know it, you've learned something new and get a free trip to bed early. Knowledge and extra sleep. Double bonus. Now, for the trivia- according to George W. Dickerson at the New Mexico State University Extension, there several colors of raspberries, including black. There is a simple way to tell the difference between raspberries and blackberries. The cores of a raspberry, when harvested, stays attached to the stem. The cores of harvested blackberries become part of the edible fruit. Sleep well! (I know I will.)

Tuesday, April 28, 2009

Moving Rocks

There's just something about working in the garden, even if the garden doesn't exactly exist yet, to make me feel great. Our backyard gets to become one this year, but it's going to be a very long process. The first step today was to remove some very old dead sod next to the back porch (aka small square of cement) and replace it with some of the flagstones from another part of the yard. Moving the stones will allow the hose to be up and off the ground and gives us quite a bit more garden space.

I wish I'd thought to take a "before" picture, but I didn't. The ground looked something like this, only bordered on one side by the A/C unit. The horizontal stripes are caused by the rain dripping between the boards of the deck above. Great sod, don't you think! Funny what no water for a LONG time will do. This particular spot of ground will get to host a bed of strawberries in the near future. (Yum!)

This is the after. It's not perfect, but I moved all those stones by myself and I feel pretty happy with the results. Everything is settled in pretty well and none of them rock when I step on them- I hate that! I'm trying to decide if I want to place smaller rocks to "smooth"out the bottom edge. We'll see.

I found a few "treasures" under the stones- about a billion ants who were NOT happy to have their roof removed and a black widow spider. Blech! Glad it wasn't one ant and a billion spiders! About 1/3 of the stones are left. They'll get to become borders and/or stepping stones through the garden. Their former home will be home to watermelon and pumpkin plants, and maybe a cantaloupe or two. I didn't take a picture, but the ants all eventually calmed down and went back under ground. I'll have to take care of them tomorrow.

We were also given a few raspberry plants today that will hopefully get a dirt home tomorrow. Hope my calendar realizes I need a bunch of free time!

Sunday, April 26, 2009

Not Feeling Too Bright Right About Now

Something didn't sit well last night as I was writing my last post. 10 hours later, I finally figured out what it was. The Marriage of Figaro isn't a Shakepeare anything, it's a Mozart opera. Obviously I'm not much of a classics kind of gal. So, sorry to Mozart and Shakespeare for giving credit where it wasn't due. That's what I get for staying up late to write.

Good thing I already have my high school and college diplomas. I think Mr. Perry and Ms. McGovern have already retired, too. Whew! I'd really have to bone-up for a final exam were I to take it now!

Saturday, April 25, 2009

Who Knew?!

I love to read-almost to the point that it's not healthy- but literature proper has always been a struggle. I like to read for the pleasure of reading, not always as interested in the meaning behind what I'm reading as I probably should be. I never seem to get the same message or enjoyment out of some stories and poems that my teachers did, and my opinion or thoughts never seemed to be "right". So, I suffered through literature classes. My grades were always good, but I don't think I gave any hope to my teachers as to my future with the written word. I took AP English as a Senior in high school. It was a whole year of analyzing literature in different forms. Ms. McGovern was the teacher and I'm sure she was no more impressed than any of my other teachers.

Plays are kind of near the bottom of my favorite things to read, and Shakespeare has pretty much occupied the bottom-most spot for most of my life. I remember studying Hamlet with Ms. McGovern. Ugh!! And, lucky class that we were, we got to follow up the reading and analyzing with the movie. It was a very long unit for me.

Just to cement my feelings towards Shakespeare, the choir I was in attended a festival or something at NAU in Flagstaff that same year. I remember it being an overnight trip. The "highlight" of the evening were tickets for the entire choir to attend the NAU presentation of "The Marriage of Figaro"- another Shakespeare event in my life. I didn't exactly enter the performance with great anticipation and my enthusiasm went down from there. Most of the words sounded foreign to me and I struggled to follow the dialogue and storyline. Dying from boredom seemed pretty much assured. I must have been sitting near the back, because I remember somehow sneaking out the back for a little while to get a break. Please don't tell Mr. Perry, the choir director!

I avoided Shakespeare for several years. Then, in college, Greg took me to see Henry V and the latest movie version of Hamlet. I went because I wanted to spend time with Greg. He really liked them. I'm pretty sure I didn't, but I don't have any memories, other than both movies starting. I decided Shakespeare was not ever going to be one of "my things". I wasn't saddened by that thought at all.

So, fast forward a few years to tonight. A friend called this afternoon. She, her husband and another couple had season tickets to the Hale Theater in Orem. Their tickets were for tonight, but the other couple was out of town. Would Greg and I be interested in attending Shakespeare's "As You Like It" with them? My first reaction was not one of over excitement, but I thought a night of culture would be good for me. Besides, it would be fun to have a date with Greg and good friends. So, I said yes and looked forward to the night out.

I was amazed. The play was fabulous. Who ever knew that Shakespeare could not only be understandable, but funny?! The costumes were great, the acting wonderful, the props very creative. This production was so helpful as to give a brief, written summary in the program and then a verbal introduction/recap at the beginning and then again after intermission. The actors seemed to speak more English than I remember hearing in previous encounters. I laughed. I followed most of the dialogue. I wanted more. In short, I did something I thought was impossible- experienced Shakespeare and lived to tell the tale.

Saturday, April 18, 2009

Just A Few Minutes

This is a total "minor miracle", but one for which we were grateful. The kids and I went to CA Wednesday to visit Grandma and had a very fun, but very brief visit. (The kids had school Monday and Tuesday.) If I get around to it, right now I'm booked out until June, I'll download and post pictures. Don't put your life on hold while waiting, though.

It was about an 11 hour or so drive over several dry rivers and through lots of space that could hold some woods as on to grandmother's house we went. On the way there, we gained an hour by changing time zones. That meant that on the way back we'd lose one. I wanted to get home early enough to get the car unloaded, have dinner, and get every one showered and to bed at a reasonable time. I figured that if we left a 6:00 this morning we could be back by 6:00 tonight.

We started well and were off a couple of minutes after 6:00. I did still have to stop and get gas, though. No big deal, it was just a few minutes. Then, due to several factors including sun rising in my eyes, a car on my right, and my listening to a book on CD, I missed the turn off from our east-bound free way to our north-bound freeway. No big deal, I just turned around at the next exit and came back. It was just a few minutes.

We stopped to say "Hi" and drop off a little something for the nephews at my brothers house in Las Vegas. It was the best few minutes of the day. Dear sister-in-law, Nicci, gave me directions back to the freeway. I should have asked a couple more clarifying questions. I went north when I should have gone south. Thank heavens Nicci had shown me a map (so I should have noticed the north south thing!) and I was able to take a connecting road I'd seen and eventually get headed in the right direction. Once again, it was only a few extra minutes.

I started to be bummed that all my "few extra minutes" were going to make me quite a bit later than 6:00. There was no real rush, other than some self-imposed goal I was trying to meet. Greg was even waiting to hear from us when we got closer, so he could have dinner ready when we got home. So, I really was set for the evening, no matter how long it took to get there. We were listening to some great books on CD, so the drive was quite enjoyable. Other than beating my imaginary clock and everyone wanting to be out of the car, there was no pressure,

Well long story short, I drove and drove (and stayed within a couple of ticks of the posted speed limit, too!). Thank heavens for great weather and a couple of 80 mph "speed limit test areas" that allowed us to make up a few extra minutes. I pulled off the freeway at 6:00 pm on the dot on the van clock (which I did not manipulate in any way!). We were home a couple of minutes later. My own little miracle. It's not one of those life-altering experiences, but I appreciated it nonetheless.

The other most wonderful miracle I was handed today was a beautifully vacuumed home with yummy spaghetti smells wafting out the door when we walked in. Greg is the best!

Saturday, April 11, 2009


The date will say that this was written on Saturday, but as Spencer was out babysitting until the stroke of Saturday, I am still up writing a post meant for Friday. Normally, I would have gotten to bed, anyway, but at our house the Easter Bunny comes on the Friday night before Easter. This serves several purposes, the most important of which is that we can keep the commercialized Easter and the Real Easter seperated. I like to have all day Sunday to concentrate on the Savior and His Atonement and the significance of life renewed. Saturday candy also helps prevent the sugar high from completely conflicting with our efforts for reverence at church on Sunday. Tonight, it also means that the Easter Bunny couldn't visit until very late because not everyone was tucked into their snug little beds yet. The real irony- I will be up later tonight than I was on Christmas Eve, but only have about 1/50th the work. What's up with that?!

Steven and Ryan have been very excited. Steven's friend, Peter, is too. His family doesn't do candy for Easter. I think he'll be over fairly early in the morning to "celebrate" with our family. We will welcome him as I will be happy to spread some of the sugar wealth around the neighborhood.

Ryan is the reason for this particular post. For the first holiday ever he asked tonight if I was really the Easter Bunny. *Sigh*. I beat around the bush, but I think he very strongly suspects. He flat out said that "the Easter Bunny isn't true". (Guess he hears at least a little bit during Fast and Testimony meetings!) I asked how he knew that and he said that Santa told him last Christmas. Grounded in solid fact, then! Judging from the ensuing conversation, Santa and the Tooth Fairy are "true", just not the Easter Bunny. So, I have hope for a few more magical evenings, but I'm pretty sure they are numbered. Holidays are fun in a different way as the kids grow up, and I don' begrudge them the maturity. This is just one of those days that was always way out on the horizon and it somehow snuck in under my radar. Just beware, all you parents out there, Santa is giving away your secrets.

Thursday, April 9, 2009

Happy Birthday, Debbie (Wherever You Are)

My mental calendar is telling me it is Debbie DeBoer's birthday. Who is Debbie DeBoer, you ask? She was my neighbor and friend in Michigan from 4th-8th grade. She was the youngest of two, which was worlds away from my being the oldest of eight. We used to have sleepovers at her house- because it was less congested there. Her mom and dad would let us set up shop in the room under the stairs,which was cool even way before Harry Potter lived in a cupboard under the stairs. I remember Debbie and I listening to Weird Al Yankovich and "doing" the Rubiks Cube by taking off all the stickers and putting them back on in order. She got to wear make-up way before I could. We ran on the track team together in Jr. High. She ran very low to the ground and was faster than I ever was. She had a "Xanadu" album and even got a little black and white tv in her very own room right before I moved away. Every time I see a box of Little Debbie's snack cakes I think of her. She was obviously one of my coolest friends!

This is one of those times I wish my mental calendar wasn't so on top of random dates. The last time I even talked to Debbie was 1984-ish. I have absolutely no idea where she is now. I tried looking her up on Facebook, but I couldn't find her. As far as I know, there is no need to remember Debbie's birthday any longer. If I had her email I would send her a note. If I had her address I would send a card, a phone number and I'd totally give her a call. I've heard that we're only six steps/links away from knowing every person in the world. So, if you know Debbie, or know someone who knows someone who knows someone, etc, who knows Debbie, tell her "Hi" for me and have her leave a comment here so I can find a better use for remembering her every April 9th. What good is remembering a friends birthday, if you don't have the friend to go along with it?!

Monday, April 6, 2009

Conference Campfire

The year we moved to NH we started a tradition of having a family campfire for the Family Home Evening right after Conference. We found the kids would sit and talk about what they learned from Conference if they could be mesmerized by the fire and the roasting of marshmallows. For the most part, it was a great activity, though we had a couple of rainy campfire experiences as well. After moving back to AZ almost 2 years ago (has it really been that long?!) we found ourselves in a home that wasn't so campfire friendly. We've kind of made-do ever since. I hadn't really thought how we'd do a campfire here, but learned yesterday we could do it in our unplanted garden. Don't know why I didn't think of that as that's where we did this particular activity in NH to begin with. Ah, a mind is a terrible thing to waste!

Having not planned for an actual campfire this year, we made our own little outdoor experience indoors. The only bummer was that today was gorgeous and would have been really nice outside. Oh well! I'd originally thought we'd make the Indoor S'mores bars from the Golden Grahams box. Greg reminded me last night of the mini s'mores I'd learned about at Cub Scout Round Table last fall, so we did those instead. It was a pretty fun activity. We did use actual fire inside the house, so maybe it wouldn't be so great if the boys were still little. The general idea is to roast a mini marshmallow over a candle (we used pink birthday candles as that color seems to be left over a lot at this house!) and smash it and a milk chocolate chocolate chip between two pieces of Golden Grahams (or the generic equivalent) cereal for a one-bite s'more. I made the candles stand on the plate by melting the bottoms a little and holding them on the plate while they cooled.

The kids thought it was great that they got their own "fire" and plateful of ingredients. They were also great talking about Conference. Mission accomplished! We might just redo it this way again next time- I got to sit in a chair in the comfort of the dining room, no ingredients had to be hauled in and out of the house, no smokey smell on everything, and I ate way less junk than I would have with regular s'mores. What's not to love!

Saturday, April 4, 2009

10 Random Things For Today

I'm in the mood to write, but don't have really anything to say. It's kind of a strange predicament. So, we'll see what we get with a little stream of consciousness exercise.

1) Erica voluntarily sat and watched both sessions of conference today. And took notes. It was cool, but kind of strange. That's definitely a new attitude.

2) The boys only watched the few minutes of conference that we asked them to. That means all 4 watched when the the new member of the Quorum of the Twelve, Neil L. Andersen, was announced and Spencer and Joseph watch when Bro. Neider spoke to the young men and then at the Priesthood session, of course. Otherwise, they didn't interrupt us or fight once during both sessions. It was cool, but kind of strange. That, too, is definitely a new attitude. (We should have General Conference weekend more often!)

3) We watched "The Count of Monte Cristo" with the kids last night. They loved it, especially all the sword fighting and treasure.

4) The General YM Presidency was released today. Bros. Dahlquist and Burgess spoke at the YW Training that I went to earlier this week. Bro. Dahlquist finished his Virtue value three weeks before Sis. Dalton, the General YW President. Yes, that is a YW project, but I think it's great that he did it. I'm getting there, but am not done yet. Consider yourself challenged to complete it as well. Click on the link for more info.

5) We got a piece of junk mail addressed "To The Parents of" Greg today. What?! How did that happen?

6) Our mailman lives down the street. I'd ask him about the junk mail, but he doesn't address it, he just delivers it.

7) We had popcorn and tomato soup, quesadillas, and pears for dinner. Except for one child about the pears, there were no complaints. Miracle. I even heard some "yum"s and "yes!"s while I was serving it up.

8) I love watching the weather move across the valley. Today we had little falling balls of snow. Not ice or hail, snow, and I could see the sun shining farther south.

9) I should be writing a newsletter. I thought this would be faster, though, and then I could go to bed.

10) I think my Stream of Consciousness either dried up or became a Stream of Unconsciousness because that's all that is coming to mind.

Happy Saturday. Hope you have a great weekend!

Wednesday, April 1, 2009

Joy Cometh in the Morning (Psalms 30:5)

"I have no greater joy than to hear that my children walk in truth."

Joseph turned twelve a week and a half ago. Because his birthday fell on a Monday, he wasn't able to get a temple recommend until the following Sunday, so today was his first trip to the temple. The last couple of weeks have been nice, but this morning there was a slight dusting of snow on the ground and it was pretty chilly- all the more incentive to hurry up and get inside. It was crowded today for some reason, but it was a great morning. I loved watching Spencer play the role of big brother beautifully and direct Joseph where he needed to be. Once again, I'm so grateful that Erica wanted to start this as a weekly experience and I overrode my own hesitations and agreed. The above scripture, 3 John 1:4, has been running through my head all day. I think there may be only one joy greater- to actually be able to see it.