Garden Veggies

Garden Veggies
Made into tile for my stove backsplash

Portland Rose Garden

Portland Rose Garden
Mike and my 2 youngest sons Ian and Leif

Grandson Michael's Birthday 2014 throwing water balloons

Grandson Michael's Birthday 2014 throwing water balloons
With son Beau, Grandson Luke and his mom Jennifer


I cut this out of a wedding line. I must take more pictures of her.

Thursday, September 22, 2011


I stood before the mirror this morning and raised my sagging and wrinkled arms to comb my hair.  I thought my skin looked like a mini version of Rino hide.  I took a close up at the Zoo when we went this week with the little boys. Beau wanted a picture to use in a game he is working on.  When did this happen to me?  Maybe I will have to start wearing long sleeves every day or perhaps I just need to accept the inevitable and know that it will get worse.  Accepting my deteriorating body is tough.  

Change in my life hurts more as I age.  I feel vulnerable.  Fall was in the air when I walked the hills this morning. The cool air felt good but I am not ready to let go of this sweet summer with only one day of 100 degrees.  My secret garden was at its prime 2 weeks ago.  I sat in my swing with my eyes going in circles taking in the flourishing red inpatients and the bright yellow sunflowers whose blooms have cheered me for 2 months.

The music of the waterfall has lulled me in peace as my eyes feast on my little herb garden with the 3 metal chickens.  I collected them because I like hens but not roosters.  We raised chickens at home when I was a child.  I recall the dozens of fuzzy little peeps in the coop under lights in the spring and watching them grow during the summer.  The roosters would peck the hens on the neck and make them bleed.  That’s why I don’t like roosters.  But the main reason I like hens is the scripture; “How oft would I have gathered you as a hen gathereth her chickens and ye would not.”  I understand that pain all too well.

Puttering in my secret garden has been like playing house this summer.  I would dabble and dream there every summer morning and take a book in the afternoon to lay on the hammock and read and doze.  Perhaps this is the ideal life that Camelot is made of and of course it can never last but I wanted just a little more.  The Yellow flowers are fading and falling with the leaves on the flagstones as the wind has been blowing the last few days.  The morning air is crisp and I know that this sweet time will end before I am ready.   I recall too often that my mother died when she was 64.  I have a sense of grasping every precious moment. 

My little herb garden grew better than I expected because there isn’t a lot of sun on this spot.  I planted lemon basil by mistake and it has excited me as I have looked for ways to use the bumper crop.  Loaded in a tuna sandwich, chopped in a pasta salad, lemon basil pesto rubbed on a grilled piece of salmon—oh lovely lemon basil how I will miss you. 
Yesterday my neighbors said they are going to put up a fence.  It depressed me all day.  I think they don’t like it because we play badminton when Michael is here.  We hook the net between our houses and one side is wrapped around their rain gutter.  We have only played 3 or 4 times but Michael loves it.  Now there will be nowhere to play.  And then Maren’s dog trots into their yard sometimes when he is here and I have to invade their space to retrieve him.  But I have only had Douggy 2 times this summer.  Do they really need to put up a fence?  I imagine I will get used to this change and it will stop depressing me.  I have learned that time heals all disappointment.  

Two weeks ago in Sunday School the teacher asked for examples of how we treat those who have different religious views from us.  I wanted to tell about Mike and Gary Boning but there wasn’t time.  Joan Boning has been Mike’s secretary for many years.  She is a lovely woman and Mike has become good friends with Joan and her husband Gary over the years.  They are all golfers so they play together often.  Mike needs someone to make the T times and Gary is good at doing this and calling Mike.   Mostly Mike has played with Gary and his Baptist friends.  They have invited him to Baptist golf functions and Mike goes gladly and has bonded with these good people over the years.   Mike knows golf so well that he sometimes gives them personal golf instruction.  We are aware of some rejection the Boning children felt from LDS kids when they were in school.  It is hard to be a nonmember in Utah at times.  But the Bonings love Mike and he has loved them and the fact that he is LDS and they are Baptist has never been an issue.  Recently Gary discovered that he has some LDS relatives that served as a mission president.  Knowing that we are planning a mission Gary had these people contact us to see if we wanted help or advice.  How considerate of him to do this.

Last Saturday morning Mike received a phone call from Joan.  Gary died unexpectedly from an aneurism the night before.  Of course Mike would be one of the first people Joan would call.  This death has been very upsetting to us.  How are you vibrant and alive one week and gone the next?  Life is so very fragile.  Because we are of a similar age our mortality is a little too real right now.  And knowing that losing a beloved mate has to be the most devastating change of all

At Gary’s funeral we learned that he loved the Savior and tried to be a disciple all of his life.  I know there will come a time in Paradise when Gary will be taught the fullness of the gospel and he will say, “I knew a  good, honest, loving Mormon guy, Mike Anderson.  He was an example of the believers.” 

I am blessed that my life is sweet and I cling to its joys but I need to learn that it is best not to cling to anything too much or to be too happy or content because if I do and it all changes I will suffer more than I should.  Can I learn this?  Growing older is making it harder.

The Relaxing Corner

Monday, September 19, 2011


Lemon Basil has been my surprise joy this summer.  I got a package of seeds and planted it not realizing it was Lemon Basil.  Wow is it good!  It is wonderful chopped in a tuna sandwich or a  pile of it on a chicken sandwich or chopped in the following pasta salad.  I will be sad when it is gone.  I did dry some and also I made some lemon basil pesto for use this winter.  Three cheers for Lemon Basil. If you don't have Lemon Basil this is still a good salad.  The dressing is lovely with fish.

 A pile of Lemon Basil
 Lemon Basil Pasta Salad

DRESSING   (This is good on grilled chicken, fish or on a sandwich)
1 C. mayo
3 T. lemon juice
1-2 cloves finely grated garlic fried until a little brown in 1 T olive oil  (I love this flavor)
2 tsp. finely grated lemon peel
2 tsps. dijone mustard
1 tsp black pepper
salt to taste

Boil a pound of pasta and cool in running water.  Add a pound of cooked shrimp or chicken or salmon or whatever. 2-3 C. sliced Celery, 8-10 hard boiled eggs peeled and cut in fourths and chopped lemon basil to taste...start with 1/4 cup. This makes a gigantic salad so cut it in half if you want a smaller one.

This is the Lemon Basil Pesto.  I just blended some basil, olive oil  and garlic.  Then I poured it in a 7X11 inch pan lined with plastic wrap, freeze it, cut it into squares and keep the squares in a zip lock bag in the freezer for later use to rub on grilled fish, chicken or whatever.

Thursday, September 8, 2011


Reading this book was like watching a very long train wreck where you couldn’t look away.   Nothing much happened good in the book except the personal human stories of strength and fortitude.  I didn’t know very much about the dust bowl that occurred during the 1930’s.  This is a book about suffering and hope. It is about a people who wouldn’t give up because they had a piece of land for the first time in their lives and they believed the disaster would end and that their life would return to some kind of normal.  In many ways, those that stayed were trapped with few options other than to wait it out or die. 

The American government encouraged settlement of the Midwest at the beginning of the century by offering land grants to immigrants.  When the railroad reached the areas of the Texas Panhandle, Kansas and Oklahoma immigrants and others were easily enticed to come and get a slice of the prairie.  And they came in droves, made dugout homes to live in and plowed millions of acres of prairie grass.  

They planted wheat and it flourished.  The farmers took their healthy earnings and built mortgaged homes, bought farm equipment on time and plowed more land.  Before long there were silos bulging with the fruits of their labors.  There was such a glut of wheat that the price fell, making it difficult for the farmers to make a profit.   This was the beginning of farm subsidies, as the government attempted to prop up the price of crops by paying farmers not to plant.  This left millions of acres of land laying fallow creating a perfect disaster when the drought hit and the winds came.  And to compound the problem the stock market crashed and the economy imploded.  Foreclosures destroyed all that was left.  

“On September 14, 1930, a windstorm kicked up dust out of southwest Kansas and tumbled toward Oklahoma.  By the time the storm cut a swath through the Texas Panhandle, it looked unlike anything ever seen before on the High Plains…The strange thing about it, the weather bureau observers said, was that it rolled, like a mobile hill of crud, and it was black.  When it tumbled through, it carried static electricity, enough to short out a car.  And it hurt, like a swipe of coarse-grained sandpaper on the face.  The first black duster was a curiosity, nothing else.” (p. 88)

The drought brought colder winters and hotter summers.  The wind blew furiously for days on end.  “The shovel was a rescue tool…In a long day’s blow, the drifts could pile four feet or more against fences clogged with tumbleweeds, which created dunes, which then sent dust off in other directions.” ( P. 138) Some mornings the cars were completely covered.  The wind blew the paint off houses.  It filled the digestive systems of cattle.  It filled their homes.  Nothing they tried could keep it out.  They contracted dust pneumonia and many died.  There was no escape.  They could not stay outside for fear of getting lost of choking on a blast of gritty air.  When it rained it rained black globs of mud.  During some months the dust storms were a daily occurrence for 40 days in a row. 

“There was no color to the land…Some farmers had grown spindles of dwarfed wheat and corn, but it was not worth the effort to harvest it.  The same Texas Panhandle that had produced six million bushels of wheat just two years ago now gave up just a few truckloads of grain. Chickens died; Milk cows went dry;  Cattle starved or dropped dead from ‘dust fever.’ “ (p. 141)

In 1934 many cities on the eastern Seaboard got a taste of Midwest dust storms.  “Now the storm was measured at 1,800 miles wide, a great rectangle of dust from the Great Plains to the Atlantic, weighing 350 tons.” (p.152)  Someone told Congress that 51 million acres were so eroded they could no longer be cultivated.  It would take a thousand years to rebuild an inch of topsoil. 

Timothy Egan created a story around actual people who lived through this time.  When there was nothing left the settlers escaped if they could, as many as 2/3 of them.   I suspect, if I had a choice, I would have been one of them.  I am not sure how anyone survived these 8 years of misery, watching everything around them, including many family members, die.  

Journalist Ernie Pyle called it, “this withering land of misery.”  He toured the plains in the summer of 1936.  He wrote, “I saw not a solitary thing but bare earth and a few lonely, empty farmhouses…There was not a tree or a blade of grass, or a dog or a cow or a human being—nothing whatsoever, nothing at all but gray raw earth and a few farmhouses and barns, sticking up from the dark gray sea like white cattle skeletons on the desert…the saddest land I have ever seen.”  P. 257

This may be one of the saddest stories I have ever read.  The human spirit is amazing in its ability to adapt and go on through unspeakable suffering.   Reading this book changed me but I am still trying to figure out why.   But I do know it made me grateful for the pleasant circumstances in which I live.