Sunday, August 31, 2008

A Time to Dance


This photo was swiped from Kelsey's blog. Sweetpea was all dressed, ready for her first dance recital and practicing a few moves in the driveway. I thought it was a great picture, and needed to be featured here, in addition to Kelsey's blog.

Grandma loves you, Sweetpea!

Friday, August 29, 2008

A Cup of This and a Cup of That

This week I've been spending some time with a book that Mom gave to me, after Dad passed away, in 1997. On the first page, in three different handwritings, are my grandpa's name and an address in San Pedro, CA; the name W.P. Ward and his address in Long Beach, CA; and, the last name written on the page is my dad's, with no address. I have no idea who Mr. Ward was, but he, apparently, owned this book at one time.

On that first page, beneath the signatures, is a note which reads, "The binding of this book, Du Pont Fabrikoid, will wear indefinately (sic) and keep its beauty. It will not scuff nor stain, is waterproof and can be washed without injury."

The title of the book is The Master Baker's Manual for Bakeries, Hotels, Restaurants, Hospitals and Other Institutions. It was published by Calumet Baking Powder Company, Chicago, Illinois. Price $5.00.

The copyright date is 1930. I guess that statement about the quality of the binding was true, for it is 78 years old, and is still in perfect condition. Although the pages are yellowed with age and there is a dusting of flour on the cover and between the pages, every page is still securely stitched in place.

On page 46 is a pressed flower. I believe it is a viola, which looks like a very tiny pansy. I wonder who put it there? My guess is that either Dad or Grandpa used it as a model to make icing flowers for a special-order decorated cake.

On the blank pages at the end of the book are some hand-written recipes, one for "Bible Cake" which has ingredients such as raisins, figs and honey. And, on a lined page is some calligraphy in green ink. I've seen similar calligraphy in another hand-written recipe book (that I have, as well) that belonged to Grandpa, so I'm certain it is his work. He worked hard at these beautiful scripts so that he could do them in icing when he decorated cakes.

That second little book that I just mentioned is a 4" x 6" black binder, full of Grandpa's formulas (that's bakers' terminology for "recipes"). It is well worn, and has a lot of little scraps of paper and oddities stuck in between the pages. One of the inserts is a Pacific Telephone bill, from San Francisco, dated March 11, 1959. The current month's charges (not including a remaining balance from the last bill) total 41 cents. To me, this little book is a treasure.

The recipes in these books are wonderful, but are not meant to be made at home. For example, the Hot Milk Sponge Cake includes, among other ingredients, 4 pounds of cake flour and 4 pounds (2 quarts) of eggs. Once all of the ingredients are mixed in, it ends up as 17-1/4 pounds of batter. I've learned that reducing recipes of this size to a household amount seldom produces a quality product (for some reason).
But there's something very touching and nostalgic about reading through these books, seeing my Grandpa's and Dad's hand-written notes, and remembering how I watched them make these wonderful baked goods from scratch. In case any of you don't know it, there are few if any bakeries left that do that. Some modern-day baked good are made from mixes (just add water, etc.), and many come all prepared and frozen (just pop in the oven for 25 minutes). I think it's sad that so many people today have never tasted quality baked goods from a master baker.

That's all for today. No conclusion. No humorous story. Just a little rambling about a couple of things that I hold dear, not because of what they are, but because of whose they were.

Monday, August 25, 2008

A Few Pictures from our Road Trip

A few of these pictures were taken outside the car, but most of them were "on the fly" pictures, through the car window, at 70 m.p.h.

Here are a couple of rural scenes from east of Missoula, in Montana:

There were so many wonderful mountain vistas as we made our way south through Montana:

The following two photos were taken from a rest stop in Utah, north of Moab. We climbed up a steep road, to the top of a mesa, to get to it:

As we neared Moab, Utah, we saw these blue/green colors on the mountains. We wondered if it was copper:

But, once we were in Moab, RED was the predominant color. This first picture was taken looking straight up from the base of a rock canyon wall along the Colorado River:

And this was taken standing back from the wall, looking at it from across the river:

We spent the night, both ways, in Provo, Utah. This is a shot of the road leading out of Provo, going south:

There is a well-advertised place called The Hole in the Wall. We stopped, thinking I could take some photos of some wonderful rock formation. But it turned out to be a tourist trap, with shops built into the rock wall, and this huge lizard attached to the rocks. 

This, on the other hand, was a beautiful natural rock formation, called Wilson's Arch. I had Dan pull over so I could get a number of pictures of it, from different perspectives:

Still in Utah - this rock formation reminded me of a beehive, and since Utah's nickname is "The Beehive State" I thought it was appropriate:

In the corner of Colorado we passed through, we saw a couple more interesting rock formations. I don't know what the first one is called, but the second one was Chimney Rock.

And this is New Mexico's most famous rock formation, Shiprock. Sadly, the sun was in a bad position for me to get a good picture. At least you can see the silhouette, although the details are not clear.

Outside of Cuba, New Mexico, we saw this formation, but I haven't been able to find out what it is called. It looked a little like a sombrero to me:

The following three pictures were taken during the "golden hour," when the sun was low on the horizon and we were nearing Albuquerque: 

And, finally, we saw Sandia Crest on the horizon, and knew we were almost home. At LAST!

An Article About Lauretta in the Missoulian

This is a great article. It captures Lauretta's personality and spirit to a tee.

Sunday, August 24, 2008

Our Quick Trip to Montana

We left on Wednesday morning, by car, to go to Montana for Lauretta's funeral. We drove 558 miles that day, to Provo, Utah, where we spent the night. On Thursday we finished the northbound portion of the trip, with another 568 miles from Provo to Missoula. The journey north was enjoyable. The southern Utah area was amazing and beautiful, and the stretch going north in Montana provided us with grand vistas of green valleys and far-off mountain ranges.

At 11:00 on Friday we met up with family, who drove in from Bozeman, for lunch at Cracker Barrel. It was wonderful to visit with all of them, some whom we hadn't seen in many years.

The funeral was at 1:00 at the Higgins Avenue church, where Wiley and Lauretta had worshipped when they lived in Missoula. It was a small gathering of, maybe, 75 people. So many of the folks who were near and dear to Wiley and Lauretta have also passed on. And many of the people now attending that congregation were not there during the Wiley and Lauretta years. But the ones who came were very dear friends, whose lives had been touched by Lauretta in so many ways.

Lauretta's son-in-law, Mike (Kathy's husband), spoke, and two of her grandsons, Caleb and Jacob, led the congregational singing. After the graveside service, we all came back to the church building for some desserts provided by the congregation and a time of visiting.

That evening Dan and I met up with eight other family members for dinner at MacKenzie River Pizza (more about that later).

The next morning - Saturday - we started our 1126-mile trip back to Albuquerque, stopping that evening, once again, in Provo. That day of driving was the most difficult. We were both very tired, and I ended up driving more that day than any other, so that Dan could rest a bit. Then, on Sunday morning, we left Provo on our last leg of the trip, heading back to Albuquerque. Unfortunately, the next day would be Monday, so it was back to work without a day to rest up.

The trip was pretty demanding, but we are so grateful that we were able to be there. Lauretta was very special in our lives, and we'd have always regretted it had we not made the effort to be there.

And, now, here are some random memories of the trip, itself:

I had never before seen Shiprock, which is in the Four Corners area of New Mexico. It's visible from the road, although it is far off in the distance; it is an impressive chunk of natural rock. I may have to re-read Tony Hillerman's mystery novel, The Fallen Man, which centers on the discovery of a long-dead climber found atop Shiprock. (Tony Hillerman is one of Albuquerque's home-town authors.)

Driving through Utah, especially the Provo and Salt Lake City area, provided a few grins at the expense of the area's predominant religion. Have you ever wondered how all of those "missionaries" who knock on your door find suits that are enough alike to seem like uniforms? We figured it out. Alongside I-15, between Salt Lake City and Provo, stands a large billboard, advertising "Missionary Mall" (and it's on-line version, where these young men can purchase their missionary suits, with a "two year guarantee." Another billboard encouraged, "Nominate an elder." It directed the reader to a website: If you go there, you will see that you can nominate an "elder" of your choice, whose face will be in the running to be featured on that billboard and on the website itself. Interesting.

We found eastern Idaho to be rather boring. Maybe our opinion would have been different had we taken in the Potato Museum, which was advertised on billboards alongside Interstate 15, between Pocatello and Idaho Falls.

Since moving away from the northwest, I've been craving Nalley's chili and Nalley's baby dills; that brand is not available in New Mexico. I smiled all the way home, knowing that I brought back a private stash of both!

And, speaking of food . . . when it comes to pizza, there's nothing in Albuquerque to compare with the pizza made in the pizza parlors of the Northwest. While in Missoula, we ate at MacKenzie River Pizza. Now THAT was great pizza! Don't miss it, if you ever go through Missoula.

Driving back through Montana, we saw a huge heard of buffalo. There were a lot of calves with their mothers. I didn't get a picture.

Alongside the road in Montana was a warning sign: "There may be more cows than cops in Montana, but we still give tickets." Likewise, upon entering Farmington, New Mexico, from either direction, we were met by a large electronic reader board that proclaimed, "COPS EVERYWHERE!!!"

I'll be posting some pictures from the trip -- maybe Monday evening.

Monday, August 18, 2008

In Memory of Lauretta Baker

Dan’s Aunt Lauretta left us Sunday night to go home to be with her beloved Wiley. Wiley passed away in 2006, and Lauretta has been grieving over him ever since. She was afflicted with Alzheimers, as well as some other physically debilitating problems for the past several years. There was nothing to keep her here and everything to draw her to her heavenly home.

Wiley and Lauretta had three children of their own when Dan and his brother, at young ages, lost both of their parents. Wiley and Lauretta took the boys under their roof and raised them, from that time, as their own.

I first met Lauretta back in my college days, before Dan and I were married. She impressed me with her wry wit and her Godly wisdom. As the years went by and I got better acquainted with her, I grew to appreciate and love her.

Lauretta was frugal. She lived through the great depression, and knew how to make ends meet in hard times. Even when times were good, she practiced the old “waste not, want not” adage. I remember how clean she scraped every jar and every butter wrapper before they went into the trash; how she saved my children’s breakfast leftovers and ate them, herself, for lunch; how she patched clothing and cut bad spots out of over-ripe fruit.

Lauretta was hard working. When we would visit at Wiley and Lauretta's house, likely as not the sounds that would wake me at 5:00 a.m. would be Lauretta cleaning the oven, making pies, or preparing food for later that day. She was the first person I knew who took “power naps,” although I don’t think she called them that. She would work and work, until she was exhausted. Then she would lie down on the couch, fall asleep instantly, sleep for five minutes, and pop back up to go again for several hours.

Lauretta was hospitable. I don’t ever remember visiting her and Wiley when she didn’t have others dropping by for a visit and a bountiful meal at her dining room table. In fact, there were times when there would be up to 30 people in their house, hugging, chatting, watching football on TV, playing card games and laughing, while Lauretta scurried around the kitchen doing her magic.

And speaking of kitchen magic, Lauretta was a master at preparing a large meal for a large crowd. I think of enchiladas as her “signature dish”; she taught me how to make them. She shared numerous recipes with me, including her Heavenly Cake, which is a three-layered German-chocolate-like cake. I called her one day, from Alaska, to ask for her pecan pie recipe, because it was the best I’d ever tasted. “It’s on the back of the Karo Syrup bottle,” she told me. How could that be? I’d used that recipe myself, as had just about everyone else I knew, but no one’s pecan pie tasted like Lauretta’s!

Lauretta had a sense of humor as big as her birth-state,Texas. She was famous for her one-liners, often spoken under her breath. She was adventurous, even getting her pilot’s license “back in the day” and sharing the controls with Wiley on numerous air trips. She loved to write, composing lengthy annual Christmas poems to slip into her Christmas cards and keeping a hand-written daily journal for many years. She was faithful to the Lord, to the end, attending worship services and singing the old songs, even in her last days.

This world is a little poorer, and Heaven a little richer, now that Lauretta has gone Home.

Lauretta’s Heavenly Cake

1 cup butter or margarine
2-1/2 cups sugar
2 eggs, unbeaten
3 cups flour
1/4 tsp. salt
2 tbs. cocoa
2 tbs. vanilla
2 cups buttermilk
2 tsp. baking soda

Cream the butter. Add the sugar and cream well, again. Add eggs one at a time. Beat well after each egg. Add vanilla, buttermilk and dry ingredients, alternately.

Bake in three greased and floured 9” layer pans at 350 degrees for 25 minutes, or until done.

Heavenly Cake Icing (The BEST part!)

2 cups sugar
2 beaten eggs
2 tbs. flour
1 cup evaporated milk
1 cup angel flake coconut
1 cup chopped pecans
1 tsp. vanilla

Add eggs to the milk and whisk together. Mix flour and sugar together, then add the milk/egg mixture. Cook over low heat until thick. Add coconut, nuts and vanilla. Let cool before putting on cake. Spread 1/3 of icing on top of each layer, letting excess icing run down the sides.

Sunday, August 17, 2008


Well, the Luck of the Irish shone on you today, Papa John! You've captured the pot at the end of the rainbow. IRELAND IT IS! It'll be a year from now before we bring home your prize, so in the meantime, here's a little Irish blessing to carry you through:

May the luck of the Irish
Lead to happiest heights
And the highway you travel
Be lined with green lights.

(By the way, for those of you wondering, the John Wayne movie was The Quiet Man.)

Friday, August 15, 2008

Chew on This!

I’m putting together a little “touch and feel” board-book about the Bible for Sweetpea. It’s just assembled with hole-punch and rings, so nothing fancy. It has a little song that goes with it, that we sing in our 2- and 3-year-old’s class on Sunday mornings. Each page has something glued onto it. For instance, one page has a color crayon glued to it, and a crayon scribble on the page. The verse of the little song for that page goes:

We won’t color in it,
We won’t color in it,
It is God’s Word.

One of the pages is supposed to look like it has been chewed on by some little tot. (You know . . . We won’t chew it, We won’t chew it, It is God’s Word.) I have all the other pages done, but have been trying to figure out how to make the “chew” marks along the edge of that one page. I thought about dampening it and using some pliers, but I don’t think it would look very realistic. I thought there might be some kind of a kitchen tool, maybe a press of some kind, that would work, but none that I could find in my gadget drawer. The one in our Bible class looks so realistic!

One of my little students has his own copy of this book, that his mama made for him. So, on Sunday I went up to her and asked:

“Brina, what did you use to make the chew marks on the page in Jordan’s Bible book?”

“My teeth,” she said, looking at me as if I was just a little dim.


I guess I’ve got my work cut out for me this weekend . . . chewing on poster board! I hope you appreciate it, dear Sweetpea.

[Don't miss clue #3, that was posted last night - just below this one.]

Thursday, August 14, 2008

Clue #3

What wonderful guesses you are all making, about the place Dan and I are planning to go to celebrate our next anniversary. To help keep the enthusiasm going, I'm going to give a third clue, and it's a GOOD one!

But first, here are the places that have already been eliminated:

1. New England
2. Alaska
3. Australia/New Zealand
4. Japan
5. Greece
6. Oregon
7. Africa

And you can read the earlier clues:
Clue #1
Clue #2

So (this might be a give-away!) --

Clue #3: John Wayne was in a movie that had something to do with this place.

Tuesday, August 12, 2008

12 of 12 for August 2008

It's August 12, so time to post my 12 of 12 pictures. You can see them HERE.

Sunday, August 10, 2008

Clue #2

For those of you playing along, trying to guess where Dan and I are planning to go for our 40th anniversary (a year from now), clue #2 is shown below. Oh, and don't forget, the first one to guess correctly will win a prize - a souvenir from the destination.

Now, some of you have emailed me with a guess, but please submit your guesses as blog comments. That way other people can read and learn places that have been eliminated. Feel free to guess again, with each new clue. So far two places have been submitted: New England and Alaska. Both are wrong, but keep trying Genie and Gloria!

Clue #2: We'll be applying for passports -- our first ones, by the way.
Missed clue #1? Look HERE

Saturday, August 9, 2008

Home Improvement

The home office, in the front of our house, has two work spaces, one for Dan and one for me. We have our computers set up in there, and have been plagued since day-one by bright sunlight on our monitor screens at certain times of the day. We've only had a bamboo roll-up shade at the window. Since the office is on the south side of the house, the sun also contributed to the room being too warm in the summer.

Today Dan gave up a relaxing Saturday to hang some drapes in front of the bamboo shade, giving us a "layered look." The drapes really make a difference in cutting out the light, and will make this room more private when it serves its alternate role, as an occasional overflow guest bedroom.

Now it's my turn. The office is in need of a good cleaning and organizing. If you don't hear much from me this week, you'll know that I'm hard at work making it more presentable.

Wednesday, August 6, 2008

When the Roll is Called Up Yonder, She'll be There

Angie Long. The name itself puts a smile on my face. When my family moved to Juneau, in 1957, and began worshipping with the small church of Christ, located in the little white building on Glacier Avenue, Angie was my first Sunday school teacher. Angie was a story-teller like none other. We sat in her little cubby-hole of a classroom (actually, a changing room for baptisms) and listened to Bible stories pour out of her. She didn’t use visual aids or teachers’ manuals. We didn’t do crafts. But we were spellbound by the stories of David, Moses and Joshua; Peter, Paul and, of course, Jesus that she brought to life for us. The visual aid that she did provide for us was a walking, talking, hugging model of the love that is spoken of in I Corinthians 13.

Not only did Angie tell Bible stories, but she had an unmatched talent for performing “recitations.” I remember giggling during church talent shows, as Angie entertained us with long, humorous, dramatic poetic narratives, memorized when she had been a child in school, and still fresh in her mind, decades later.

Angie was famous for her baking. A potluck meal, in Juneau, wasn’t a meal at all without Angie’s lemon meringue and chocolate cream pies. Although most of Angie’s famous recipes were kept in her head, she was always willing to write them down for someone else. My recipe box contains several cards with recipes gleaned from Angie. One of my favorites was her chocolate sheet cake, which is a hit whenever and wherever I serve it. Dan and I remember going to the home of Angie and Maurice (her devoted husband) for dinner one evening. The meal was one of the most delicious ones I think I’ve ever eaten, and then came dessert. She offered us a choice of three kinds of pies that she had baked that day. Having trouble deciding which one we wanted, she solved the problem. “I’ll bring you some of each!”

Although Angie was famous for her story-telling and her baking, what I remember most about Angie was her smile. I can’t even picture Angie, in my mind, without that smile. She smiled when she spoke, she smiled when she listened, she smiled when she worked, and she smiled when she sang. And sing she did! Her clear, strong harmony was a signature element of the Juneau church’s congregational singing.

Angie passed on to her reward, yesterday, after a long and difficult spell of ill health, which left her, I’m sure, longing for Home, where she’ll be harmonizing with that mighty chorus and smiling into the face of Jesus.

Tuesday, August 5, 2008


This is the monsoon season, here in Albuquerque. What that means is that, almost every afternoon, thunderheads build on the horizon of an otherwise blue sky, and by evening a thunder shower rolls through the city, dumping a huge amount of rain in a short amount of time. No one here complains, for water in this high desert is a precious commodity.

Today, however, was uncharacteristically gray and cloudy all day. The clouds appeared heavy with rain, but didn't release any moisture until this evening. As I sit, writing this post, I'm listening to the rumbling of thunder and to the heavy rain as it pounds our windows and spills from our roof.

Today's weather is reflective of my mood. I heard sad news today from some dear friends - news that still has me in an emotional spin. And this piece of news is one of a half-dozen similarly disturbing ones that have come our way, this summer, from friends (not family) near and far away. It feels, today, as if the monsoons have arrived here, in my heart.

Monday, August 4, 2008

The Tale of a Procrastinator

(The characters and events in this tale are fictional, and any resemblance to persons, living or dead, is purely coincidental. Maybe.)

Once upon a time a good man lost a button from the front of his shirt. It was a nice shirt, especially suitable for spring and summer wear. When winter had ended, he took the shirt to his wife-of-many-years and said, "Dear Wife, would you please sew a new button onto my shirt? It is almost springtime, and I would like to wear it."

"Of course," replied the wife, "although I can't do it at this very moment."

"That's fine," said the good man. "Whenever you have time." And he handed the shirt to his wife, for safekeeping and to be mended at her convenience.

Days passed. Weeks passed. And, one morning, the good man said to himself, "I wonder if my wife has sewn a new button onto my shirt. Surely she has, by now." So he asked her, "Dear wife, have you sewn the button onto my shirt?"

"I don't remember you asking me to sew a button onto a shirt," said the wife. "What shirt would that be?"

The man replied, "My green and white, light-weight shirt."

"I'm sorry, dear Husband. I had forgotten, though now that you mention it I believe I do recall that you asked me to mend that shirt. If you will give it to me, I'll fix it today."

"But, I did give it to you, weeks ago," said the good man.

Certain that he had not done so, she shook her head. "No, I don't have it. You should look in your closet. I'm sure you will find it there, and then I will fix it for you." The wife said this, with clear conscience, believing it to be the truth.

The good man, knowing that he had entrusted it to her when he first asked her to repair it, none-the-less looked through the clothes hanging in his closet . . . to no avail. The shirt was not there. "Well," he said, "I guess it is gone. Perhaps I should buy a new shirt to replace it."

A few more weeks passed, and, one morning, the wife was busily sorting through her clothes and choosing some to be bundled and given to the needy. That was when she spied, in her own closet and to her surprise and embarrassment, her good husband's summer-weight shirt, with the button still missing. Until that moment it had been hidden from view by one of her very own jackets.

With great haste, the wife found a shirt button, sewed it onto the shirt, and lovingly and humbly hung the shirt upon a hanger in her husband's closet.

The moral to this tale:
"Good is best when sooneth wrought;
Lingering labors come to naught."
-Robert Southwell (1561-1595)

Dear Dan,
Take a look in your closet after you read this tale.