all the things I do in my hideaway

Archive for the ‘Family history’ Category

Memories of Memorial Day

I’ve been thinking about Memorial Day recently.  I’m the daughter of a Battle of the Bulge survivor/veteran, and the mother of a member of the US armed forces, a veteran of multiple deployments to the Middle East.  Several of my high school classmates left this life in the jungles of Vietnam, while others returned home.  I understand the difference between Memorial Day and Veterans Day, and the original reason for these holidays.  That said…

As a child, Memorial Day included remembering family members who have died, too.  With the cemetery close to our home, it was just a walk to “visit” Grandma and Grandpa, and, in time, Uncle Walt.  In more recent years, uncles and aunts have joined them, as has my sweet sister, Marilyn.

Memorial Day four years ago is especially memorable to me, and to some of my family, who were there with us.  The story of that day was written by my daughter, Jenn, shortly after Marilyn passed away two months later.

It was Memorial Day 2013; and Matthew and I were going to meet family members at Elysian Gardens Cemetery to place flowers on the headstones. For once, the weather cooperated and was sunny with just the right amount of wind. Matthew was initially more excited about seeing his Great-Grandma, PoPo (Wayne), and Marilyn.

As Marilyn was having a hard time with the side effects of chemotherapy, she wisely chose to stay in the car. With the car parked in the shade and the two front windows down, it provided a great place for her to see everything going on in comfort. I went over and stayed by the car with her, talking about anything and everything, watching all that was going on.

Everywhere you looked, headstones had been decorated with flowers, teddy bears, flags, and pinwheels. Remember I mentioned that there was just the right amount of wind? Well, all those pinwheels were happily turning in breeze, displaying quite a rainbow of colors. Being a typical four year old, Matthew couldn’t contain himself, he just had to stop all those pinwheels! He would stop one of them and go to stop all the others; only to race back to the original because it was turning again. Back and forth he ran yelling, “Stop turning! No, stop it!” and other things. Marilyn begin to laugh and not a small laugh either. This was laughter that I had not heard from her for many months; and hearing it made me laugh. We laughed until we were breathless and had tears in our eyes, which only served to make us laugh more.

Poor Matthew, he never did get all those pinwheels to stop turning, but what he did accomplish was something so much greater. For a brief moment in time, Marilyn was completely free of all her worries and cares, setting aside the physical and mental problems.

He gave me something too. He gave me the perfect memory of Marilyn to keep in my heart and his, the sound of her laughter that was as joyful as those pinwheels turning in the breeze. 

And so it is, that pinwheels spin in my front yard, as well as in cemeteries around the country this weekend.


While Monday may be the day set apart for remembering those who gave their lives in the service of our country, it is also a day I remember those who have gone before me, who await my arrival, someday, in the presence of the Father, where all tears and sorrows have passed, and joy is found.


Christmas Lessons


Lessons of Christmas Day

For four millennia, from the days of Father Adam, prophets declared to the world that there would be born a Savior, the Son of God.  They said:

Behold, a virgin shall conceive, and shall bear a son, and shall call his name Immanuel…

 For unto us a child is born, unto us a son is given: and the government shall be upon his shoulder: and his name shall be called Wonderful, Counsellor, The mighty God, The everlasting Father, The Prince of Peace…

And behold, he shall be born of Mary, at Jerusalem which is the land of our forefathers, she being a virgin, a precious and chosen vessel, who shall be overshadowed and conceive by the power of the Holy Ghost, and bring forth a son, yea, even the Son of God…

The virgin whom thou seest is the mother of the Son of God, after the manner of the flesh.  And it came to pass that I beheld that she was carried away in the Spirit; and after she had been carried away in the Spirit for the space of a time the angel spake unto me, saying: Look! And I looked and beheld the virgin again, bearing a child in her arms…

For according to the words of the prophets, the Messiah cometh in six hundred years from the time that my father left Jerusalem; and according to the words of the prophets, and also the word of the angel of God, his name shall be Jesus Christ, the Son of God…

The Lord thy God will raise up unto thee a Prophet from the midst of thee…   (more…)

Books, books, books….

Books, books, books…


My first visit to the public library is lost in the mists of my infancy.  Doubtless, knowing my mother and her great love for books, it occurred within the first few months of my life.  Certainly, it was well within the first two years.  I don’t remember the walks, but Mother tells of putting my baby sister in a buggy, my brother carefully sharing the space with her, as I walked at their side to the library.    Books were always under the Christmas tree and included in birthday gifts.

It was no surprise to my parents when, at four years of age, I learned to read.  Mother had been reading to me at an age, like the library visit, lost in those early mists.  She would have her children sit on the opposite side of the ironing board and hold the book so she could read to us and iron at the same time.  This she did until all her seven children could read for themselves.

The first book I remember reading, really reading myself, was a Little Golden Book, Chip and Dales’ Toy Train, featuring not only the chipmunks, but Donald Duck.  Grandpa and Grandma Ohlin were visiting us.  We lived just more than a mile away,  so we often were together.  I announced, “Grandpa, I can read.”  “No, Sylvia, you have the book memorized.”

Indignantly, I ran to the kitchen, crying, “Mommy, Grandpa says I don’t know how to read.”  Her response burned itself into my memory.  “Daddy, she can read.  Point to any word in the book and she will read it to you.”  I remember reading at least part of the book to my grandpa that day.

My first memory of the library isn’t until about third or fourth grade.  Our home was in the “country,” lots of a few acres where once farms had been.  Across the street, an enterprising developer saw the potential of the area, and built a small subdivision.  Connie and her family moved into one of the homes.   Connie was a year older than me, and we became friends.  She introduced me to the Nancy Drew mysteries.  I couldn’t wait to go to the library and check out some for myself.

Mom told me how to find them in the library, and I walked straight to the section where books by Carolyn Keene should be.  Nothing.  I looked and looked, but couldn’t find any of the coveted Nancy Drew books.  Disappointed, I told Mom they didn’t have any.  She suggested I ask the librarian and pointed out that very special individual.  The librarian smiled at my question, opened her desk drawer, and revealed a “stash” of the books.  She explained I could only check out two books so there would be some for other children to borrow.  She also explained the concept of “late” in regard to library books and asked if I would be able to read two books in the time allowed.  I believe  it a two week checkout.  Two weeks?  I could read those in a few days!  That drawer became my target each time we visited the library.

If we ran out of library books to read, Mom and Dad had purchased a set of encyclopedias, the Book of Knowledge set, and many other books, all neatly arranged in a floor to ceiling bookcase.  A veritable treasure house, just down the stairs from my bedroom.

We moved when I was fourteen years old, and to my joy, we lived right at a stop for the Bookmobile.  A Bookmobile looked a lot like a little school bus, with two doors.  The entrance was by the driver’s seat, and the length was lined with bookcases, filled with books.  There wasn’t a great variety, but I always found something I wanted to read.  I would walk the length of those shelves, choosing my books, then check out at the back.  Down a couple of steps, up the sidewalk, into my room, where my bed was waiting for me to curl up and READ!     If I requested a certain book, the librarians would try to find a copy and bring it to me.  This was “book heaven.”  Those wonderful women on that little mobile library became unseen friends two years later, when a serious illness confined me to bed for five months.  Each week, Mom would bring a stack of books to my bedroom, where I devoured them.  Often, included in the stack would be books the librarians had chosen especially for me.

During that time, I also received a special bag of books, chosen and delivered by my Aunt Ethel, a journalist on the local weekly newspaper.  Among the treasures were books that became most beloved.  The Yearling, Random Harvest, Freckles, and Girl of the Limberlost became a part of me during those months.  I also remember reading, for the second time, that wonderful story, Tale of Two Cities.  At times, Marilyn and Maurine, my youngest sisters who were twins, would come on the bed and I would read to them.  My bishop and his wife gave me a subscription to the Saturday Evening Post, so I would have something new to read each week.  What an exciting day that was each week as the world appeared in my bedroom.

The years passed, and each time I moved, the library was one of the first buildings I would locate.  I worked in the high school library as a service club member.  In college, I not only studied, but explored the literature provided in a university library.  A move to Oregon resulted in a library just down the street.  Seventeen months later, when my mother came to help at the birth of our first child, she walked down the street and brought back several Mary Stewart books, introducing me to yet another author I would enjoy.  Libraries in Kennewick, Washington, then Bellevue, Washington, became another home.  Now, I was taking my own children with me.  Meeting the librarians in the first month of life was a rite of passage.    A library card became a fifth birthday tradition.  My youngest daughter still treasures her card, her first name carefully printed on the card.  My children know the number on their card, and have refused to “upgrade” to the much fancier cards now available, because that would mean learning a new number.  Without your number, no electronic requests!

With the expansion of technology, and the busyness of teaching school, I have found new and fun ways to read.  Ebooks allow me to take a library on a trip, fitting neatly into my  “personal item” on an airplane    Books on CD accompany me on my drive to and from the school, to the shopping center, and to church on Sundays.  Audiobooks on my computer have replaced the TV as entertainment as I sew, fold laundry, and dress for the day.  Once again, someone else reads favorites to me.  My love of reading has brought me full circle.  Where once my mother read childrens books to me, talented readers now read favorites, bringing to life the characters, just as my mother did many years ago.

Oh,  paper books have not disappeared from my life.  Electronic catalogs make it possible to request a book from my county library system (advertised as “biggest and best in the nation”), and, a few days later, drop into the nearest branch library to pick it up.  Even better, I can walk the mile to a recently completed branch library and pick up my books.  What a deal!  Exercise and books, at the same time!

And, on my book shelves are great treasures.  Little Women, given to my mother for Christmas when she was 9 years old by her sister, Amber,  then given to me ten years ago.  I read it at the same time my friend, Gaylyn, next door, read it.  (Sixth grade was a very good year for books.)  The first chapter book I read, Heidi, was also my mother’s book.  A Children’s Friend Storybook, the last gift from Grandma Ohlin, is dated 3/17/1952.

From Chip and Dale to Dickens, Keene to Stevenson, Shakespeare and Dickens to Principles of Immunology,  Hawthorne to Rowling, Twain to Organic Chemistry, Buck to Foundations of Education, and always, always, the word of the Lord as found in the scriptures… books…my friends…gateway to the world.

Now, I am looking for a book the library doesn’t have…Amazon, here I come.

P.S. Any recommendations?  I’m always looking for books to add to my “reading wish list!”




Memories…and nativity scenes

Christmas is a magical season for children, a time of gifts and celebrations, school vacations, dreams of snow, family.

My earliest Christmas memory is from the Christmas just before my fourth birthday.  We spent Christmas Eve and Christmas in Provo at Aunt Verena and Uncle Eph’s home.  This is my earliest memory of my Uncle Gary, who I thought was a really neat guy.   I worried that Santa would not find me there, because our Christmas tree sat in the front window of our home in Murray.   Mom and Dad promised me that Santa knew I would be in Provo.   Santa found me in Provo, and all was well.   When we returned home, to my joy and delight, there were gifts under the Christmas tree there also!  Santa had found me in two places!  And what a brave Santa!  There were two drums under the tree, one for me and one for my brother!   I’m sure I was taught about the birth of the Savior, but that Christmas, it was all about Santa finding me.

The next Christmas I remember was after we moved back to Salt Lake City from Denver.  There, our tree was in front of the bay window on the south side of the front room.  Next to the bay window was a door that opened to the outside, but was never opened.  I imagine Grandpa had planned to put stairs there, perhaps a porch, too, but that was never built.  Just a door with about a four foot step straight down if one was inclined to use it as an exit.  There was a great advantage to this placement, as we children learned in years to come.  The door leading into the front room was a “pocket” door, a door that slide into a recess in the wall.  It was possible to open this door just over an inch before it made a sound.  We would use that for early peeks at what Santa brought.  But that is a later story.  This Christmas had been preceeded by some frustration, I remember.  We were living with Grandpa Ohlin, who was a carpenter.  He had a separate shop in back of our home, heated by a little pot belly stove.  I was always welcome to visit there, except for the few weeks before that Christmas.  It seems that there were secrets hidden in that shop.  Under the tree on Christmas morning were three toy chests, one for me, one for Steve, and one for Kathy.  The toy chests were open, and, on the lid of each chest, were new clothes for each of us.

Clothes and Christmas…always a pair.  Every Christmas, there were new clothes, sewed by Mom, late at night while we slept.   As my children were growing up,  I did the same thing.   Mom and I talked about it one Christmas.   With money tight, making new clothes filled two needs.  A gift was created to gladden a child, and needed clothing provided at the same time.  That new clothing almost led to the “year without a Christmas” when I was in fifth or sixth grade.  Girls were required to wear dresses to school, so I had several dresses, skirts, blouses, and sweaters.  A very popular skirt at that time was a plaid wool skirt, pleated on the plaid, so at the waistband of the skirt, only one of the colors showed.  I wanted a skirt like that.   About 1 a.m., Christmas morning, we crept down the stairs from the attic bedroom, to the oh-so-convenient door.  Carefully opening the door, we peeked through the small crack.  Hanging on the hinge of the “door to nowhere” was a red/black/grey pleated skirt!  Kathy, three years younger than me, immediately felt it was HER skirt.  I was equally convinced this was MY skirt.  Hustling back upstairs, there ensued an argument about the ownership of that most coveted gift.  I pulled the “age card” and announced the skirt was mine, because, “I’m the oldest.”  To that, Kathy responded with tears and proclaimed she was going to tell Mom and Dad that we were peeking.  In fact, she was going to go downstairs and tell them that very minute.  Horror of horrors – that would be the worst thing she could do.  We had heard many times that there were no presents for children who peeked.  There would only be coal in the stockings.  I wasn’t so worried about that threat, but knew we would be in trouble anyway.  After much discussion, it was decided that we would never mention this indiscretion.  The skirt was mine, but Mom made a turquoise one for Kathy soon after that.  We had all been adults for many years before Mom and Dad knew about that Christmas morning!

Although Dad didn’t paint like his mother did, one year he decided to paint a hillside in Bethlehem on the front room window.  It was great fun to see the hill, the buildings, and the star appear on the window.  At night, from outside, the silhouette of the land, with the shining star was magnificent.  I only remember one painting like that.  Perhaps the clean up was the problem.  As I recall, Dad had to scrape the paint off the window with a razor blade!

Growing up in Utah brought white Christmases.  We would worry, as children, that if the snow was missing, Santa won’t come.  One year, Dad suggested that if it didn’t snow, Santa would use his helicopter.  I remember trying to stay awake and listen for his noisy transportation, but fell asleep.  When morning came, even without snow, that magical man had come to our home!  I must admit that, while I love the Pacific Northwest, and hate having snow in a place where an inch of snow brings the city to a halt, seeing white flakes at Christmas time makes the season special.  There was a possibility of a few flakes this Christmas morning, but the temperatures are too high, so we will have liquid snow.  Our children also dreamed of white Christmases.  In the days before internet weather maps, learned well from their parents to call the ATIS at Boeing field and listen to the current aviation weather.  They learned the importance of relative humidity, temperature, and dew point in creating that most desired of Christmas weather.

I have a collection of nativity sets, and perhaps my love for that particular decoration in my home began with those early Christmases.  I don’t remember how we got the nativity set, but we had a cardboard nativity.  The base had cardboard half-circles that we pushed up and stood the figures on.  I don’t know what happened to it, but for many years, I remember the excitement of setting it up.  It was simple and inexpensive, but a reminder to all of the true meaning of Christmas.  I thought of that nativity, so many years ago, last night.  A knock at the door brought us a gift.  Opened, it was a nativity set, unlike any I have.  And, for years to come, when I set up that set, I will remember the wonderful friends who brought that to our home, just as I remember those who have given me other nativities, and that first nativity in my life.

There were many other Christmases celebrated in that home on 7th East, then in the home on Brookwood Circle.  As the years progressed, more and more gifts were under the tree, as the family size increased.  On two most memorable Christmases, all seven of Mom and Dad’s children were there, bringing their own families to the celebration.  Not all could sleep at the home.  The last of these celebrations, in 1982, had about 35 people for Christmas morning.  My family slept at Aunt Fern’s home, and my children have wonderful memories of sleeping upstairs in the room Aunt Fern built herself, many years after Uncle Walt’s death.  In fact, the older children loved many things about that home.  But that is a blog for another day.  Mom bought Christmas fabric and we made fabric drawstring bags for the children to put their gifts in.  Mike and Kathy brought treats from Frito-Lay (his employer) and the children earned “money” to buy their treats at the store Mike ran.  My children remember that year, too, for our trip to Mesa to see their paternal grandparents, where we went swimming in an outdoor pool.  That was our last Christmas with their Grandpa Christensen, who suffered a stroke while we were there, and passed away the next spring.  We drove home from the visit with a stop-over in St. George, where we visited with Aunt Jocile, spending an extra night because of snow.  My older children might remember visiting the tabernacle there, where the Church filmed The Windows of Heaven video.  Aunt Jo showed us the different patterns on the stone bricks, each characteristic of the mason who shaped the stone. We returned to Salt Lake on Christmas Eve, having spent  nine hours very snowy hours on the road.  A memorable year,  the last in which all the descendants of my parents celebrated Christmas together.

Since then, the grandchildren are grown, and the greatgrandchildren are many.  The family is scattered across the United States, while Kathy and Mike are in New Zealand.  Wherever we are, I’m sure many of us will think of those Christmases this Christmas Day.  Memories…what Christmases are made of.  Memories of snow and Santa…family and friends…the greatest memory of all…the gift of our Savior, Jesus Christ.


A few of the nativity sets in my home.


Some of the other nativities in my collection.


A very special set, made with the assistance of a good friend and neighbor, Liz Salterelli, many years ago.


The newest of my collection.

May your joys be many on this Christmas day.  With recent events in our country, I have felt sadness, too.  My nephew, who writes some brilliant posts on his blog, has a beautiful perspective for the season.  Feel free to read his thoughts at:

May peace be with you this day!

Musical alarm clock today…



I awoke early this Thanksgiving morning with the tune and words of a hymn running through my mind.  “For the beauty of the earth…” seemed to wind through those early moments of consciousness.  As I listened to the celestial choir in my mind, examples wove their way into my thanks.  The verses continued, and I felt the need to share with you this morning.  May your day be one of gratitude and rejoicing, filled with love from friends on earth and friends above.

For the beauty of the earth, for the beauty of the skies.

For the love which from our birth, over and around us lies.

For the beauty of each hour, of the day (the incredibly bright rainbows I’ve seen this fall) and of the night

Hill (Mt. Olympus) and vale (Norris Geyser Basin) and tree and flow’r.  Sun and moon, and stars of night (the Milky Way from a secluded camp)..

For the joy of human love, brother Steve and Brent), sister (Kathy, Carol, Marilyn, Maurine), parent (Mom and Dad, grandparents, aunts and uncles, cousins), child (Suzanne, who added Glen, then Aidan and Ryan; Jenn, who brought Matthew; Deborah;  Robert, who added Katherine;  Ben;  Bekah; and Rachel).

Friends on earth (Marilyn, Nancy, Annette, Louanna, Carrol, Linda, Megan, Julie, Ethel, the list continues),  and friends above (Linda, Rene, Debbie,…) .  For all gentle thoughts and mild.

For the truths from teachers wise (too many to name) , for the words from fertile minds  (all the writers I’ve learned to love and read).

For the heroes I daily find, walking through the sands of time (Jesus, Enoch, Captain Moroni, Joseph Smith, Jean Valjean, Sidney Carton, Aslan,…).

For the gift of earthly life.  Body, spirit, heart, and mind.

Heart to love and hands to serve.  God’s good work to do on earth.

For the daily simple deeds, waking, sleeping, working, play.

Daily learning how to lead, how to follow the Master’s steps.

For the gift of ears to hear, voices speaking from the dust.

Leading to eternal life, teaching patience, truth, and love.

For the daily simple deeds, waking, sleeping, working, play.

Daily learning how to lead, how to follow the Master’s steps.

Lord of all to thee I raise, this my hymn of grateful praise.

“Every good gift and every perfect gift is from above, and cometh down from the Father of lights…”  James 1:17

From Out My (Aunt Ethel’s) Window


(The tree, work in progress, with the remnants of the rock wall of the barn, now serving as a retaining wall in Aunt Ethel’s backyard.)


Last week, three women sat looking out a dining room window. To a casual observer, they were just three older women, watching a tree service trim dead wood from a majestic weeping willow tree in the backyard. The tree planted more than 60 years ago by one of the women assisted by her beloved mother-in-law, Rachel Bradford . The tree that has witnessed much joy and heartache. Nothing extraordinary about the scene, you might think. But that assumption would be wrong.

Three women, bound together eternally by their heritage. All descendants of Carl and Nettie Ohlin. Carl, a Swedish immigrant, came to Utah when nine years old. His parents left Sweden to be with the Saints in Utah. Nettie’s father left England with his mother. They, too, came seeking Zion, the opportunity to be with the Saints, to worship their Creator as they believed.

Carl and Nettie were hard working people. Not wealthy or educated in the eyes of the world, they didn’t have six years of formal education between them. But they were rich in knowledge, and wisdom. Carl was a carpenter, a craftsman with wood, who also tended a large garden and a few animals to provide food for his family. When not working, he read, continuing his education to the day he died. Nettie was a homemaker without equal. Equally at home in the kitchen, garden, or at her sewing machine, she fed and clothed her family by the sweat of her brow. She quietly served and enriched the lives of neighbors for miles around her rural home. Her hands were never still, except in sleep. Their goal was to see all their children complete high school. They accomplished that goal.

Five children came to that home. Three daughters and a son, followed nine years later by another daughter. At that window sat Aunt Ethel, along with Bernice, my mother, and then me. Together, we have 240+ years experience in life. Each of us is a wife and mother, with vastly different lives.

Aunt Ethel has been and continues to be a journalist. For 35 years, she was Women’s Editor for a local newspaper. She also wrote a column, From Out My Window. That column, on occasion, included tales of her nieces and nephews. Retired, she wrote books of local history and musings about life. Never afraid of adventure, she embraced technology with enthusiasm, and her column was reborn, on her blog. Along the way, she raised two sons, John and Bill, an adventure itself! With acres of land “out back”, the boys had adventures only imagined by boys today. Ethel has lived much of this life alone, but never lonely. “Brad”, my uncle Arch, passed away more than forty years ago.

Bernice, my Mom, the woman who gave me life, hasn’t worked outside her home since Dad returned from Europe a year after WW 2 ended. But she has worked. Seven children came to her home.  Like her ancestors before, she worked to feed and clothe her children, and her time outside the home always included service to God. For many years, she served children in classrooms, schools, district, and state PTA positions. She has a large posterity, who honor her as mother, grandmother, and great grandmother.

With this heritage, I grew from infancy to adulthood. Like my mother, I have seven children. Like my mother and aunt, I have faced challenges. I attended college, received a degree in medical microbiology, and worked for a time in that field. I was blessed to stay at home while the children were young.  When all were in school, I returned to part-time work as a para-educator. Children grown, I returned to college for a master’s degree and now teach middle school science. Like my mother, I, also, spend time in service to God.

So, what did we discuss, three women with different insights on the world? We didn’t solve world problems, didn’t mention politics, or religion, but God? Often. The weather received only passing comments and Education reform wasn’t on the agenda.

Aunt Ethel talked about Brad. She described the land, owned by his family since a Land Grant in the 1850’s. She told of the old barn that sat near the site of her home. She described a near-death experience Brad had as a very young man. She told about Gram, her “more than” mother-in-law, her only mother after the death of Nettie sixty years ago. She shared her belief that our experiences are not coincidences, but in the hands of One who knows us and what we need.

Mom spoke of her childhood memories of Uncle Arch. Her childhood memory of hearing that Arch was dying of pneumonia at the age of 17. He did too, but ‘returned’ to live another 35 years, and Ethel tells that he cherished and kept that wonderful experience. Mom told of a telegram from Santa, tucked in her cedar chest today, sent to a little girl by her brother’s friend, and later, brother-in-law, Arch. Of how he would enter their home in winter, saying, “It’s not fit outside for man or beast.” (And Ethel, his wife, recalled the second part of that old saying, “Even the ducks are walking.”)

I recalled a childhood day Aunt Ethel showed up in my room with a grocery sack filled with books from her personal library. With perfect accuracy, she had chosen books I would enjoy. As I read, the monotonous days of a long-term illness were brightened by the world of The Yearling, Freckles, The Girl of the Limberlost, and the enduring love of Random Harvest.

Three women sat, looking out a dining room window, bound together eternally by the heart strings of love. Watched over by The One, The Source of All, who also knows all. Such a day may not happen again. But, for those hours, we shared the view “From Out Ethel’s Window”, and it was beautiful.



Ethel Bradford

Thank you, Sylvia, the first of the next generation of our family. It was a day I had expected to be chaotic, what with both visitors and tree workers scheduled, but turned out to be a day I will cherish and remember. My Second Son, Bill was there to be with the men, while I enjoyed ‘family’. And, I’m brave enough to know and to say that it just might be the last time the three of us will be together in this ‘room’ of Life. Thank You God.

My tree looks wonderful. Looks much taller and I will no longer shiver when high winds arrive, with fear of a big limb coming down on yard and perhaps a roof. Wonderful. All because of one man sky high in his small Control Tower, twisting around the sky and tree, and four men on my lawn gathering and taking to a truck the discards from above. Terrific, but just as a reminder, you pay a goodly handful of ‘sheckels’ for that perfection. Oh, me

Note:  This post is a combined effort.  I am honored that Aunt Ethel wanted to use my words and would share hers with me.  She is a truly great lady, as is my mother.  Those who came before us left a legacy to cherish.  If you want to read more about the view from out her window, go to:

Zuppa toscana…

When I visit the family in Utah, Rachel and I have a new tradition of going to Olive Garden for dinner.  Our favorite dinner is soup and salad, usually zuppa toscana.  Rachel has tried several recipes for this delicious cream potato soup, and hasn’t been completely satisfied.  Tonight, I tried a recipe I found.  Here is the recipe:

1 lb. bulk Italian sausage, browned and drained

2 cans chicken broth

1 cup water

1 garlic clove, minced

3 large russet potatoes

1/4 c. onion, finely diced

bacon bits, to taste

1 c. heavy cream

1 bunch fresh kale, coarsely chopped

Grated Parmesan cheese, for garnish

Cook sausage, chicken broth, water, garlic, potatoes, and onion until potatoes are tender.  Add bacon bits, cream, and kale right before serving.  Garnish with cheese.

What I did:

I didn’t use bacon bits, because I didn’t feel they were needed.  I browned my sausage and used the same pan for the soup, so my soup is not as white as the Olive Garden’s soup – I used that delicious brown material on the bottom of the pan. Yummy!

I substituted evaporated milk for the heavy cream.

I forgot to buy kale on the way home from school today, so I used the spinach I had in the fridge.

I added about 1/4 tsp or a little more of red pepper flakes the last few minutes of the simmering time.

My cheese was moldy – garbage can time.  No cheese garnish.

Verdict:  yummy.  I want to buy kale, next time, use a little more red pepper, and have cheese.  I will try this one again!