Saturday, January 31, 2009

Gardening Class

There will be a gardening class held at my home next Saturday, Feb. 7th, at 9:00 AM. I will talk about container gardening and there will be other gardeners sharing their methods as well. Everyone is invited to come if interested. This is a picture of part of my winter garden taken this afternoon.

These items were part of dinner today. I promise, nothing tastes as good as fresh picked produce. For me, it's not about saving money, it's about the freshness and availability (and no worries about e coli:)

Wednesday, January 28, 2009

It's not just black and white

Meet Julianna, my newest beautiful granddaughter. Her mother wrote a post on her Blog about the adoption process, particularly biracial adoption and her search for information and help. I don't often pontificate about political or cultural issues, but in light of the historic inauguration of a biracial president and some recent books and articles I've read, I find my thought process has been in full gear. Let me share a few of those thoughts.

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This National Book Award winner is a well researched and written account of Thomas Jefferson's "other" family. His relationships with his probable children as well as their mother, aunts, uncles, cousins and grandparents are explored in a well drawn historical context. Sally Hemings, half-sister of Jefferson's wife who dies 10 years into her marriage, was with Jefferson and his daughters in Paris and then lived out her life at Monticello until Jefferson's death. She then lived in Charlottesville, Virginia until her death 10 years later. It is felt that she had six children with Jefferson. He provided for the freedom of those living upon his death. Three of them passed as "white" and were not to be found by the author/researcher, Annette Gordon-Reed, who provides valuable insight into the slavery issues of the time as well the cultural climate. Madison Hemings chose black and left written memoirs. DNA testing now proves his claim.

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My next read was this memoir by a woman who had grown up in Liberia. When requesting these books from the library, I had not a clue that they would connect together in such an interesting way. For all I knew, Sugar Beach was off the coast of South Carolina. Helene Cooper is a descendant of freed slaves who boarded ships on the eastern shores of the United States in the 1820's to return to the coast of Western Africa and a place which would be named Liberia in honor of liberty. Interestingly, this new country supposedly founded on the principles of the United States Constitution, had become largely divided between the wealthy descendants of those freed slaves and the indigenous people. The government was largely manned by loosely related people who watched out for each other. Helene's family lived in a new house on the beach, vacationed in their other home in Spain, and spent vacation time at the family farm where even the house was antebellum in its architecture. She most likely would have been sent abroad to college, but before that happens, the government is overthrown in a savage way by a young military leader and his cohorts in 1980 and Helene's father barely escapes with his life. Her family makes it way to the United States, but life will never be the same for them again.

The connection? A couple of Jefferson's freed sons contemplated just such a move to Africa upon Jefferson's death in 1826. They chose not to go. Both books explore the issues of black and white and degrees of black and white and the power of people over others to maintain their social and economic position.

Then today I read this
Newsweek article, entitled "Beyond Black and White" by the black mother of a biracial son. She describes her feelings at his birth and beyond and then ends her piece this way:

"Our newly elected president ignored the racial stereotyping that seemed to limit what he could accomplish in this country—and he didn't do it by passively accepting society's assessment of his skin tone. Perhaps as the number of multiracial Americans continues to grow, there will be a plurality of golden people who are impossible to positively identify as one race or the other. And the rest of us who can be easily categorized will be forced to accept that color does not contribute to the content of one's character because we won't know which set of stereotypes to apply to whom. I want my son to grow up wearing his biracial heritage like an invisibility cloak, able to move unseen among people's prejudices—impervious to racial profiling. But I will prepare him for a world that may think he is black or white, even though he is golden."

As I ponder the historicity of this issue, I can only relate on a true personal level to things which have occurred in my own lifetime. I remember well the time in the 1960's when my uncle adopted the biracial daughter of his wife and the upsetting thing that was for my grandmother. Upon meeting her new granddaughter, she was smitten and changed. When my brother approached each of his siblings about adopting bi-racially in the 1980's I was surprised that he even felt he had to ask, but he did. My son didn't even think to ask any one's opinion when he and his wife chose to adopt Julianna. I think that is progress.

I felt great hope as a elementary school teacher and librarian. Each year as Martin Luther King's birthday and Black History Month in February approached, I would take some of our lesson time to explore this part of our nation's history. As we would discuss the civil rights movement and Jim Crow laws, it was beyond their comprehension that there could be such a thing as separate bathrooms, drinking fountains, schools and places on the bus for people with different colors of skin. "But why Mrs. Jensen? That doesn't make any sense!" Their incredulousness gave me pause and filled my heart with gratitude. Not just for these lovely children but for their parents and for my parents who refused to teach this hate. Parents who will not use racial slurs or portend to be better than others. Parents who accept that people are just people who mostly love their families and want the best for them; people who have hearts and feelings and desires that are mostly good and earnest.

As our world continues to shrink due to communication and travel opportunities, I hope for a love among all mankind that comes from familiarity and common respect. I hope for a world in which Julianna will always be just "golden."

Tuesday, January 27, 2009

One month anniversary

Happy One Month Anniversary!
Glen and I wish you many more months, years, and
an eternity of love and joy!

Saturday, January 24, 2009

The books are back

Finally! The nativities are repacked (it's only a month since Christmas Eve), shelves are dusted, and the church related library is back where it belongs. These particular shelves hold the church history and D&C related books. I hope that your children are allowing you to attend Sunday school and study a bit on the side. You're welcome to borrow any title.

This is Glen's latest purchase. As the color wheel top demonstrates, it is very colorful. Ray was inspired to bring the top outside for a spin when he saw the new door mat. Please weigh in on my poll. Glen bought it because he says it goes with the red door. Do you think a) it enhances the door b) it cheapens the door? Please be honest and I hope that we don't hurt his feelings.

Wednesday, January 21, 2009

Family related presidential trivia

You are gazing at packet of 25 year old jelly beans which my sister, Jolene, gave to me. She had been living in Washington, DC at the time of President Reagan's inauguration and picked up some extra packets at an inauguration night party to share with others. Jelly Belly was Reagan's favorite brand of jelly beans thus inspiring this patriotic mix. Saver/pack rat that I am, I still have mine. Jolene, can you say the same? If I decide to put them on e-bay, do I have to split it 50/50?

As I watched the Punahou School marching band at the inaugural parade yesterday, it hit me! My sister Becky and Barack (possibly Barry at the time) were wandering the school grounds of Punahou at the same time while 20-year-old Becky spent time working there while in Hawaii for a few months. How many degrees of separation would that be?

The treat mobile

Tonight was Stake Enrichment Meeting. I baked four pans of brownies while watching the inauguration festivities. I'm always amazed at the process of this transfer of power which occurs in such a peaceful and orderly way. In my lifetime I remember the inauguration days of Kennedy, Johnson, Nixon, Reagan, Carter, Bush 41, Clinton, Bush 43, and now Obama.

If you need a great brownie recipe which perfectly fills a 13 X 15 jelly roll pan, ask me for this one. Each pan was a little different. You have to keep them guessing. What are your guesses, clockwise starting with one o'clock?

My little red Matrix is a transporting machine. It can handle COSTCO. It was a book hauler in my elementary library days. Lately it has been mostly on catering type gigs.

Like moving doughnuts from Eric's kitchen to mine for Nate & Nichelle's wedding fiesta open house.

We left the fiesta banners up (I love the colors and shadows coming in my dining room window, especially when the wind is blowing) for Heather's birthday party on Sunday. I guess they can come down now as we are officially on birthday hiatus once again.

I love the concentration it takes to properly place the birthday candles. The little ones also demolished the other pinata left over from the wedding fiesta decor. It was a pretty fun party!

Wednesday, January 14, 2009

Happy Birthday fairy house builder

Heather and her cousin, Ruby, have become fairy house builders extraordinaire. The best part of having my cottage style garden is the raw materials it provides for these architect-builders for all fairies. Heather not only builds fairy houses, she writes beautiful and descriptive stories which are also creatively illustrated. She embraces life and is willing to try most anything. She loves people and entertains everyone with her engaging and delightful conversations. But the thing which most delights her bibliophilic (I'm not sure this word should be turned into an adjective, but there you have it) grandmother is her great love of books. She is a reading machine. It has been a delight to share chapter books with a six now seven year old and have book talks.

I love this picture of your little five pound self. You looked just like some of my babies and you were my first granddaughter and I loved you immediately.

Happy Birthday Heather!

Monday, January 12, 2009

January Birthday Boys

On Sunday, January 4th, we came home from church after Sacrament meeting to send off Nate & Nichelle to their new married life family style. We packed up gifts and wedding deco and other stuff then fed them breakfast to sustain them in their long drive to Provo. The occasion also called for pictures, so here are the January birthday boys all dressed up.

Happy birthday on this date to Ryan, 2nd son and lover of adventuring and doing uncommon things. His non-adventuring mom has always had a hard time understanding the passion.

Ryan poses at the Grand Canyon during Christmas vacation. You may be asking, "How can I get to this spectacular place? Is it on the north or south rim?"

You would have to take a snow covered dirt road for miles across the Arizona Strip and then your jeep would look like this! (Thank you for these two pictures Emilia.)

These beautiful women did accompany him on this adventure. Ryan's beautiful wife has blessed not only his life but all of our lives. During her two years in the United States, she has learned English, become gainfully employed using her training in physical therapy, and made a gazillion friends. EVERYONE loves Emilia! Her sweet mother, Deujima, is in the midst of a two month visit from Brazil. She has experienced snow for the first time, well now many times, in her adventuring with Ryan and Emilia.

Glen couldn't resist a colorful picture in front of the banners the day after Nate and Nichelle's fiesta. Ryan showed his true colors while his wife was in Brazil. He cleaned and organized and decorated a bedroom and bathroom for the upcoming visit of his mother-in-law. Emilia was surprised and delighted!

It is our new tradition, now two years old, to take a picture of Glen in front of his new tree near his birthday.

You be the judge. Do Glen or the tree look any older in 2009?

Wednesday, January 7, 2009

Grandpa Jordan would have been 81 today

If Glen's father, Jordan, were still with us, he would have celebrated his 81st birthday today. This picture was taken in front of the home on 135th Street in Hawthorne, California which he and Elma purchased brand new in about 1956. He lived there until he retired from TRW at age 62. The last few years in this home were lonely because his cherished Elma passed away just two and a half months after Nathan was born. Nathan is the baby in this picture and this was his second trip from Arizona to California. The first had been a visit with just his mother and father when they received the word that the cancer had won. Nathan was the last of Jordan and Elma's grandchildren. Elma was pleased to have met him before she left us. The pickup in the background had speciality plates, " JJ Elma."

It seemed sad that Nathan didn't have any grandparents with him in the temple as he and Nichelle were married. And then I felt all four of them and realized that they were aware of Nate and Nichelle and were sharing our joy.

Monday, January 5, 2009

"Don't cry because it's over. Smile because it happened." - Dr. Seuss

Glen snapped this shot as Nathan left our home to return to Provo and a new semester. He is also now the husband of Nichelle. The wedding and fiestas are now memories. Very good memories. All five of our children are now married. These marriages have brought five more wonderful people into our lives and eight beautiful grandchildren. We expect many more grandchildren!

(Can anyone explain why everything is underlined and I can't make it go away?!!)

Emilia heard my plea and shared some pictures on her blog which I promptly "borrowed." We are very excited and happy for Nathan and Nichelle. We know that the Lord is very mindful of them and their desire to honor the sacred covenant of eternal marriage. We extend our love and support.

This is my beautiful family (sans Susan, Eric's wife, and their new little baby girl, Julianna, who wisely remained at home.) They are my joy and my life.

Sunday, January 4, 2009

Places to go to view Nathan & Nichelle

Carson of JamesCarson Photography has posted pics on his blog site of Nathan's & Nichelle's big day. You can also visit a slide show. We had a great party for them at our home last night. Thank you for coming friends and family. A special shout out to my sisters and their families as well as my own children and their families and friends for all the help with donuts and food service and clean-up. I love all of you!

I didn't use my camera once during all these wedding festivities and fiestas. That was nice as I was so in the moment, but PLEASE feel free to share with me everyone!

Saturday, January 3, 2009

Happy Birthday Glen!

This year you will be making donuts on your birthday! Toby will want to help as he did on Christmas Eve 2007, I am sure! Thank you for being willing to give service on your special day! Perhaps you can pretend the party is all for you rather than Nate and Nichelle. I know that they won't mind sharing!