Tuesday, June 29, 2010

Once a farmer's daughter . . .

I just finished "Coop" by Michael Perry. I was first made aware of this book on my DIL's book blog. (See sidebar - an excellent place to search for something to read.)

Sometime back I read a book about farming in Iowa. It spoke to and of my mother's generation. I was delighted to read "Coop" which addresses growing up on a farm during my generation. The author, Michael Perry, however, is also attempting to work a small farm in Wisconsin and provide those same experiences for his children. (I am just happy to have a compost bin as I try to harvest a tomato or onion or cucumber. I have considered buying chickens, but then I come to my senses!) This book is a memoir of his first year on his farm but is so much more.

I related on so many levels to the stories Perry tells. He describes in great detail the process of haying which took me right back in time to driving the hay truck (my father would have to jump back in at the end of the row and sift the gears and turn the truck around so I could steer it down the field again) including the demise of the mice. He also took me back into the milking barn with its vacuum tubes and dairy cows. I also returned to the barn loft where the baby chicks would strut under the warming lamps, always a favorite time of mine.

His descriptions of his father and mother and their parenting style also took me home. His parents were part of a fundamentalist religious group and mine were Mormon, but both were devoted to their God, gentle and steadfast in their child rearing, and hard working (each of mine holding down a second part-time job to make a go of it on the farm which had always been in my father's family.)

I enjoyed the author's often humorous writing style, but I appreciated more his introspective thoughts on the roles taken by he and his wife as they embark upon a new lifestyle and the care of their daughters as well as the pigs and chickens.

To read more about Michael Perry and his farming (and writing and singing) adventures go HERE.

Sunday, June 27, 2010

Oscar in stripes

Oscar came for a visit and a measuring for his blessing outfit. He was dressed in stripes just like his Aunt Janae, so it was time for pictures.

Oscar was all smiles and baby talk when he first arrived. Henry loves to hold Oscar, but I think Oscar found it to be a bit unsettling.

Henry's momma helped out, with Oscar that is, not the tongue release.

Raymond wanted to add his handsome face and color coordinated shirt to a picture.

Oscar, you are growing up so quickly. Please do not out grow your new blessing outfit before next Sunday!

Friday, June 25, 2010

Ornery Onion would like to announce. . .

the first onion harvest ever at the Jensen homestead.

Several months ago, starts were popped into an old Eastern European oblong wash basin filled with compost enriched potting mix and then they were ignored except for a drip system watering them automatically. The wash basin had a drain spout which kept them moist but not water logged.

The harvest of such beautiful onions brings tears to our eyes!

They now reside in the greenhouse for a week of drying out after which they will be taking turns gracing family dinners.

Yes, Ornery Onion is segregated on the back fence until he learns to be cheerful and full of gratitude!

Tuesday, June 22, 2010

JJ & Elma's posterity at the cemetery

On Thursday, June 17, Jordan and Elma's family began meeting at their final resting place, Larkin Cemetery in Sandy, Utah. They came from coast to coast and from north to south to honor JJ & Elma and their son, Grant Ray Jensen.

Grant's children honored the wishes of their father to be cremated. It was decided that part of his ashes be placed on the grave site of his parents. The family gathered to participate and remember all three on a beautiful summer day in the shadows of the Wasatch Mountains.

Wylene and Glen

Glen and Peggy

Grandma Joyce and Joshua

Amy and Lisa

Randy and son

Mark and Christina


John and Miriam

Grant's best friend, Howard and Wylene

The twins, Kevin Shirts and Ryan Jensen

We gathered round as Richard shared some feelings about his dad and ashes were spread . . .

and remembrances shared.

Since there were more of Jordan and Elma's family all in one place than there had been in years, group shots were taken before meeting at Aaron's home in Herriman for lunch.

Howard with Grant Ray's family
Michelle, Jadyn, Richard, and Alex
(Michelle's husband and son Gabe are missing)

JJ & Elma's great grandchildren

JJ & Elma's grandchildren
Several of this group had Grant as their 6th grade teacher.

Wylene and Leioni's family
(without Elder Jordan Ika)

Peggy and Joe's family
(Shawn is missing)

Glen and Laurel's family
(only Ryan and Emilia were able to come)

Joyce and George's family
(all of their children were there,
some spouses and grandchildren missing)

Joyce and George's children, all eight for the first time in years!

Amy's still rocking the house!
She also came the farthest, Rhode Island, but since she flew, Randy gets the prize. He drove from Alabama!

Joyce and George's grandchildren

If you would like to read Grant's obituary go here.

Sunday, June 20, 2010

Memories and Father's Day

Eric at 6 weeks smiling at Glen

On this Father's Day, Glen and I have just returned from Utah where we said a formal goodbye to Glen's brother Grant Ray Jensen. It's difficult to believe that he is actually gone from this life. As we drove to and from Utah, we had time to reflect on family and memories. Glen's father always said that it was important to "make a memory." This last week we made more memories. I'll share a few in a later post.

While gone, our oldest son became one year older. I love the above picture of him giving his father a great big smile. On this day, I wish Glen a wonderful Father's Day and Eric a belated happy birthday.

To the sons and son-in-law of my beautiful grandchildren, Happy Father's Day! As I watch each of you parent, I am so impressed with your gentleness and fine example. I also love watching you create memories for your little ones. Thank you!

On Thursday evening, the Draper Historic Theatre community met together to reminisce about one of their own. They let Grant's (Ray's) family join with them in a wonderful evening of memories and love.

Grant at Moon Lake with Richard and Michelle, Summer 1979
(Eric and Ryan are in the background)

One of the memories I shared was of Grant as a young, single father who gave his children so much love and care. His children were so important to him, that he became their primary caregiver. I will always remember his dedication as a young father to his children.

Saturday, June 12, 2010

Missing the one in the middle

Tonight the one in the middle is no longer with us. Those left behind are feeling pretty sad. This picture was taken almost a year ago. The one in the middle would think it is funny that all his siblings are making sad faces.

Grant Ray Jensen (mostly known as Ray) had a knack for making you laugh and was the master of sarcasm. His performances at the Draper Historic Theatre were not to be missed. He had great acting skills and comedic timing. His last role was as the Cowardly Lion in the Wizard of Oz. Glen and I attended with a group of family members and it was a wonderfully good time!

"Put 'em up! Put 'em up!"

It is so hard to believe that he could be gone so suddenly and at such a young age. My heart goes out to his siblings; Peggy, Joyce, Wylene, and my husband Glen. I especially grieve for his children, Richard and Michelle, as well as his grandchildren.

Vaya con Dios Grant!

Friday, June 11, 2010

Artful day in Mesa

Today was a day for "Messy Art" at the Arizona Museum for Youth. Raymond and Henry painted and swatted and stamped. We also had a great time looking at all the exhibits.

Then it was time to introduce two more of my grandchildren to the gigantic sculpture downtown. I had shared the book about Grant Wood, artist of "American Gothic," as part of story time the night before. Raymond was pretty impressed upon seeing them in person and I had to remind him that they weren't alive. I asked Ray if he thought the man looked like Grant Wood's dentist and the woman like his sister. He answered, "I think the man looks more like his doctor!"

Now you know the answers to a question in a previous post.

I don't think Janae's been knee high to anyone for quite awhile.

The "God Bless America" sculpture will be in downtown Mesa until July 15, 2010. Enjoy the video taken the day it arrived in town.

Thursday, June 10, 2010

My first sweater

I finally finished my first sweater after knitting baby wash clothes, blankets, and sock monkeys.

It's a doll sweater but has just about as many stitches and work as a full size sweater.

That is because I used the little needles for this project!

It gives me the confidence to attempt a sweater for a real person; if I can find a real person who would wear a sweater that I made.

The doll is mine. Kirsten from Sweden is the American Doll that I would have picked if these dolls had been a part of my childhood. When they announced they were retiring Kirsten, I immediately got out my credit card and ordered her on-line. Kirsten might not need a sweater in the summer in Arizona but she really lived in Minnesota so it all works out.

I think that I was drawn to Kirsten because I have Swedish ancestors (Nyborgs) who joined the Mormon church in the 1850's and then immigrated by ship to the United States. That was just the beginning of their journey as they then crossed the plains to join the Mormon saints in what would become the state of Utah.

Wednesday, June 9, 2010

Oscar meets the Ranes family

The Ranes family (sans Andrew) arrived just before midnight last Saturday from St. Kitts. Janae and boys will be staying for two months while Andrew studies his eyes out at medical school. Thank goodness for Skype.

Number one on their agenda was an introduction to the newest family member, Oscar. The admiration appeared to be mutual!

Oscar is now three weeks old. At his doctors appointment, he weighed over 11 lbs. and was almost 24 inches tall. Raymond is four and a half. We took him into the laundry room on Sunday morning to mark his height on the wall. Much to our surprise, he is taller than Nate was at the same age, by an inch or so! Does this mean I will have grandchildren taller than 6' 8"?!?

But maybe Oscar will surprise us and be "normal" like Henry.

I think that Janae feels like her all day trek through the airways was worth it for the baby holding alone. Ask her sometime about navigating customs and the Atlanta Airport (if you have ever flown in or out of Atlanta, you'll understand) with a cart full of luggage and two little boys. Don't ask her about her Delta flight from Atlanta to Phoenix. It might trigger traumatic stress syndrome!

I'm glad that they made it. They are in the pool as I write and they plan an outing everyday in my car because they can. They said that their first ride on the freeway was a little like a roller coaster ride. Fast and scary! It's hard to be fast and scary in a wagon!

Janae says that their wagon has a great reputation on the island with constant offers to buy it!

Thanks for continuing to share your baby Nichelle! We all want to hold the baby!