Sunday, July 31, 2011

17 Miracles

Glen and I went and saw the movie "17 Miracles" this weekend. We knew it would be about the Willie & Martin Handcart Companies who journeyed from Nebraska to Salt Lake City in the late summer and fall of 1856. I didn't know that near the end it would feature one of my ancestors, Thomas E. Ricks. He was one of the "rescuers" who traveled to meet the doomed companies who were running out of supplies and dealing with snow and cold weather because of their late start west.

He can be found on this memorial marker under the "Initial Rescue Party" column. One of those he helped rescue became his second wife, Tamar Loader. Tamar had a dream about Thomas and recognized him as the man in her dream when he arrived to offer help.

Thomas E. Ricks was a man who loomed large in the history of the west. He first crossed the plains as a teenage boy with the Kimball Company in 1848. This was the largest wagon train company to cross in the westward migration with nearly 800 wagons. Near the Elkhorn River in Nebraska, Thomas was wounded by Indian braves. His family placed him in a spring wagon and continued on. He was almost fully recovered by the time they reached the Rocky Mountains although he did carry damage from the wounds for the rest of his life.

Thomas was the eldest son of Joel Ricks who had many wagons and teams which helped move the Saints west at different times. He would take wagons full of supplies east and then move Mormon immigrants west in those same wagons. It was when leading the Thomas E. Ricks Company of 1866 that he first met his fourth wife, Ellen Marie Yallop, who is also my great, great grandmother. Ellen Marie was traveling without any family with this company when she was rescued from a run away horse by Thomas and the rest is history. The Great Plains seem to have been a good place for Thomas to go courting.

Thomas went on to be one of the first founders of Rexburg, Idaho (originally named Ricksburg) and a builder of railroads north. His son, Alfred, my great grandfather was one of the first to build up Sugar City to the north of Rexburg. Thomas also started an educational academy which became Ricks College and is now BYU-Idaho. The campus has a garden and building named after Thomas. The Thomas E. Ricks Gardens are particularly beautiful.

The movie was well made and inspiring. And then there was the fun surprise at the end which now won't be a surprise for you but I couldn't help but share!

Friday, July 29, 2011

Cookie and Cousin Exchange

I baked this week. I usually don't bake unless company is expected. Company was expected and I knew they would help us eat these "Surprise Cookies." I found this recipe (I use just 1/2 cup cocoa instead of 3/4 cups) on the Martha Stewart web site after sampling the "Heaven on a Cloud" cookies found in a display case at the Jacob's Lake Lodge which marks the beginning of the road to the North Rim of the Grand Canyon. Jacob's Lake also marks the halfway point between my Mesa home and my Provo home, so I like to reward myself with one of these cookies after five hours in the car. They are truly heavenly!

The Ranes family arrived after midnight but were in the pool as the sun was coming over the house having a shoot out before breakfast. Yes, cookies came after eggs, juice, and toast.

Oscar and his parents arrived for the breakfast, too. They came to say hello and goodbye to the Ranes family. After breakfast, they left for San Diego to show the other grandparents that Oscar does indeed walk. Nathan ate lots of cookies.

I thought it needful to get pictures of my three grandsons together on the front bench.

This was much harder than I expected.

All I wanted was all eyes on me and fingers out of noses.

But the eyes kept shifting . . .

and fingers reappearing . . .

and eyelids closing . . .

so I changed my angle. Aren't they handsome, everyone of them?

It was the great cousin exchange this week. All my grand kids were roaming; TJ at scout camp, the rest of his family with Susan's side of the family near Santa Barbara, David and family also in San Diego, and these two who stopped in for 12 hours and then were on their way to see Ryan and Emelia in New Mexico.

They are traveling with this "grand dog" named Charlotte so that she can meet her New Mexico "dog cousins," Max and Lucy. They also took a container of cookies!

*The small fans, of course, are a courtesy of Grandpa Glen, our gadget man :)

Wednesday, July 27, 2011

Tales of Two Cities

I looked forward to summer reading time when I realized that two of my favorite non-fiction writers were releasing new books. I found both books to be interesting and enlightening. Both authors wrote of a particular time in a great and beautiful city. In each book, the city became one of the main characters.

David McCullough in 'The Greater Journey, Americans in Paris' takes the reader to Paris, France during the years of 1830 to 1900. Americans are traveling east across the ocean to study and learn in this great city known for its academies, salons, and museums. McCullough tells the stories of those who went on to excel in their chosen fields while also exploring their interactions with one another and the relationships which developed, such as that of James Fenimore Cooper and Samuel Morse who became close friends.

One reviewer was disappointed that McCullough was not focusing on historical figures this time, but I found it fascinating to read about those who went to Paris and then proceeded to make American life richer and more meaningful. I loved this quote which comes near the book's end as we are introduced to a great-grandson of John Adams who was our 2nd president and a resident of Paris in the 1700's. Congress dispatched him twice as their representative to France.

"More than a hundred years earlier, alone at a desk in Paris, Adam's great-grandfather, John Adams, had written for those at home a statement of his purpose in life that had come down in the family as a a kind of summons:

I must study politics and war that my sons may have the liberty to study mathematics and philosophy. My sons ought to study mathematics and philosophy, geography, natural history, naval architecture, navigation, commerce, and agriculture in order to give their children a right to study painting, poetry, music, architecture, statuary, tapestry, and porcelain."

This is a good summation of the premise of McCullough's book, that the beautiful city of Paris helped our nation grow in the sciences and the arts. Through those who studied there, our nation became much more. I also loved this paragraph about a group of students to which I felt a personal attachment.

"A group of aspiring young Mormon painters who called themselves 'art missionaries' arrived from Utah, many to enroll at the Academie Julian. Their expenses were being provided by the Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints in return for work they would later contribute, painting murals in the Temple at Salt Lake City. As one of their leaders, an especially gifted painter named John Hafen, said, their motivation was the belief that 'the highest possible development of talent is the duty we owe to our Creator.'"

A large portion of the book deals with the siege of Paris during the Franco Prussian War during the early 1870's. American Ambassador Elihu Benjamin Washburne's diary provided much of intimate information about this very trying event. He was the only diplomat to remain in Paris. It also gives the reader a positive experience as they read of the great acts of service given by a great man and former congressman.

To learn more about this book and Paris, go here.

Erik Larson's book, 'In the Garden of the Beasts' is about Berlin, Germany, also during a specific time, the rise of Hitler and Nazism in the 1930's. Once again, one can tell that the author is in love with this beautiful city. Once again, we follow Americans to Europe, but this time it is the story of just one family.

William E. Dodd, his wife, and adult son and daughter have come to Berlin because he has been appointed as Ambassador to Germany under the Roosevelt administration. Dodd had studied in Germany in his early years, which was really his only qualification. He was a professor of history who sought the appointment thinking that it might give him time to work on his opus, a history of the southern states. He receives the appointment because wiser candidates have turned it down. He and his family now live in a historical cauldron which will boil over and forever change the world. His children are lacking in morals and the story becomes a bit tawdry as the family interacts with the elite of Berlin.

Uncle Keith and I in his home office this summer

I couldn't help but compare Ambassador Dodd to Washburne as well as to Ambassador Nyborg who is my uncle and a former ambassador to Finland during the Reagan Administration. Keith was an Idaho rancher and farmer whose main qualification was his experience as a Mormon missionary to Finland when he was young. He, too, spoke the language. But he was so much more than Dodd. As he had served his community and his church, he had developed the ability to administrate and organize. His wife was from Finland and as a couple they were hospitable and great hosts. His main goal as Ambassador was to form strong ties between the two countries so that there might be mutual respect and consideration.

Although my uncle and his family were performing their duties during a more peaceful time and within a peaceful country, I feel like their moral convictions and lifestyle were an added plus. They became minor celebrities during their stay, partly because my aunt Raija was one of their own, but also because they associated with everyday people in everyday ways. The Sami of northern Finland were delighted when the rancher, now ambassador was able to lasso a reindeer. Raija was able to incorporate traditions of both countries in her entertaining. They served as hosts when George Shultz came to Helsinki to meet with Soviet ministers during the Cold War. They returned home proud of their service to their country and adopted home.

Monday, July 25, 2011

Her first quilt block

Nichelle cut and sewed together her first quilt block last week. She is a quick study and has been busy making more. She is using the scraps left over from Sally's Etsy Store projects.

I, however, did not sew any quilt blocks the last two weeks. That doesn't mean I haven't been sewing. I made this doll outfit from other fabric scraps from Sally's fabrics.

I made a sweet little summer dress for a doll.

It was made to resemble the birthday dress that I made for Ruby.

I, too, found fabric in Sally's stash, a nice two yard piece that looked just right for Ruby. I found the pattern in Australian Smocking & Embroidery magazine, Issue 91. This dress had a more contemporary feel with just a bit of smocking. I didn't do the bubble hemline partly because Ruby wanted the dress to be longer and because I only had two yards of fabric.

I found the perfect buttons at JoAnn's.

Ahhhh! a birthday girl and her doll.

All the dolls and their owners made their way to grandma's house for a sleepover last Friday. Little did the dolls know that they were to be placed in an orphanage with imaginative caregivers.

We all stayed up late enjoying one an other's company, so I was surprised when I woke up early and found Heather outside. She was reading of course!

This was my other sewing project.

I used the Kirsten nightgown pattern from the original American Girl Sewing Patterns which are no longer available for purchase. (For that matter, neither is Kirsten!)

Lynette and I had purchased some of the pattern sets almost 20 years ago. I love the details on these patterns and I also love that they have been put into PDF files and are now available to everyone.

There were three little girls in the pool Saturday morning . . .

which meant that there were three nightgowns!

Sunday, July 24, 2011

Pioneer Day Posting

Grandpa Jordan Jensen with Janae on her baptism day, 1990

Twenty years ago our family spoke in church during Sacrament Meeting. Our assigned topic was Pioneers. I'm not sure that the actual Sunday was on July 24th, but it was a Sunday prior to the 24th in July of 1991. Utah has a state holiday each July 24th to honor those pioneers who first arrived in the Salt Lake Valley on July 24, 1847.

We had moved into our current home at the end of May and it is a bit of a custom to have new move-ins of an LDS ward speak so that other ward members might get to know them better. This particular time, the assignment came to the whole family so not only did Glen and I speak but so did Eric, Ryan, David, and Janae. Four year old Nathan was given a bye.

Today while in church and listening to a new to the ward young couple talk about what it means to be a "pioneer," I couldn't help remembering that Sunday all those years ago. I had helped to write up four talks plus my own. Each of those children told a story about one of their pioneer ancestors. Today when I got home I searched my file for those four talks. I could only find this one given by nine year old Janae.

My great, great, great, great grandmother, Mary Elizabeth Jones was a very small person and she ran errands for the prophet Joseph Smith. Her mother was a good friend of his wife Emma, and they would dress Mary Elizabeth up as a little girl and give her a rag doll to carry in her arms even though she was a young lady.

When the prophet was in hiding or being watched by those that did not like him, she could pass by the guards without being noticed. This enabled her to deliver messages for the prophet. Sometimes she would pretend that she was driving the milk cows to the pasture to graze. When all was clear, she would go looking for the person the message was for. Other times she went skipping off with her rag doll through the streets of Nauvoo until she saw the person whom a message was for. She would then say, "Brother, I am ambushed." This was her password. The person would then know she had a message from the prophet. She was 16 years old when Joseph Smith and his brother, Hyrum, were murdered in Carthage Jail in 1844. She often told of how stunned the people were and how they could think of little else. When she came across the plains in 1850, she had a baby girl 3 days before reaching the Salt Lake Valley. She had married Job Pitcher Hall.

Mary Elizabeth's parents were neat, too. Her father, William Jones, was a stone mason and helped build the Nauvoo Temple. Her mother, Elizabeth Hughes Jones, was a charter member of the very first Relief Society.
-Janae Jensen, Mesa 76th Ward

I was unable to locate the boys' talks but I know I talked about how we can all be "pioneers" as we become one who goes ahead or becomes the first to do something. Today this makes me think of my daughter-in-laws Emelia and Nichelle who were brave enough to be the first in their families to do something different and I'm so glad that they did.

On this day I'm so grateful for many of my ancestors who were true pioneers.

-Nathanial Foote, who crossed the Atlantic ocean to Massachusetts colony in 1633 and then became one of the original "Ten Adventurers" who traveled up the Connecticut River and founded Wethersfield and eventually Hartford.

-Warren Foote, who lead a wagon train of 100 from Nebraska to the Great Salt Lake Valley in 1850.

-Issac Ricks, who came from England and settled in Virginia in 1660.

-Jonathan Ricks, who followed Daniel Boone through the Cumberland Gap and settled on Donaldson Creek in 1802.

-Job Pitcher Hall, husband of Mary Elizabeth, who joined the Mormon church in Maine then journeyed to Nauvoo in the early 1840's. He and his brother, Charles, accepted the call by Brigham Young in 1850 to open the Iron Mission in what is now southern Utah. He and Charles built the first log cabin in what is now Iron County.

-John Lloyd Roberts, whose family joined the Mormon Church in Wales. He journeyed across the Atlantic to New Orleans as an infant, surviving the cholera which killed his father and brother as they traveled by steamboat up the Mississippi. His mother, Gwen, struggled on with the remaining three children.

-Anders Olsson Nyborg, who also immigrated to Utah from Sweden and helped settle Mt. Pleasant, Sanpete County.

-Jordan Clay Jensen, pictured with Janae, who became the first in his family to gain a higher education, becoming an engineer and helping pioneer telecommunications with patents for equipment used on satellites used in space.

I also honor all the women who pioneered with these man and sometimes without them. Often times they were the true heroes.

There are many different ways to be a "pioneer."

Saturday, July 23, 2011

The other birthday girl

We celebrated another birthday in July. Little Mabel Ann is now one year old.

She is a happy and sweet girl.

But was hesitant to dig into a whole cake.

It remained hands off until they took the cake away . . .

and give her just a little slice like everyone else. That's our dainty Mae.

Her sisters and cousin were happy to take a bowl of cake and ice cream.

Julianna also found a bowl.

Here are some of Mabel's birthday guests. Grandpa found this shirt in the pile headed for DI. Asked me where I had been hiding it?!

Oscar had his first birthday a couple of months ago. We think that he and Mabel will be great friends as well as cousins. I think that they are both stars!

Friday, July 22, 2011

End of Family Trip, Day 10, Utah again

Lynette and I arrived back in Provo from Idaho far after dark. In a move meant to drop friend Annette off at her home in a more efficient way, we actually added a half hour or more to our trip. We got to stop and watch a train, a very long train, make it's way west towards Nevada. It was one of those stops where you open the windows, turn the car off, and hope for the best.

The next morning found me in "close down the townhouse" mode. There were sheets to wash, a kitchen to clean, and floors to sweep and vacuum as well as packing to do and 4th of July decor to pack away.

Mid-morning I got a text telling me of an impromptu birthday celebration for one of my favorite people, Ruby. Now I had something to look forward to.

We were to meet in Draper at the Airborne Trampoline Center. Rain was threatening the original park plan and this seemed like a fun option for all the "older" kids as well. Usually when I think of Airborne I am thinking of this. I swear it really works, just drop a tablet in your favorite orange juice when you feel a cold coming on.

Ruby's was celebrating early so that all the gathered family could join her. Isn't her birthday 'cake' genius. Grandpa stopped at Krispy Kreme on the way to Draper and picked up three dozen Kremes which included a dozen of Ruby's favorite, maple glazed.

Ruby, soon to be 2nd grader and great reader, has been reading "Little House on the Prairie" this summer. I bought her "Little House in the Big Woods" for her birthday.

Remember the shopping trip to the doll store on Day 2? Good thing I had purchased her gift early, pioneer style clothes, so her American Girl dolls could dress as Laura.

I think Sadie was a bit miffed with Ruby getting all the attention and gifts, with hands on hips and all. Good thing her birthday will be here soon.

It was a fun way to end a great vacation trip! The next day we drove home to hot Arizona where they had experienced this.

There was a lot of cleaning up to do once we got home.