Wednesday, August 31, 2011

500th Post and blogging thoughts

This is my partner in crime this week while her parents are celebrating their 14th wedding anniversary in Hawaii. I wish you could hear her say "Hawaii." Unfortunately I fell down the last few stairs after putting her to bed tonight. Now my knee hurts, I can't sleep, and I've decided to raid my DIL's computer for a picture and to write what will be my 500th post on my little blog that was created for me by another DIL almost four years ago.

So, what are your thoughts on this whole social media phenomenon of Blogs and Facebook updates and Twitters? What are the positives? I can think of quite a few. It is a good "Place to Share." It does allow one to keep up on extended family and friends near and far. It sure beats the family letter that was supposed to move on from family to family but most often ended up in the "to do" pile.

BUT is all the immediacy necessarily good? Sometimes do our thoughts or comments or venting need some time to simmer before they hit the airwaves. Do some things need to be expressed one on one before they are released for public consumption? I will tell you that my wounded heart says that they do. Everyone, please take care as you share. Over and out.

Monday, August 29, 2011

My first hand appliqued quilt block

While in Utah I attended a basic hand applique class at Quilts, Etc. taught by Jeana Kimball. I didn't know it at the time, but Jeana is considered an expert on hand applique and has taught classes all over the country. Her work is beautiful and she also publishes books and has her own online store for needles and such.

My sister, Lynette, had stayed with her friend Annette a day before leaving for home back in July. She called and told me to cancel my class because Annette had just showed her the best method for doing applique. I wasn't sure when I would meet up with Annette again, so kept my class time and I'm so glad I did. Jeanna Kimball is the master of back basted applique, the method demonstrated to Lynette by Annette. (Don't you just love to say "Lynette by Annette?")

This is my practice block done with my odds and ends at Jeana's class. I took the class because I had fallen in love with "Cherry Tweet" a quilt designed by Cori Blunt of Chitter Chatter Designs back in February. It had lots of red and crisp white. I love red and crisp white. To make this quilt, I needed to know how to applique. I just finished my first block for that quilt. I'm pretty excited to have overcome my "applique mental block." Here is hoping that I can complete Cori's quilt by the time I die :)

Thursday, August 25, 2011

Well-behaved women seldom make history

This month I read "Well-Behaved Women Seldom Make History" by Laurel Thatcher Ulrich. Laurel may be best known for her book "A Midwife's Tale: The Life of Martha Ballard, Based on Her Diary, 1785-1812" which won the Pulitzer Prize in History and which I read some years ago. The title of "Well-Behaved Women" was originally a phrase she used in other writings. It took on a life of its own as a slogan found on t-shirts, bumper stickers, etc. In this book she goes beyond the slogan she inadvertently created and explores what it means to make history.

As she explains, most history is backed by records kept mostly by men. Women were either illiterate or too busy to write things down. She explains her excitement in finding the dusty diary of Martha Ballard in the archives of a small Maine library. She explores the writings of women through time as she tells of their history.

Side note: This is a picture of Laurel Thatch Ulrich holding her book. She not only shares my name BUT she was born in Sugar City, Idaho! Daughter, Janae, met her at church when she visited her friend, Autumn, in New Hampshire. I had just read "Martha Ballard" and was pretty impressed. I am also impressed that she is/was a professor at Harvard. She is well-behaved and making history.

I've been pondering on the fact that perhaps "well-behaved" women don't seem to have a history because there is no record. I also remembered that several books that I have read recently are based on the writings of women who wrote letters to others telling of their somewhat common but very interesting lives.

"Vanished Arizona" by Martha Summerhayes was written by the author later in her life after she was given back letters that she had written during her time as the wife of an Army officer in the western United States during the years after the Civil War.

Her Arizona was a land of no trains, stagecoaches, or air conditioning. In the early 1900's, she looks back on that time with nostalgia and the reader learns that in some ways things were changing just as quickly back then as they seem to be now. My neighbor lent me this book but it can also be found online as an ebook.

"Letters of a Woman Homesteader" by Elinor Pruitt Stewart, can also be found as an ebook. Elinor writes these letters to her former employer in Denver after leaving to work on a Wyoming cattle ranch in the 1909. She also plans to homestead some land for herself and her daughter. Her letters were published in the "Atlantic Monthly" in 1913 and became a book in 1914. It is a fascinating look at life in the west.

"Nothing Daunted" by Dorothy Wickenden is based on letters the author found of her grandmother's written during the year of 1916 when she left her life in Auburn, New York to teach school in the small community of Elkhead, Colorado with her best friend.

They were society girls and alumni of Smith College who had most recently lived abroad in Paris. Go here to read more in a current Smith College alumni newsletter.

They had exchanged a life of privilege for horse rides through the snow to meet the students they had agreed to teach. Go here to read more about how the author used those letters to flesh out the story of her grandmother and the history and happenings of that time period and of the place that is Colorado.

As I research family history I am relying on those who have taken the time to write down their stories. Are you writing down your history? Are there letters (or emails) being saved? I think I like to blog because it is an easy way to share what I am seeing, doing, and learning. Even now as I approach 4 years and almost 500 posts as a blogger, I look back in amazement at the weddings, new babies, growing grandchildren, health crisis, travels, and celebrations. It is my history.

Tuesday, August 23, 2011

Playing hooky from Education Week

After day four of BYU Education Week and a visit to Home Depot for supplies, hubby and I made the decision to "play hooky" from day five. Our trips to Utah each August are not just to attend Education Week, but also to clear the debris away from summer family visits and prepare the townhouse for the school year and student tenants. We had procrastinated those chores, so decided to work hard in the morning before it became hot and then head to Thanksgiving Point for lunch and a movie instead of BYU for classes.

It was a good choice. We walked the gardens before having lunch at the Trellis Cafe followed by a viewing of the movie "The Help." We very much enjoyed the movie by the way. I am often disappointed when the movie based on a book I've read just doesn't match up to the timber and tone of the book. I thought "The Help" movie was spot on. I might have changed an actor or two who didn't match up, in my mind, to a book character but overall I found it to be worthy of the audience's applause at the end.

It was a beautiful summer day at the gardens complete with blue skies and glorious clouds. I couldn't help but to keep pushing the button on my camera. Enjoy!

It appears that you can rent the gardens for an event. They were setting up tables, chairs, lights, and there were catering vans out front.

Some of the biggest red blooms I have ever seen. I took this picture with the flowers below for contrast.

Can you believe that we still run into Utahans who don't know about this place or have never visited it?

Sunday, August 21, 2011

In the Utah Mountains

Most of August thus far has been spent in the mountains of Utah. It certainly has greater charms than the deserts of Arizona this time of year.

Our first mountain stop, Big John's Flat in the mountains above Beaver. There we found Glen's Baker relatives camping and visiting, something they do the first full weekend of August every year.

Glen loves to visit with his maternal uncles and their spouses up on the mountain. This year there were no maternal aunts. Sometimes it's hard for them to be comfortable at such high altitudes. Big John's Flat is not far from the tree line. They were discussing another location for next year as the road leading to the Flat will be closed for repairs and stabilization next summer.

Fortunately, the following weekend we were able to visit with the maternal aunts and spouses at the Smith family reunion at the new Smith Park in Draper. We also received a copy of "The Adventures of Ralph Smith" from his sister, Reva. Ralph and Reva are both Grandma June Baker's siblings. It was actually his life story, but there is enough material there for me to write a children's book series, "The Misadventures of Ralphie." Ralph will celebrate his 96th birthday tomorrow.

We also visited with their other living sibling, Wanda, and Ralph's wife, Barbara. I was also introduced to a few cousins, including Carl Baird whom I had heard about for years. It was a nice afternoon at the park, which is located on land originally farmed by the Joseph Lauritz Smith and Melissa Fitzgerald Smith family and which Ralph took over at the death of his father.

Joseph Lauritz Smith and Melissa Fitzgerald Smith family

This picture was taken in Red Lodge, Montana in June of 1934 when some of the family went to visit with daughter, June Smith Baker and husband, Raymond Baker when Raymond worked there for a time. L to R standing back: Ralph, Ruth, Arnold, and then Melissa. Wanda is standing in front of Melissa and granddaughter, Elma (June's youngest at the time) is standing in front of Wanda. Verla is standing in front of Ralph. Joseph is seated and holding his youngest daughter, Reva and granddaughter, Rita ( June's oldest). Reva and Rita are just 23 days apart in age.

Glen worked during the week along the Wasatch Front, but the next weekend found us on the back side of the Wasatch Mountains.

We enjoyed a barbecue up on the mountain at Sundance.

Followed by a summer theater production in the amphitheater.

Can you guess what musical we were watching?

Your right! That's Maria singing her way down the mountain on her way to meet the children of Captain Von Trapp.

It was a perfect setting to watch the "Sound of Music" as the hills were truly alive with the sound of music. We loved every minute of the performance, even the sudden rail squall. It occurred during the scene where the children are all landing in Maria's bed during a thunderstorm. Perfect timing!

We began BYU Education Week classes the 2nd week. Monday was a short day, so I tagged along with Glen to Park City for a late afternoon appointment. It was a stunning drive through Provo Canyon, Heber, and on into Park City from the east. The "Tour de Utah" international bike race over the weekend was held on this same route. I couldn't resist this picture of hollyhocks in front of an old miner's home now painted purple.

Nor this sunflower back lit by the sun.

The best place to be in August has to be the Utah mountains.