Saturday, July 26, 2008

What IS That Fragrance?

Yesterday was a lovely day. It was about 80 degrees with low humidity, so we had our attic fan going instead of the air conditioner. Because we had doors and windows open there was a nice breeze coming in from outside. Last night as I was sitting at the computer I realized I was smelling a fragrance of some kind. My first thought was that perhaps there was something in the kitchen, but then I remembered the 4 o'clocks outside by the deck.

4 o'clocks are another "traditional plant" for me. My grandmother had some behind her house. The little flowers opened around 4 o'clock in the afternoon and closed when the sun came up the next morning. When I was little I used to love to go out there and sit among them and pretend all kinds of fanciful things.

I didn't remember about them being fragrant because I hadn't smelled them yet this year. They're not fragrant unless they're open and they're not open here during the day. In fact, ours don't open at 4 o'clock. We've come to call ours 8 o'clocks because they don't open until about then. Why they did that was a mystery to me for quite awhile, but now I suspect that it's because ours are planted on the west side of our house which is still very sunny until much after 4:00. My grandmother's, on the other hand, were on the east side, so hers were very shaded in the afternoon.

Anyway last night I went outside to take a few pictures. It was very dark, and I really couldn't see a thing. I just pointed the camera into the blackness and took quite a few shots. I wasn't really happy with any of them, because they all showed the flowers as partially closed. I wonder if perhaps they were reacting to the flash? I didn't save the very first one I took. It would have been interesting to see if the flowers looked any different before they were flashed upon repeatedly.
Anyway, regardless of when they open, I do like the sweet, spicy fragrance that they have to share.

Friday, July 18, 2008

To Wish Others Well

I have been working on posting our California trip, really I have. The problem is that I keep coming across other neat things as well.

I was just listening to a recorded interview with Marci Shimoff who wrote Happy for No Reason. She told a story about a woman who had been miserable for years. She was in very bad health with Lupus and other things. She was in a wheelchair, and was also very overweight. She heard about a practice of wishing other people well. She was skeptical and didn’t think she would even have the energy to do it, but decided to try it. Every day for a year she spent time during the day sending wishes of well being to other people. She chose to do it like this:

May you be safe
May you be happy
May you be healthy
May you live with ease

She said these things silently to herself within her heart as she came across people. She said it for friends, co-workers and even for strangers as she was driving down the street. It isn’t known what effect it might have had on the other people but within a year her own happiness level soared. She was out of the wheelchair, and exercising three times a week, and is completely symptom free. The doctors say this is a medical miracle. The only thing that she did differently was to wish other people well.

She had to actually do it though. My problem with something like this is remembering. Over the years I’ve heard about quite a few neat things, but after awhile I forget about them. I think I’ll make up a few 3x5 cards.

That reminds me—Many years ago when the children were small, we had a Family Home Evening lesson about prayer. We made up cards with DFTP on them and put them around the house as reminders. It stood for Don’t Forget To Pray. One last card on the back wall of the broom closet hung on for many years. (The kids found creative places to put them.) We still have a card on the inside of our front door that says “I Am Someone Special,” from another long ago, but more recent, FHE lesson.

So I wish you well today. May you be touched by happiness, filled with gratitude, overflowing with enthusiasm, and encircled by love.

Love, Kathey

Sunday, July 13, 2008

Our Family in 2006

On the last night of our June trip, Peter put everyone's pictures into his computer so he could make CD's for each of us to take home. Helena also included some that she took when everyone came to Ohio two years ago for our 40th anniversary. Not being a computer whiz I didn't have any idea how to put a CD into the computer let alone get any pictures off of one, so I thought it was probably some hairy scary deal. Well, I've finally learned how to do that!! I thought it would be fun to show a few of the 2006 ones… I like this one of Barbie and Kyle because of the angle. They are up against the swing in our back yard with our house in the background.

Here we are with our five kids. This was taken in the Relief Society room at the church.
Front row: Kirsten (number one kid) Kathey, Jim, Peter (the middle kid)
Back row: Betsey (second youngest) Barbie (the baby) Helena (second oldest)

And here's the whole group. This was taken in our back yard. Kirsten likes to wear red on Friday. Can you tell what day of the week this was taken? :)
Front: Kirsten, Betsey & Angie, Jim, Kathey, Doug with Kate (18 mo. old).
Back: Barbie and husband Kyle, Peter and wife Karen, Helena behind her family.

Saturday, July 5, 2008

Our President Kimball Pumpkins

I just haven't been able to get myself to work on posting more about our latest California trip. I think I've been overwhelmed by the magnitude of it all, and all the MANY pictures, so for now I'll just show you this one, and then go on to something else instead. ^o^
Our whole family was there this time. Starting at the left: Helena & her husband Doug, I'm holding their daughter Kate, then Betsey, baby Elizabeth (Dau. of Peter and Karen) is next, then Kirsten, and Barbie. Back row is Jim, Karen, Peter, and Barb's husband Kyle. Helena and Barb are both expecting babies before the end of the year, so we'll soon be 14 in all. (Double click on the picture to enlarge it.)
* * * * * * * * * *
On June 12 I mentioned that I planted peas on the 5th of June this year, which was really late. Well that reminded me of another time when we got a garden in really late…

For quite a few years I had a letter route for Visiting Teaching. Every month I tried to include a personal note, or other interesting story that would hopefully be uplifting or inspiring in some way. I think that I originally wrote the following story as a Visiting Teaching message. It was dated October, 1999. It was about a special Family Home Evening activity we had one Monday night when the children were small.

Our President Kimball Pumpkins

Aren't we having a gorgeous autumn? It's so lovely and colorful. This time of year makes me think of another year long ago when we had some unique pumpkins for Halloween.

It happened when Spencer W. Kimball was president of the church. I can't tell you what year it was. I only know that President Kimball had been stressing the importance of growing a garden and we didn't have one. It was the end of June and not only had we not planted anything, but our once-lovely garden spot was a sorry sight. The weeds were so thick that our cat could get lost in them, and many of the weeds were taller than some of our children! It truly was a sad situation.

One night for Family Home Evening we set to work to change things. Our five children and I had great fun tramping down the weeds in the garden and covering them with 4 or 5 layers of newspapers. We held them down with a thick dousing of grass clippings which my husband supplied with the lawn mower. By the time we finished, the garden spot looked great. Not a weed was in sight. What a transformation! I began to think this might work after all.

The next day we scraped aside a small section of grass in the center of the garden, cleared it of weeds, and stuck some pumpkin seeds in the ground. It was July 1st--very late to be planting pumpkins, but we felt that planting something was better than nothing, and that we would be blessed for being obedient.

We watched hopefully, as the weeks went by and little pumpkins began to grow. By the last week in October we had several good-sized ones. The only problem was that they were dark green. Undaunted, we decided to pick them and make jack-o-lanterns anyway. What a surprise when we turned them over and discovered that the part of each pumpkin that was touching the ground was bright orange. When we carved them, they ended up looking like little orange pumpkin faces with lots of green hair! They were the most memorable jack-o-lanterns we ever had, and it happened because we wanted to teach our children that it was important to follow the prophet.

Sometimes we gain rewards in unexpected ways when we do something that's right, even if it seems too late, or otherwise doesn't make sense!

Later that fall I read in the back of the
Ensign magazine that they wanted to publish an article about different kinds of Family Home Evenings. They asked for contributions, so I sent them a copy of the above story. I received a call several months later saying that it had been selected. It took about two years and several rewrites, but it was published in December 2001. Originally it was to have appeared in October, but got slipped to December. (9/11 might have had something to do with that.) It was part of an article called Family Home Evening, Any Size, Any Situation.

Following is the article with the picture that was in the Dec. 2001 issue. I was delighted with the picture. I did not send them one, but their artist's rendition was about perfect. It was exactly like the pumpkins looked, and almost how Peter looked at that time! The article itself was changed quite a bit. I knew that they would have to shorten it. The editors, however, didn't even want to include President Kimball's name because they felt there were many new people in the church who didn't know him. I really fought them on that one and they finally at least mentioned him. Something ironic is that one month later the
Friend magazine had an article about a family planting a President Kimball Garden. Anyway, if you have a December, 2001 Ensign, our part of the article starts on page 42 and it's called Our Pumpkin Patch. (If you double click on the picture it will enlarge, and you can read most of the article as it appeared in the magazine. The first few words were on the previous page.)

Our Pumpkin Patch

Gardening can be a great unifying activity, as President Spencer W. Kimball (1895–1985) and other Church leaders have taught. One of our favorite family home evenings came from working in our garden together. When we started, we never guessed it would bring us so much laughter and become such a treasured memory. We just knew something had to be done, since most of the weeds in our once-lovely garden spot were taller than some of our children! Pulling those huge weeds was too hard, so Mom, Dad, and all five children stomped them down. Then we covered the garden spot with layers of newspaper held in place with a thick dousing of fresh grass clippings. By the time we finished, the garden spot looked great. Because everyone worked well together, the task was accomplished quickly and we weren’t even very tired.

Though it was late in the season, the next day we scraped aside a small section of newspaper and grass from the center of the garden and poked some pumpkin seeds into the ground. Everyone was curious to know if we would have pumpkins before it became too cold.

We watched as little pumpkins began to grow. By the last week in October, we had several good-sized pumpkins. The only problem was that they were still green. Undaunted, we decided to pick them anyway and carve jack-o-lanterns. What a surprise when we turned them over and discovered that they were bright orange on the other side! When we carved them, they looked like little orange pumpkin faces with lots of green hair! They were the funniest looking jack-o-lanterns we had ever seen. This activity brought us not only a few gardening skills, but family unity and joyous memories as well.—Kathey Ahlstrom, Fairborn Ward, Dayton Ohio East Stake

If you would like to read the whole Family Home Evening article click here . It's pretty neat.