Monday, May 2, 2011

Kings in the Corner

Ever heard of Kings in the Corner? It's probably the first card game I learned to play. Even before Go Fish.

My grandma really liked playing Kings in the Corner with us. Maybe because she always won? No, she enjoyed the interaction with us. But I also have fond memories of her playing solitaire at her kitchen table.

Go play Kings in the Corner. It's a fun little game.

Monday, January 17, 2011

In the kitchen

Grandma really knew her way around the kitchen. I think back to Sunday dinners at her house. Her dining room table could seat twelve, and that sucker was FILLED with food. Fried chicken and mashed potatoes were probably her specialty--except for desserts, of course. Iced box cake. Lemon meringue pie. Blackberry cobbler. Date pinwheels. Pecan pie. Pumpkin pie. Peach cobbler. Not to mention all the holiday candies she made... Divinity. Fudge. Peanut butter fudge. English toffee. Peanut brittle.

That list could go on and on and on. But here's what really sticks out in my mind... One time Grandma told me about her life on the farm.

She was married to a dairy farmer. And he served in the military for a least five years during WW2. During that time, she carried additional responsibilities on the farm. I guess the farm had quite a few hired hands. Probably seven to ten. Part of their wages was lunch. My grandmother made a full Sunday spread for seven to ten hungry men every day that she was on that farm. Even when my grandfather was overseas helping to fight a war. Oh, and in her spare time she made the occassional wedding cake. And she made sugar bells by hand and piped everything (no fondant back then!).

Now, I don't mean to brag. I learned a few things from Grandma, and I think I can hold my own in the kitchen. But when I try to imagine feeding the mouths of ten hungry men for lunch on a daily basis, I get a little squeamish. And, she made several pies per day, too. I don't make one pie per week, let alone several per day!

So, yes, my grandmother knew her way around the kitchen. I love the sign in her kitchen that read, "No matter where I serve my guests, it seems they like my kitchen best." I sure did.

Tuesday, October 12, 2010

One Year

A lot can happen in a year.

If you know me, then you're aware of many of the things that have happened this past year. A year ago tomorrow, my grandmother died. My intention in starting this blog was to share with people some of the wonderful memories I have of my grandma. I had hoped that a year out, this blog would have more entries than it currently shows. But life takes over. And if you know me, then you know that I have a bit of chaos in my life.

My grandma knew about chaos. And she knew about my tendency to pursue it (for lack of better terminology). I heard her say several times that I was "burning the candle at both ends." Not much has changed.

But a lot can happen in a year.

I've learned that I'm strongest when I'm weak.

"'My grace is sufficient for you, for my power is made perfect in weakness.' Therefore I will boast all the more gladly about my weaknesses, so that Christ's power may rest on me. That is why, for Christ's sake, I delight in weaknesses, in insults, in hardships, in persecutions, in difficulties. For when I am weak, then I am strong" (2 Corinthians 12:9-10).

I've learned that even though it won't be easy, God has a purpose for my life.
"How can people have faith in the Lord and ask him to save them, if they have never heard about him? And how can they hear, unless someone tells them? And how can anyone tell them without being sent by the Lord? The Scriptures say it is a beautiful sight to see even the feet of someone coming to preach the good news" (Romans 10:14-15, CEV).

And I've learned (again and again) to rely on God in all things.
"Those who respect the Lord will have security, and their children will be protected" (Proverbs 14:26).

I've learned these things in my own life, from my close friends, and also from my grandmother's life. Even in memory, she is a shining example of Christian womanhood. I can only hope to live up to her example.

Thursday, May 20, 2010


My grandmother loved babies.

When she had a baby in her arms, she was young again. You could see the hard years just erasing before your eyes. Her eyes twinkled when a child was in her lap. She loved singing and talking to her grandchildren, and playing "trot-a-little-horsey" with her great-grandchildren, before her knees gave out, that is.

My grandmother taught me how to change diapers. She showed me how to feed an infant it's first baby foods. I learned how to interact with these little beings that can wrap themselves around your heart. But most importantly, I learned what precious gifts our children are. I don't know how many times I heard her say ABOUT my children while OBSERVING my children, "Precious. Precious, precious child."

I will cherish the photos I have of her soft, tired, wrinkled hands holding my babies. I cherish the memory I have of my grandma's hands on my belly, feeling my first son kicking (and kicking and kicking!) when I was about seven months pregnant with him.

When my grandmother was hospitalized recovering from double knee replacement surgery, my family made a trip to Missouri to see her. She had not done well with the surgery and recovery. She'd been in the hospital for over a month. Mom would tell me that she just slept all day, she didn't want to do her therapy, she didn't want to eat, or even get up to use the restroom. So, upon our visit, I was a bit hesitant to let Grandma hold my baby daughter (who was a six-month-old roley poley at the time) because I knew how weak she was. But my daughter was likely the best medicine she'd received in that month's time. Grandma perked up. Her color came back. She cooed and talked and laughed at my daughter. And my daughter reciprocated. And in the days and weeks to follow, Grandma continued to improve and was eventually released from the hospital.

She loved babies. She loved MY babies. Oh how I miss her loving on my children.

Monday, March 29, 2010


I've always liked daffodils. They're so cheerful. And I love how abundant they are. My grandmother's walkway to her porch was lined with daffodils. These flowers signaled the arrival of spring, and I have many memories of finding easter eggs hidden within them. Such happy flowers. Such happy memories.

Monday, March 1, 2010

"I'm the boss..."

Once, when I was a teenager, I was at my Grandma's house, and I noticed that one of her calendars hadn't been changed to the new month. She had a LOT of calendars--one in each bathroom, one in the kitchen, two in her bedroom, and even one in a hallway. It didn't surprise me that she'd overlooked one. But I also had the thought that perhaps she didn't turn that calendar because she liked the display photo for that specific month. I went ahead and turned the calendar, and told her I'd done so. She said, "Well, that makes you the boss of that room." After that, I always made a point to check her calendars. And occasionally I'd find one that hadn't been turned. "I'm the boss of your kitchen, Grandma!"

Today, I'm the boss of my kitchen. And I'm missing our fun little exchanges.

Monday, February 22, 2010

Kewpie Dolls

Grandma loved Kewpie dolls. Many of the knick-knacks in her house were Kewpie dolls, or Kewpie "themed". My mom recently brought me one of those items.

It is a wooden paddle, which hung in Grandma's bedroom, and it has five Kewpie dolls painted on it. My husband used to teasingly question her--on a regular basis--about how often she used it to spank her grandchildren. "Oh, you ornery thing!" she'd usually say with laughter. This simple piece of wood, with a little paint on it, helped to build and deepen the relationship between my Grandma and my husband. So this simple piece of wood is now a precious possession on the wall in my kitchen.

Wednesday, February 3, 2010

Norman Rockwell

My grandmother was a fan of Norman Rockwell's art. She had several plate collections of his work. I learned some things about life, about humor, about my grandma, by looking at those plates. My favorites were the Christmas editions of the Saturday Evening Post. I love those Santa scenes.

Well, happy birthday Mr. Rockwell.

Thursday, January 21, 2010

The Candy Thermometer

I've mentioned that my Grandma taught me to make peanut brittle, and it is to her that attribute my enjoyment of cooking for people. During the Christmas holiday of 2008, Grandma taught me how to make divinity. She was known well for all of her candies and desserts, but she exhibited a certain pride with her divinity that she had with no other candy that came from her kitchen.

During the lesson, I discovered that her candy thermometer was broken. When I told her about it, she said to throw it away. And I asked if I could have it. She thought that was so bizarre. "Why on earth would you want a broken candy thermometer?! It's no good!"

I didn't share it with her, because she would've been embarrassed, or argumentative about it. But here's why I wanted it. I look at that thermometer today, and I imagine how many batches of Christmas candy she made using that thing. It has obviously been through a lot. I think about how that thermometer was a bit of a friend and guide during all that candy making, somewhat of a compass. And then I think of her life--of what was her compass in life. When things were good. When things were bad. When things were worse than bad. Her compass was the Lord. I don't know of a time when my grandmother turned away from Him, nor have I heard any stories of such.

So, I look at that candy thermometer, and think not only of Grandma, but also of the path she'd want me to travel in this life. The path I want to be on in this life. I guess her life is a bit of a compass for mine.

Monday, January 11, 2010

Grandma's Porch

I love the porch on my grandmother's house. It is nothing elegant. It wraps around about one-fourth of the house, and it is stone and concrete. Quite plain, actually. But I love that porch. I love the memories made playing on it. I love the old metal furniture that I used to sit in with my great grandfather. I love the sound of the wind chimes displayed there. And I love the smell, so reminiscent of all the times I spent on that porch.

One of the last times Grandma and I were on that porch together was during her decline. It was a nice warm day, and I knew the fresh air would do her good. So I lugged some chairs out there, and we just sat together. Listening to the wind chimes. Watching people and cars go by. Visiting. Just being.

I love that porch.