Sunday, November 30, 2008


Can you over-do Gratitude? I hope not. When it comes to family, I hit the jackpot. I am very grateful for all I am learning from you.

I am grateful:

To the Silly witch for taking time to treasure her children and putting the unimportant stuff aside.

To the Warlock for demonstrating how immersing yourself in a job that has to be done makes the job fun.

To our Angel for the privilege of knowing and loving her, even for just a little while.

To Pippi for taking time for the important things, including a salamander swimming in the dog dish, fish swimming in the lake, and horses running in the field.

To Bardo for introducing me to a fabulous confection called “berry milk” which I mistakenly thought was just grape juice.

To Prudence for improving her talents, making new friends, and living life wherever her life is.

To Flash (aka Turkey Legs) for daring to makes his goals a reality.

To Jet for making the most of every waking minute.

To Speed for not knowing the meaning of giving up.

To Mary Sunshine who enjoys the journey.

To Hermione for having the faith to make a decision, confirming it with the man upstairs, and then going for it.

To Eglantine who realized at an early age that life wasn’t worth living if you can’t have a little fun!

To Boris who knows what he wants and does it.

To Peanut who realizes a little stumble is not the end of the world.

To Orville who knows there is no use in getting all riled up. Everything will be fine.

To Eloise, who is not technically family, but who is teaching me to having compassion and kindness towards those outside my family.

And ESPECIALLY to Wilbur who models the qualities one needs to live with me: patience, tolerance, and a good sense of humor. And for having enough sense never to be fanatical about anything.

Sunday, November 23, 2008


I have many, many things that I am deeply grateful for. Last week another one appeared at sunrise.

Slowly But Surely

Slowly, but surely, Wilbur is getting the deck done. I assist him sort of like a surgical nurse assists a doctor. I figure out what he is going to need next and hand it to him. I did drill a few screws in, but he can do it so much faster.
As you can see, adding a deck to a house with a stone veneer is not easy.

Sunday, November 16, 2008

Grandma Robertson

My Mom, Velma Lorene Miller Robertson, was born January 22, 1923 in Sugarville, Utah on the family farm. She was the youngest of ten children. Her father, who had emigrated from Scotland to Utah when he was five years old, was 59 at her birth. Her mother, born in Utah of Danish and Norwegian parents, was 45.

Being the youngest of ten had its challenges. Mom's next oldest sister, Delia, seemed to feel very resentful about Velma's arrival. I remember both Delia and Mom telling me they didn't know how their mother ever stood all the fighting between the girls. By the time Mom came along, her older brothers and sisters were getting married. She remembered her older brother, Ed, giving her a nickel to shine his shoes. A nickel was big bucks to a little girl in the late 1920’s.

Mom’s mother, Annie Margaret, worked as a midwife. She would help a woman deliver her baby and then stay for two weeks to help out. Mom went with her. She said she loved watching her mother give the babies a bath near the warm, wood stoves. After the baths, Grnadma Miller would dress the babies and then let Mom hold them. My mother always LOVED newborn babies.

Mom’s Dad was called to be the Bishop and he called her Mom to be the Relief Society President. This was a common practice during that time of no telephones. Sadly, I think Mom felt very pushed aside, especially by her Mom’s Relief Society President duties. She recounted feeling very angry as Grandma Miller put on a hat to go out again on church business and left Mom home for her older sisters to tend. All my life, I remember Mom feeling very hostile and angry towards the church organization and members of the church. She told me once that people would constantly call on her mother to help them when, really, the help they asked for they could much more easily do for themselves. She also told me of a Christmas Eve when her mother was so exhausted that she laid down on her bed and could not even get up to see the family light the candles on the Christmas tree. During the Christmas season, candles were only lit once on Christmas Eve, and missing out on this illustrated Grandma Miller’s exhaustion.

When Velma was still young, her father became very ill with asthma . Then, the well on their farm dried up. Her parents sold the farm and her mother began running a boarding house in Tooele (I think). This was not a very good experience for Mom because she had to protect herself from child predators. Velma said she was glad when her mother sold the boarding house. When I was young, she warned me about child predators. Often she would look at someone and have a “feeling” about them.

Her father had asthma from working in the dust and dirt on the farm. The feeling of not being able to breathe was intolerable for him, but the only treatment available was a shot of adrenalin. The adrenalin shots ruined his heart, and he died when Velma was nine. Velma remembered singing We Are Sowing at his funeral.

Mom could never talk about the next few years of her life without becoming angry and sad. Mom, Delia, and Grandma Miller went from living with one of Mom’s brothers to another. When her brother’s wives would get tired of having them, they would go and live with another brother. This all took place in the midst of the Great Depression. Quite often her brothers were providing for their families by working for the WPA. The WPA provided low paying, government jobs for men who could get no other work. From hearing her stories, it sounded as if she and her mother and sister would just get settled in one place when they had to move to another. She related how she could see that her sisters-in-law dreaded seeing the three of them come. She told of trying to fit in at a new school and having some kids lie in wait to throw rocks at her ankles as she left for the day. All this, coupled with the death of her father, was pretty tough.

Through all these difficult circumstances, Mom told me that Grandma Miller was a very upbeat person. She did not sit around and mope or feel sorry for herself. When she would find out that one of her daughters-in-law wanted her to leave, she would say, “Oh, we’ll just go stay with (one of her other sons) for awhile.” She was a problem solver who never wasted time and energy on, “Oh, woe is me!”

Finally, Grandma Miller found employment as a housekeeper with a very old man named Heber Robertson in Spanish Fork, Utah. Mom said this was the smartest thing her mother ever did. Finally they had a home and they settled down. Her mother ended up marrying this man because of the gossip circulating about her living in the same house. People are so disgusting sometimes.

Mom’s teenage years in Spanish Fork seemed happy. She had a group of girl friends she ran around with. During the war, they would make fudge on Sunday, with every girls bringing a ½ cup sugar because of rationing. Her stepfather was kind to her, but he was very old, had been on three missions for the church and was a Seventy (each stake had Seventies before the changes were made). He seemed to believe that it was his obligation to preach to all the friends Mom brought to the house. This situation seemed to further entrench Mom’s resentment toward the church.

However, Heber Robertson was kind to my Mom and paid for her to go to nurses training. She entered a fast track nursing program created due a nursing shortage in WWII. She stayed in a dorm with other girls studying to be nurses.

During nurses training, one of Mom’s friends talked her into going to a USO dance. Consistent with family tradition, my Mom had decided she didn’t like USO dances. However, I’m glad she made an exception. At this dance she saw a tall guy with dark brown, curly hair which was wet. Sid Robertson had just come from swimming. Mom said it was love at first sight. My Dad said it was love at first sight for him too. He was stationed at Fort Douglas Utah with the army. They were married by a Justice of the Peace on September 17, 1943.

Winter Harvest Soup

This makes a ton. I half the recipe.

3 medium carrots
3/4 cup chopped celery
1 medium onion
2 green onions, thinly sliced
1 garlic clove
1 tablespoon butter
1 table spoon olive oil
7 cups chicken broth
3 cups cubes peeled potatoes
2 cups butternut squash ( I used hubbard squash - the kind they cut into large hunks a wrap for you in the store)
2 large tart apples (I used gala, and they were fine)
2 medium turnips, peeled and chopped
2 parsnips, peeled and sliced
1 bay leaf
1/2 teaspoon dried basil
1/4 teaspoon dried thyme
1/4 teaspoon pepper

In a large pot, cut the carrots, celery, anions, and garlic in oil until tender.
Add the broth, potatoes, squash apples, turnips, parsnips, bay leaf and spices. Simmer for 20 minutes or until vegetables are tender. Discard bay leaf so nobody chokes on it. Garnish with green onions.

Tuesday, November 11, 2008

Reminder - 2008 Christmas List

Just Thought I would post this again in case anyone tried to do one of the ideas.

Christmas Wish List for 2008
Pick one
1) During the year, notice the worthwhile qualities and attributes of others. Acknowledge them verbally if the situation permits. Acknowledge them in writing if you would rather. Write me a letter for Christmas telling how you benefited or changed or what you learned by doing this.

2) Have family scripture study for a year. Give five times a week a good shot. The church puts out funny book type scripture materials that make sense to use with kids. At the end of the year, write me a letter telling me about any good things that came of this. I’m open to hearing funny things too.

3) Hold family home evening each week. Once a month incorporate a story about one of your ancestors into the home evening to teach a principle. The ancestor doesn’t have to figure as the hero or heroine. Feel free to use an ancestor’s story about why NOT to do something too. Write me a letter telling me what you learned or what difference this made to you or your children.

4) Whenever someone irritates you or makes you downright mad decide not to take offense. Study D&C 64:8-11. As queen of offense taking, I KNOW this is really a toughie. Do the best you can. Write me a letter telling me how this went.

I love you guys!

Sunday, November 09, 2008

Weekly Wanderings

Welcome to the wonderful adventures of Prairie Smoke. In this week's installment Boris and Eglantine moved to a near-by community. Monday Prairie Smoke and Wilbure helped them move. All involved got quite a shock when they saw the apartment that the slum lord, I mean landlord, said was one of the landlord's "nicer properties." I don't even want to think about what one of the less nice properties are like.

Like every week, rain, shine, sleet, hail, sub zero temperatures, sickness, or dead of night will not keep my dog from wanting to make his appointed rounds. He believes I must come along to make his appointed rounds worthwhile.

They say if you live with someone for longer than two weeks, the kind of person she really is will come to light, or dark. Hermione discovered what it is like to live with "she-who-must-not-be-named." She shared some of her experience with me. Plenty of material for a soap opera here I think.

To add to the mystery and gloom of dealing with "she who must not be named," we had three days in a row of fog this week. Rain in November is very odd.

On Thursday, the kitchen cabinets arrived for the studio apartment. It is going to be a nice place to stay.

The appliances for the apartment arrived a few weeks ago.

Wilbur and I spent quality time sealing trim for the apartment. Monday a carpenter is coming to install cupboards and trim.

Thus ends another breath taking installment in the weekly wanderings of Prairie Smoke. Stay tuned for next weeks adventures.