Thursday, August 27, 2009

My Grandma's House

Sometimes when we go to Gleed, I just can't drive past my Grandma's house. It's so sad to see their house, and know they're not sitting in the "front room", waiting and watching the driveway for us to arrive for a visit.

It's just too hard to turn into the driveway and not see my Grandma rush out onto their big porch, so happy to see us, and give us a big hug.

This trip I made myself go, and I'm glad I did.

One afternoon after a day of canning salsa, Mom and I drove down Maple Way Road to Grandma's house. We pulled in the driveway and parked in front of the garage. There was a nice man, with a very puzzled look on his face. Then my Mom got out of the car, and he broke into the nicest smile. His name is Reuben, and he and his lovely wife Olga now love and take care of Grandma's house.

I introduced myself as Ralph and Leona's granddaughter, and asked if it would be OK if I took a few pictures for a scrapbook. They were so warm and gracious, and said of course.

I walked up the sidewalk, past Granddad's roses.

The roses seem a little faded, not quite as many flowers. Of course, it's my memory that's faded. But nobody can grow roses like my Granddad could!

I continue up the sidewalk, and stop at the steps to the front porch. Oh, my. Big lump in my throat and tears in my eyes, even now as I write this. I look up onto the porch--I want that screen door to open, and my Grandma to to be there! I just can't go up on that porch, not without my Grandma and a hug.

I compose myself, and walk around back to take a picture of Grandma's fruit cellar. My Dad built it for her in the early 1950's. The inside was lined with shelves spaced just perfect for pint and quart jars of home canned goods--and she kept them well stocked. My Grandma even made her own ketchup and maraschino cherries. I think I came by my love of canning honestly! It was always cool in the cellar, even on the hottest summer day. The cellar had a certain smell, I can remember it so clearly. I was tempted to ask Reuben and Olga to unlock the door so I could see if it still smelled the same. But that might have been a bit much! (And it would have sent me right over the edge, too!)

Here is the back "stoop" as my Auntie Mae called it. When my Grandma lived there, it didn't have the green carpet on it. On hot summer nights, we would sit out there and eat cold slices of really good watermelon. My Grandma always cut out the "heart" of the watermelon just for me! I continued on around the house to the chicken coop. Sweet memories of our favorite son, at 4 years of age, going out with Grandma to gather the eggs, so excited and proud to bring them back to the kitchen. He was half afraid of those chickens, but he wanted to gather eggs about 6 times a day, much to my Grandma's delight! She sure love her great-grand babies! The three big walnut trees are still there, but now they shade the whole back yard! Olga very sweetly offered to give me some walnuts. Granddad's 3 gardens are empty now--no grapevines, no strawberries, no sugar stick carrots. Reuben and Olga work more than full time, and don't have the time it takes to garden. This would sadden my Grandad, but he would understand.

All in all it was a great, sentimental trip back into my childhood. As you can see, my Grandma's house is not a big, fancy house. But the love given in that house was BIG, wonderful and totally unconditional. The memories are so sweet, and are such a part of who I am. I am so blessed to have had such wonderful grandparents. Here they are, Ralph and Leona Smeltzer. This lovely picture was taken for their 50th wedding anniversary.

Next time I visit Gleed, it won't be hard at all to drive by Grandma's house. Reuben and Olga are lovely, kind and hard working people--just like my grandparents were. They are taking such good care of the place, and I'm sure they are creating wonderful memories for their children and grandchildren. Here's Reuben and Olga:

And--life goes on, nothing stays the same.

Well, almost nothing------ That little footprint, now covered in lichen, is mine- from about 1955 when my Dad poured the sidewalk leading up to the front porch. That will always be at my Grandma's, along with a big piece of my heart.

I love you Grandma, Grandad and Auntie Mae, always.

Diana Lynn 8/25/2009

Wednesday, August 26, 2009

Friends and Family in Gleed

Where in the world is Gleed? It's a little, tiny place about 7 miles west of Yakima. One of those "don't blink or you'll miss it" places. I can't even call it "another charming small town", because there is really no town--just kind of a wide spot in the road. But it's a charming wide spot, and holds many special memories for me.

I was born in Yakima, and came home from the hospital to my grandparents house in Gleed, the only house they ever lived in my whole life.
My mom and I stayed here for six weeks, then joined my Dad in Alaska.

Many special people in my life live in Gleed. My sweet sister's kids, Kyle, Krista and Kasey live there. It sure was good to see them, and I wish they lived closer. Here they are:
They will always be known to their Auntie Di as: (L to R) The Best Boy in the Whole Universe or Solar System (discovered or yet to be discovered), Sweet Pea, and Budski! Uncle Dave and I sure love those kids.

One of my very favorite aunts lives in a nice assisted living facility right near Gleed. Auntie Babe and my Uncle Bill (my Dad's brother) lived on a farm in Grandview, in the lower valley east of Yakima. I have many happy childhood memories of fun times spent on their farm with my cousins Ron and Jerry. Here is my sweet Auntie Babe:
Then there's Glen and Joann, my Mom's cousins. They are just wonderful--Glen is so sweet, and Joann is alot of fun, it's always good to see them. We do our canning down at their house, with lots of help from Glen. Joann usually feeds us her famous "Better Than Sex Cupcakes"! Oh, that Joann is a hoot!

And of course we can't forget good friends Kootch and Mert. There real names are Irving and Rosella, but I didn't know that until I was about 55 years old! They have always just been Kootch and Mert. I've known them all my life, they even lived around the corner from us when I was in high school in Anchorage. They were gracious and invited us to stay with them for the week we spent in Gleed. My Mom and Dad park their Rv on their land for the summer. Here's Mert, who is one wonderful lady: (no pic of Kootch, for some mysterious reason)
And look, here's Ernie and Shirley! My mom and dad knew them both when they were all teenagers. (Just a few years ago) I've heard a few stories over the years about some interesting and fun times around Gleed involving Ernie, my Dad and Kootch. Why, I think they were kind of hooligans! But in a nice way, of course. Always a lot of laughs when Ernie and Shirley are around!

One afternoon, Mom and I went for a drive, up some winding country roads, through the orchards around Gleed. Of course, Mom knew just about every other farm, and who lives or used to live there. Here are a few pictures from our little tour of Gleed.
From up on Selah heights, looking down on Gleed. Isn't it pretty?

Here is my Mom, picking apricots, and taking the whole branch, too! Actually, they were pruning the branches so a big truck could get through, so we just took the whole branch home! Just look at those apricots--they were beautiful. I made 2 apricot pies, and Mom made and canned apricot nectar. One cannot buy apricots like this in a store!
This is an apple orchard, and they have espaliered the apple trees. With this method of growing, the trees are trained to grow in one dimension--kind of flat. That way, they get more sun and take up less room. Mom and I saw dwarf fruit trees in Monet's garden in Giverny trained to grow like this! Interesting, old growing technique.

I do love this place. It's so lush with orchards and farms, fruit and vegetables of all kinds. I could almost live here. We could have a really big garden, and some fruit trees. Think of all the canning I could do! I know-- we could have our own farm stand! I can see it now--Dave and Di's Fruit and Veggies! Maybe we could even have a cow, and I could name her Bessie or Blossom?? I'd have to milk her though, I don't think DavOd is a country boy!

Oh, just excuse me while I channel my inner farm girl! I think I was born to live in the country, dig in the dirt and clean my hands with a half ripe tomato. I just love this stuff!

Tuesday, August 25, 2009

The Fruits (and Vegetables!) of Our Labor

We just finished cleaning and organizing our pantry cabinets in our laundry room, and putting away our new canned goodies. I just can't resist sharing a couple of photos!

The top and middle shelves are salsa. The bottom shelf on the left is jalapeno pepper jelly and wild blackberry jam, and on the right is Grandma's Green Tomato Relish (don't know why it looks red-it's really green). Oh, and the pink tags are on jars left from last canning season--we need to eat those first. Must be organized, you know!

In the above cabinet, top shelf (L to R) canned tomatoes, pickled green beans, sweet cherries (Thanks, Mom!) Middle: turkey, more tomatoes. Bottom: Million Dollar Pickles (another of my Grandma's recipes) more pickled green beans and more cherries, and finally turkey broth that I made and canned after we canned our turkey. Can't waste a good turkey carcass, you know!

Oh, I feel like such an earth mother and pioneer woman, all in one!

Monday, August 24, 2009

Things I learned in Gleed....

From my Dad

1. My Dad can out pick me (and just about anyone else) anytime. No matter what we're picking!

2. Did you know tomatoes can get a sunburn--and their sunburn is yellow? Yup! You don't want to pick those tomatoes, as they get a hard yellow layer under their skin that ruins them for canning or eating.

3. Peppers also get sunburned, they turn black on their "sunny side". Doesn't seem to hurt them, though. They're just not quite as pretty.

4. This is just about the most important thing in the u-pick field!

5. But the very COOLEST thing I learned was how to clean your hands after a day of pickin'. Remember these Workin' Girl Hands?

Well, as we finished picking, I brought out a package of moist wipes so we could all clean our hands (I was feeling very well prepared, and a little smug!) My Dad said "Now Diana, that stuff is not going to get your hands clean!" Hah! Sure it will Dad! I scrub and I scrub, and they're still very grubby. They're still brown!
Meanwhile, over a couple of rows of tomatoes--here is my Dad: He's squishing a semi-ripe tomato all around his hands! And it works--it REALLY works! In just a few turns and squishes, and a little rinse from a water bottle, Dad's hands are clean as can be. Dave and I give up, and join the fun:In no time at all, our hands are perfectly clean.

So, you see, one can learn something really useful every day! Especially from your Dad.
And a note to Deb: Yes, I know what you're thinking--"Finally, a good use for all those yucky tomatoes!"

Sunday, August 16, 2009

Doin' The Salsa in Gleed!

Wow! We have been busy the past two days! So busy I haven't had time to Tweet, Text, TwitPic or update this blog! And I've kinda missed it.

We started on our salsa EARLY Friday morning. Of course it's early, we're with my Dad! In our family we call this the "Jake Tuttle" start. At 6:00am, I call it the butt crack of dawn start! Yawn!
Anyway----we went down to my Mom's cousin's (Glen and Joann) Friday morning (did I mention it was early??). Got everything all organized, and got BUSY!

First we washed all those beautiful veggies we picked on Thursday. No dirty veggies in our salsa--no siree! (Are ya happy, Bren?)

We each have our assigned tasks:
*Dad is the Stove Master-he minds the stove, the timers and the boiling pots. His other very important job is to give me a hard time, and he is really good at it!

*Mom and Glen blanch and peel the tomatoes

*Mom chops all those peeled tomatoes, just look at those experienced hands chopping away:

*David and Glen chop peppers and onions. David's specialty is jalapenos. They're hot and they burn. I don' t do jalapenos. I are no dummy! I learnt that lesson last year. Ouch, ouch, ouch!! Here is my hero, the hot pepper guy:
After we have chopped and chopped and chopped enough for a batch:Isn't it pretty? Then we mix it all together and cook it for 10 minutes. Now it's time to fill the jars. That's my job! I'll bet you were wondering if I did anything at all, huh? (actually, I do a lot of chopping, too) Here we are filling the jars with hot salsa:
Then they process for 20 minutes, and Dad does a great job minding the canners That's serious stuff:
While all this is happening, we're still choppin', slicin' and dicin' away, lots more batches to go! When the timer goes off, Dad removes the jars from the canner and carefully sets them on a towel to cool overnight: All that for ONE batch. NOW--repeat the above process 13 more times over 2 days, and you have 98 (yup--NINETY EIGHT) jars of salsa! But most importantly, you have lots of fun with your family, and have sweet memories to last a lifetime. Thanks Mom and Dad, I love you.
Tomorrow--believe it or not, we are going to pick MORE tomatoes! Monday we are going to can just regular tomatoes, much easier--not as much chopping!! Yes, we are crazy!

Friday, August 14, 2009

We're Pickin' and Grinin'

We got up early (of course-we're with my Dad!) and drove down to the "lower valley" to Imperial's Farms, a big u-pick farm. They have several big fields of tomatoes, jalapenos, many colors of bell peppers, and a great assortment of other peppers.
Look how pretty it is:

Here's our pickin' crew: David ,my Mom's cousin Glen, me and my Dad:
We got our buckets ready, and off we went. We picked and we picked! Here we are, just a pickin away:
And here's David:

We picked about 75 pounds of tomatoes and 30 pounds of assorted peppers. That's alot of picking!

Now, if you ask my Dad, he'd tell you he picked most of this himself, and he'd probably be right! What do you think? Here's our bucket after just a little while picking:And here is Dad's bucket:
You'd certainly never guess he's 82 1/2, would you? We certainly can't keep up with him. It was a wonderful day picking, and I have the stickers, grass stains and workin' girls' hands to prove it: Tomorrow: We'll be doin' the salsa in Gleed! We'll be up and chopping, slicing, and dicing early--so stay tuned!!

Wednesday, August 12, 2009

On the Road Again---

David and I are off on another road trip! We left this morning for a nice drive to Yakima, Washington.

Well, actually we are going to be in Gleed--but more about that later!

We'll be without an internet connection, but will have our cell phones. And thanks to my latest adventures in the tech world, I'll be able to send and receive email on my phone, text, Twitter and TwitPic! I'm going to try to go to a local Starbucks to update my blog---because we'll be havin' some fun that I'll want to share with you all!

But, more about that later!

I want to assure my dear friend Brenda that David and I did clean house (kinda, a little bit) before we left. She's been worried that I have been slacking in the "cleaning department" since we have been gone so much. I suppose that picture I emailed her with a message written in dust (on our dresser) didn't help much, huh Bren? I told you to sit down before you looked at the picture! Not to worry, it's gone now.........

And so are we! Yippee!

Thursday, August 6, 2009

Coming of Age in Spudville

The Tech Age, that is!

And it's all my friend Deb's fault. She was bugging me to blog:

"You should do a blog Di, it's really easy."
"It's not hard to set up, I'll help you."
"Brenda has a blog."

So I gave in to peer pressure and started blogging. As usual, Deb was right--

It's really fun!
It's a great way to feel more connected to far away family and friends.
If you can talk, you can blog!

But one thing leads to another, and another, and another.

I was enjoying posting on my blog, sharing our simple life here in Spudville......

AND THEN--I decided I should learn to tweet. You know--Twitter? I could add tweets as a "running" side bar to my blog! So off I go to, signed right up and learned to tweet. I even got Bren and Deb tweeting, we're just tweeting like crazy!

Just a bloggin' and a tweetin' away here .....

AND THEN--I thought "I really should know how to text." Just in case I felt the need to Twitter from my phone when I wasn't right in front of my computer. (I know, I know--nobody really needs to Twitter.) So I got out my trusty flip phone and tried texting. Well, just forget that. Way more trouble than it's worth! I'm too old to text like a teenager--I need a querty keyboard.

So a trip to the Verizon Store was in order. After much good advice from Greg, a very patient and wonderful CS Rep, I now have a shiny new semi-smart phone ($), a new texting plan ($) a car charger ($), screen protectors ($), and, just to make DavOd happy--a bluetooth ($).

The last few days I've been busy learning to use my new phone. My brain hurts. It's too much like work. You know--that stuff I used to do.

Soooo---just blogging, tweeting and texting here in Spudville---

AND THEN--I discovered TwitPics. Oh Boy! You mean I can add pics to my tweets? Now this is fun stuff! So I surfed on over to and signed up--it's FREE! Right about now, free is very good.
Hmmmmm---how to do this TwitPic stuff, anyway? Well, crud and crapola! Now I find out that I need to email from my semi-smart phone to TwitPic. No problem--they have a plan for that, too. ($) So back I go to Verizon (3rd trip) to see my new BFF Greg. After a little discussion, he gets me fixed right up. ($) Oh, they're lovin' me at Verizon!

So stay tuned for TwitPics! But don't hold your breath--I have to figure out how to use the camera on my semi-smart phone first. Surely, I won't need a "plan" for that.

Monday, August 3, 2009

I'm In Love With A Girl

Isn't she lovely? She just warms my heart!

My Mom has been "simplifying" her life, and cluttering up mine--in a wonderful way! Mom and Dad were here a couple of weeks ago for an all too brief visit (ahem--Dad, are you listening??) and Mom brought a couple of treasures. Winnie was one of them, and my favorite.

Winnie belonged to my Grandma, and always sat on her kitchen counter, right next to Auntie Mae's McCoy Bear cookie jar, which now lives at my brother's house. Grandma often had sour cream sugar cookies or, my favorite-- her really good fruit turnovers in both cookie jars. Oh, I miss my Grandma, she was the best grandma ever! But I'm taking good care of Winnie, she's not lonesome. Right now she's full of Snickerdoodles. Hmmm, I wonder what Doug has in Auntie Mae's cookie jar?

Saturday, August 1, 2009

Now We're Cookin'!

Our friends Pat G. and Pat E. are coming for dinner and Queens tonight. Poor, poor Kelley G is out of town, and OUT OF LUCK! You're missing out, Kelley!
Le Menu:
Roasted Garlic White Pizza on a Tomato Basil Crust
Grilled Marinated Artichokes with Lemon Dill Aioli
Chilled Shrimp with Cocktail Sauce
Pat G's Great Green Salad

Wines: Chardonnay, Sauvignon Blanc

DavOd and I had fire roasted artichokes on our trip, and we just LOVE them--they are yummy. So we are going to try to duplicate it at home.

Oh--Dear Bren: If you were here and really didn't want any of this stuff, I'd fix you a club sandwich! Because I love ya!

OK--that's all. I'm off to cook now. DavOd is mowing the lawn.

If I'm feeling ambitious, I might post pics later!