Tuesday, July 23, 2013


Last night Andrew and I made pickles because if there's one thing in my garden that's growing well, it's cucumbers. Andrew got me a canning set...for my birthday, I guess...because we've been wanting to learn how to can things like peaches and applesauce and baby boys and such.

Who can resist a little boy in a big pot?

What we really made were these:

On any given day we can harvest several large cucumbers and always have small ones in the works. I think we must be sharing our tomatoes with some other creature through because, while we seem to abound in green tomatoes, I can only ever find 3-6 red ones. It just doesn't add up. So we eat a lot of cucumbers over here. Except for Andrew, who despises cucumbers. That's why he's so excited for the pickles.

On the flower side of things, I finally am getting blossoms on my gladioluses! I was beginning to worry that they'd never bloom but they finally sent out flower buds a couple of weeks ago and this morning the first couple of flowers opened.

Miriam was just about as excited about them as I was.

Gladioluses remind me of my Grandma Conrad. She grew them in her backyard and would enter them into town fairs in both Taber and Raymond. This picture of Grandma with her prize gladioluses can be seen on page 142 in My Life: The Story of Pearl Hancock, a book of her life history my Auntie Colleen made.

In Canada, red ribbons are reserved for first place (just to clarify for my American readers who might look at this picture and wonder how my amazing grandmother managed to always be second-best; those are all first-place ribbons (except the white one on the far left, which is a third place ribbon)).

What's funny is that when I told my mom that I planted gladioluses in my garden specifically because they remind me of Grandma, she laughed. Gladioluses don't remind her of her mother, but of one of her uncles. I can't even remember which one—she'll have to tell you. I guess cultivating gladioluses was something my grandma took up later in life, which was just like her. She was constantly striving to better herself and to learn new things. By the time she died, gladioluses were her favourite flower. I know this because I remember listening into the grownups talking about the plans for the tombstone my grandparents would come to share. They planned it after my grandpa died but before my grandma had even gotten sick with cancer.

For my grandpa they chose a bow and arrow, because my grandpa enjoyed archery, wheat and a sugar beet because that's what he farmed. My grandma got to do her own choosing and selected musical notes and a treble clef (grandma played the accordion, organ, and piano, sang in choirs, and whistled beautifully) and a gladiolus stalk.

Choosing a couple of pictures to represent an entire lifetime of knowledge and experience must have been so difficult, but I think they did a good job of it because when I see those images I see the stories behind them, too.

I don't know that I'll ever grow prize-winning gladiolus flowers, but I do know that as long as I grow them I'll think of my grandma. She's not here anymore—this year marked the ten-year anniversary of her death—but she left behind a lot of good things: memories, advice, testimony...

In the beginning of her life history there's a letter to her children, grandchildren, and great-grandchildren. As I read it today I thought about my mom, who I know misses her mom terribly.
Get close to your Heavenly Father by praying often and regularly, reading the scriptures every day, and by living righteously. Be friendly and kind and cheerful. Be honest and humble and teachable. Study the situation carefully, and pray fervently for guidance in [she says "choosing an eternal companion" but I think you could substitute anything there]. Then work with all your energy and enthusiasm to keep it a happy and agreeable [she says "partnership and companionship" but I think you could substitute anything in there]. Seek the Lord's guidance in your growing testimony of the gospel and share it generously and willingly with those around you.
Develop your talents and use them to make the world a happier place. Look for the good in your brothers and sisters, even while you are young. Rejoice in their successes. Cheer them on in their righteous endeavors. Love and console them in their failures. Never, never "give up" on anyone.
My grandma had an amazing—yet awfully quiet—life. She was just a regular person but accomplished so much.

I think my mom is doing a wonderful job carrying on her legacy. My mom has eleven grandchildren and is just finishing her doctoral degree. My mom has worked hard to develop her talents and to use those talents to make the world a happier place. She not only had a huge impact on my life (she is my mom, after all) but on the lives of the many, many students she's worked with over the course of thirteen years at BYU. She's kind and gentle and full of wonderful ideas.

I don't know what her favourite flower is, but I know that whenever I sing and whenever I read stories to my children at night, I think about my mom. My mom has crafted a beautiful legacy, whether she knows it or not. And she's not even finished! She still has so much more to do—so much more that her children, grandchildren, and great-grandchildren will look back on and think, "How did she do that?!"

How did she grow such beautiful gladioluses?

How did she write such a beautiful dissertation?

How did she spend twenty-two years caring for a befeebled husband?

How did she raise six beautiful children while woking full-time?

I come from good stock. I have beautiful women behind me and beautiful women in front of me and I'm so lucky to know them all. I wish I had a flower for each of them in my garden, but I'm rather novice at this gardening thing so I don't think I should try too many varieties at once. For now I'll keep my gladioluses for my grandma; perhaps I'll add some carnations for Karen. And, actually, I'm not sure that I know what flower is my mom's favourite. Perhaps I'll be surprised when she tells me—like she was surprised when I told her that gladioluses made me think of grandma.

Maybe she doesn't have a favourite flower. Like me. I couldn't choose a favourite flower if I tried, though my zinnias did so well this year that they're quickly growing on me. Next year I'll know how tall they grow and will plan them in better locations, but I'm still enjoying their random bursts of colour this year, towering high above my impatiens and petunias.

We've also been enjoying our butterfly bush. Miriam and I went outside today to watch for butterflies. Sometimes we get beautiful eastern tiger swallowtails and I was hoping to see some today, but all I saw (while I was armed with the camera) were some of these (silver-spotted skippers): 

And this...other kind of skipper butterfly, I think (least skipper, maybe):


  1. gladiolus just seem to be late bloomers. Mine are always the last thing in the garden to bloom :)

    1. I was just getting worried because several houses in our neighbourhood already had their gladioli/gladioluses bloom *weeks* ago and mine were showing no sign of doing anything new. :)

  2. Replies
    1. I know that my Grandma Conrad also loved the gladioli family of flowers, (but bleeding hearts were her favorite flower) because Uncle Clyde grew them like crazy. He won all the red ribbons in the Taber fair, which is probably why Mom didn't really start growing them until she lived in Raymond, and didn't have to compete against him!

      But I remember that mom did grow some when I was a child, just like a row of them, not rows and rows like Uncle Clyde did. We liked to pick white ones, and then put food coloring in the water and see what would happen. The color travels up into the petals, and you can get some cool designs depending on how you do it.

  3. I noticed my gladiolus today while I was mowing. How nice to come inside and read this. I absolutely loved what your grandmother wrote in that letter!

    And I didn't know that about red = 1st place in Canada.

    What a sweet tribute to your mom.

    I definitely see you in that picture of your grandma.

    And may I order a jar of pickled Benjamin? ;) He's so cute!

    Yeah, cucumbers seem to grow really well around here. I remember a year my dad grew so many of them.

  4. You should try some dahlias!

  5. This almost made ME cry, and I don't even know your grandmother or your sweet mom (though, she did comment on my blog a few times, so doesn't that kind of bump us up to some sort of friendship level?) :)

    1. Lindsay, I am betting that there is a possibility that we DO know each other, because weren't you a music major at BYU? So maybe you used the Music Library...?