another page from my mother’s journal

This post was originally published in the very first month of our blog on August 27,2012.  It is a page from the journal of our mother, Betty Garrigues.

July, 1989

Today was one of those sultry, humid days, the air so heavy it seemed to form drops of moisture on your skin. The house opened its doors today after being closed up for two years. “Estate Sale” the sign said, and people swarmed in, filling the once still house with a buzz of conversation.

Some were strangers to the house, others, acquaintances, and others, dear friends and neighbors. “She had no one,” I heard, “no children or relatives. The money will go to a boys’ home.”

The staff had done its job well – her goods were boxed and ready for the scrambling, inquisitive public.

$2 box. $4 box. Each item 50 cents.

Her furniture was lined up with a price tag on each piece, already glaring holes where someone had carried out a treasure.

In the dining room, a long table was filled with her jewelry and knick-knacks. A ceramic Christmas tree blinked oddly in the July heat. “Did she make this?” someone asked. “No, it was a gift.”

I pressed on into the kitchen, noting her bottle of dish soap and cloth, still on the drainboard of the sink. The kitchen items were also divided into categories and boxed accordingly.

$2. Box $4. Box. 50 cents an item.

Canned goods, spices, even flour and sugar – What unwelcome guests might be harbored within those two-year-old packages.

On upstairs I stepped, into brightly papered rooms – all in disarray. Only a short time since the sale began and already people were carrying out box after box of her things.

She liked to sew, two machines attested to this, one old treadle, gleaming black and gold in an old oak case. Sold a sign said. The other, a newer version, was still set up with bright red thread and bobbin,  all the attachments and instruction book neatly placed in a box beside.

$2 box. $4 box. Each item 50 cents.

Unfinished squares of a quilt, scraps of brightly colored fabrics. Another bedroom—her full-length mirror, boxes of doilies, lace, pillow cases with hand-crocheted edging. My eyes were drawn to a pretty, pieced bed cover done in a pattern called Dresden Plate. It was worn from many washings. $5. I could not resist, so I, too, began to pick up treasures.

While some carried out boxes of dishes, a mixer, a cleaner, their arms overburdened with bargains, dear friends and neighbors each chose one thing – an old English tea pot, a trinket remembered from a long-past childhood, a crystal vase. “One little thing,” I heard over and over. “Just to remember her by.”

By Elizabeth “Betty” Garrigues

pumpkin spice bread

Pumpkin Spice Bread

3 cups sugar
1 cup vegetable oil
3 large eggs
1 16-ounce can pumpkin
3 cups flour
1 teaspoon cloves
1 teaspoon cinnamon
1 teaspoon nutmeg
1 teaspoon baking soda
1/2 teaspoon salt
1/2 teaspoon baking powder
1 cup chopped walnuts (optional)
Preheat oven to 350°. Grease and flour two 9x5x3-inch loaf pans. Beat sugar and oil in large bowl to blend. Mix in eggs and pumpkin. Set aside. In a separate bowl, mix flour, cloves, cinnamon, nutmeg, baking soda, salt and baking powder. Stir into pumpkin mixture. Add walnuts.
Divide batter equally between two loaf pans. Bake one hour and ten minutes, or until tester inserted into center comes out clean. Using sharp knife, cut around edge of loaves. Turn loaves out onto cooling racks and cool completely.
Recipe Courtesy of Betty’s Journal
Photo by Marge McCoy


Chunky Apple Sauce

3-4 lbs peeled, cored, quartered apples
1/2 cup brown sugar
1/4 cup whiye sugar
1 cup water
1/2 tsp salt
Put all ingredients in large pot. Cover. Bring to boil. Lower heat and simmer 20-30 minutes. Remove from heat. Mash with potato masher *. Serve warm, refrigerate, or put in freezer for later!
* For chunky applesauce, don’t mash!
Recipe Courtesy of Betty’s Journal
Photo by Jean Pike

loved ones


Loved Ones
With pen in hand I try to write
the feelings deep inside:
to tell the ones I love so much
the things I sometimes hide.
I thank the Lord for blessing me with ones so dear as they
who do so much and never ask that them I should repay.

Their pleasures stem from helping us
And that’s their only thanks
Too young are we to understand
this gift within our ranks.

Oh foolish children that we are, to let them do so much,
to wear them out before their time,
held too tight within our clutch.
Our every wish is their command,
their spirit never tires
their hands and hearts are never still, our love is their desire.

Let us, Oh Lord, reverse this course, this tide of flowing strength:
and give to them what they’ve to us, seems needed at long length.
And yet this tide will never turn, for we are helpless still,
The voice within our hearts is strong; but not so strong our will.
— Betty Garrigues

Poem Courtesy of Betty’s Journal
Photo by Belinda Brasley



It’s quiet here today, the only sounds are the hum of the refrigerator and the singing of my little green canary. He is always happy in the early morning and sings like his little heart will burst. I face the normal Saturday chores today; cleaning, errands to run, and shopping. I will meet my husband at the store at five, and we will go out to eat, and then on to the hospital to see our friend. He seemed much better last night—still in pain from the surgery and slightly disoriented, from the medication, I think, but progressing nonetheless.
So much to do. I have already indulged in three cups of coffee and the clock is ticking away so I must get moving on into this day…

From the journal of Elizabeth “Betty” Garrigues
Photo by Aaron Paul Lazar

Whatever your hand finds to do, do it with all your might… Ecclesiastes 9:10



He has made everything beautiful in its time.
Ecclesiastes 3:11

September 28
The flower arranging class last night did not go well. We were to learn how to arrange dry flowers. For two weeks I have combed the fields for seed pods, cat tails, goldenrod and wild purple asters. I found these wonderful white balls of flowers in my back yard—they are about five inches long and three wide tinged in a pretty pink and they dried perfectly. I felt well prepared with my materials and had chosen a homemade basket for my container.
When we arrived, laden with paper bags overflowing, we began sorting and laying out our wild treasures – arranging them in a row on the long tables.
Our instructor told us to begin by defining the perimeters of our containers. This meant that, after inserting a block of foam in the basket I was to start hiding it with statice or some other medium. That was more or less the end of our instruction. Everyone was busy arranging – they all seemed to know exactly what to do. I guess I expected more specific instruction – like step-by-step; do this, now do that. Well, what could I do? I just kept poking stalks of flowers in my basket, turning it, poking in some more.
Before I knew it, the teacher was setting up the pedestal in the front of the room. One by one we must take our finished arrangement up, place it on the pedestal, and be critiqued by the class. I wanted to take my flowers and bolt from the room. Each woman carried her finished product to the front. Some were beautiful, perfect in composition and design. Others drew a few comments – add this, move that. I put it off as long as possible, but finally I knew I must go up.
I placed my arrangement on the pedestal and stood beside it with a fake smile plastered on my face. No comment. Nothing. The instructor asked for someone to say something. Silence. I was so embarrassed I could have dropped through the floor. I’m sure the teacher could sense my discomfort and quickly critiqued my sad floral display, telling me it was too massive at the top, not enough contrast at the bottom. On and on. When the ordeal was finished, I quickly gathered up my prize and returned to my seat. I was mortified. I felt every eye staring at me and my pitiful flowers. I’ll never come back, I thought. Dear Lord, just let me get through this night and out of here.
After a while, my stubborn German disposition emerged and I decided I would not quit. I would come back next week, and the week after that. I had paid for this class and I could surely learn something from it!
My masterpiece is sitting on my kitchen table and as I look at it my face still turns red as I think about the class. I would like to tear it apart and start over but I must shower and get ready for work. Maybe when I get home tonight I can begin again and transform this basket into a thing of beauty. There is always hope.

Excerpt from the Journal of Elizabeth “Betty” Garrigues
Photo by Aaron Paul Lazar

the Lord will provide


The Lord Will Provide
But my God shall supply all your need according to his riches in glory by Christ Jesus. Philippians 4:19
I was never a rebel – my parents were older and by the time I reached my teenage years I was aware of their struggles. I respected them and they me and there was rarely harsh words between us. We were the only three living at home then and it was a rather peaceful and happy time in my life.
My dad, permanently disabled from a railroad accident in the twenties was truly unique. He lived in pain but never complained. The underlying theme of his life was, “The Lord will provide.” Sometimes this would annoy my mother because she often wondered . . . when? He gave us his sense of humor, making us laugh ‘til our sides would ache. He was thrifty and hardworking, never educated beyond the 6th grade he had common sense and intelligence that would put the most learned to shame. He taught me to cook and bake, turning out a dozen pies at a time. He taught me to can and preserve in the fall and to keep house in a haphazard way. One of my favorite things to do is cook up a batch of his famous mince-meat for it always brings him close to me again.
Grandpa Joe’s Green Tomato Mincemeat
3 lbs. green tomatoes
3 lbs. pie apples (Cortland)
2 lbs. raisins
1 ½ cups water
1 cup suet cut up or 1 cup shortening
1 cup vinegar
4 lbs. brown sugar
2 tsp. salt
2 tsp. cinnamon
1 tsp. nutmeg
½ tsp. cloves
Chop or grind tomatoes – add chopped apples and raisins and suet and water. Cook 1 ½ hours or until tender. Add the rest of the ingredients and cook until clear (1 ½ hours)
Makes 6 quarts
From the journal of Elizabeth “Betty” Garrigues



Wisdom will come into your heart, and knowledge will be pleasant to your soul; discretion will watch over you, understanding will guard you. Proverbs 2:10-11

Thirteen to nineteen, these teenage years bridge the span between childhood and adult. I learned to drive a car, do the twist and rock and roll to Elvis. I smoked my first cigarette, studied hard, fell in love and dreamed my dreams.

As I look back on these years I find nothing unique. I was a product of the fifties and did my best, unknowingly, to fit into that mold.
Shy, quiet and sensitive, I was the youngest of four girls. My oldest sister was handicapped from birth, the next was a rebel from birth, the third, three years my senior was my closest friend and confidant.
My mother was a teacher and when she spoke of her “kids” you never knew if she meant us or her school children for she had enough love and caring for all of us. She worked hard often to the point of mental and physical exhaustion. We were never allowed to sleep in, for this was a luxury she would never consider for herself. She had a deep faith in God, valued education, loved to read, and was musical and imaginative. She managed to make holidays and birthdays special with little money because there was never enough.
I was never particularly aware of these traits, as a teenager, wrapped up in my own world. Now approaching my fifties, with time to look back, I can see these very characteristic deeply imbedded in my life and in the lives of my children.
Now I wish she could know, this dear mother, that her values persisted, for all four of my children have finished college and two are teachers like her.

From the journal of Elizabeth “Betty” Garrigues

the geese


I was just sitting down with my second cup of coffee to watch the morning happenings around the pond when I saw them again. Five little dots outlining the sky, making their
wav across the valley, high above the now-yellowed corn fields,
higher even than the trees, dressed in their blazing autumn colors. Closer and closer they flew,, and when I heard their low, gutteral honking there could be no mistake, the Canada Geese were back.
What a sight they were as they made their awkward landing in our pond, ducking their heads under the water and splashing about as if they hadn’t had a bath in a long time. Then, all grace and beauty again as they lined up in a perfect army, they showed off their dark, rich colors. They turned in unison and looked straight at me as if to say “Hi, We’re back.”
We were delighted early this spring when these five first came to visit. They became so tame that my husband and I, and even our bouncy sheen dog, could walk close to them without
disturbing their swim. For over a month they shared the pond, the wild grass, and the corn with our domestic geese, who were none too pleased with these visitors. The shrill honking of our geese let them know they were on another’s turf.
The Canada Geese were undaunted by this, but did learn to wait their turn for the corn, or our old grey drake, with his head down, hissing, would make a big production out of chasing them away.
I knew, when they came in the spring, their stay would be

short, for they must make their way north to a more distant summer home. We were sad to see them leave and talked of a return visit this fall.
This time they stayed only two weeks, then without a backward glance, they were gone. I can’t help but wonder about other stops along the way, with friends welcoming them as we did.
Now, in the long, cold winter, when the pond is frozen over and our geese are cooped up, we will have a new hope for
the spring. Besides the early crocuses, the daffodils and the greening of the trees, we will be watching for the return of
our five Canada Geese.
From the journal of elizabeth “Betty” Garrigues
Photo by Cheryl Cook

true love

Mom and Dad Wedding

And I will betroth you to me forever. I will betroth you to me in righteousness and in justice, in steadfast love and in mercy. Hosea 2:19

Somewhere between sixteen and nineteen my life long plans for college and being a teacher changed and a new plan was formulated. At sixteen I fell deeply and permanently in love and never looked back. Every spare minute was spent with my new love, for we couldn’t bear to be apart. Saturday night dates, talking long into the night, Sunday afternoon drives and long summer hours together after work. Is there anything so sweet and thrilling as your first love?
It would be unthinkable to my mother that I would give up college for her education was all that kept food on our table after my dad’s accident. So gently and firmly I began preparing her. She must have sensed the finality of my plan, for she took it in stride and hoped for the best for me. So at nineteen, after high school, I became a Navy wife, moved away and began a new life.
My parent’s faith in God, the priority they placed on education and their respect for my choices greatly influenced my life. But I guess the most influential person at this time of my life was my teenage sweetheart. As a matter of fact, he is still a big influence and I wouldn’t change it for anything.

From the journal of Elizabeth “Betty” Garrigues