Thursday, July 23, 2015

First red tomato by the 24th of July

Actually our 2nd Red Tomato, Cathy picked the first!
My father Robert Christensen grew up in the agricultural community of Richfield, UT.  While the family farm mostly grew sugar beats as a cash crop, he worked on the side hoeing neighboring farms and raising chickens as a young man to sell eggs to the neighbors.  My father was a fairly simple man in what he wanted in life and gained a lot of satisfaction out of working in his own yard and growing his own garden.  Our gardens were irrigated, even though we had a sprinkler system, because that's the way he did it back home.

Robert Christensen outside his Richfield home
in 1931, just over five years of age.
Dad also loved LDS Church history.  He was often called upon to relate stories, including at our bedtime from the past about Church history.  July 24th, or the day the Mormon Pioneers entered the Salt Lake Valley as a group, was always significant to him in many ways.  Subsequently, Dad would always have a contest with himself, that he get his first red tomato by the 24th of July.  For as long as I can remember it was always the mark of success, yet I'm not sure how many times we actually accomplished it.  However I do remember when he would come into the house, and announce that we had a red tomato by the 24th!

Early family photo, with me sitting on my father's lap, between
my brother's Spencer and Brad
 As we have grown up as children, even moved away from Rose Park for some of us, there has been a friendly effort by my siblings to have a red tomato by the 24th and then of course to announce it to the others, so they can be reminded of their lack of success!  We have become more sophisticated in our efforts.  One brother has a greenhouse, another lives in a warmer climate more conducive to early planting.  My sister has a raised garden off a brick wall which seems to get strong amounts of sunlight encouraging the little plants along.  Anyway you look at it, I've never won the contest and seem to be weeks behind the rest.
Mom and Dad in front of their first Rose Park
home on 900 N, just off of 900 W.  Dad always
planted a garden, wherever we lived
Well this year, there were a number of tender mercies which opened the way for the honor to return to 810 N 1500 W, the rightful location of this honor for 2015.  It started out as an extremely warm spring, temperatures about 10 degrees warmer than usual.  Costco had these reasonably price, large tomato plants that already had small fruit on them.  We had an exceptionally wet May, causing foliage to grow extremely well and then a hot June, which kicked the tomato plants into gear.  You might ask, what are the chances that scenario might ever happen again?  Well, never in my lifetime!  However, a few weeks ago, when I sent out my news to the family email group, I'm proud to say, I had the first red tomato by the 24th of July.  To boot, it was about two to three weeks early!  I know you're not suppose to have pride, gloat and heavens knows I need humility, but you know that for this year, the bragging rights are mine!

Saturday, July 18, 2015

Celebrating 25 Years with many more to come!

Cathleen Nielsen was kind enough to say yes, 25 years ago
today.  Taking pity on a poor soul in love!
Today Cathy and I celebrate our 25th wedding anniversary, marking a quarter century together.  We have been blessed by two wonderful children in Jessica and Sarah and both were miracles in their own right.  I wrote back in February about our first date.  Our courtship was short, about six weeks before she agreed to take me on as a project and we were married four months later.  When I prayed about marrying her, the answer was to marry her and make it quick.  For the naturally shy guy, this was a leap of faith but one in which I've never regretted.  Cathy and I were married in the Salt Lake Temple on the morning of July 18, 1990 by Hugh W. Pinnock, a member of the First Quorum of the Seventy.  Elder Pinnock had been one of the visiting General Authorities when my father was called as Stake President of the Rose Park Stake and had become a family friend. We both had our mothers (Verda Mae Christensen and Lois Nielsen) by our side and her father Franklin Harvey Nielsen (Frank) was a witness along with my brother Elliott.  It was a beautiful morning and I was nervous!  That morning, I had my brother Brad drive me to the temple and he was kind enough to shine my shoes, so they looked decent!

Cathy worked for the LDS Church, so many of her co-workers
followed us around the grounds as we took pictures
At the time of our marriage, I was serving as the Elders Quorum President of the Rose Park 9th Ward and another couple we had been working with, had decided to be sealed in the Temple for eternity.  It often takes a lot of effort to help individuals get to that point in their lives after they had made other choices, and I had a desire to witness it.  I was a little hesitant to bring it up to Cathy since this was her day, but she readily agreed to join me after our pictures, to return to the Temple and witness this other couple's sealing.  While the events surrounding our wedding were wonderful, this became one of the more memorable events of the day.  When you share what you cherish with another, the joy only increases.
Our wedding reception in Cathy's parents back
yard in Layton
We held two receptions, the primary one in Layton in Cathy's parents backyard.  Her neighbors helped serve and many of the Nielsen friends came that evening.  However, three of the Steenblik sisters, Fannie, Mary and Pearl were insistent that they come to Layton rather than to Rose Park.  They were looking for an adventure.  Her family had done a lot of work in preparing the home and the grounds and it was a wonderful evening.  We did not trust Cathy's family with our car, so we left it in a secure parking garage in Downtown SLC and I arranged to have my friend Karl Steenblik pick us up at the conclusion and drive us to SLC where it was parked.  Trust but verify is my motto I learned it from Ronald Reagan!
This picture was not only memorable because I had the most
beautiful bride in the world, but the flag pole which was
erected in my father's honor, was a reminder that he was with
us in spirit.

Because of my service as Elders Quorum President, I also wanted to have a Rose Park reception the next night.  My mom was initially resistant, and understandably wasn't interested in paying for both the wedding breakfast and the reception.  I had told her that I was fine with punch and cookies and that I could get my quorum members to help.  My sisters Maribeth and Nancy offered to help, my mother later decided to contribute and they made this huge spread.  The food ended up being so good, we couldn't get people to leave and the Large Hall at our Stake Center was filled the whole evening. I still didn't trust my in-laws, so I hid my car in an area by the Church near the kitchen for the Small Hall/Multipurpose Room for those who know the building.  My in-laws were getting frustrated that they couldn't find our car. Both were wonderful evenings of celebration.

I don't think I could have ever imagined that what we began 25 years ago today, would have taken the direction or path that we've traveled, but it's been a wonderful journey together. I think it's fair to say, that neither of us are perfect, the ride hasn't been entirely smooth but we love each other's company and cherish each day God allows us to travel it together.  I love you Cathy!