Well-Loved Waterfall and Recording Family Recipes

Letters from Grit readers share thoughts of old barns, recording family recipes, favorite garden tools and taking photos of beautiful sunsets.

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by Naomi Cross

Well-Loved Waterfall

We enjoy Grit very much. The magazine is down-to-earth and has many good ideas. In “One Brick at a Time” (Our View, September/October 2021), Caitlin talked about her brick patio project, and I could relate.

We built our ranch-style house into a hill with a walk-out basement in the front. We needed to install a retaining wall or otherwise come up with a way to maintain all the dirt piled around the front our house. I like waterfalls, and I thought that hillside would be the perfect place for one.

So my husband, Verlin, started in with our skid-steer and reshaped the dirt piles for me. Then, it was my turn to dig a hole for the waterfall. Next, we lined the waterway with rubber roofing material so water wouldn’t leak away, being careful to avoid any sharp rocks on the surface that might poke into the liner.

family sitting in front of planted flowers

We had an old pitcher pump that I wanted to fit into my waterfall plan. I grew up on a dairy farm, and our cows would graze in fields across the road. When we brought them to the barn at milking time, they were thirsty, and we would pump water for them with the pitcher pump. As time went on, we modernized to an electric pump, but that hand pump holds lots of memories for me, and I knew I wanted to utilize it in the waterfall. Verlin used to be a plumber, so he was able to accomplish my dream.

Then, it was time to haul rocks from our creek bed. It took numerous loads. The waterfall wasn’t built in a day; I worked on it throughout the summer, between gardening and other responsibilities. Sometimes, I would snag one of our sons to help me.

After many loads of rocks, we were ready to turn on the waterfall. How rewarding and exciting! It was so relaxing to sit on those steps and hear the water trickle and fall, especially in the cool of the day. I liked planting flowers around the waterfall and otherwise working in the area. We loved having the waterfall for a number of years, and then we moved several hours north and left it there for the new owners to enjoy.

Naomi Cross
Owenton, Kentucky


A Cherished Tool

In response to “Keep Your Gloves On” (Our View, July/August 2021), my favorite tool is an old garden fork. I’d never used a garden fork until a neighbor was cleaning his garage and offered me one. When his wife said it was her dad’s, I offered to return it. Instead, we learned together to appreciate the neglected tool, and that old fork was walked back and forth between our two gardens. It was my favorite weeder, loosening my hard clay enough to actually pull roots. Eventually, the garden fork replaced my rototiller as I learned to appreciate a slow, quiet garden prep that let me hear the songbirds.

green boot pushing a fork in to dirt

Now, my dear friend has passed away. I’ve moved farther north, and I’m learning to garden in sandy soil. That old garden fork traveled with me – a reminder of my cherished friend, and a useful tool that has served generations of gardeners.

Diane Woiak
Via email


Recording Family Recipes

We were fortunate that my mother would’ve been 96 in 30 days when she passed. Shortly after her death, I started to get phone calls. “There must be something wrong with this recipe. I bought the most expensive syrup, but it doesn’t taste like your mom’s.” Or, “What does it mean, a tin can of milk and butter the size of a walnut?” And on and on! So I got to thinking of all the favorite foods everyone brought to my yearly family Christmas party, and I sent letters to all my family members asking them to send their favorite recipes. I spent months cooking some of mom’s special dishes using measurements like “2-1/2 pink teacups” and then actually measuring things out in real measurements. That project became Volume 1 of “Because of a Tin Can of Milk and Butter the Size of a Walnut.” I’ll be picking up Volume 3 at the publishing company soon.

vintage paper with recipes written on them and a pen next to it

I want to encourage you to think ahead and record your own family recipes, because I now have great-granddaughters who will be able to use the recipes I wrote down. Think of the times you hear something along the lines of “Aunt Mary made the best chocolate cake,” or “I wish you could do fried chicken like Gammy Susie.” My family has had some really great times working on this project. I used medium-sized three-ring notebooks so we can add pages later on. I just heard that my youngest grandson took Volume 1 and Volume 2 to school with him. He said, “I’m still going to eat, so I’m taking my cookbooks.”

Jacquelyn Demediuk
Glenmoore, Pennsylvania


Old Barns, New Jobs

The Kansas Barn Alliance appreciates your publication of Cass Swanson’s article “Barn Rebuild: Restoring with a Purpose” (Gazette, September/October 2021). We applaud the restoration of aging barns, and the story points out a vital issue: Old barns need new jobs. Our organization is dedicated to helping owners of historic barns plan their barn restoration with our Let’s Get Started grants. Learn more at Kansas Barn Alliance.

Sally Hatcher
Kansas Barn Alliance
Concordia, Kansas


Sunset Snaps

It’s always a pleasure to receive my copy of Grit, but more so this time as I read “Hen Lessons” (Our View, November/December 2021).

Aren’t we all just going and going from before sunup to well after sunset, or even later? Sunset is one of those joys I savor. I just take a moment to enjoy the absolute beauty of it. I often share some pictures with my brother who lives in the city. He doesn’t get to see the splendor that I do in my rural area. I thought I would share with you as well.

pink sunset with tree line

yellow and purple sunset framed by evergreen tree branches

I find some of the best sunsets are in autumn and in the cold of winter! I guess that’s Mother Nature’s way of reminding us to look up, enjoy our time here, and take life slowly. Savor it!

Lisa Tarpley
Via email


Looking For

Books and Postcards
I’m looking for any books about dogs and cats. Also, old or new pretty postcards would be appreciated.
Virginia Hund
342 Earl Road
Richfield Springs, NY 13439

Pen Pal and Fish Recipes
I’m a fitness enthusiast, foodie, and animal lover looking for a pen pal. Also, I’m looking for trout and catfish recipes.
Kevin Harmon
4014 S. Francisco Ave., 1st floor
Chicago, Illinois 60632

Knitting Pattern
I’m looking for knitting instructions for an infant-toddler sweater coat with a hood. The pattern was published in a large craft magazine in the late 1950s or ’60s. I lost it during a move. I appreciate any help locating this pattern.

black and white photo of a baby jacket with a hood
Mrs. Sandra E. Krase
1470 N Maple St.
McPherson, KS 67460

Pen Pal
I’m looking for a pen pal. I enjoy living out in the country and growing much of my own food. My newest venture is growing ‘Art Combe’s Ancient’ watermelon. I’m trying to find seed for the crookneck version. For more information on that, you’ll have to write me.
Buzz Caldwell
30 Archer Drive
Tuscumbia, MO 65082


Share Your Thoughts

We welcome letters from our readers. If you’d like to comment on an article, share your opinions, or submit a “Looking For,” send us an email (with photos, if available) to Letters@Grit.com, or send a letter to: Grit Mail Call, 1503 SW 42nd St., Topeka, KS 66609. Electronic submissions are more likely to receive a timely response.

  • Updated on Dec 13, 2021
  • Originally Published on Dec 10, 2021
Tagged with: family recipes, garden fork, reader letters, sunset, waterfall