Great Grandma’s Iris-Another Inspiration!


So…every day about 3:30 p.m, I kind of hit a thud.  Do you know what I mean?  I get kind of tired and feel drained of energy…and it’s usually accompanied by some anxiety …probably because the day is coming to an end, I’m tired and haven’t accomplished even a small fraction of the things I needed to accomplish.  Do you know what I mean?

Well, today, when the 3:30-even-a-Snickers-bar-won’t-keep-me-goin’ thud hit, I sat down and listened/watched a Jim Nduruchi Jigger-Digging video (long story for another blog).  Now, in this particular video, good ol’ Jim was talking about how some days we’re up and some days we’re down, and how it’s a part of life, and you just have to know that you will bounce back up, etc.  Thus, the thought came to me, “Just get up and do something and I’ll feel better.”

And so, here I am!  I got off my bummed out bum, pushed “play” on my “Bing Crosby singing The Headless Horseman on repeat” playlist, and although I don’t really feel like doing anything, I figure maybe blogging about something random will pull me through until the late afternoon thud takes its daily hiatus, right?  And so, here we go!

First, here’s a little excerpt from my book, The Windswept Flame:

“But somehow—somehow daffodils were more beautiful thriving in pastures and along the creek bank. Oh, she knew her father had planted the bulbs there when she was a little girl. She’d helped him—helped him place the fragile daffodil bulbs into the ground one early autumn, delighting when they bloomed the next spring, the same spring she’d turned six years old. Perhaps that was why these daffodils seemed more beautiful to Cedar—because she and her father had planted them—because they stood as a lovely reminder of him—because every spring they would bloom and announce to the world that James Dale had once walked the path they now adorned.”

016And now, here you have a couple of snapshots of the simple, very pastel, yellow iris that thrive in one corner of my back  yard.  (My grandma and mom call them flags…but all I can find about ‘yellow flag iris’ is that it’s a noxious weed that’s poisonous to cattle and can irritate the skin… and mine do resemble the description …but don’t irritate the skin and are beautiful!  So I’m not sure what to think!)  Anyway, they may not be vibrant like the purple bearded iris I love…but I love these little flags/iris all the more…because, as with so many things I treasure in life…there’s a story here!

In a recent comment/rating I read on one site concerning my books, someone said, “She (meaning me) seems to always be longing for the past.”  And you know what,
I do long for the past!  Anyone with any age, wisdom and 017experience tends do miss the past, and long for simpler, happier times at one point or another…and I admit that I really do!  I miss the times when kids played outside all summer long, using their imaginations, or running through sprinklers!  I miss when he we had an intelligent man in the White House that deserved to be there and deserved our respect.  I miss my grandparents, and feeding calves formula from a great big bottle!  I could go on forever (as you well know), but suffice it to say…that the story of my plain little flags/iris is another prompt from the past that I love!  Therefore, I thought I’d share it with you!

IMGNow this next photo (I need to have my daughter restore it so that this big old crack int he middle doesn’t distract from it!) was taken in about 1969.  The woman standing at left, is my great grandmother, Edna Mae Guthrie Switzler Howell.  The woman sitting in front of her is my grandmother, Opal Edith Switzler States.  The woman standing behind the chair to the right, is my mother, Patsy Christine States Reed…and the little girl in the chair is me!  Naturally this photo is wonderful to me, because it’s not only a four generation photograph of my mom’s maternal side of the family, but because it’s such a great one of everyone in it!  AND because it’s a visual guide to the history of my flags/iris!

My great grandma, Edna Mae, is the first person to have cared for the rhizomes from whence my yellow flags/iris spring!  As you know, my mom is suffering from Alzheimer’s…and unfortunately, one of the many questions I never thought to ask her before she was struck with the cruelty of the disease, was exactly how long Edna Mae kept/nurtured the flags.  That fact upsets me, because of this:  Edna Mae kept the flags in her flower garden…and at one point, my grandmother, Opal Edith, dug up a bunch of the flags rhizomes and planted them on the place she and my grandpa owned in Canyon City, Colorado.  Sometime after Edna Mae passed away, Opal Edith and my grandpa left Canyon City and moved to Colorado Springs, taking some of the flags/iris rhizomes with them, and planting them in their back yard.

Both Opal Edith and my grandpa (Wayne States…you know him as helping to inspire Brevan in The Heavenly Surrender), had passed away by 1993 when my uncle decided to move from their home in Colorado Springs.  Before he moved, in the summer of 1993, my mother, Patsy, and I, dug up a clump of Edna Mae’s yellow flags and moved them to my mom and dad’s house in Albuquerque, New Mexico.

In 1997, Kevin and I moved our little family to Ferndale, Washington…and in 1999 my dad dug up some of Edna Mae’s rhizomes and sent them to me.  I planted them in Washington and they thrived like never before!  And then in 2005, Kevin and I moved again.  In an effort to get back to New Mexico, Kevin accepted a job in Colorado.  Before our house in Ferndale sold, my dear friend, Amy, did me a great service…she went to our little, butter-yellow house, dug up a clump of Edna Mae’s flags/iris rhizomes and plopped them into her own garden.  Then, that fall, she dug up the majority of the rhizomes and shipped them to me in Monument, Colorado.  Knowing that we wouldn’t be in Monument forever, instead of putting great-grandma’s flag rhizomes in the ground, I plopped them in a whiskey barrel half with a bunch of potting soil and dirt.  They thrived in Monument at 7400 feet above sea level, even though they’d come from 300 feet above sea level in Ferndale.  They also bloomed a lot later than they had in Washington…but they survived and thrived.

In 2009, Kevin and I were finally able to move back to New Mexico.  The move was crazy and rushed and stressful, being that it was in the middle of winter…and in Colorado that’s precarious!  I was so thankful when Kevin opened the back of the moving truck to reveal that he’d managed to pull the whiskey barrel half out of the snow pack in Monument and, with my son Mitchel’s help, heft it up into the moving van and bring Edna Mae’s flags/iris back to New Mexico once more!

I left the rhizomes in that same whiskey barrel half until 2013.  I’d noticed that there weren’t as many shoots coming up from my great-grandmother’s rhizomes, and I knew it was because they were long past needing to be divided.  And so, Kevin and I busted them out of the barrel, separated them and plopped them in a spot in one corner of our back yard.

I was worried that first year, because the flags/iris did not bloom.  I knew it was because of the trauma of being transplanted, and also because we’d moved them in the spring instead of waiting until fall.  However, the very next summer, Edna Mae’s flags were blooming beautifully!

Opal, Patsy, Marcia and SandyThree years later, they’ve tripled, and I plan on dividing some of them this year for my own daughter, Sandy, to plant in her own back yard! Sandy was 6 months old in this photo (1988) of my grandma, Opal, my mom, Patsy, me and Sandy.  I can’t wait for Sandy to have Great Grandma Edna Mae’s flags/iris in her yard and know that, every time she looks at them…every time she tends to them, that every time they bloom, she’ll know that they have sprung from the efforts, love and care of five generations of women in her family!

Now, if you read the book excerpt at the beginning of my blog…and if you made it all the way through this blog, I think you can see that I figured out where my inspiration for Cedar Dale’s love of the daffodils came from!  So many things in my stories are inspired by my real life experiences…by the people and things I cherish.  So yes…maybe I do long for the past.  I do miss Reagan in the White House.  I miss my mom being able to remember everything she ever wanted to, and my kids being little.  I miss when people wore colorful clothing instead of only gray and black.  I do long for the past…but that longing and love is what so often inspires me!  And so, I hope that, even though I live in the present, worry and hope for the future, I hope that I’ll always appreciate the beauty of my past…that I’ll always make every effort to tenderly care for and nurture my great grandmother’s yellow flags…even if some people thing they’re a noxious weed…because to me, they’re pure pale-yellow treasure!!!

So?  How about a new blog contest to celebrate the blooming flags/iris in my back yard, huh?  But first, the two winners of my last blog contest are, Deborah Andreasen and Sandra Jensen!  Just e-mail your shipping addressed to me, girls, at and I’ll get your books and DVDs sent out asap, okay?

dan gibson spaAs for a new contest…hmmm…let me think.  Ooo!  I know!  As you know, I LOVE Dan Gibson Solitudes!  Most of them are going to a “download-only” status, but a few of my favorites are still available on CD!  So, the 2 winners of this week’s blog contest will receive a copy of Dan Gibson’s Solitudes European Spa!  My friend, Gina, actually introduced me to Dan Gibson Solitudes…but my son, Mitch, introduced me to this one!  It’s VERY calming…especially right before you go to sleep!  So, if you’d like to be entered to win a European Spa CD, just leave a comment here, on Facebook or Goodreads, or e-mail me at and you’re good to go!

And thanks for listening to my rambling!  Ha ha!

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8 Responses to Great Grandma’s Iris-Another Inspiration!

  1. Annalisa Thaler says:

    I can totally relate to the 330 thud! Thanks for lifting my spirits!

  2. Jaime says:

    Thanks for your inspiring blogs and amazing books!

  3. Amy says:

    My grandma had these in her back yard, I loved them, thought they were so pretty. I wish I would have thought to pull some up and plant in my yard before she passed on. I think I will find me some and plant them in remembrance of her. Thanks for sharing and giving the idea

  4. Amy Cook says:

    I miss Reagan in the White House too even though I was in grade school while he was President.

    My Grandma loved lilacs & after seeing some today my husband said we should plant some & I said I couldn’t because every time I see them I think of Grandma & cry.

  5. Amy Lilly says:

    It took me a few years, but I planted daffodils in my yard for my mom. They were one of her favorite flowers. I remember my dad stopping by the wholesale flower place in Albuquerque to pick them up for her occasionally. She would often buy them for people herself that she thought needed a pick me up because she thought they were such a happy cheerful flower! I have irises and last year planted lilacs all because of the childhood memories and warm fuzzy feelings these bring to my soul. I don’t have any of the irises from our house in Albuquerque, just the memories of their beauty and of working in the flower beds with my mom, and how much she loved all flowers! I miss my mom every day!

  6. Jasmine Harris says:

    That is something I miss from my grandpa’s backyard… his beautiful flowers. I wish that i would have been able to have one of his rose bushes before the sold his house after his passing. Thank you!!

  7. Tammy Wardle says:

    These flowers give me good memories of my Grandma. I remember always loving to go visit her and see all the flowers she would care for yearly. Now as a grown up I realize how much work it is to keep the flower beds that pretty.

    Thank you for this wonderful reminder!

  8. Nancy Luebke says:

    When we moved to this little farm, around 16 years ago, we were blessed with the many flowers that are here and there. From old fashioned bridal wreath to daffidills, to paper whites which are a very old form of daffidills, to liliacs galore. There is forsentia, wild lilies and iris. And more. Now my husband has been growing banana trees and selling them. Those are the simple treasures of living here.

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