Thursday, October 30, 2008

Late again?

Well, you missed it again! Lost the address? After much deliberation, we made the ultimate decision. You see, we live to eat, not eat to live. We love food and wine and the enjoyment both bring. So, since we live in Florida and can grill year round, we have added to our gas grill and bought a Weber charcoal grill.

So twice already, we have grilled salmon on the wood chips we just purchased. We got an assortment of alder, cherry, apple and hickory wood chips. The salmon does best on alder wood and tonight we added asparagus spears to the grill and some of our rosemary springs which are growing in our herb garden.
In addition to this lovely light meal, we had a Rhone wine, from Costieres de Nimes for a lovely price of $7. It was delightful.

Where were you?

You were late for dinner last night! It was the "clean out the frig" night and it always ends up with a stir-fry of some sort. Chicken breasts, green peppers, snap peas, a tomato for color and fresh ginger, garlic, Vietnamese chili sauce (a favorite) soy sauce and a touch of sesame oil. Can you see the steam rising? We had enough for you. Next time? Oh yes, let's not forget the lovely French Rose' from Nimes. Wine, always a great touch to any meal!

Wednesday, October 29, 2008

What is your name?

Do you know this man? I didn't think you did. The problem is, neither do I. You see, many years ago when my father told me about him, I didn't listen carefully and now the information is lost. I do know he was related to my father's mother on the Hofer side and that he is a Prussian soldier as that part of the family came from Western Russian. I vaguely remember hearing White, Russia.

Now I have weakly started into genealogy and this man comes back into the picture. I have been trying to date the uniform without luck. If only people had written on the back of photos. I guess everybody alive at the time knew who he was so why write what is known on the back of a piece of paper as valuable as a photo. I think they were considered valuable, don't you?

And so the search continues. I am hoping someday, quite by surprise, I will come upon some information on the Internet that will be helpful. Then this stoic man in uniform will have a name.

Tuesday, October 28, 2008

The Pluot

The Pluot is a new fruit to me. I found it at the Farmer's Market last weekend and it is now looking very ripe. It is a cross between a plum and an apricot. I have never been a fan of plums unless they are in a tart or kuchen, and apricots are kind of bland to me unless they are dried. However, this combination was a real delight. Very juicy and they are so large, they must be shared which was not a problem around here. If you have a chance to see this fruit, give it a try. A very nice change.

Monday, October 27, 2008

The Trout

Let me introduce you to "The Trout". He has been my best friend for many years. We met in high school. Does anyone still marry high school sweethearts?We've been married 42 years and have been blessed with two wonderful daughters, two charming son-in-laws and four beautiful grandchildren.

The Trout and I have been traveling almost since day one. We honeymooned in Nassau, Bahamas. Interestingly, we married the same day as President Johnson's daughter, Lucy, and honeymooned on the same island.

The Trout has bone fished (this would be the saltwater fishing challenge) on many Caribbean islands, has fly fished for native trout in the streams of Wisconsin, Colorado, Alaska and Montana and even enjoyed casting a fly in Austria and France. But, he is always drawn back to Montana. Possibly not so much for the trout but for the beautiful environment trout live in and the wonderful people he has met through the years.

He started going to Montana for a week or two back in the very early '80's. Every year since he has made the trip spending as many as 10-12 weeks in Big Sky Country. It was only in the last several years that I suggested he keep a fish diary as it is harder to remember details as we age even though I would not have believed this 20 years ago! All fish are gently released (I know some have been kissed) back into the flowing streams to be caught again. We might have one or two meals of fried trout a year, but it is not on the top of our favorite list.

He keeps busy in the winter here in Florida by tying his own flys, building flyrods and golfing. I keep telling him, you can't fish all the time!! Or can you?

Sunday, October 26, 2008

The Bucket List

This summer on a flight, I watched "The Bucket List" with Jack Nicholson and Morgan Freeman. It is an excellent movie, sometimes tear jerking, about two mean who are dying and decide to make a list of the things they want to do before they die or kick the bucket.

It only makes you wonder if your bucket list is complete and if you are crossing off the lines one by one. Again, my favorite German phase translated, "Live your dreams; don't dream your life!" comes to mind. I think it is time to make my bucket list and this time actually put it on paper. Nothing is impossible if the desire is great enough.

It seems after that 60th birthday, things get a little more serious. Like, be kinder to those you love, keep contact with old friends, make yourself useful to others, be more generous, etc. But, to have actual things on that list, that seems a little more selfish and egotistical to me. But then, life comes around once and you need to make the most of each day and if it is something you really want to do, do it!

I guess number 1 on my list would be to research my ancestry and get a family tree on paper for my grandchildren and those who follow. I come from a very unusual background, growing up in a German community in the middle of Iowa, having German as my only language as I entered Kindergarten and now being absolutely elated that I am fluent in two languages. That is such a gift that has not been recognized until I started traveling in Europe.

Well, I have one on my list. Probably won't share too many more, but I hope all of you are also making your bucket list before time slips aways from you.

Friday, October 24, 2008

So bountiful

We always look forward to the weekend. We have a Farmer's Market nearby and we always try to go and stock up on some fresh fruit and vegetables for the week. I see this morning, the strawberries are ready. They just might be from elsewhere because we live near the Florida strawberry capital and they are usually ready starting in January. Of course, always oranges and it looks to me like this morning I was hooked on the fruit and did not show you the beautiful green peppers we got (4 for $1) a large eggplant for grilling .

We find it is easy to eat healthy when these markets are available, but they certainly cannot compare to the OUTSTANDING markets in Europe. There, we just go crazy. They even have meats and fresh seafood and cheeses and breads. Yes, we do miss it.

Thursday, October 23, 2008

Key Limes at their best!

My neighbor just dropped by with a huge bag of Key limes! They are so fragrant and so ripe. Luckily I have an electric juicer or I would still be working on it. I got just over 2 1/2 cups of juice. This will be frozen for this winter and will be used to season fish, add to vinaigrette's and of course, Key Lime Pie.
What a lovely treat!!

Wednesday, October 22, 2008

Just another chateau...

The first time this chateau came into view, our hearts beat faster and our mouths dropped open. This looked like a real castle and we were the little people who were going to be spending a week there.

Chateau de La Vauguyon is a gite we rented for a week in the Loire Valley, near Chinon, France. Actually if you click on the picture and enlarge it, we stayed in the dovecote, the totally renovated circular tower that many years ago housed pigeons. It is on the right of the picture.

It was a delightful stay and our host was very knowledgeable and even took us on a tour of some of his favorite vineyards. His English was perfect; unlike our miserable French.

Just below the property, we could walk to a farmer's field where they were harvesting the delicious white asparagus that are so loved in Europe. Talk about fresh!

Since we were there in 2006, we have had contact with our host, and he has added another gite in the main house.

We have been so fortunate to pick many lovely places to stay in France, all from research on the Internet, but this place has a special spot in my heart.

Monday, October 20, 2008

I love it!

Several years ago while driving in Europe, we found ourselves driving behind a well-worn RV. I quickly noticed all the bumper sticks and a phrase which has stuck with me for all these years. It was written in German and translated means "Don't dream your life; live your dreams!"

I got to thinking that this was quite a statement and it very correctly labeled the life The Trout and I were living. We certainly have never halted in doing just want we wanted to do, experiencing the world around us.

Our daughter is an Uppercase Living demonstrator and for our anniversary this year, she wanted to give us one of the beautiful expressions they have in their catalogs. I quickly asked if I could design my own, and that was possible. So, my favorite phrase was created and yesterday The Trout and I put it up in my kitchen. I just love it and wanted to share it with you.

Saturday, October 18, 2008

Childhood memories

One memory of my childhood is always wishing for a tree house. I had never seen one, must have read about them, but it was like the ultimate wish for a child. Though I never did climb into one, I now have seen an ideal tree house.

The property we rent in Montana has quite a display of outbuildings. It also has a very cool tree house with 3 windows, a door and a rope to climb up. I hope someday my grandchildren will be able to visit in the summer and enjoy this beautiful dream. Perhaps, with a very tall ladder, I could even join them up there.

Friday, October 17, 2008

It was Roy!

I have been corresponding by e-mail with two childhood friends and we have been talking about one of the most impressionable and and memorable times of my childhood. It was when Roy Rogers came to town. I was very young, but I do recall he came to town and ate in a restaurant, signed autographs, but the greatest moment was when he came to my cousin's farm and he and his horse walked into the farm house kitchen. WOW! That was a real no-no for a child. After all, we couldn't bring the farm animals into the kitchen; but all the adults seemed to be enjoying it as much as the kids.

I was always under the impression that it was Trigger, but now I realize Roy was in the area to buy a new horse and that was the horse making his entrance in the kitchen.

He was one of my childhood heroes.

Thursday, October 16, 2008

Where is the flusher?

I was thinking last evening about the challenges people face when they are in a country where they do not speak the language. That in itself is a real handicap, but in addition, just learning how things work or operate can be a bigger hindrance.

I've gotten myself into some predicaments while traveling in Europe. Problem spots are figuring out parking meters and parking garage protocols, washing machines and toilets. Today I will speak about the toilets.

I would venture to say, most American toilets operate the same. In Italy or France, you could be faced with a real problem. Finding the flusher is the challenge. I have been known to spend a lot of time in public restrooms, simply trying to figure out how to flush. Sometimes there is a foot pedal on the floor, a tiny, almost hidden button on the wall, a cord pulled from near the ceiling, and my favorite, the double flusher where you choose a regular or eco-friendly flush.

The most disturbing toilet or W.C. as it is known in most of Europe (meaning water closet) is what is called a Turkish toilet. It is simply a hole in the floor with a grooved ceramic foot plate on either side. It is slanted with the higher edge against the wall.

The first time I saw this, I decided I could wait until later. I told my husband I had no clue how to straddle something like that and would have to read up on it first. In all honesty, I still avoid that type of apparatus even though I have found out that you back up on the foot plates. Have you ever!

I truly believe these challenging situations are what draws me back to the old country every time. To get out of down-filled beds with square pillows and emerge into the daily life of a European, make my French press coffee or Italian espresso and eat breakfast as the Europeans do. To walk the old cobblestone streets in awe of the magnificant architecture and the "oldness" of everything. That makes me wonder if I was born on the right side of the ocean because this is what I truly love and miss when I am back home.

I'll tell you about my experiences with the washing machine later....

Wednesday, October 15, 2008

Around Town

This morning on awaking, you could feel that the humidity is almost gone for the fall and winter and the air felt so much cooler. That will mean the windows open in the nighttime and breezes blowing through the house. I love this time of year in Florida.

The Trout and I decided to go to the local museum and view a collection of Frederic Remington's work, including 4 reproduced sculptures in 1000 ounces of silver each. So beautiful. I guess there is a little American cowboy in a lot of us.

Also included in the museum were interesting photos from a book "Material World: A Global Family Portrait" by Peter Menzel. Very thought provoking photos of families around the world with all their possessions outside, in front of their homes. Everyone should see this.

Tuesday, October 14, 2008

The reunion

This past August our high school class had a reunion back home in Iowa. The anticipation for many of us went on for weeks as we e-mailed each other back and forth about how excited we were to be back together again, if only for a weekend. You see, out of my graduation class of 18 members, 15 of us started school in Kindergarten and stayed together though graduation. Not only were these classmates, they were and still are extended family.

The memories some of us have held onto these past years were precious, ridiculous and down right hilarious. I don't think I have laughed so much in many years and when it was over, there were tears of hope that we can get back together again. You see, we have already lost two dear friends. They died much too young and they are missed. We also missed the two members of the class unable to attend this reunion.

So my dear classmates, my extended family, I say thank you for a wonderful weekend. May the time go quickly until we can get together again.

Monday, October 13, 2008

It is very poisonous

When we moved into this home, we also adopted two large showy shrubs in the backyard. They are pink oleander which is a very, very poisonous plant. They also have nuisance bugs which are almost impossible to kill because even the birds know the plants are poisonous. Constant daily spraying seems to be the only way to stay on top of them. Our neighbors who have had, operative word here is HAD, these shrubs have pulled them out. Possibly that will be on the list for future outside work. Now to figure out what to replace them with.

It has been interesting learning the new plants in this tropical climate. The greatest part of living here is that we have blooms all year round and I truly enjoy.

Saturday, October 11, 2008

"You would think"...

I wonder how many times in the last 40+ years I have expressed myself by starting out with that phrase. It happened again tonight. As "the trout" was grilling up a beautiful 1 inch thick chop and the flame was getting lower and lower, I expounded with the phrase, "you would think, if they can land a man on the moon, they could figure out how to tell 'Joe six-pack' when the gas in the grill tank is reaching its end." Oh yes, I have fallen for the QVC meter that is attached to the tank. From this household, you get no rah rahs for that!! Sometimes it works, most of the time it doesn't. You have huge propane tanks attached to homes that have meters on them. I guess keeping a house warm and a gas stove running far exceeds the importance of keeping a gas grill going.

Living in Florida, we have finally come to the conclusion it is very important to always have a spare tank on hand. You never know when a hurricane or lightening strike will hit and your life will depend on the gas grill for food.

Getting back to only needed a 1 minute zap in the Amana radarange. How's that for getting a plug in for my hometown?

Friday, October 10, 2008

It's called Caribbean Sunset

While we were gone this summer, we had a friend come in and paint our Florida room. It had been the dreaded white when we bought the home and we've been looking for paint colors ever since. Fortunately, Dale and I usually agree on colors. I say usually, because eventually one of us sways the other to their way of thinking.

I think we are going to like this color. The room has many windows overlooking the backyard, pond and golf course, so we did want some sunshine in the room. The few antiques I do have in walnut are set off nicely by the yellow.
Tomorrow will be busy as we go to Disney to get our instructions for our volunteer work at the Children's Miracle Network Golf classic in November. We worked this classic last year and had such a great time. We get shirts and hats and passes to Disney and get to see some outstanding golfers up close. We are rewarded with Disney World passes and golf passes to play on Disney courses. It's a good thing and fun.

Thursday, October 9, 2008

I love knockers!

Whenever we travel to Europe, I am always on the prowl, looking for door knockers. Most are found on old doors in very old, small villages. I stand there, lightly touching the knocker and imagine how many people in the hundreds of years past have rapped on the door. Perhaps they came for a visit and a cup of coffee. Perhaps they came to bring good news to the family. And, perhaps, sad news that one can only imagine.

I do not usually frequent antique shops, but I would love to own one of these beautiful antiques someday. Perhaps, not to put on my front door, but to put in a shadowbox frame to admire in my home. Someday, I want one of these beautiful knockers for myself.

Wednesday, October 8, 2008

My best friend

My best friend is an almost 13-year-old Bichon Frise named Kippy. She has sometimes been referred to as "the child who never leaves home." We have found that a Bichon is one of the most loving dogs we could ever have in our home. Ever faithful, ever loving, and a cold nose on a warm day. Today is a good day for Kippy and I wanted to introduce you to her as I am sure she will be mentioned often in this blog. All you dog lovers, wave your Milkbones to Kippy.

Tuesday, October 7, 2008

Such lovely memories

We just heard today and one of our favorites vacation spots in the Dordogne of France has just been sold. We have stayed with the Clark's in the Dordogne in their gites for the last two years. First of all, the Clark's are such wonderful Brits, we consider them dear friends. Their home is lovely, in the countryside and such a peaceful spot. The photos on the left shows the beautiful gite we rented for a week, and the lovely abri where we would sit before dinner and chat and enjoy a beautiful bottle of local wine while the brook trickled through the yard and added sound to the serene silence.
The Clark's wanting to spend more time with family in Great Britian, thought it would take two years to sell, and then they sold it almost immediately. Though they will no longer be renting gites in France, they do plan to live there part time and we certainly hope to see them again.

Monday, October 6, 2008

We got home yesterday after visiting our daughters in Ohio and Wisconsin and spending more than 2 months in Montana. We drove 3000 miles out and back and a lot while in Montana, totaling about 10,000 miles. "The Trout" has gone fly fishing to Montana for over 25 years. Sometimes he has gone alone, sometimes with me, in a travel trailer and the last 5 years we have rented cabins at nearly 7000 feet altitude. A little bit of a change from living in Florida where we spend our winters.

Dale caught 921 trout in the pristine streams and lakes of Montana and released them all back to nature to catch another year. Yes, we do have the pics to prove. I am sure someone will suggest later that they be added to this blog.

Our biggest surprise was 4-6 inches of snow on August 31! A little early, but beautiful to see. It just makes the mountains more pronounced and special.

It is always fun to restock the pantry and refrigerator when we get back from our long trips. Like starting over.. The best part is sleeping in my own bed again.

Sunday, October 5, 2008

Schnitzel and the Trout

It's just about time to start putting those special moments in life into a blog. I'm "Schnitzel", having a German background, even though my ancestors came to America 90 years before I was born in Iowa. The "Trout" would be my husband, who was once told by a young Frenchman, that he has "the passion of fly fishing in his blood."

I don't think we have ever lived a typical life. We married 45 years ago and within the first year, the Vietnam war separated us. The Trout was drafted into the Army and after US training, was sent to Heidelberg, Germany. "Is this a dream?" was my only comment. Wonderful memories go back to that year in Germany. After all, it was my first language.

We traveled extensively that year and have almost every year since. I will try to share some of the greater moments we have experienced and hopefully this will become a diary for the children and grandchildren when grandmother no longer knows where she is!!