Sunday, November 30, 2008

Got 'em

Don't need to say much today. Yes, I thoroughly cleaned out the pantry. Woke up several times during the night hoping the ants had left. Come morning, no such luck. Must have been a new breed. Not having a hard frost down here, the critters build an immunity and I don't like it..

So, went to church early to compose myself and came home, emptied everything out, clean every can, jar, etc., and then bombed the h---- out of the pantry. Ah yes, after a disinfecting wash and reinstalling all the goodies, I am back to normal. Keeping windows and doors open this time of year tends to let just about everything in.

We lived on the east coast of Florida for 5 years right after retirement. We had triple sliding doors to the screened pool area and I was always chasing geckos out with a handy broom left by the door. For some reason, they didn't seem so invasive.

Nevertheless, we are back to normal and now that a horrific thunderstorm is passing through, I am just going to settle down and do some knitting. Sounds good to me!!

Saturday, November 29, 2008

Critters

I have adjusted to the fact that living in a tropical climate where there is never a hard frost, brings with it another problem. Critters. Anything that crawls or flies where it is not supposed to be, to me is a critter.

Today, as the smell of a slowly braising pork roast is wafting through the house, critters are the last thing on my mind. Then, I open my pantry and WOW! Critters. Once a year it seems, ants get into my pantry. I have learned to put certain foods into glass jars, sealed plastic jars and bins, etc., but every once in a while, I slip with something and today they caught me.

I end up flying around the house with hair standing on end and there is nothing I hate worse than uninvited guests in my pantry or even my house. Did you hear the German words flying out of my mouth? It is not that I am swearing, I am just using every German word I can think of at the moment to console myself that "this too shall pass." At last look, the Terro seems to be working quickly. I think I got on top of it before it got out of control. Aw--Florida!!

But then, there are other critters I can relate to in the not so distant past. The last couple of years when we were renting another cabin in Montana, we had a BAT problem. Now that is one critter that gets no respect from me at all. One night, The Trout and I were battling several bats with a broom and I was the lucky one with only a baseball cap in one hand and an ax in the other. My heart was beating so fast I thought I might pass out, but that was certainly not something I needed to do in such dire circumstances. I needed to be alert and make sure I get my fair share of kill. These bats were sickly looking to both of us. At the end of the evening, we had killed six and by 9 p.m., we were packed up and heading to another cabin. Some people think that bats eat mosquitoes and many, we found out later, are protected because of being endangered, but please forgive me if I did something wrong. Bats flying at you in a small cabin, with many more bats flying around outside, is not the time I think about any critter being endangered. I think I got a few more gray hair that evening.

Friday, November 28, 2008

My Amana

I don't usually get into conversations with anyone about where I come from. It is not because I am not proud of my background, it is because no one understands it. In the past, I remember getting into conversations with acquaintances and simply walking away from the conversations because they think I don't really know my background. It is easier to keep quiet than get into heated discussions with people who have no clue about where I am from.

You see, I am from the Amana Colonies in Iowa. www.amanacolonies.com/history.htm It is a religious sect of Piests who left Germany in the 1850's because of religious persecution. They are called "True Inspirationalists." They first came to Ebenezer, New York, and then to Amana, Iowa. I am not Amish or Mennonite. There is nothing wrong whatsoever being Amish or Mennonite, but I cannot claim that to be my history. In early history, the Amana Colonies actually lived communistically and they did so very reverently. It was in 1932 when they decided that they could no longer live this way and adjusted to giving up the communal living with everyone living independently. This is my background and I am proud of it. I am related to the forefather who left Germany to settle in America, Christian Metz. On my paternal grandmother's side, though, I am related to the Hutterites of South Dakota. They came from a part of western Russia and settled in America. I am very proud of that association also.

One of my greatest thrills was finding the Castle Ronneburg, east of Frankfurt, Germany. This is the castle where my ancestors took refuge for many years before coming to America. It is one of my most favorite places in Europe. It is beautiful and a place I have visited many times.

To most people, when they hear "Amana", they think of air conditioners. That is true. Air conditioners and freezer/refrigerators were made in the Amana Colonies and still are to some extent today. That is where most colonists worked after 1932 to earn a living. I even worked there for several years.

It is a beautiful place to live, to raise children and to retire. I only have cousins living there now since all family has passed on or moved away. (It still is Iowa and cold in the winter).

This is my background and it is what made me the person I am today. I am proud to be from Amana, to be bilingual, but I am certainly past the stage where I will argue with someone who does not have the knowledge that I have of my own background.

Thursday, November 27, 2008

Thanksgiving

A Happy Thanksgiving to all. May your turkey taste wonderful, your family time be blessed and may we all pray for peace and abundance of food and shelter for all the world. God Bless you.

Tuesday, November 25, 2008

The City of Swans




I live in the City of Swans. Swans have always been important to Lakeland. Since 1923 they have been found on one of the lakes, but the original swans died falling prey to people, dogs or alligators.
In 1954, a local lady wrote to Queen Elizabeth asking to purchase a pair of English mute swans from the royal flock of the Thames River. The Queen wrote back and she was willing to donate a pair if the city would pay for the shipping to America. Money was raised and the pair of swans was released into Lake Morton in February, 1957. Since then, they have multiplied many times.
What's interesting is that a local veterinarian has a yearly roundup and will inoculate the swans and plant microchips.
The city has lots of fiberglass swans around too. Businesses purchase these swans and have them painted and set in the front of their offices. It makes this city pretty special and actually very beautiful.


Monday, November 24, 2008

Reflections




For many years, I have always been attracted to reflections. I love the mirror images that you see on water, not being able to discern where the land ends and water begins.




This summer in Montana, we frequently drove past Silver Lake. Very early in the morning, the water was always still and sometimes the lighting was breathtaking. It always seem so peaceful to me.




This morning, the wind was still and I saw a beautiful reflection in our backyard pond. Once again, it is hard to tell where the land ends and the water begins, but the palm trees growing upside down is a real clue. Just seems like a lovely way to start the day.

Saturday, November 22, 2008

It was good!


Tonight the Trout was in control of dinner. He combined several recipes to get just what we wanted and he did good!! The Clams and Spaghetti emerged into clams, mussels and spaghetti and an Italian sausage sauteed with green onions, garlic (lots), white wine, butter to thicken the sauce, parsley and lemon zest on top. I used the Barilla Plus pasta which is healthier made with whole wheat and it was delightful. We ate well and enjoyed a white wine and a demi baguette with it.
Unfortunately, most of our friends think we eat "weird", including our children, but this is what we love. Certainly, nothing either of us grew up with, but our travels have introduced us to a new cuisine that has become very dear to us.

I remember

November 22, 1960. I remember it well. It was my first date with the Trout. I was a sophomore and he was a junior in high school. He had transferred to my school after his school closed. We were eyeing each other since the beginning of the school year. There was just something there...

After that it was the note passing, winking, smiling, lots of smiling, and then we started dating kind of regularly. There were times when we broke it off for a while. I guess I just needed to be sure he was the right one. We were young after all. But he was my best friend and when I needed to talk to someone, he was the one I would go to. We married in 1966, and now 42 years later, he is still my best friend. I still love you Trout. We have a lot of history.

November 22, 1963 was another year I won't forget. I was a freshman in college and we had just gotten the news that President Kennedy had been assassinated. That was a tremendous shock to the world. Who knows where our world would be today if that day had not happened.

Friday, November 21, 2008

I'm disappointed

I had a real disappointment today. During the week, I read a lot of blogs. A lot from France, a dear new friend from Norway, a lot in the USA, and have learned a lot and they have certainly enhanced my thinking. A lot of them make me downright happy. Until today..

A blog I have followed for at least two years has taken a real turn to the bad. This was (since I no longer will read it) a blog that shared her love of the country she was living in and made me more knowledgeable and it was actually fun reading this blog every day. Now, in the last few weeks, she has gotten out of control with sarcasm, language, and sick humor. I am sorry, but I have lived too long to have to read something like that because there are so many lovely people in blog world who really make my life more enjoyable. There is a beauty of living in a free world so that you can read whatever you want. Let's all try to make this world a little better with our words.

Thursday, November 20, 2008

Flies




The weather is a little cooler and that makes the Trout think of fly fishing. There seems to have been a lot of talk about Montana lately. So where did I find him? He was sitting in the garage tying trout flies for next summer.




How he does this is remarkable to me. The hooks are extremely small and by the time he has the feathers and other things attached, it is miraculous that anything so pretty come out of it. He has patterns he follows for favorite flies and he does a beautiful job. I do a lot of knitting, but even I can't maneuver my small fingers around something like this.




Wednesday, November 19, 2008

Snow?

Woke up this morning with memories of a Montana morning this past summer; August 31. We had snow up the mountains and it was beautiful, but cold. I have always loved seeing the first snow.

But, we are in Florida and this is the second morning we woke up to temperatures in the upper 30's. Yes, there is no snow, but it is still cold for this tropical paradise. Luckily the sun always shines, so it will just take a few hours for the rooms to warm up.

Last winter, our one cold week, which seems to happen every year, was the first week of January and we even had frost that killed some of our plants. The good thing is this will pass quickly and Florida is really one of the great places to spend a winter.

Sunday, November 16, 2008

Stained glass




Today in church, I thought about all the stained glass windows we have seen in our European travels. The church we attend does not have these elaborate windows and I do miss them. Since I keep a daily dairy while we travel, I could probably figure out how many churches and cathedrals we have walked through. The number would be very large. Castles and churches--they always draw our attention.
Our love for stained glass has been a long time coming. Back 30 some years ago, we came into possession of two pieces of Italian stained glass. They were always in a heavy box, taped shut and literally not seen for years. They traveled to every house and every city we moved to.
Two years ago when we bought our home in Florida, these pieces of stained glass came back to mind because now we would have a place to hang them. We found an old friend who does beautiful stained glass work as a profession and she re-leaded what needed re-leading, perfectly replaced a couple of broken pieces of glass and then directed us to a man who would frame these two heavy pieces in cherry wood for us.
We have hung them in two windows on our south wall and I love how the sunlight shines through and brings rainbows into the living room carpet and furniture. Perhaps, someday, I'll find some stained glass to hang in the center window. Perhaps...

Saturday, November 15, 2008

Too many clouds

The three of us were standing there, The Trout, Kippy the Bichon and I. It was approximately 6:45 p.m. last night. Kippy was looking at us with this look of "what are you people doing out here, just standing, staring at the sky?" She was actually acting spooked. Then several other neighbors came out to check out the sky. As typical, early evening came with lots of low lying clouds. Very thick clouds with a hole straight up where we could see the stars. Luck was not with us tonight.

We were staring into the northeastern sky in front of our home. Our eyes were fixed onto Cape Canaveral. The space shuttle Endeavor was scheduled for take off at 7:55 p.m. Evening shuttle flights are spectacular. We have seen several, but tonight was not to be.

It is on our "to do" list to go to the space center and actually be there for a take-off. Several years ago we talked to our neighbor, a man born in France, who told us his experience of being at the Cape during a take-off. He said the ground shook and it was so overwhelming to him it actually brought him to tears. This is something I want to experience before the shuttle launches are discontinued which will be soon.

Friday, November 14, 2008

Grits for breakfast


Over 40 years ago, on our honeymoon in Florida, I tasted my first grits. Be it fortunate or not, I have taste buds and have never found a food I do not like. I remembered the grits for many years, but living in the Midwest for many years, this is not a staple on the dinner tables or in our grocery stores.


Now that we live in Florida most of the year, that craving for grits is back. In restaurants down here, it is often found on breakfast menus in place of hash brown potatoes. The Trout is not that crazy about grits, but this morning I woke up with that craving for a hot bowl of grits with a touch of melted butter, a nice change from oatmeal. Grits are made from hominy which is corn without the germ. The colonists learned from the Indians how to prepare grits. They would soak the corn in lye until it was ready to cook. Thanks to modern inventions, there is a more sensible way to do this now. Reminds me of the Norwegians soaking codfish in lye to make lutefisk.


Anyway, I enjoyed my grits this morning and it might be a long time until I eat them again, but it tasted good this morning.

Wednesday, November 12, 2008

Tonight's dinner




Having as much Norwegian blood as The Trout has, tonight was his night for dinner. The Trout makes his own Gravlax. Raw salmon marinated in lemon juice and zest, vodka, lots of dill, sugar and Kosher salt. One of our favorite appetizers is a gravlax pizza, but tonight we made it our main meal. Crispy pizza crusts topped with cream cheese, lemon juice, red onion, capers and lots of dill and the gravlax made for a wonderful treat. Accompanied with a Cote du Rhone rose' wine, it was a delightful evening dinner treat.

Tuesday, November 11, 2008

The Bears


Several years ago in Montana, we fell in love with these two bears. Mama and Baby are called "flower bears". They have a hole cut between their paws to hold flowers. I change with the seasons from spring flowers to Hibiscus to fall leaves to Christmas glitter leaves. They are so at home here in our home that we don't even seen them most of the time. It is kind of strange, guests in our home don't see them either. They just blend in, standing guard. They were made by chain saw which is even more fascinating to watch.

Monday, November 10, 2008

He's back!


Our friend, "the gator" seems to be back even though he is laying low. He was in our backyard a lot last winter, sunning himself. When you get close, he slips into the water. Not too much of a nuisance, though caution is needed around him. The Trout threw some rocks at him and like a dog, he tried to catch them in his mouth. We understand that bothering an alligator in this way and lead to arrest, so no more of that!


Playing golf, The Trout once sliced a ball and hit a very large gator in the side. With a big, "oomph" she flipped around and headed for the water. We found out later that she had quite a brood (I don't know if that is the right word) of babies. You won't believe the noise they make different times of the year.


There is also one that suns himself on the 16th hole on the golf course, Unfortunately, the ladies tee is right there and you have to put your back to the gator. Someone usually is a lookout if the gator is too close. Such excitement!!

Monday, November 3, 2008

Grapefruit


Our neighbors just brought over a large bag of grapefruit. They are heavy, fragrant and heavily laden with juice. I just love this time of year in Florida. Enjoy the picture.

Sunday, November 2, 2008

We went to Disney

It was a busy day. We spent the afternoon at Disney world for volunteer training. This will be the second year The Trout and I are volunteering for the Disney Miracle Network Golf Classic. We drive a golf cart and deliver water and ice to 5 tees on one of the golf courses. We get to be right in the action and there is always time to watch a few of the great golfers during their play.

No cameras or cell phones are allowed and we are directed to act like Disney employees, wear a uniform and hat and just have fun. We will be there from 6 a.m. to 6 p.m. Wednesday through Sunday. A busy time but it is also fun. A good thing to do for retired people!!

Saturday, November 1, 2008

Guess who came to town!


Please vote on Tuesday!