Wednesday, December 31, 2008

A Birthday and 2008 Memories


It's hard to believe, but our little baby turns 13 today. She has been a joy to us all those years. I would certainly recommend her as the White House dog as she is hypoallergenic, no shedding and just lots of in your face love. We had a beagle prior to her for 17 years so longevity comes with our household. Happy Birthday, Kippy! We rescued you from a trampy life in Winona, Minnesota all those years ago. It's a good thing!


I have also been thinking of the highlights of 2008 as this year comes to an end. At the top would definitely have to be my high school class reunion in August. Such wonderful people I grew up with since most of us started in kindergarten together. Dear friend Connie housed me for the weekend and it was so good rejuvenating our friendship. I truly have not laughed so much in many, many years.


Our trip to France in May would follow as a highlight. The Trout and I simply love France even though we still do not know the language well enough to converse, but we do know how to order our food and drink and read a menu. That is great because a second trip to Le Presidial restaurant in Sarlat was just as wonderful as the first time.


Being able to spend the summer in Montana at 7000 ft. altitude once again was such a refreshing delight. We love it there in the mountains among the trout!! Having a wonderful anniversary meal at Pearl's Cafe in Missoula, as we do every year was very memorable.


Reuniting with family and friends in Wisconsin is always fun. Spending time with our four grandchildren in Ohio and Wisconsin was a top highlight. They are growing up so quickly. Can't imagine life without grandchildren.


Lunching with my cousins in Iowa was great! We rarely get together and we had many laughs and some tears. Seeing my only and favorite brother in North Carolina was wonderful. We just have not had the chance to be together much since childhood.


Starting this blog in October has been the most fun. It keeps me sharp (lol) and always thinking. I feel it is a journal for the future. And, my goodness, have I made bloggers friends. My world is so much smaller.


And last, I would have to say a highlight of this year has been the many wonderful meals The Trout and I have cooked together. It's been a lot of fun.


I guess I have to finish with another memorable event even though it certainly was a lowlight for me. I broke my ankle slipping on a frosty step on August 20 in Montana. The very next day I flew to my class reunion. It was painful and difficult but it turned out to be such a wonderful weekend.


I am thankful to each and everyone of you who read my blog. I feel I am sharing my life with friends that I can't be with everyday. I love that. Thanks and keeping visiting.

Tuesday, December 30, 2008

Snowbirds

The snowbirds are coming back. That is what they call us retired people who spend summers somewhere else and always come back to Florida for the winters where we are guaranteed warmer weather. We've been back since October, but some hold out until after the holidays. Friends that just arrived this weekend said the traffic throughout Georgia was very heavy heading south.

We live in Florida 8-9 months a year and then usually travel abroad in May and spend time in Montana in the summer. We have spent as much as 4 months out West in past years.

I started thinking about how many cities and towns we have lived in and the number comes to 9. In each of these places you meet people, make dear friends, need to find doctors, dentists, barbers.... oh yes, did I tell you the story of looking for someone to cut my hair and I find a blind barber. Well, he was legally blind, with some? eyesight, but my hair has never been easy to work with so I figured I had nothing to lose. Talk about pressure! And then he wanted to do some coloring. No charge, he said? Hey, I'm a push over. The only stress was that my class reunion was in a week and I would be checked out and noticed. Long story short, it worked out okay. The haircut certainly wasn't the best and the color was something I do not normally do. Yes, the blind barber, and I found him!!

I got off track there, but was just itching to get that blind barber story in. The year is coming to an end and it is time to make another list of things to do better in 2009. Let's see what I come up with.

Saturday, December 27, 2008

It's Quiet Now, Too Quiet

The house is quiet now. The children and grands have left to go back home. The house has been dusted and vacuumed and everything back in place and it is sort of lonely. I just can't imagine a wonderful holiday like Christmas to be without children of any age.


There were many hugs, smiles, laughs and games. Special prayers around the table and just lots of love. You can't ask for anything better.


The Trout got his Red Velvet or Waldorf Astoria cake for Christmas. This is a yearly request for his January birthday, so he was happy! It disappeared quickly.




Thursday, December 25, 2008

Merry Christmas Dinner




Our traditional Christmas family dinner included prime rib roast, twice-baked potatoes and my sour cream and bacon salad dressing. We started out with Peach Bellini's with champagne (ginger ale for the boys) and a wonderful California cab with the beef. The Trout's favorite Red Velvet Cake is for dessert and if there is any left, I'll post that tomorrow.
Daughter Angie and husband Mike and our grandsons, Noah and Josiah were our dinner guests. I wish all our family and friends could have been here today. Let's plan on next year.


Wednesday, December 24, 2008

Merry Christmas Eve


Be it ever so humble, the Christmas spirit is here and sending love to all family and friends. May we remember the reason for Christmas and keep it in our hearts. Merry Christmas!

Monday, December 22, 2008

The Grand Boys




Two of our grandsons with mom and dad and best friend, Jeter, came down for Christmas week. The boys immediately rushed to the back yard and started casting for fish. We have some bass living in the pond behind us and they love casting and hoping for a bite. They have been very fortunate to catch several and put them back to be caught again.



It is good having family come visit us at this special time of the year. Enjoy your families because a lot of us can't be together as often as we would like.

Saturday, December 20, 2008

My childhood home


I grew up in a house that my grandfather grew up in and my father lived in his entire life. It was an untypical house, because it really was two homes in one. My Oma and Opa had their home downstairs with complete kitchen, and mom and dad and brother and I lived upstairs with a beautiful kitchen my parents remodeled in the 1950's.


Both mom and Oma were excellent cooks, but I always had the chance to eat at either table depending on what sounded best for the day. Quite often they cooked together also.


We had three bedrooms upstairs and one bathroom and one living room, large dining area and a beautiful large kitchen. More than enough room for all of us. If you look at the house, it also had a complete attic where you could stand up in the middle of the attic and then the walls slanted down on each side. Everything you can imagine was kept. In the complete basement was the laundry room, lines to hang clothes in the winter, a canning pantry, a work bench area and Opa and Dad's wine cellar. They made grape and rhubarb wine every year and it just smelled good down there.


As a child, I remember a hedge taller than me running along the sidewalk for privacy. My Oma was a very private person and this was her design. There also were two trees which I remember they called "Trees of Paradise". But now as I am older, I think they were a kind of sumac. The front of the house was also covered with English ivy. I can remember the sparrows would build nests in it and it was such a wonderful sound to have the windows open in the summer and hear the birds chirping. My mother then heard that the ivy actually eats away the mortar of the bricks, so this all came down also. Then, there was a very large pine planted on the right side of the house. It got extremely large, and I see now the new owners we sold it to in 2001, have removed this tree. The front of the house seems rather bare to me now, but it is no longer my home.


I haven't had a new picture of my old home for many years, so when my childhood friend volunteered to take a picture when she was there at Thanksgiving, I was very grateful to have this for my grandchildren. Thank you for the picture, Lee, at http://www.leerothdesigns.com/


On the right is another house which looks like it is attached. It is not, but it is so close you can't put a finger between the houses. Such an unusual design and reason for many people to take pictures of it. In my father's childhood, this house next door was attached by a porch in the back and this was the Beck Bakery. Might be the reason my Oma and mom never baked bread.


There is a very large back yard that still houses the old wash house, a place for wood storage and even an outhouse that has not been used since 1950. That building also has an attic and housed more of our things. Behind this were peach trees and an actual apple orchard with at least 3 dozen trees. Guess what my job was in the fall?


It is fitting that I receive the picture of my childhood home now, in the Christmas season. It is actually bittersweet. Merry Christmas to all.

Thursday, December 18, 2008

Our Home


Our home is one of the most open houses we've ever owned. It is not cut up into little rooms and we are enjoying the freedom of the openness.


Last night while preparing dinner, The Trout decided to take a picture from the kitchen through the dining area into the living area. It makes for good room for entertaining and easy cleaning. I do have two friends who are interior decorators, so I hesitate to let them see this; but then, maybe they would have some great ideas for me!!

Wednesday, December 17, 2008

Beautiful


My outdoor poinsettia is not quite as bright as usual for this time of year. We had quite a cold snap a couple of weeks ago, but now with 80 degrees every day this week, we are finally seeing the beauty of this plant. It was foggy and dewy this morning and you can see that on the leaves. It just seems to make Christmas a little prettier.


The lights are glowing brighter also, because one daughter and family will be coming down to spend Christmas with us. Hopefully next year, our other daughter and family will be able to make the trip.

Monday, December 15, 2008

Another ancient grain


I am so excited, because we found another ancient grain and used it in a salad and it is just screaming "healthy!" Have you eaten quinoa, pronounced keen-wah? It is an ancient grain which is delicately flavored and was a staple in the Incas' diet. It is a "complete" protein and we eat it fairly often.


Tonight, put it in a salad with a vinaigrette of orange juice, cilantro, rice vinegar, sesame oil, ginger, and added diced mango, red pepper, scallions and black beans. It was so very good. Went great with grilled chicken on the charcoal grill.

Sunday, December 14, 2008

Miracles

This morning in church, our pastor had a wonderful sermon entitled, "Why Doesn't God Do Something?"

He made many fine points but always came back to the question that so many people constantly ask. When something tragic happens, we ask "Why?" When things are not going our way, we ask "Why?" And then, he asked all those who have had miracles in their lives answered with prayer to stand. Everyone silently stood. Not one was left seated. You see, God does answer prayers and miracles do happen.

I saw this work in our lives when our second grandson was born with a heart defect. He had to be on several medications to keep his blood pressure under control and to keep his little heart ticking. The entire church at that time prayed, and prayed continuously for little Josiah. And slowly, but surely, his heart improved and the hole in his heart grew smaller and smaller so to this day, he is a healthy 9 1/2-year-old. That was my miracle and we all feel so blessed that this beautiful child is now a healthy young boy. Love you, Josiah!

Saturday, December 13, 2008

Farro Salad


Several years ago on a trip to Italy, many times we came across farro on the menu. We did not know what it was, but we are always willing to try something new. We found it in soups, salads, and as side dishes. It was very good and reminded us somewhat of barley, but more flavorful. Farro was cultivated in the ancient world and is just now becoming popular again, especially in Italy.


With that memory in mind, we found we could order farro on the Internet from Chef Shop. So last night, we made a farro salad that we just could not stop eating. We cooked the farro in salted water and after it cooled, added chopped tomatoes, radishes, onions, parsley, chives, garlic and tossed with a balsamic vinaigrette made with olive oil. Very, very good. If by chance you are willing to give it a try and have a difficult time finding farro, barley can be substituted, but I doubt it would taste as good.

Friday, December 12, 2008

Just great bread




My good friend, Gloria, is quite a bread baker. She bakes several kinds and she was the one who alerted me to the No Knead Bread. http://www.nytimes.com/2006/11/08/dining/081mrex.html?_r=1 It was in the NY Times a couple of years ago, but somehow I missed all the fun. Well, just couldn't let this slip by again since I love crusty bread like you find in Europe. Unless you live in large cities like New York, it is almost impossible to find wonderful crusty bread in America. But now, the layman can make it at home.




It does take planning because you start it the day before, but if you have not tried this, you really should. It turned out a little flat for me, but will try to use a smaller baking pot next time to make it loftier. Oh YUM. Pass the butter!!

Wednesday, December 10, 2008

"Take me out to the ballgame"

It is exciting news! Just got our mail from the Detroit Tigers. They do their spring training down here in Lakeland and they are sending out their spring schedule for us to buy tickets. In Tampa we have the NY Yankees and the Cleveland Indians are also nearby. We try to go to at least 3 games each March. It is a lot of fun and exciting to see the big name ballplayers.

Now only how many weeks until March!!

Tuesday, December 9, 2008

My dad

I've been thinking about my dad a lot the last few days. He was a tall, gentle man and I don't remember him ever raising his voice to me--even after I dented his car as a teenager and slid into the ditch on an icy road.

Dad died in 1996 at the age of 84. He is missed a lot. Twelve years ago, after he died, I got his wrist watch. He was a Shriner and the watch face has a Shriner fez on it. It was very proud of that watch. It has been in my jewelry box these last 12 years. Every once in a while, I pick it up to look at it and every time I do, the second hand starts to move. The battery has not been replaced. It just seems very strange to me after all these years, but it really means a lot, as if dad is watching over me. Thanks daddy.

Monday, December 8, 2008

Decluttering

About 15 years ago, we moved from one town to another with my husband's job transfer. By this time, the children were out of the house so it was time to declutter. We actually rented a dumpster and started throwing things away. It felt good at the time. We still had lots to move and the new house had a lot of storage in the garage, so some boxes were put in storage there.

Forward six years, and The Trout and I retire and start our move to Florida. You know those boxes in the garage for the last 6 years; well, they had not been opened. So, in a very brave move I said "If I don't know what's in them and I haven't wanted to know for 6 years, toss them!" And so we did.

Now forward 10 years from that tossing of boxes and this week alone, I have been thinking about two items and wondering where they are. Sure enough, they were probably in those tossed boxes. It's not that important. I have the memory and I am sure during the next few years, more items will be remembered and I will wonder were they are. At least I have decluttered and someday my children will be thankful for that move.

Saturday, December 6, 2008

Ah--dinner


We planned tonight's dinner for quite a while. Getting just the right ingredients takes patience, especially if you are not living in France. Tonight, we has Cassoulet with Italian sausage and duck confit. It was so good and reminded us of when we ate this in France in the past. We kind of tweek the recipe to suit what we can find, but it was so good. Along with a Spanish wine, it really hit the spot.


We went to a Father and Son golf tournament today near Orlando. It was a thrill to see Arnold Palmer and Jack Nicklaus up close. They played with their grandson and son. These are men we have followed in golf since the 50's and they are still very good at what they do and kind, sweet gentlemen. Just wish they had had time to come over for Cassoulet with us.

Friday, December 5, 2008

A Flashback

I just had flashback of junior high. Any of my old classmates out there and remembering this? I was working on a bulletin board with our 7th grade teacher. Coach was not only our teacher, but high school basketball and baseball coach. And, to a very young, innocent 13-year-old, he was a HUNK! Anyway, working on this bulletin board, I managed to staple my finger instead of the board. I saw this big hunking staple hanging out of my finger and I fainted. When I woke up, Coach was there holding me and I felt like it was a dream. Thus started my episodes of fainting.

Well, tonight, I had this flashback when I reached into the dishwasher and stabbed the palm of my hand with a knife. I have been putting my knives in the dishwasher with the blade up, because I have found that sometimes the blade slips through the holes in the basket and gets bent as the washer blade spins around. I didn't faint, but I certainly remembered as the blood started oozing.

One of the worst times for me to faint was during my husband's job interview. We were having dinner with the employer and his wife when I decided to faint. Had to be hauled off to the hospital by ambulance, EKG, the works, and found to be OK. So what did I say when I walked out of ER and faced the perspective employer and his wife? I said, "I wanted to make a lasting impression!" By the way, The Trout got the job!! Found out many years later it was a low blood sugar problem.

Thus, I am not able to give blood because it takes up to much time and it is very inconvenient. My number 1 daughter is a nurse, but number 2 daughter has trouble when they draw blood for blood work. She has fainted also. Sorry, Ang. Hope I didn't embarrass you. It must be inherited.

Can you smell it?


I love coffee, be it the black espresso of Italy, the thick, spoon will stand in the cup Austrian coffee, plain ol' American coffee or my favorite of late, French press coffee. I don't have an expensive French press, but this one works well for me.


Yesterday we were in Costco and they had set up a small coffee shop where they were selling these beans grown in Mexico. They are then sent to Texas to be roasted. We got the dark roast because that is the best in my opinion. This coffee is very good and very reasonably priced. In fact, this is the second pot today. I actually think the coffee has more caffeine than others, because I have more energy than normal.


Slip on over and and I'll keep it hot for you!!

Thursday, December 4, 2008

The Sandhill Cranes


Early in the morning, when Kippy and I go out for our first walk of the day, we are usually greeted by two locals who let us know that they are also waking up. They are the resident sandhill cranes. This pair has been here for years. They mate for life and usually lay one or two eggs per year. There are no babies following them this year and last year a beautiful little chick was learning how to find food from mom and dad and then one day, the chick was no longer seen. I can only imagine the alligators in the area got the chick. Possibly that is why there is no chick this year. I can only imagine the alligators got the egg. Survival of the fittest.


They make the loudest noise to let people know they are around and The Trout and I watched them one day while we were on the golf course. They were beating their beaks into the windows of a home on the golf course; just beating furiously as if saying "anyone in there have any good food?" We are told not to feed them because this behavior could really get out of hand.


They simple mosey along the roads and through the yards and usually golf balls are flying over their heads. They are in charge and will move when they are ready. It is not unusual for cars to brake until they cross the road. The sandhill cranes--it is what makes life beautiful.

Wednesday, December 3, 2008

Thanks

I love receiving mail, be it e-mail or USPS mail. Today, I received a DVD in the mail from my childhood friend and graduating classmate, Dave. He had gone to the trouble of making an absolutely beautiful DVD of our August class reunion. He included the fantastic music of 1963 along with photos of the past, even kindergarten photo, and photos of that fantastic reunion. Now that is what I call a true friend. Since we were 5 we were friends and through the years have kept in touch once in a while. Since this reunion, we are in touch more often, because we realize that time is passing quickly and friendship is more important than a lot of material things.

To Dave, I say a special thank you.l You are part of my extended family and you have just given me a wonderful remembrance of time gone by. It will now be remembered by my children and grandchildren. Won't they get a Hoot out of it?!!!

Monday, December 1, 2008

No more hurricanes this year

Our newspaper headlines today stated that our hurricane season is officially over for this year. It runs June 1 through November 30. This year we have been fortunate again to have missed the bad weather.

When we first moved to Florida from the Midwest, I remember seeing papers at the grocery stores in the spring telling you what to stockpile in our home in case of a hurricane. How much water, canned goods, candles, flashlights, batteries, etc., were necessary to survive at least a week of no electricity. I felt as if I had moved to another country. It reminded me of the time we were living in Germany and The Trout was in the Army. We had a list to follow also. We needed to pack canned goods and other necessities in a box, seal it, and have it ready to go in case of war and we get orders to move out to Switzerland. This was 1968 and Vietnam was roaring in the far east, so this really was quite a possibility. So, being someone who always follows rules, our box was packed and ready to go.

That first hurricane season in Florida, I did pack up a box and then after the season ended, we did start to use the products in that box and cleaned it out. The next several years, I did the same, but then when the storms were passing us over, I was not so diligent in packing supplies in case of emergency. Now, we usually are away from Florida for most of the hurricane season, so I do not have these emergency supplies.

It can be a scary time, but I think of all the tornadoes in the USA. How many people really have supply boxes packed for tornado season? Might not be a bad idea. It is really sad, but we are so dependant on electricity, we would be very uncomfortable living without it for a few days.

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!

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.