Saturday, February 28, 2009

Crossing the Bar

A great friend and former teacher died yesterday. Coincidentally, I had just written about her here.
She taught me to love literature and poetry so much, that it is only fitting that I remember her with a poem I memorized in high school at her request.

Crossing the Bar
Sunset and evening star,
And one clear call for me!
And may there be no moaning of the bar,
When I put out to sea,
But such a tide as moving seems asleep,
Too full for sound and foam,
When that which drew from out the boundless deep
Turns again home.
Twilight and evening bell,
And after that the dark!
And may there be no sadness of farewell,
When I embark;
For though from out our bourne of Time and Place
The flood may bear me far,
I hope to see my Pilot face to face
When I have crossed the bar.
Alfred Lord Tennyson

Thursday, February 26, 2009

My coffee set

About 10 years ago, my son-in-law, Mike, went to Bosnia with his church to do missionary work. He actually had two different trips over there, one time building a playground for the children and another time helping to rebuild the bomb damaged homes. He lived in the homes with families who had very little, but wanted to know more about the Lord.

He brought me back a coffee set used in Bosnia. It definitely has a Turkish look to it. At one time, every 15 seconds for 2-3 years, Sarajevo was being hit with shells and shrapnel. The people living there took the large shell casings and hammered them flat, polished them and fashioned them into coffee sets, ornaments and ashtrays.

Mike related that the women spent a good part of the day hand grinding coffee beans. They then would put 6 to 8 scoops of the ground coffee into a pot until it boiled over an open flame. The foam was skimmed from the top and then poured into the small carafe you see on the right in the picture.

I have kept the coffee set Mike brought me in my china cabinet, but have never used it. I think the next time Mike comes to visit, I will plan on having coffee with him, as they do in Bosnia. Thanks again, Mike.

Tuesday, February 24, 2009

To Josiah

I just have to share this. Yesterday afternoon, my almost 10-year-old grandson, Josiah, called and asked what I was doing. I told him the daily routine and then told him that at noon yesterday, I had gone to a fashion show at our clubhouse put on for the residents. He pondered quietly and then said, "A fashion show, huh? Did you get any tips?"

No Josiah, Grandma didn't get too many tips to help her situation. My fashion sense is what it is, but I am so glad that you are concerned. This is also the grandson who at age 5 told his mother, "I love the smell of a blue sky in the afternoon."

Keep dreaming Josiah, someday you will put all this on paper with a pen, I just know it! Love you, Grandma

Monday, February 23, 2009


"When the sky is a bright canary yellow..."

Sunday, February 22, 2009

We have whatever you need

On weekends, we have a combined farmer's market and flea market. We usually don't pay too much attention to the flea market, but yesterday I saw a sign that needed photographing, so today we went back. Now tell me, who would not like to check in with Ralph? Kind of reminds me of "Prairie Home Companion." We have listened to this PBS station on the radio since 1981. Every Saturday night for 2 hours, we have planned dinner around the radio show and listened to Garrison Keillor, the storyteller, telling about Lake Wobegon, Minnesota, 'where the women are strong, the men are good-looking, and the children are above average.' They also have, in Lake Wobegon, Ralph's Pretty Good Grocery. So, along the same vein, wouldn't you like to go to "Ralph's Perfume" and see what he's got?

The flea market...something for everybody. I saw something hanging on the line that also needed photographing. Believe me, these babies are HUGE. Only in America. "We have a size for everybody." God Bless America!

Saturday, February 21, 2009

Our little wagon

I never dreamed that a golf cart would be one of our modes of transportation. It was just too odd to even imagine us as 'older' people tooling around in this little wagon.
Our Bichon, Kippy, has always cringed at getting into the car. Usually it means going to the Vet, to the groomer, or a 3000 mile trip to Montana. No joy riding for her. But, the golf cart is a different kind of ride. She actually sits in the Trout's lap with her front paws on the wheel and ears blowing in the wind as we travel through our little village.
Remember the song "Surrey With the Fringe on Top"? "Isinglass curtains you can roll right down, in case there's a change in the weather." Well, we have these isinglass curtains. Three sides fold down and zip together at the corners to keep out wind and rain. How convenient. The cart is mainly used on the golf course, but we also go to visit neighbors in the cart when we don't want to walk. It's fun and the grandsons have found they feel kind of important if they can get behind the wheel.

Thursday, February 19, 2009

The computer is in charge

It seems that most of the blogger world has been having troubles these last two days, but I will take a chance and see if things are looking up. I believe the downloading of photos or videos seems to be the biggest problem right now.

So, eliminating the photos, I still have the computer on my mind and how much I use it. In just the last two weeks, I have researched subjects such as overuse of the semicolon, (remember, I was proofing a new novel); what a tilapia looks like (we have fish in our ponds and some are supposed to be tilapia and I wanted to be sure I knew which ones); alpen glow, (a blog I read about Montana had several pictures of alpen glow and I really didn't know what it was); and buttonholes. This deserves more explanation. I have read in several difference places in the last month the reasoning behind buttonholes. Why are men's buttonholes on the left and women's on the right? Unless you are a seamstress, you might not have paid much attention to this phenomenon. There are a couple of theories, but no one knows for sure. My question is "why doesn't anyone know?"

It seems that when buttonholes and button first came to be, the buttonholes were always on the left. But, women had servants to dress them, so the women had the buttonholes on the right. I find it hard to believe, no matter what the era was, that all women had servants to dress them. I might have been born many generations too late!!

The other theory is that there was a necessity to make women's clothes different from men's. Thinking back to "those days", I find the clothes were extremely different. The big bustles on the back of the dresses would have been a big giveaway. So, this questioning is not resolved, but I am now a little more capable of eating tilapia since it is not the bottom eater fish I see in the pond. As for the semicolon, that little used correctly punctuation, I really don't think I did a good job today. Any comments? Have a good day.

What's happening

I have been having some troubles with this blog disappearing and then showing up only half-way in the last couple of days. Will work on it this afternoon. Oh, this darn technical stuff.

Tuesday, February 17, 2009

It's blooming

Every February, without exception, my one remaining orchid blooms. I do not have a green thumb, that I admit, but I do love flowers and plants. But since we are away from home during the summer, I also know that I should not get too involved in possessing many plants. There is only so much you can ask a dear neighbor to do for you. It's that 'asking' thing again!!

I got this orchid in 2000 and it has traveled with us through several moves. I will admit, the two years we lived in Wisconsin, it did not do well. It was almost to the point of wondering whether I should toss it. I did toss two others I had at that time.

Last summer while we were gone, I tied the whole orchid pot to the branches of our magnolia tree. I was surprised how well it looked when we got back in October. In November, when it started getting cooler at night, I brought the orchid in the house and this is what it looks like today. Normally there are 5-6 blooms, but only 4 this time. They will bloom like this until about August.

Someday, when we don't travel as much anymore, I hope to have many, many more orchids because I just love how perfect and fragile the blossoms are.

Sunday, February 15, 2009

Is it bread yet?

In January, I wrote about a book I had just purchased, Artisan Bread in Five Minutes a Day. Since that time, I have baked a lot of bread. There has not been a time when the dough was not rising in my refrigerator. I have not baked frequently, because it would be just too overwhelming to the waistline. Bread and ice cream are my favorite foods. I do not keep ice cream in the house because I could not leave it alone. Bread is something else. It needs to be baked which takes time.

Today, before dinner, The Trout asked if we were having bread. I told him I need 1 hour and 10 minutes to get the bread formed, raised, baked and out of the oven. Timing was perfect. You see, making bread this way is so very convenient. The author of the book describes the bread as having a "custard crumb." That is the perfect description. It is not a dry bread, although the crust gives a wonderful loud crunch as you bite into it. The center of the bread is almost creamy like. Not exactly like Italy or France, but we do enjoy it. Sure beats store-bought bread.

The Trout has not tried to make this bread yet, but it is so very simple, anyone can do it. If you love bread as we do, buying this book and trying it will be so worth it.

The end of the story

I did something unexpected this weekend. I spent it reading, reading and reading. On Saturday, I stopped in our library here in our retirement community and found three black notebooks on a table with a sheet of paper and pen next to them.

A man who lives in our community has written his 5th novel and with this last one which is still is draft form, he is asking the residents who live here to read it and add the epilogue. If he chooses it, you can receive credit in his book.

So, I quickly raced through the draft making notes, proofreading (as a former medical transcriptionist, this comes normally) and have just finished the reading. This is a murder mystery taking place in Canada with Detroit connections. I am mulling things in my head that I would like to change, etc., but I do not have a definite ending yet. I think it will come, though. I felt there were loose threads during the story that needed tying up. So, will just have to keep thinking about this one. This has been fun.

Friday, February 13, 2009

To My Valentine

Today, my treat for all of you are Valentine's that are over 100 years old! My grandfather was a traveling salesman before and after he married my grandmother. He always sent postcards to her, wherever he would be for the night. I can't even imagine how long it took for the postcards to arrive at their destination back in the very early 1900's.

I have an old salesman box with attached lid that is filled. My grandmother kept them all. Usually, not too much was written on the back, but you can read between the lines and know that they loved each other very much.

And both of them had a wonderful sense of humor.

The Right Attitude

Quote of the Day:

The Italians call it “The Law of the Terrazza,” which goes something like this: No matter what “they” do to you, no matter how bad the day, if, at the end of the day, you can sit on your terrace with good company and good wine, then life is good.

We received an email from friends who own a home in Italy, in Tuscany. This note told of the troubles and successes they have had growing their own wine. Right now they are in the process of bottling which is a whole new situation. Their home, Le Miccine, near Gaiole, has produced some award winning wines. The quote above, came with the email and it is so fitting of Italians. But, I think they have the right idea. This is an attitude everyone should have.

Thursday, February 12, 2009

Mr. Lincoln

Today is Abraham Lincoln's 200th birthday. Happy Birthday, Mr. Lincoln!!

Back in 1962, our entire high school (grades 9-12) climbed into two (2) school buses and drove from eastern Iowa to Springfield, Illinois. It was an annual trip that the school always planned for the students. Can you imagine today, taking the whole high school on a trip? I will admit at this time, the population of the school was 88. Amazing, isn't it?
I managed to take a picture out of our yearbook, The Bugle, that shows the front of the Lincoln home and one of our students who was very, very tall at the time, standing in front of a poster of Lincoln.
These are special memories of high school and each and every graduate remembers and cherishes them. I never fail to think of this page in the yearbook and our trip to Springfield on Lincoln's birthday.

Tuesday, February 10, 2009

"La Belle du bois dormant"

The Trout and I have one granddaughter, Rachel. Rachel was born in 2004, so when we went to France in 2006 and toured the Chateau d'Usse', I knew I had to take special pictures to remember this place for her. The chateau is in the Loire Valley of France, a beautiful part of the country where many chateaus dot the valleys and hills. But, you see, this was a very, very special castle. This was the castle of "La Belle du bois dormant", or "Sleeping Beauty."
We climbed up and up until we reached the top of the turret and there we found the sleeping quarters of "Sleeping Beauty." Even I was reliving my childhood and my imagination came alive. I saw the children's room where they had played with toys and a table was set for a child tea party. Disney had produced the entire film within the walls of this gorgeous chateau. I knew I had to make this special for our only granddaughter. We took pictures of the scenes that Disney still had set up in the castle, but the outside of this chateau was remarkable. This is a chateau built in the 14th century and in the 17th century, Charles Perrault wrote about Aurora, the Sleeping Beauty.
When we got back home, I purchased the book "Sleeping Beauty" and inside the cover, I put the pictures that we had taken of the real castle for Rachel, to enjoy as a child and to carry forward to her own children.

Monday, February 9, 2009

A Writer?

I received an e-mail this week from a cousin. I always considered her a cousin even though we are distantly related. Her grandmother and my grandmother were sisters, so that makes us cousins, right? She has been reading my blog from Canada, where she lives, and tells me she is enjoying getting to know me again. Many years have separated us.

But, she really blew my socks off when she called me a "writer". A writer? Not me. I just put words on a computer. Besides, I have always thought that a writer was published, at least somewhere. Then, with more thought, I guess I am published, even though I am doing my own publishing and I am being critiqued, if only by myself.

In high school, I always dreamed of being a writer and publishing a book. Being editor of our high school yearbook was the closest I ever came to putting a book together and I enjoyed it thoroughly. It was the most amazing learning experience. The deadlines! How well I remember the deadlines. That you Mr. W for being there to guide us all on a total revamp of the previous yearbooks. Talk about CHANGE! We really threw a surprise into the system. But, it was good. Even now, on occasion, I will get out the '63 Bugle and remember the experience as if it was yesterday.

So, perhaps, without even realizing it, this outlet of blogging has fulfilled that teenage dream. I don't need to be concerned about sales of the book, not making the NY Times Book List, and having my book being praised or blown away by critics. I do look forward to seeing comments at the end of each blog. It is confirmation, reassurance and it is sort of like "selling my book."

Sunday, February 8, 2009


I read a blog the other day where the writer spoke about how difficult it is to ask for any kind of help. I doubt this is a problem for everyone, but when you are brought up German, I think this is a given fact. I can remember as if it was yesterday, my mother and grandmother telling me that it is not right to ask for any kind of help, you need to be self-sufficient and do things on your own. I guess you really do learn by example and this "not asking" has been a problem for me most of my life. My dear husband doesn't understand it and probably never will. It is something ingrained in my personality that just won't budge to another level.

I know my youngest daughter has definitely inherited this trait from me. And here I was not even trying to pass it on. I believe you do learn by example and she, unfortunately learned well. Don't get me wrong, it is wonderful to be self-sufficient, but sometimes you just need to let go and let others help, be it something big or something very insignificant.

I truly believe that as you get older, the time will come when it is easier to ask for help. Until that time, I will need to accept myself as I am, having a very difficult time to ask anyone for anything. It is my character. I know very well, that characteristics of one's self are inborn and come with the complete package. As daughter #2 always says, "it is what it is!"

Saturday, February 7, 2009

My Good Day

I had a very long but good day. It started off a little rocky though. I was driving downtown to the conference center when I was double hit. I was driving next to a very large lake when, splat, splat, two hits on the windshields by large birds flying overhead. Scared me to death. I didn't even see the birds until they passed and believe me they passed a lot. Right in the drivers view of the windshield. Anyway, I got to the center with no problem and then the day was great.

This is the second year that our medical clinic has put on an all day seminar for women only. There are 5 sessions in the day, 3 subjects and speakers at each session so you pick and choose where you want to go. I learned so much today from a hospitalist (end of life decisions), an oncologist speaking about lung cancer in women, an orthopedic surgeon talking about knee and hip replacements, a gastroenterologist spoke of acid reflux and a fantastic cardiologist talking about women and heart disease. I learned a lot from all of these seminars, but the one thing that really shook my noodle was that it has now been discovered that no matter how well you eat, you need 90 minutes of cardiac exercise a day to lose weight. WOW! I am retired, but that is still quite time consuming.

It is so great to meet these doctors, ask questions and get to know their personalities and in return it makes it a lot easier if these doctors are needed in the future. I know just exactly whom I want to choose as a doctor. So, even though the bird of paradise dumped on me good today (at least I was in the car) it was a very informative day.

Friday, February 6, 2009

My Bamboo Steamer

Tonight I dug out our old bamboo steamer which had been in storage for a few years. I don't know why in storage, because we have always loved the oriental steamed recipes, but with several moves in the last years, this item was simply packed away. Until...

I found this wonderful recipe that blogger friend, Mary, had on her site, One Perfect Bite. We enjoyed it so very much and I am sure will make it again. Mary, right now, is traveling in SE Asia and is still publishing her blog. I am anxiously awaiting her pictures and news from there.

Thank you, Mary, for a wonderful meal this evening. We even enjoyed a cabbage slaw with an oriental peanut dressing that went with it great.

Thursday, February 5, 2009

Old Friends

I have always enjoyed reunions--meeting again with old friends that many years have parted. Tonight was one of those reunions. Back in the 70's, we lived in Michigan and our neighbors were Connie and Dave and their two children. We moved away, thought of them infrequently, but remembered them well. Because of Facebook, our daughters reunited and they in turn reunited the parents. Little did we know that these friends wintered in Florida, very near to us. So tonight we had dinner together in a favorite restaurant of ours.

It was so strange, talking about people we knew 30 years ago. When you get our ages, you find out that many have died, divorced or just remained the same. I have always loved stepping back into the past for a little while. It was a great evening of memories and hopefully we can get together again before the snow birds leave.

Wednesday, February 4, 2009

Moules Frites

Tonight we indulged and had a favorite meal we enjoy when in France. Moules Frites. It is by far the most tactile meal to eat and we just simply love mussels.
My childhood friend, Larry, who lived in Belgium for many years would tend to argue that the best Moules Frites come from Belgium. I just know that every time I ate them in France, and especially Normandy, they were wonderful.
This tasted very good this evening, but it must be the atmosphere that was missing. Perhaps someday soon, we can enjoy Moules Frites in France again.

Tuesday, February 3, 2009

February 3

They call it "The Day the Music Died". Fifty years ago today, at 1 a.m. in the early morning hours of February 3, 1959, Buddy Holly, Richie Valens and the Big Bopper died in a plane crash near Clear Lake, Iowa. I know the date very well, because it was the day of my 14th birthday. The plane crash also occurred not far from where I was living at the time in Iowa.

My grandfather had died just 4 months before this happened and that had been my first personal experience with death as a child. I knew immediately how final this day was. I was the typical teenager with "45" records and star magazines and loving rock and roll. Why was it always so much easier to learn song lyrics to heart instead of history facts?

Music went on but isn't it amazing how the songs of these 3 men are still being played today? And since it is my birthday, I will add a line myself..."Will you still need me, will you still feed me, when I'm 64?" - The Beatles

P.S. This is also my 100th blog! Who would have ever thought?

Monday, February 2, 2009

The Family

I love old pictures and sometimes I imagine myself living during that time. This is one picture I just treasure. On the left is my grandfather(Opa) and Grandmother (Oma). The other couple is Opa's sister Susie and her husband Frank.

Opa was born in Argenta, Illinois in 1881. He married my Oma and lived in the German village in Iowa, but often traveled back to Illinois. The only information written on the back of the picture is "We are going to the Springfield Fair." No year, but I imagine it would have been about 1904-1908.

Recently I made contact with my grandfather's sister's grandson. He was delighted to receive this picture of his grandparents. I love these kind of connections.

Sunday, February 1, 2009

The Haunted House

A blog I read every day, "At Home with the Farmer's Wife", reminded me of something from my childhood when she wrote this. I had a cousin who did not live in the same village I did, but south of town in the "country". I remember one summer day, there was quite a group of us walking through fields to get to what was known as "the haunted house."

This, at one time, had been a beautiful Victorian farm house. I even remember a turret, but possibly that was my romantic imagination. The story was, a single farmer with quite a bit of money was wooing a single gal living nearby with her family. She did not seem too interested in him, but he could not get her out of his head. So, he built this beautiful home, furnished it and I remember even seeing an upright piano in the parlor. After she refused him for the final time, he simply disappeared. Without even locking the door, he left the area never to be seen again.

I did see the house and I also remember, for some reason, our parents did not want to talk too much about the details of the romance. I do remember being told to stay out of there. As time went on, the house deteriorated and was finally torn down. I would love to wander through this house right now. Wouldn't you?