Thursday, September 30, 2010

Water, Water Everywhere...

Jessie and I went for a walk this morning.  Checked out the Minnesota River, which is a little over a block from my apartment.  Yep.  It's over the bank alright.

This is the bandstand in the park along the river.  Last spring when the river overflowed it's banks, the water didn't reach the back side of it.

This is a walking path that winds through the park.  Now it is part of the river.

In the distance is the main bridge over the river.  The river normally can't be seen from this vantage point.  The walking path under the bridge is completely under water.  The trees to the right are along the bank.  The bridge is closed because the water is over the road a little further down.

This view is downriver from the bridge.  The tree line marks the river bank, and the river normally is several feet below the other side of the trees.

The flooding is inconvenient for lots of folks.  Many who work on the other side of the river have to drive a long distance to another river crossing bridge that is open.  But I can't complain.  Although I live close to the river, the town of Shakopee was built on high ground and has never flooded, as far as I know.  Which is more than I can say for further upriver, where entire towns have been underwater this week.  I am high and dry.  And I am counting that among my blessings.

Tuesday, September 28, 2010

New Family History Blog

A couple of days ago, out of the blue, I received an email from the daughter of one of my cousins.  Her grandmother was my mother's sister, Dorothy Paul Swedberg.  She wanted to know if I had an email address for another cousin, and in the course of emailing back and forth, I found that both of us have an interest in our family history.  She sent me some photos that I hadn't seen before, and it was fun for me to see them.

This morning I tried to email her some pictures of her grandmother and her family, but had problems with her email not accepting mine, and my email was bounced.

Not being a person who gives up easily, I thought about possible solutions for a while, and then decided to start another blog.  I had no desire to fight with emails and decided that this would be a good way to share old family photos and stories.

So I spent the better part of the day setting up "Second Cup of Coffee."  The name is due to the fact that so many names I tried were already in use, and the fact that I can rarely navigate until I have at least two cups of coffee.  Also, I like to read some blogs in the mornings with my second cup of coffee, so it seemed appropriate.

Anyway, if you are at all interested in learning about our family history, the URL is posted in my list to the right of this page.  I am having fun with this and hope that others will enjoy it as well.

Saturday, September 25, 2010

Homemade Jam and Jelly

It is all David's fault.  He emailed me photos of the salsa and tomatoes that he canned at home.  Got me thinking about all the canning I had done when I was still a kid living at home and later when my children were young.  The memories of how good all of those home canned fruits and vegetables, pickles, relishes, jams and jellies tasted got me fired up to try home canning again.

So yesterday I spent the afternoon making this.

The clear jelly is grape, made from bottled juice, and on the left is strawberry jam, made from fresh strawberries.

And it tastes just as good as I remember.

Tuesday, September 21, 2010

Salsa and Tomatoes

A couple of weeks ago, David called me to ask a couple of questions about the process of home canning foods.  He had, in the spring, planted a small garden.  Frankly, when I saw it, I didn't give much hope for it producing much.  It was located along the side of his house and didn't receive much direct sunlight.  But he enjoyed it and the kids did, too, so who was I to rain on their parade, as it were.

Much to my surprise, that little garden lived up to their expectations.  His family ate their fill of sweet corn and tomatoes, all grown in their little garden.  He had enough produce left over to can this salsa.......

and these tomatoes.

I am impressed.  I thought that home canning was done only by those of my vintage.  For us, it had been a way of life and a necessity in order to feed our families.  My generation and my parents' generation grew large gardens and canned enough produce to last the winter.  I remember canning both chicken and venison, making jelly and pickles, and canning a variety of fruit.  The taste was far superior to that of store bought, and without the added ingredients whose names I can not even begin to pronounce.

Not all of the old way of doing things were good.  But this one is, and I am glad to see it being carried on.

Monday, September 20, 2010

Decisions, Decisions

So, I am busy this morning dusting and scrubbing and vacuuming.  I don't like dusting and scrubbing and vacuuming.  But it is necessary from time to time.  I like a clean environment.  I just am not crazy about cleaning it.

I took a look around my clean living room.  Got to thinking about how nice a new throw quilt would look draped over the back of my rocking chair.  Thought about some throw pillows for the couch.  Maybe a cute little wall quilt.

Decisions, decisions.  Scrub the kitchen floor or walk to the great little quilt shop three blocks away.

These are going to look great in my living room.

Friday, September 17, 2010

On Getting Old

I love to read blogs.  I tend to read those about quilting and crafty things as well as genealogy related blogs, because they are interests of mine.  But I also enjoy some of the personal blogs, where I get a peek into the lives of interesting people.

I have noticed a bit of a trend lately, of folks bemoaning the fact that they are aging.  Some complain about gray hair and others about the lack of hair altogether.  Others list a litany of minor aches and pains, and still others obsess over a wrinkle or two.  As I am pretty content with my Baby Boomer - Senior Citizen status, I find this puzzling.  Then I was reminded of an article that I had saved quite some time ago.  I can't give credit, for I have long since forgotten where I found it, but I would like to share it with you, as it pretty well describes my attitude toward growing old.

On Getting Old - Author Unknown

"The other day a young person asked me how I felt about being old. I was taken aback, for I do not think of myself as old. Upon seeing my reaction, she was immediately embarrassed, but I explained that it was an interesting question, and I would ponder it, and let her know. Old Age, I decided, is a gift. I am now, probably for the first time in my life, the person I have always wanted to be. Oh, not my body! I sometimes despair over my body, the wrinkles, the baggy eyes, and the sagging butt. And often I am taken aback by that old person that lives in my mirror (who looks like my father/mother!), but I don’t agonize over those things for long. I would never trade my amazing friends, my wonderful life, my loving family for less gray hair or a flatter belly. As I’ve aged, I’ve become more kind to myself, and less critical of myself. I’ve become my own friend.

I don’t chide myself for eating that extra cookie, or for not making my bed, or for buying that silly cement gecko that I didn’t need, but looks so avante garde on my patio. I am entitled to a treat, to be messy, to be extravagant. I have seen too many dear friends leave this world too soon; before they understood the great freedom that comes with aging. And Whose business is it if I choose to read or play on the computer until 4 AM and sleep until noon? I will dance with myself to those wonderful tunes of the 40 & 50’s, and if I, at the same time, wish to weep over a lost love … I will.

I will walk the beach in a swim suit that is stretched over a bulging body, and will dive into the waves with abandon if I choose to, despite the pitying glances from the jet set. They, too, will get old. I know I am sometimes forgetful. But there again, some of life is just as well forgotten. And I eventually remember the important things. Sure, over the years my heart has been broken. How can your heart not break when you lose a loved one, or when a child suffers, or even when somebody’s beloved pet gets hit by a car? But broken hearts are what give us strength and understanding and compassion. A heart never broken is pristine and sterile and will never know the joy of being imperfect.

I am so blessed to have lived long enough to have my hair turning gray, and to have my youthful laughs be forever etched into deep grooves on my face. So many have never laughed, and so many have died before their hair could turn silver. As you get older, it is easier to be positive. You care less about what other people think. I don’t question myself anymore. I’ve even earned the right to be wrong. So, to answer your question, I like being old. It has set me free. I like the person I have become. I am not going to live forever, but while I am still here, I will not waste time lamenting what could have been, or worrying about what will be. And I shall eat dessert every single day. (If I feel like it). "


Thursday, September 16, 2010

The Scrabble Players

I wonder how many folks can say that a board game evokes warm and fuzzy memories.  Well, this one does it for me.

My parents retired to the area of their childhood homes in northern Minnesota.  That was good for them.  They had relatives living there as well as friends from when they were kids.  It is such a beautiful area with lakes and forest.  I often long to be there again.

The not so good thing for me was that I live about 250 miles south of that lovely country.  Oh, I went for visits from time to time, but not nearly as often as I would have liked.  The responsibilities of paying the rent and keeping food on the table prevented more trips to what I still consider paradise.

So I called them.  A lot.  If I couldn't see them as often as I would have liked, hearing their voices was the next best thing.  Mom had health issues that made talking on the phone difficult for her, so I mostly talked to my Dad.  He would tell me all about what had been going on in their lives and I would give him reports about their grandchildren and great-grandchildren.

About half the time when I asked Dad what they were doing, he would reply that he and Mom were playing Scrabble.  I would always ask him who was winning.  He would always reply that Mom was winning, and then he would add, "But she cheats."  And she would then hotly deny it.  I don't think either of them ever cheated at anything in their entire lives.

Mom has been gone now for fourteen years and Dad for nearly six.  Their Scrabble game has a place of honor in my little apartment.  Whenever I look at it, I smile, thinking of the many hours they wiled away playing the game and of the teasing way Dad always blamed his losses on Mom's cheating.

I miss them.

Wednesday, September 15, 2010

A Good Day For Baking

I woke up early this morning to the sound of rain falling and thunder rumbling.  I had thought about making a run to Target for a few things, but waiting for a bus in the rain is not high on my list of fun things to do.  I have been told on occasion that because I am not made of sugar, I will not melt in the rain.  But still, decided to postpone that little excursion.

Seemed like a good day to do some baking.  I had stocked up on bananas as I had a craving for banana bread.  When I bake, I usually make enough to put some by in the freezer.  This notion comes from my Mom.  Whenever she did any baking, she always made enough to stock the freezer.  Her reasoning was that if she did this, she would always have baked goodies on hand if company came to call.  My reasoning is that if I bake a lot at one time, I only have to clean up the mess once.  Makes sense to me.

I tried a new banana bread recipe.  It comes from the "Chickens in the Road" blog that I read every day.  The link is in my list of blogs I follow.  The lady who writes it lives on a remote farm in West Virginia, and I love reading about her life there.  Makes me wish I could do the same thing here in Minnesota, and reminds me of a time when I did.  She has some awesome recipes for down home cooking and baking, and I find myself using those recipes more and more often.  I have never been disappointed in the results.

So this morning I took this........

and turned it into this.

One of these loaves will not make it to the freezer.  Didn't even survive in one piece long enough for a picture.  It is probably the best tasting banana bread I have ever made.  A couple of slices and a cup of coffee made a good breakfast.  And should any of my kids decide to stop by, I think there might just be a loaf in my freezer with your name on it.

Friday, September 10, 2010

It's That Time of Year Again

My grandchildren are really good about calling me to let me know what is going on in their lives. I got one of those calls from Maddie the other evening. She had just started First Grade and was so excited about the experience. She told me all about it and it was such fun to listen to her tell me about her day. She now goes to the same school as Boston and it sounds to me like she absolutely loves it. After she ran down a little bit, and after telling me that she loves me, Maddie handed the phone to her sister.

Boston just started Third Grade, and she told me all about her class and her teacher and friends and that she really likes school this year, too. When she finished, I told her that I love her, and she replied that she loves me more.

Jacob won't start pre-school until October, but he couldn't be left out of the ritual First Day of School picture taking session.

I am so happy that the kids love school and hope that they keep that level of enthusiasm as they grow older. But mostly, I am happy that they share that enthusiasm with their Grandma.

Thursday, September 9, 2010

They Walked For Their Friend

Toward the end of August, my dear daughter-in-law Staci was part of a team that participated in the 60-mile walk to raise money to fight breast cancer. She and her friends walked under the name of "Belle's Angels," in memory of their friend Shelly, whose nickname was Belle, and who had died of that terrible disease not all that long ago.

They walked the entire route in 90+ degree weather, in humidity thick enough to cut with a knife and raised innumerable blisters on their feet. In spite of this, they walked. And they finished. And I am so very proud of them.

Staci was away from home for three days. David and the kids cheered her on. And missed her while she was gone. And were proud of her. And were happy to have her home again.

Congratulations to "Belle's Angels." I can think of no better way to honor your friend.