Tag Archive | Life

“Speed of Time”

backyard chain grass park

Photo by Pixabay on Pexels.com

 

As I was pulling weeds in front of our house the other day, I was hoping the new neighbor didn’t think I was some type of Mrs. Kravitz from the Bewitched show.  Something made me look up just as a young lady with dark straight hair drove by.  She pulled into the driveway next door and went straight into the garage.  That was the last I saw of the new neighbor, for now.  Shortly after, a moving truck slowly inched by, almost turning into our place but then realized it needed to move down one more spot.  Mrs. Kravitz might have stayed just where she was, pulling weeds, or she may have moved inside her own house to spy at the goings on through a partially moved blind or shade.

I decided to go around to the other side of the house to see what weeds needed pulling. Slowly, I managed to get to the back of our yard and decided to hang out there to read a book in my new anti-gravity chair while listening to the little kids playing a few doors down.  The birds were singing their usual songs on one of the most gorgeous of summer days.

Suddenly, a young man carrying a big wooden spool was in the new neighbor’s backyard, and he walked along measuring a cable line from the back of the house to the phone line. At first I wondered if he was going to be our new neighbor too, but realized that since he had a cable, he was the cable guy.  Shortly after, the moving truck left, and it made my Mrs. Kravitz self think the new neighbor must not have any children because the unloading would have lasted a lot longer.  Mrs. Kravitz would have most likely taken the time to run right over and knock on the new neighbor’s door, but we might just have to wait to see if the young lady ventures out.  We’ll start with a few waves as she passes by in her car and go from there!

I couldn’t help but think to way back when we first moved into our house.  The new neighbor’s house had been occupied for many years by Bruce and Ann.  When we met them, I thought they were an “older” couple and wondered if they planned on downsizing, since their family was all grown up and moved out.  Ann must have read my mind because some of the first words out of her mouth were, “We’re not going anywhere,” which ended up being fine with us.  Bruce and Ann had been very nice neighbors to have for 20 years, and the neighborhood felt empty after they moved out.

Now, the new neighbor might think we are an “older” couple and may wonder if we plan on moving away to a smaller place. She might even be so young that she doesn’t even know about Mrs. Kravitz!  We used to be the young family with little kids running around, but now we watch and enjoy the sounds of the new little ones taking over.  Bruce and Ann came to the high school graduation parties we had for our kids.  In her cards, Ann was so kind to write about how they enjoyed watching our kids grow up.  Now we’re the ones watching the neighborhood kids grow up.  Isn’t it funny how that happened, and so quickly?

Some day man will travel at the speed of light,
of small interest to those of us still trying to
catch up to the speed of time.
~Robert Brault

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Fishy

beach enjoyment fun leisure

Photo by Scott on Pexels.com

Once upon a time, on a warm and sunny summer day, a little girl went to the beach with her mom. They packed up a picnic lunch, beach blanket, towels, sunscreen, a bucket, and a shovel. There was a little spot on the beach just for them. Many people were together enjoying the day too, and those peoples’ conversations floated away with the wind. All the talking didn’t cover up the sounds of the waves splashing on the shore or the rustling of the leaves in the towering trees.

They walked hand in hand in the Minnesota sand, which felt very warm on the bottoms of their feet. The little girl, who would be two years old on her next birthday, looked confident in her pink one-piece swimsuit with a picture of the Little Mermaid on front. They quickly toddled off to find the cooler wet sand. The waves tickled their feet to welcome them in. Soon, the little girl was up to her knees in the very clear blue lake water.

“Fishy,” the little girl shouted and dove into the water face first as quickly as she could, somehow wiggling out of her mom’s grasp. The mom was surprised how courageous her daughter was and was sure the little girl had kept her eyes wide open as she held her arms forward trying to grab the fish with her hands. The mom instinctively pulled her little girl out of the water.

“Did you try to catch the fish?” the mom asked.

The little girl looked surprised, her curls now smashed down after coming out of the water. She didn’t seem to have lost one beat to the rhythm of her breath. The mom held her little girl on her hip and felt little goosebumps form on her own arms. They waded out to the deeper water.

“I wonder where the fish went,” the mom said.

“Fishy,” the little girl repeated in a softer voice as she looked down at the deep water trying to find the fish. The mom and daughter held onto each other while they bobbed up and down with the waves. They twirled about to feel the water cool them. The fun melted away the mom’s goosebumps.

“I think it was a sunfish,” said Mom. “I’m surprised it was so close to all these swimmers at the beach. That was very brave of you to try to get it with your hands!”

The little girl giggled as the mom carried her. They went to the shore, played in the sand, and had a lunch that included gold-fish crackers, which reminded them of the Fishy they found at the lake on a warm and sunny summer day.

The world is as many times new as there are children in our lives. ~Robert Brault

The Gifts and the Memories of the Money Jar

Great Grandma VG with her Great Grandchildren (Left)
Great-Great Grandma with her Great-Great Grandchild (Right)

A year ago in March, our family got together for a Sunday meal. Five generations ranging in age from 103 years old to the new little one who was born the month before.  My husband’s grandmother had become a great-great grandma, and others got new titles too, so there was much to celebrate.

I made Great-Great Grandma’s (aka Grandma VG) favorite salad that day, one that I had made many times before. Grandma VG loved that cabbage salad and always raved about how delicious it was.  Grandma VG named the ingredients one by one with each bite she took.  The sunflower seeds were at the top of the list.  The salad is full of flavor and doesn’t get boring probably because of all the butter, oil, and salt it contains!  On that Sunday in March though, Grandma VG didn’t comment about the salad and that was a sign to me that she wasn’t feeling like herself.

Whenever Grandma VG came over before she turned into a great-great grandma, when our kids were little, she always brought along her money jar. We’d have our same routine.  Grandma came into the house, took off her wrap, greeted all of us (even Music, our dog, who loved her too), and asked us how we were doing.  We visited for a while, ate dinner together, and when we were done, Grandma went to get her purse.  She asked all the kids to gather around our kitchen table, and she pulled out a little jelly jar filled with coins.  The kids’ eyes lit up and she told us how she went shopping, and this was her leftover money.  Grandma VG loved to shop and liked to look at the new styles.  Most times she had a story to share about something she found interesting or new with the mall or something she found.

The kids would remember whose turn it was to count out the coins. The coins got divided up into three even piles with even amounts.  If there was anything extra, it went back in the money jar.  “We’ll save that for next time,” Grandma would say.  I always thought this was a great way for the children to learn how to count money and how to share, and I bet that was Grandma VG’s plan too.

Around this time last year, Grandma VG passed away. After her funeral, Matt, our youngest, inherited the money jar.  It only contained a few coins, but it held a lot of memories.  Grandma knew how to make people feel special.  One thing that always made me feel special was when she introduced me to others as her granddaughter, who I was by marriage, but she rarely mentioned the marriage part.  We miss her and her stories.  We still love her, and we’ll hold that love close and guard it, just like we’ll hold close the gifts and memories of the money jar.

Death ends a life, not a relationship. ~ Jack Lemmon

And now, here’s the recipe:

Cabbage Salad

2 packages of coleslaw mix
bunch of green onions, chopped
2 packages Ramen noodles (chicken base), broken up
½ cup sunflower seeds
1 small package slivered almonds
½ cup butter

Brown chopped green onion, noodles, sunflower seeds and almonds in ½ cup of butter on low heat.

Dressing:

1 cup salad oil
3 teaspoons soy sauce
packets of chicken base from Ramen noodles package
2/3 cup sugar

Mix dressing ingredients, pour over coleslaw mix and onion, noodles, and nut mix. Can be prepared ahead; mix with dressing just before serving.

Leave a Trail

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A couple of Saturdays ago, it snowed about six inches, and the thought of walking the dog on Sunday seemed like a challenge. I knew the sidewalk to the park was not plowed yet, but I put on my boots with the yak tracks and set off with Lila by my side.  As we walked along the snowy path, there was only one set of people tracks made by a person with smaller boots than mine.  It looked like the person marched through the snow lifting their knees with each step.  I tried to follow the footsteps because it would be easier than making my own.  The person who had gone this way before me did not appear to drag their feet.  I tried to do the same.

Lila didn’t worry about following someone else’s tracks. She walked and ran along and made her own path and didn’t care about ruining the blanket of pristine snow with her scattered trail.  Every so often, she stopped and put her nose straight in the snow in search of whatever had caught her attention.  When her snout was out from underneath the pile, her face was speckled with white flakes, and I wondered how she could tolerate that cold up her nostrils.  It didn’t bother her because she continued to do that all along the way.

Traveling was easier when we finally got to the plowed part of the park. Lila stayed to the side to walk on a tiny path of snow.  A lot of people were walking that afternoon enjoying how the fresh snow made everything spotless.  The clouds were light and fluffy too, drifting by like a summer day.

Lila was excited when we got back to the snowy path leading us on our way home. The path I’d followed about 45 minutes earlier was still there, but someone had walked over the tracks I made.  Even though we walked farther along the same way, I did not see the crisscross pattern of my yak tracks.  Every step was covered by someone else’s, but Lila’s tracks were where she left them.

Even if a path has already been made, we don’t have to follow it, even though it might be easier. Sometimes we have to make our own new tracks.  Be like Lila, and make your own trail.

Do not go where the path may lead, go instead where
there is no path and leave a trail.  ~ Ralph Waldo Emerson

Spicy Met Sweet and Tasty!

Last time, I shared the story of making applesauce, but do you know what goes best with applesauce? Potato pancakes. I found a container of applesauce hiding in the freezer, our last one from 2014. Just looking at it gave me a craving for German potato pancakes. My mom used to make them on occasion too, and I have her recipe:

Potato Pancakes

Ingredients:
Two eggs
1/2 small onion, chopped
1 teaspoon salt
2 tablespoons flour
1/2 teaspoon baking powder
3 cups cubed raw potatoes

Directions:  Put the eggs, onion, salt, flour, baking powder, and a half a cup of potato cubes into a blender, cover and process at grate until potatoes have gone through the blades. Stop blender. Add remaining potatoes a half a cup at a time, cover, and process at chop only until all potato cubes have passed through processing blades. Use a rubber spatula to help guide potatoes to processing blades. Do not over blend! Pour onto a hot well-greased griddle. Drain on absorbent paper towels. Yield – 12 pancakes.

Once I found a packaged version in the grocery store, but I only made it one time – the scratch recipe above is so much better. Be a little patient because potato pancakes take a little while longer to cook than regular pancakes.  I didn’t grease the griddle with oil like Mom used to do. Instead, I used Pam olive oil, and it worked very well. The pancakes were not greasy and tasted great. As the cakes cooked, the scent brought back fond memories of when Mom used to cook these up. Our family gobbled them down faster than it took Mom to make them – always a good sign of a family favorite.

Potato Pancakes

After you make a tasty batch and stack them on your plate, be sure to smother them with sweet applesauce. It’s one of the best combinations ever invented – almost better than when peanut butter met chocolate! The grilled mild Italian sausage that we served made for a nice combination and was an extravaganza for our taste buds. Spicy met sweet and tasty.  🙂

When’s a time you cooked something where the aroma gave you a pleasant memory?

To Keep Them

Not changing something is sometimes a relief. For instance, the grapevine that was planted in our garden before we arrived will stay. My husband and I have often talked about whether or not we should tear it out, but the backdrop of leaves makes a pretty sight, acts like a canopy behind the flowers, and it gives us some privacy. We have to watch our grapevine closely and cut away any little tentacles that reach out to wrap themselves around innocent flowers. When their direction gets changed that way, the vines grow to take a trip along a neighboring tree. They stretch and climb as far as they can. We let it go along the trees because we know it will be fine once freezing temperatures arrive. It’s too bad that other things live in the grapevine and are causing problems.

Last spring, I planted a tray of multicolored zinnias among the daffodils, irises, and yellow-four-o’clock flowers. As I checked the zinnias each day, I noticed some sort of insect got ahold of their leaves and worried they wouldn’t blossom and mature as they should. After they were planted, of course, I read zinnias like to have a lot of breathing space, plus it didn’t help that little bugs live in the grapevine. I hoped the zinnias would take over when the other flowers settled down. Now the coneflowers and phlox are making a grand appearance in our little garden – our treasure that’s stuck in the corner of our yard as if it’s our own little secret. There are times when I look at other gardeners neatly manicured show places and wonder what went wrong with our little potpourri. Even though theirs are perfection, our garden is more true to life, I think. It’s squished, has blemishes, craves attention, but is beautiful at the same time.

We could thin it out as we should, but we want to keep those flowers, just like we want to keep the grapevine. Almost all of the flowers made their beginning in my mom’s garden. Mom shared with us her daffodils, irises, four-o’clock flowers (which are all done blooming now), and coneflowers. Mom would probably laugh at how I’m taking pictures of flowers all the time because it used to drive me crazy the way she had Dad take pictures of all her little beauties. Now I know it’s another way to keep them since soon the cold weather will take them away.

Next year, we hope to expand the garden out a couple of feet, install a new border, and get rid of the decaying railroad ties that now frame our mixture of blossoms. I hope to plant zinnias or some hardier flower in the expanded spot. Hopefully they will be able to breathe there. We’ll also have to figure out how to trap the pesky pests.

Thankfully, the zinnias are doing better than expected but not looking as good as some of the neighbors. Talking and whispering sweet little nothings to them on a daily basis has helped. 🙂 If things go well, I hope to make another garden in the other corner of the yard.  Maybe if there were more flowers in our yard, our garden wouldn’t seem like such a secret.  I’d like to separate out some of the flowers and plant them in the new garden because I want to keep them.  Then, when the time is right, I’ll share those little beauties just like Mom did!

Weed it and reap. ~Gardening Saying

To Walk Along the Jagged Rocks

“Let’s run over to Itasca before they get here,” my son-in-law Michael said. The four of us grabbed what we needed and went to the car. Michael drove while Laura, Matt and I watched the scenery go by. As we bumped along the highway, we listened to some old tunes back from when I was growing up, and no one wanted to change the station!

The day was just like the others since the four of us got there. It felt a little warm even though the sun wasn’t shining down on us. The smoke from the fires in Canada floated to northern Minnesota making the sky hazy. Some could smell the smoke, and I felt like I got a whiff once in a while, but I think that might have been my imagination. We sort of enjoyed the blanket of protection from what would have been a steamy summer day.

“This is the road I took to get here,” said Matt. “I think I went around the lake the other way.”

“Ya, this is the way you should go home,” we chimed in together. I thought about how our family get together was a hodgepodge of an event. Laura, Michael and I arrived at the resort on Wednesday night, Matt drove in on Thursday morning, and the rest of us were waiting for Dad and Katie to arrive that afternoon.

“I think I’ve been here before a long time ago with my family when I was growing up,” I said. When we entered the state park, trees towered high above us. Pristine lakes with names of women poked out to show us not only trees grow there. We only saw a few of the 100 lakes during our short stay.

After parking, we headed toward the path, and the Headwaters – Caretaker Woman greeted us:

We read the sign above to learn that the woman is “releasing a clutch of small turtles from a basket, renewing the seasons and continuing the waters of life.  Her flowing hair is like that of flowing water.  The turtles, strong water symbols, also symbolize the universal cycles of life in Anishinabe (Ojibwe) belief.”  Then I understood why all the lakes are named after women.  Click on the picture of the sign to learn more!

A few more steps down the road, we found the spot where the mighty Mississippi starts its winding journey 2,552 miles to the Gulf of Mexico. It’s traditional for visitors to walk over the jagged rocks just to say you crossed the spot where the Mississippi River begins, but for some reason we didn’t even think to make that little journey. Funny that we traveled so far and didn’t do what everyone else does when they get there. That doesn’t mean we didn’t enjoy the view.

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We continued to walk down a path along Lake Itasca. Just as we were on our way back to the parking lot, the phone rang. Katie let us know they were waiting for us at the cabin. We left just as quickly as we arrived anxious to all be together again.

Maybe another time we’ll all get to walk along the jagged rocks together.

The family is one of nature’s masterpieces. ~George Santayana