Tag Archive | memoir

We Waited Patiently

Around the time I was nine years old, my mom decided she no longer wanted to deal with a real tree. It was also the time when, a few days before Christmas, Dad placed a huge, beautifully wrapped box topped with a large red bow next to the artificial tree. My mom, two brothers and I were shocked and couldn’t wait to see what was inside. We never recalled a time when Dad got such a large gift for Mom.

Mom had a little spring in her step, after the box appeared. It seemed as if daily chores didn’t seem as tedious, now that she had such a marvelous present sitting by the tree.

Finally, Christmas Day arrived. Even though the present waited by the tree, we continued to follow our custom of eating dinner first, then opening presents. Mom made a turkey with all the fixings. We enjoyed her cooking and stuffed ourselves until we could hardly move. We all felt like we couldn’t take another bite, but we found room to choose a treat from a silver-colored platter that Mom presented to us. It contained Mom’s homemade assortment of cookies, fudge, fruit cake, peanut brittle, and Swiss croffin,* which was a family favorite.

We all wandered to the living room and found our usual spots after the presents were arranged. Mom’s gifts were piled high on top of the big box. We begged her to open it to see what was inside. After she set the smaller packages aside, Mom stood up and ripped the paper off as fast as she could and tossed it aside. As she pulled at the tape that sealed the box, we waited patiently. She peaked inside, looked up at the chandelier with wide eyes, and loudly said, “A vacuum cleaner?” She repeated that phrase over and over again for days, months and even years. The rest of us couldn’t help but laugh. (Sorry, Mom.)

My father was a soft-hearted, yet practical man. He also liked to tease people, so I’m not sure if the present was supposed to be a joke. Joke or not, Dad seemed to learn something from that experience. The rest of the gifts he gave Mom came in much smaller packages! It’s the thought that counts, right? 🙂

Do you have a memory of when someone you know received a shocking gift that continues to bring a smile to your face?

Wishing you a very Merry Christmas, filled with presents in smaller packages!


* Swiss croffin, or Swiss kuchli, is the size of a small donut and is a pear-filled pastry. It contains anise seed, dried pears, walnuts, and sugar. The mixture is simmered for two hours. After cooking, the water is drained. The mixture is mashed and placed in a pie crust that is separated with a cookie cutter. Each pastry is sealed and fried in a deep fryer until lightly brown. The last step is to cover it all with powdered sugar. I’ve never made this recipe, because of my fear of deep fryers! Plus, it’s a lot of work.


Eggs in One Basket

My creation is at the top, slightly left of middle, with a pink center!

As long as I can remember, we’ve colored eggs by gathering coffee mugs and placing the little dye capsule in each mug. We added vinegar, water, and the boiled egg and waited for the eggs to turn different colors. Sometimes we dunked the eggs in different cups, which made them look psychedelic. This year, we tried something different with our grandchildren. We used the Eggmazing Easter Egg Decorator Kit. The egg spins around inside the contraption while the artist holds the marker, which dyes the eggs to make different designs. It was fun entertainment that lasted a long while. There were no cups to wash or a big mess to clean up afterwards.

Our grandkids were very proud of their creations. Papa and Grandma each got to color our own egg. We were happy to watch the kids have fun, but later next week, Papa and I will boil eggs and make our own!

Easter is the only time when it’s perfectly safe to put all of your eggs in one basket. ~Evan Esar

Mystery Solved!

Sunfish I Caught Last Summer

On a beautiful summer day many years ago, while we were staying at a lodge in northern Minnesota, my husband took the kids and me fishing. Earlier that day, we were busy throwing our lines over the side of the boat but it wasn’t enough to fish during the day. We also had to fish after dinner, because there was a dock close by and you have to use up as much bait as you can.

With the kids being the ages they were at the time, they had not mastered putting bait on or taking fish off the hook. I didn’t mind baiting the hook, but I rarely took a fish off a hook. Fish are slippery and poke you with their fins. Husband must have sensed how leery I was and took over those jobs.

I have a picture in my mind of Husband on the dock, walking back and forth, and weaving about our three children with bait in hand. He baited each one of their hooks, reminded them how to cast, and how to reel whatever they caught back in. He also reminded them to be sure to watch their hooks before they casted their line just to be sure no one was behind them. It’s not good to get the hook caught on anything or anybody.

As he danced around the dock, helping take fish off hooks and making sure the bait was on, he noticed that Katie wasn’t getting any bites. The bobber just stayed in one place.

“Katie, reel your line in. I wonder why you’re not getting any nibbles.” When we looked at the pole, Husband noticed that there wasn’t a hook at the end like there used to be.

”I wonder where your hook went,” Husband said to Katie. We didn’t see it laying around anywhere. Husband put a new hook on the line, got the worm situated and gave Katie the fishing pole. Katie casted and was back in business, catching more sunnies or crappies.

After about an hour of fun, we went back to where we were staying and settled in on the comfy sofa ready to watch a show. Husband got ready to settle in with the rest of us, and just as he sat on the sofa, he let out a loud scream. Husband was not one to scream, so we all looked his way with panicked looks on our faces. I wondered if we should call 911. Was he having a heart attack?

“I think I found Katie’s hook!” he told us, as we anxiously studied his face. Somehow, the hook had lodged itself on the seat of Husband’s pants without any of us witnessing the occurrence.

Mystery solved!

Forget injuries, never forget kindnesses.  ~Confucius

Expression of Smugness

While Staying with the Dogs, Bauer, a beagle and blue heeler mix that belongs to my son, seemed upset when I went outside without him one night. During that day, we got about an inch of snow – the feathery kind that floats away on a breeze. I kept the front door open, so we could peak through the storm window at each other. Bauer usually doesn’t like to be left alone but has been known to wander around the house by himself. Ever since we found him on top of the dining room table pawing at a tray of Christmas cookies one year, we make sure to keep an eye on him.

I waved and talked to him between each shovel of snow. When I looked up without seeing him there, it caused a flutter in my gut. By the time I dumped my next shovelful of snow, he reappeared with paws up against the window, his eyes pointed my way. Could it be that Bauer had a smug look on his face? It was as if he was happy with himself for some reason. After I finished clearing the snow, I went back into the house. Next, I got my boots, coat, hat, and mittens off and went into the family room.

Since we’ve always had female dogs, I was shocked to see a big wet spot on the table cloth where it falls down the side of the table. A little puddle was underneath. There was no way Lila, our lab, could have accomplished that feat. She’s too reserved and not equipped to do such a thing.

I wondered what Bauer was trying to tell me with his expression of smugness. I let him out the back just before I started shoveling. Perhaps he was upset because I didn’t let him join me out front. I thought I was doing him a favor by letting him stay in the warm house, since he’s not one that enjoys being out in the snow.

What could I do but throw the table cloth in the wash and clean up the mess? Maybe it’ll be best to have him join me in the snow piles next time.

There are as many ways of expression as there are moments in a day. ~Rose Wilder Lane

Staying with the Dogs

Whenever I see the little torn patch in the blue and white comforter, it makes me think of my grand dog, Bauer. Bauer is a beagle and blue heeler mix and lives with my son. I watched Bauer for five days during one of the coldest Januarys about seven years ago while my husband and son went on a trip to Florida. After the rush of the holidays, I didn’t think I would mind staying with the dogs. I took a lot of time off for Christmas and felt guilty about taking off more, so I stayed in Minnesota.

While at work, I thought about how I wouldn’t have to cook when I got home, because no humans would be there. I went to one of my favorite downtown lunch spots, which makes homemade Italian food. I rarely ordered the lasagna, because it’s quite large, but I thought how great it would be to eat half for lunch and go home and eat the rest for dinner. When I arrived home, two dog tails wagged wide while they jumped up to greet me. After I took off my outer layers, I carefully pulled out the white styrofoam container from my work bag and put it on the kitchen counter. The dogs took a quick trip outside, and I fed them both at the same time, in opposite corners of the kitchen. They have learned to respect each other’s space, so long as they get their food or treats at the same time, or more so when Bauer gets his food or treats first. Even though Lila, our lab, outweighs Bauer by at least 50 pounds, Bauer has a stance that lets others know who’s in charge.

As they munched away at their food, while eyeing each other closely, I opened up and looked through the mail. While walking over to the kitchen counter, where the delicious lasagna sat, Bauer raced ahead of me, jumped up, clawed the container, which caused it to fall to the floor. Since it fell so far, the container couldn’t help but open, and Bauer stood over the scrumptious feast, slurping up every last bite. ☹️ I stood there in awe and wondered how a little dog could jump so high and what would I get to eat for dinner.

Any other dog would have chucked it all back up, but Bauer has an iron gut. He’s gotten into my son’s refrigerator and eaten raw steak without any problems arising afterwards. Bauer likes to sleep in people beds, so I knew we’d be bunking together. I prayed he wouldn’t get sick. I slept pretty good even though I worried Bauer would suffocate since he likes to be under all the blankets. As far as I could tell, Bauer’s nose didn’t pop out once to get a good whiff of air. Lila was the smart one; she slept in the family room. Thankfully, the rest of the night went well, with only a few tears to the comforter, which happened when Bauer tried to get comfortable.

Staying with the dogs is a fun memory, but next time, I’m going along on the trip!

The dog wags his tail, not for you, but for your bread. ~Portuguese Proverb

Best Greeting Committee Ever!

I slowly drove down the bumpy alley on the way to my daughter and her family’s house. Kona’s barks echoed throughout the neighborhood the moment I turned into their driveway. Kona is their beautiful German Shepherd with a multicolored coat. Kona’s loud woof caused Jimmy and Jack, the dogs next door, to join along in the canine chorus.

“Hi, Kona,” I said, even though I didn’t have the door opened yet. In the distance, at the patio door, I saw my grandson opening and closing the door and jumping up and down at varying intervals. His arm briefly swung out the door in a wave. His little sister did her hopping up and down motion, while her mother tried to hang onto her in her arms. I’ve discovered that holding Granddaughter while she is jumping is not an easy task. Next time I looked, Granddaughter was mimicking Grandson’s hop, except her hop was from bended knees. It looked like her mom couldn’t hold onto her any more.

I opened the car door to see Kona by my side. She backed away and pointed her front legs towards me in a little jump. I got my stuff out, closed the door and headed towards the house. Usually, during this time of year, there would be lots of snow on the ground, but there wasn’t any. Kona did a little duty on the lawn, which she always does after company arrives. It’s good when the duty is on the lawn and not on the rugs in the house!

Kona escorted me towards the door, where I was hugged by Grandson. It was a grab at the knees sort of hug. I put down my stuff so I could give him a proper hug, as Granddaughter waited her turn. I gave my daughter a quick peck on the cheek and reached down to pick up Granddaughter. Granddaughter reached up to me with a little jump, both arms and hands pointed up. I picked her up and held her close as we smiled at each other.

I kissed her little cheek, and she said, “Grandma,” as soft as could be. I’ve heard her say Grandma two other times. How could my heart not jump for joy?

Best Greeting Committee Ever. ❤️

Jumping for joy is good exercise. ~Author unknown

First Turkey

Photo by Kranthi Remala on Pexels.com

My husband and I were newly married, when we invited my parents and brother over to host our first Thanksgiving.  I followed the directions, recalled other instructions learned until that point, and felt very proud.  Since Mom made wonderful Thanksgiving dinners, I copied her menu plan.  Just before our company was about to arrive, I thought it all looked good, after I peaked at the turkey browning in the oven.  It smelled delicious, especially when I opened the oven door and the steam wafted towards my face.  When I was younger, there were many times when Mom called me into the kitchen on Thanksgiving Day.  

“Mary Ann, come in here and watch me do this,” she’d say.  “I’m stuffing the bird!  You’ll need to know how to do this someday.”  Sometimes, I pretended I didn’t hear her, and she would have to come and find me from wherever I was hiding in the house.  Back then, I didn’t like looking at anything that used to be alive and was pale and unmoving.  Mom used to cut up chickens, and I would tell her to stop because she was hurting the poor little thing.  The sound of cracking bones made me feel nauseous.

“I can’t hurt it, because it’s dead,” she would tell me.  No smile accompanied those words, because cooking is serious business, even though Mom liked to giggle at most things.

“You will need to know how to do this,” she repeated.  I groaned and wondered why.  Why did she call me and not my brothers? The Thanksgiving mornings at the house where I grew up smelled like toast and simmering onions and celery.  Mom toasted the bread and tore it up into bite-sized pieces for the stuffing.

Yes, I see how the nails go in and how the string wraps around to keep in all the stuffing, I thought.  The way the string went reminded me of shoe laces.

The day I roasted my first turkey, I toasted bread too.  Now I use Pepperidge Farm bread cubes seasoned with onion and sage.  When I first started using those packets, it felt like I was cheating, but it worked out okay, and no one minded that it wasn’t bread that I personally put into the toaster.  As things moved along, the cooking made our house smell delicious too.    

When Mom, Dad, and Brother came over, I’m sure they told us how good everything smelled, but when Mom looked at the bird in the oven, she informed me that I had it upside down.  Again, no giggles came my way. I must have missed that part somewhere!  I pulled out the roaster and flipped the main course over.  It only had a little more time to roast.  After Husband carved it and we enjoyed our first bites, it all tasted flavorful – just like Mom’s.  Ever since that day, I roast the turkey breast side up.  I’m still not sure if it makes much of a difference.

To this day, when I get a chance to host Thanksgiving dinner, I use Mom’s menu plan.  Others may think that’s boring, but I find it to be a great comfort. It brings back memories of other blessed Thanksgivings I’ve been lucky to enjoy over the years.  Plus, I love that lime jello with cottage cheese, marshmallows, and cool whip that was probably popular in the 50s!

Today I am thankful for the memories Mom gave me when she taught me how to stuff a turkey. Happy Thanksgiving!

Thanksgiving is possible only for those who take time to remember; 
no one can give thanks who has a short memory. ~Author Unknown

“Love is… Sharing”

Photo by Pixabay on Pexels.com

Finding ripe raspberries growing on our raspberry bushes in the fall is a rare occasion. When my husband knocked on the door and stood in front of me with two plump raspberries in his hand, I was very surprised.

“Wow,” I said. “How many did you find?”


”Thank you! That’s love,” I said, as I savored each delicious one slowly.

The gesture reminded me of the little “Love is…” cartoons that used to appear in the newspaper back in the 70s. I used to clip them out and even have some tucked away with some of my other memorabilia.

Thanks for the love! ❤️ Next time I find fall raspberries, I will share them too. I hope. 😘

Love is… Sharing. ~ Kim Casali

Another Mile…

While on a walk the other day, our dog, Lila, acted like a puppy with the way she jumped about after my husband found a stick for her to fetch. A tiny thought came to me of how agile Lila is for her age of 11 years and that maybe we shouldn’t be playing fetch any more. As we watched her run happily through melting tufts of snow, I chased the thought from my mind. She looks great, I thought. That expensive dog food must be working its magic on her.

Not too much longer after that run, my husband and Lila came home after a quick jaunt, with Lila limping. It looked like something was bothering her front paw. No whines escaped from her during the incident where she was running and suddenly came to a stop. The quick halt must have been too jarring for her. We didn’t find any swelling or bumps on her legs, paws, or ankles. Since it was Sunday, we called the vet the next day. Betsy said to watch Lila for a day and call if it got worse. We waited until that evening and made an appointment for the following day. Even though Lila could climb up and down steps okay, it seemed her limp was getting worse, or we were imagining it was getting worse. Plus, we didn’t want to delay any repairs, if there was something that needed to be fixed.

Lila was excited to go for a car ride the next day. Lila’s tail slammed against the back of the car seat on the way to the vet. When we arrived, we saw this silly sign.

We called the office, and one of the techs came out to our car to get Lila. It felt strange because it was the first time we let Lila see the doctor by herself. People are not allowed in the office, due to the coronavirus.

A short time later, the doctor called to let us know Lila seemed all right, but he thought it was some sort of soft tissue issue and that perhaps arthritis was the cause of the limping. “She is getting older,” he said.

“How long do you think we need to wait before we take her out for a walk?” I asked.

“Why don’t you wait until Saturday, and take it slow,” Doc told us. We were told to only give Lila leash walks for the time being. The tech delivered our girl back to us, all wags and smiles. She got two treats and a bottle of pain killers, which have been helping her.

Lila and I took a very small walk the next day. Lila looked up at me when we got back to our front door. She gave me a look like, You’ve got to be kidding me. Is this all the further we’re going to go? I dropped her off at home, and continued on for a longer walk by myself. Not holding onto a leash with a dog at the other end felt awkward, when I walked without my faithful companion. It was a straight walk, with no stops, no sniffing, no pointing at squirrels or chipmunks, no head tosses to show me the birds, no picking up messes.

The next day, we went for a little longer walk – about a mile – because the limp was gone and has stayed away. Today we will go about another mile. Maybe next week we can go three. Every mile together is a gift. 🙂

Dogs’ lives are too short. Their only fault, really. ~Agnes Sligh Turnbull

“Sublime Chocolate Experience”

A big decision needed to be made when we stopped at the Great Lakes Candy Kitchen a few weeks ago: Do we get the handmade candy turtles or the walnut fudge? Since the store was out of the dark chocolate turtles, we got the fudge. It came in a little white box, wrapped in wax paper, with a small wooden knife. The top of the box was stamped with the name of the store in bright red letters. We cut little chunks out of the half pound, eager to see if it tasted as good as it looked. No one was disappointed when we enjoyed a little bite during our visit. The fudge lasted beyond lunchtime, but not much longer!

This very informative sign, let us know exactly where we were! ❤️

Due to restrictions, we were not allowed to enter the quaint-looking store but ordered from a walk-up window.

Many more bears were there to greet us on the other side of the building. Bear tracks lead us to a picnic table and a play house with a toy register.

It was a fun treat, and after each delicious bite, no one felt even a tiny bit of guilt!

Don’t wreck a sublime chocolate experience by feeling guilty. ~Lora Brody