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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

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Right Out of a Story Book

Traveling from Interlaken to Lucerne

How lucky we were to be able to travel along and have each step of our trip be more beautiful than the last. Now, even a short time after our travels, while looking at pictures, it’s like every photo was taken straight out of a story book.

As you can see from the pictures above, the countryside is quite beautiful. We traveled by train from Grindelwald back to Interlaken and then to Lucerne.  Lucerne was the biggest town we visited, yet we were able to see a lot on our walks about town.

City of Lucerne

One great find was Lucerne’s parish church, the Church of St. Leodegar. It was built in parts during 1633 to 1639.  There certainly was a lot of detailed work to appreciate here.

A very nice day of weather greeted us when we went on a boat ride on Lake Lucerne. Guests can listen to an audio tour where they learn about the castle, dragons, and some interesting legends.

Lake Lucerne

We enjoyed our stay at the Wilden Mann, a historical hotel that has been in business since 1860. The other hotels where we stayed had been around for a while too, but those rooms had been updated and modernized.  This hotel kept its historical flare.

Lucerne Wilden Mann Swiss Restaurant

Lucerne Wilden Mann Swiss Restaurant

The Wilden Mann has two restaurants: French and Swiss.  We had dinner at the Swiss restaurant with traditional Swiss furnishings.  The waiter took our order and then delivered bread and a tiny salad with fresh tomatoes and cheese.  I also had the asparagus cream soup, which was not super thick, and came with a bit of mango salad.  The meatloaf was served with a red wine sauce, mashed potatoes, and asparagus.  My husband had the sausage with shoe string potatoes, and onions wrapped in bacon.  We topped it all off with a chocolate cake dessert which was served with strawberry “soup” and topped with whipped cream and carmelized sugar.

Though it looked like our trip was straight out of a story book, the best part was exploring all these little towns and going on an adventure together. It was a great way to celebrate a special wedding anniversary.  🙂

An anniversary is a time to celebrate the joys of today,
the memories of yesterday, and the hopes of tomorrow. ~Author unknown

Anne Frank’s Hideaway Home

It was a cool and windy day when my husband and I went to tour Anne Frank’s House and Museum. Thankfully, the sun shined down from a light blue sky to warm us. There were many people standing in line with their previously ordered tickets in hand. A group of about 20 people enter the museum in 15-minute intervals. Right now, tickets need to be ordered on-line 60 days prior to the tour because there is a renovation in progress.

263 Prinsengracht

When we first entered the bright museum, we each were handed a monitor for our guided tour. Every room has a sensor on the wall. A recording on the monitor gives details of each room plus other historical events about World War II. After seeing a few rooms in the museum, we entered the first floor of 263 Prinsengracht. The first floor is the warehouse of the spice company that Anne’s father, Otto Frank, and his partner, Hermann van Pels, set up. We climbed the narrow and steep wooden stairs to get to the second floor, which was the office space.  There we saw a beautiful view of the canal below. At the end of the hallway is the bookcase that hides the Secret Annex. The rooms were mostly empty because the Nazis removed the items after they captured the eight people in hiding. There were a few personal items on display that included: Mr. Frank’s Charles Dicken’s book – he was teaching himself how to read English; Margot’s, Anne’s sister, writings from her Latin correspondence course; and copies of Anne’s diary. The original diaries were not on display due to the renovation.

Each room has a photograph on the wall of what it looked like when it was furnished. The first room we entered, after going through the door that was camouflaged as a bookcase, was where the Franks stayed during the day. Before we entered Anne’s room, we noticed the wall where Mr. Frank marked the growing heights of his daughters. Pictures of movie stars were pasted to Anne’s bedroom wall, just as she left them. There is a small bathroom on this floor where they also did laundry. Up the next level is a small kitchen area that everyone shared, and Mr. and Mrs. van Pels also used that area as their living quarters. Peter’s room is adjacent to the kitchen and the walls are decorated with photos of movie stars that Anne also pasted there. From Peter’s room, we could see the steps to the attic. The attic is closed off with Plexiglas at the ceiling. A tilted mirror gave us a view of the place where Anne liked to go to get fresh air and look at the sky and trees.

The exit took us to the museum store, and as we walked down the stairs to exit the museum, there is a giant portrait of Anne on the wall. One can’t help but think about the sweet girl and others like her and her family. Even though we know the outcome, a person’s heart sinks when they read the last sentence in Anne Frank’s diary: “ANNE’S DIARY ENDS HERE.” When my 13-year-old self read The Diary of a Young Girl, I never thought my older self would visit her hideaway home. I was fascinated with the diary back then and felt I could relate to some things she was going through. Familiar things such as how she got along with her family and friends and how she appreciated the outdoors. Anne’s story stayed with me.

I recently read the book and was amazed by how great a writer Anne was. Anne described her surroundings and circumstances so well. Not only her emotions came through, but how she loved and how she thought she didn’t love some people. Anne was wise beyond her years in the ways she understood humankind.  Of course, Anne had bad days – who could blame her with being stuck where she was – but she mostly managed to stay optimistic and hopeful while she was in hiding for those two years. Most likely her positive attitude was due to having her diary. Anne wrote, “When I write, I shake off all my cares.”

At first, Anne wrote her diary for herself, but later she decided she would like to write a book about the war based on her diary. She edited her diary many times as she was going to use it as a reference. Immediately after the Franks, van Pelses, and Fritz Pfeffer were arrested, the secretaries, Miep Gies and Bep Voskuijl, who worked in the office, found Anne’s diary and held onto it until after the war. Mr. Frank was the only one of the eight to survive the camps. In the late 1950s, the house was going to be torn down for a new development, but many people in Amsterdam campaigned against the demolition. The house was preserved and turned into a museum which opened in 1960. The Anne Frank House is the third most visited museum in the Netherlands with 1.2 million visitors every year.

After the war, Mr. Frank worked at getting Anne’s diary published and it has been read by people from all over the world. Mr. Frank answered thousands of letters that he received from readers of the diary, and he concluded each letter with: “I hope Anne’s book will have an effect on the rest of your life so that insofar as it is possible in your own circumstances, you will work for unity and peace.”

Being in the Secret Annex was a surreal experience for me because I could not believe I was actually where I was at the time. Even though it made me feel heavyhearted, I am glad I was able to visit Anne’s hideaway home. That visit will help Anne’s story stay with me all the more.

How wonderful it is that nobody need wait a single moment
before starting to improve the world. ~ Anne Frank

Jell-O Soup

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When I was a little kid, Mom used to take me to the Forum Cafeteria in downtown Minneapolis for lunch. Sometimes we would meet one of her friends or it would just be the two of us.

“Mom, I want a hamburger. What do they call it here?”  I would always ask, my nose barely reaching the counter while I pointed up at the tray of patties.

“Tell them you want ground beef,” Mom would say. It was a deliciously seasoned patty that came with mashed potatoes, gravy, and a vegetable.

“Make sure you order the Jell-O, too,” Mom would remind me. The Jell-O came in evenly cut squares, shaped like a brownie.  They put the Jello-O in its own separate bowl.  We carried our trays over to one of the little tables close to the cafeteria line and were able to see the front entrance.  The place was always abuzz with clanking dishes and echoing conversations.  It wasn’t only a good place to eat; it was a great place to visit to look at the Art Deco decor.  The floor was black and white checkers, the lights sparkled down towards us, and the decorative mirrors surrounded us.

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The Saxe Bros. of Milwaukee built the bulding in 1914. The Saxe Theater was intended to be the best theater in the country to watch motion pictures.  By 1916, the theater name changed to Strand.  Then by 1929, the Forum Cafeteria Co., of Kansas City, signed a lease and converted the space into a restaurant.  The Forum Cafeteria was in business from 1930 until 1975.  It re-opened under many different names after 1975, as a disco or other restaurants.  An article in the StarTribune gives a good history of the places that tried to make a go of it after the Forum Cafeteria closed.

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This photo was taken after a renovation.

Even though I appreciated the Art Deco at an early age, the best part of the experience was when Mom and I acted silly when we were eating lunch. It was the only place where we took mouthfuls of Jell-O squares and swished it around to make Jell-O soup.  Even though the giggles escaped while we swished, we kept all that Jell-O inside.

Mom and Me Picture

Little memories like that can make your day a happy one.

Mom, when thoughts of you are in our hearts, we are never far from home.
~Author Unknown

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.

Sparkling Spring

 

Eighteen inches of snow is never a welcomed sight, especially in the spring. Memories of last weekend, when the snow fell on us, lingered in my mind yesterday morning.  It felt like winter was never going to leave.  That snow was heavy and swirled about in the blowing wind.  It blanketed everything around and made me dread it even though it left sparkling flakes in the night.  Those sparkles would have appeared more beautiful early in the winter instead of early in the spring.  It felt awkward to have to stay in during a blizzard when all winter long Lila and I have been going for long walks on Saturdays.

Yet, not everyone was disappointed by the four letter word that begins with the letter “S.” Lila loved it.  Even though the snow was all the way up to her belly, she ran and jumped around like she was going through an obstacle course.  As she came back into the house, she ended up bringing a bunch of the snow along with her.  The flakes clung to her black fur.  She must have liked the cool feeling it gave her because she didn’t shake it off.  Lila tends to walk in the snow when we go for our winter walks.

After Lila and I left the house for our walk at 8:30 yesterday morning, the birds greeted us with happy songs. (We didn’t hear a peep out of any birds last weekend.)  The sun was peaking over to warm us and the bright snow spotted the grass making us wonder if winter was still holding on.  The temperature was 30 degrees.  We still had to trudge through some snow piles when we walked to the path.  The more we walked, the warmer it got.  My winter jacket, hat, and mittens were no longer needed, and I tied my jacket around my waist.  Others walking around the park had been more confident in the weather and wore lighter clothing.  The sun was warmer than I thought, and the wind was nowhere to be found.  It got to be 40 degrees by the time we got back home.

In spots, the green grass sprung out at us. Some trees had buds to show us.  Cardinals chirped a lovely tune to us.  Canadian honkers honked at us.  Robins hopped close to us.  Other birds dove in and out of trees around us.  Squirrels hid from us.  Wild turkeys flew up into a tree branch to get away from us.  The day brought us temperatures in the 60s.  It looks like all these things in nature think spring is sparkling through to leave winter behind.  I guess I think so too?  Whatever happens next, Lila will be happy.

Under the giving snow blossoms a daring spring. ~Terri Guillemets

That’s Worth a Lot!

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Have you had to assemble anything lately – something that came with instructions? Did you notice that the instructions only come with pictures and a few names of the items that are inside the box? I find that not having words in the instructions to be confusing. If I can’t figure out the pictures, I end up watching a tutorial on YouTube. I’m glad there’s YouTube, but really, why can’t they include some words on the instructions to help us assemble our project?

Our lives would be so different, if we didn’t know how to read. The majority of my days are spent reading and writing at my job, and when I’m done with that, I pull out a book or my cell phone and read things from there. Plus, it’s the things you don’t think about every day that we’re reading that are so helpful. I’m glad to be able to read signs, recipes, patterns and so many other things.

Dad said he taught all of us kids how to read, and I want to thank Dad and my teachers for helping me. Statistics vary on what the literacy rate is because there are so many different factors to consider, but one site said one in 10 people in the world do not know how to read. When I was small, I needed extra help with reading, and I’m grateful I got that help.

Summer school was fun when I went the summer after first grade. I vaguely remember that there were about 12 of us. Besides working on our reading, we made time for playing, which is the part I remember best. Our summer teacher was our wonderful music teacher. Back then, we read the look-say readers Dick and Jane which used the whole word method of reading. Phonics hadn’t been introduced to us yet.

When my class got to second grade, we started getting the book order forms from Scholastic. There were so many books to choose from the colorful thin paper forms. When our paperback book orders arrived, it was such an exciting day. The books were bound together with a rubber band with our book orders on top. That’s when I learned that books are magical and can carry us off to different times and places to meet extraordinary or not so extraordinary people. The reader knows they read a good one when they get to the last chapter and feel sad that the story is coming to an end. It can be like saying good-bye to a good friend that you’re not going to see any more.

Pictures might speak a thousand words, but wanting to read the fun books helped us to learn how to read the other books. That helped us to read everything else, and that’s worth a lot!

The worth of a book is to be measured by what
you can carry away from it. ~James Bryce