Wednesday, August 31, 2011


And where am I?  I am actually sitting in my Nonny chair  in my living room, laptop on my lap, coffee on the end table, GMA news on the TV, but with my mind on the road to Wisconsin.  My three sisters and one brother are all on their way to a great aunt's funeral, but I am not.  Oh, I certainly had plans to go also, but last night after supper, I developed a headache and a stomach issue.  It wasn't long before I knew that the 4 hour trip wasn't going to happen, and notified the sisters to head out without me this morning.  I am missing not only the time with my sisters, but the opportunity to visit with my second cousins, my aunt and cousins, and long time friends.  I am feeling better this morning, but still nursing a bit of a headache.

But that's not exactly what I mean by where I am today.  What I'm talking about is where my mind is residing these days.  It is in 1961!  A few days ago I wrote  that I was working on my high school reunion gathering taking place next month.   I have sent out a questionnaire and am gathering the resulting info into a little booklet to give everyone at our Saturday evening dinner.  And in doing so, I am reminded of so many things that happened fifty years ago!  The memories involving our little close knit high school class are overtaking my whole life these past few days, and I feel I'm living in the past.  In 1961 to be exact.

So yesterday I started researching the top events of 1961.  Some of these things are ingrained in my mind, some of them are long forgotten, but all came back loud and clear as I googled them and read about them.  Of course we all remember (or those of us who are OLD remember) that John F. Kennedy was our president.  The population of the US was less than 184 million, and the national debt was 292.6 billion!  A first class postage stamp was 4 cents and unemployment was 5.5%.  This next fact got me......The Berlin Wall was built!  Thank goodness that's gone now!  The Bay of Pigs took place, the US broke diplomatic relations with Cuba, OPEC was constituted, and the Soviet Union put Yuri Gagarin into orbit, followed by our own first astronaut, Alan Shepard, taking his first ride 116 miles high on his 302 mile trip into space.  I remember!  Yes, I remember each of these things!  Especially vivid is the first space shot.  Our school  at the time was a  4 year high school and a 2 year junior college, with dorms, a recreation room, and one TV set!  I remember we were excused from class to go to the rec room to peer at a snowy black and white TV screen to watch the huge news story - the United States was entering the space race - starting out in second place to the Soviet Union who had already put Yuri Gagarin into orbit.
I suppose the more important things to me during my senior year when I was 16 and 17, were the entertainment events.  The top movies were Breakfast at Tiffany's, The Hustler, West Side Story, and the Academy Award winner, The Apartment.  Top tunes were Tossin' and Turnin' by Bobby Lewis, and the Grammy winner, The Theme from a Summer Place, by Percy Faith.  That was my favorite!

 The Nobel Peace Prize was awarded to Dag Hammarskjold, and the Pulitzer Prize for fiction went to Harper Lee for her one and only book, To Kill a Mockingbird, which to this day remains one of my most beloved books. 
It was a very good year!

Saturday, August 27, 2011


Two weeks ago a dear friend lost her mom after a very short illness.  It was an unexpected death and a sad funeral.  This morning we attend the funeral of a sweet lady I have known for 60 years!  Yes, 60 years!  I was a very little girl when I first met her.  She had just celebrated her 85th birthday and had just published a book of her memories.  She was killed when she pulled out on the highway in front of a truck.  It was a very unexpected death, as she was a healthy, vibrant woman, appearing and acting much younger than her 85 years.  It was a large funeral, filled with her family and many friends.  Last night we received word that our great aunt had passed away.  I'm not sure of her exact age, but she was in her 90's.  Aunt Lillian had been ill recently, so this death was not as unexpected as the last two.  I don't know when the funeral is, but we'll be heading to Wisconsin in the next couple of days.  I need to hug my cousin.

And these flowers are for my friend Linda who tells me she loves petunias!  Hugs, Linda!  Hope your head feels better after your clunk on the back of the neck!

Wednesday, August 24, 2011


I spent the morning in the kitchen.  You can just call me Helen Homemaker, Betty Crocker, or Paula or Ree!  I made a wonderful potato leek soup, and I thought of Paula and Ree because it's made with both butter and cream in addition to the chicken broth, leeks, potatoes, onions, celery,  thyme, and parsley.  Yummmmm!  Awesome if I say so myself.
So for lunch we had the potato leek soup, Not Rye bread still warm from the oven.  And just made blueberry and peach jams.  As I said before, yummmmmmmm.

I have 6 half pint jars of the blueberry and the peach jams to put in the freezer.  I also have three quarts of the potato leek soup to put in the freezer.  The loaf of bread is half gone.  Not going in the freezer.  I'll just make another loaf tomorrow.

Oh my goodness!  What horrible lighting!

I love the jewel tones of jams and jellies.  (That is not mouse's chia seeds!)   Speaking of jewels...........

......this is #2 granddaughter, Katie.  Isn't she beautiful?  Oh, Clayton, her husband, is beautiful too, don't you think?

And this little gem is Anna, #14 grandkid, with her cat.  JB.  Yup, Justin Bieber.

And a gem from my back yard.  It's a beautiful day in Minnesota.  Hope you had a good lunch.  We did.  Everything was home made and gluten free.  Don't ask about the fat and calories.

Thursday, August 18, 2011


Recently I have been spending time working on my high school reunion that is coming up in the middle of September.  You now know how old I am......I graduated 50 years ago in 1961.  I was 17.  Yup, I am now 67.  Some days I feel ancient, but other days I marvel that so much time has passed. Impossible that 50 years has gone by!  And I am beginning to get excited about our reunion.

A few words of explanation.  The college where I worked for 18 years is the same school where I attended high school and junior college.  The high school was discontinued 40 some years ago, and the junior college has become a full 4 year BA degree granting institution instead of the junior college that I attended.  So this place has been in my life for many, many years, and some of my friends from high school have also been in my life for many years. And it's a family place.   My dad taught there, my husband attended there and worked there for almost 25 years.  And his parents both worked there. Five of our children and two granddaughters attended there, as did my siblings and many of Ernie's siblings.

I volunteered to send out letters and a questionnaire to my classmates, and then to put the responses into a small booklet that will be available at our Saturday evening dinner.  I am having so much fun, reading the responses, remembering each person, wondering what they look like today, and hoping each and every one can make it.  After all we were a small class.  I don't remember the exact number, but it was about 25.  Yes, that's right.  25 in my high school graduating class!  And I am hoping everyone can make it, although I already have heard from a few that say they won't be able to come.  I am getting excited!

Have you changed since high school?  I had dark brown hair, now it's white.  I had eyebrows, now they are sparse and very light.  I've never been skinny, but I am less so now!  This is my high school graduation picture. 
Most of us wore a black sweater for our pictures.  Many of us wore a circle pin.  Many of us also wore our hair in a pageboy. The guys wore suits. Today everyone strives for a unique picture, the more different the better. Pictures are taken at the lake, in the car, on a tractor, in a uniform, on a horse, or on a railroad track.   Back in the day it was all about being the same.  And all pictures were head and shoulder shots with the eyes looking off to the side.  I like the variety of today's pictures much better!

We have two days of activities planned for our reunion weekend.  I hope we can have an appearance by two of our favorite teachers.  We have planned a get together on Friday evening for those who have arrived in town, and we will have a dinner on Saturday evening.  I plan to have my camera with me at all times!

Wednesday, August 17, 2011


Yup!  The MPG readout right in the center says 59.1!  Yay me!  Love my new car!

Sunday, August 14, 2011

We sure have a lot of visitors to the back yard.  Especially on the ground, under the feeder that the squirrels keep messing with!
This morning in Minnesota was a moist one, and heavy fog covered a lot of our state.  Our back wetlands area was almost spooky looking, and then add in the
cobwebs that decorated the trees, it seemed we were getting ready for Halloween already!
You can see that the evergreen are dripping with moisture in addition to the cobwebs.
But the fog and moisture burned off with the bright sun,, and it has turned into a lovely, sunny day.
All too soon this pretty scene will be covered in white!

Thursday, August 11, 2011


We have accomplished much in the past two days, but still have lots of work ahead of us.

We've gone from this
 To this.  This spot, about 6 X 10, will get a yard of cement and will enlarge the patio quite a bit. 

The spot below, under the kitchen window, went from this
to this.  I'll put the iris, phlox, lilies, peonies, and other perennials here.

The area on the slope that used to look like this has become

this.  I think we took out seven overgrown shrubs here.  And now I can see the gorgeous spruce trees!
But now we have this
and this
and an aching back!
In spite of the messy yard and the sore muscles, I think we are going to love the results.

Monday, August 08, 2011


We have done nothing with the yard since we moved here in May except to set some pots of flowers around, but there is most definitely plenty of work to do.  I'll post some before photos here, and hopefully can post some after photos in the not too distant future.  Of course the big test will be next spring when things bloom.

Okay, first of all, the blooming things I'm speaking dear friend, Charlie, is cleaning up her flower beds and splitting some of her perennials.  She offered me the plants she culls out, iris, day lilies, peonies, phlox, hostas, and rhubarb!  I am so excited!  Those are my favorite yard flowers, reminding me of my childhood down in Iowa.  Charlie wrote that she'll be bringing them over on Labor Day weekend.  Okay, Marge, you'd better get busy!  There is a lot of work to do!

Do you think these bushes are a bit overgrown?  And they are pretty old and not very attractive anymore.  We are going to pull these out, and then cement the bare space in to enlarge the patio space. 

Ernie has hacked away at these two bushes, but they are also overgrown and ugly and will be removed.  This will be a flower bed to hold some lovely iris, lilies, and phlox, right under my kitchen window.

This another view of the first bushes I told you about.  Pulling them out and pouring another cement slab there will double our little patio space. 

The corner of our part of the lot is also filled with some overgrown shrubs, and they will come out to make another flower bed.

And this spot will really change!  This is on a slope leading down to the swampy wildlife area behind us.  Those spruce trees are at the bottom edge of our lot.  We will pull out these five huge overgrown bushes and make a tiered vegetable garden.  And we'll have a better view of the spruce trees where the cardinals like to hang out! 

Almost every night we sit on this little patio off the kitchen and have a glass of wine before dinner.  We watch the birds enjoy the treats we put out for them. 
Or laugh at them while they take a little bath

They're fun to watch, even if they are just blackbirds!

And we enjoy the pots of flowers that I have put out or
hung on the walls, or
in the trees.

I think we have a good week to get some of this done, as the temps are changing from the 90's we've "enjoyed?" for weeks, to the lovely 70's.  Soon as the front goes through, with maybe a little storm, we should have lower humidity and cooler temps.  I can't wait!

Wednesday, August 03, 2011


Hello!  I've been gone for a few days.  In fact, we put 900 miles on the new car this weekend.  On Saturday morning we decided to head to Grand Forks to visit son Lenny, wife Connie, and grandkid Sammy.  We surprised them on Sunday morning and spent a very fun filled day together.  Sammy has grown so much!  After having a breakfast/brunch, we went shopping for Transformers, and then went to a park that had this water playground.

 The kids were sure having a ball.  Looked like it was a nice cool way to spend a hot summer day.

Of course Sammy had to play with his new Transformers a bit too.
And I'm excited to say that the new car performed admirably.  We are pleased.  And a couple of quilt shops along the way were pleased that we made the trip, too!

This morning we arose at 2:30 and picked daughter Kari up at 3:30.  We delivered her to the MSP airport for her trip to NACAC in Denver.  Then we came home and took a nap.

This afternoon I baked a loaf of gluten free bread.  Remember the bread I was making last winter from the Artisan Bread in Five Minutes a Day cookbook?   And then we went to Arizona and I started eating gluten free.  Well, I also have the Healthy Bread in Five Minutes a Day cookbook, and I finally tried one of the recipes.  I've been using a recipe my daughter found and hadn't gotten around to trying this one.  Boy, am I glad I finally did!  It is excellent!  I just made a small boule and the rest of the dough is in the frig to use in the next few days.

It is at least as good as the artisan bread I was making........maybe, dare I say it, even better?  So I guess hubby will be getting his homemade bread daily again......even if it's gluten free.  Judging by the three pieces he had for supper tonight, I don't think he minds a bit!