I have never been a Bible packing Christian, and I rarely openly discuss my faith. But today as I cleaned out my purse I found a small card with this poem written by Emily Matthews. The card slipped out of a vintage Seiko watch instruction pamphlet that I found at my Mom's house.
Ten years ago I was sitting in this same theatre with just such enthusiastic Middle Schoolers. The American School of The Hague sent me this video this morning, and I decided to share it with my followers. Enjoy! For video CLICK HERE
When I first began this Wetcreek Blog, I dutifully published all of the handwritten recipes my dear mother wrote in a cookbook she especially made for me in October 1990 (almost exactly 25 years before her death on October 20, 2015).
But she didn't reveal all of her Plain Cooking secrets. And now it is too late to get her recipe.
Maybe it was our own fault for not letting her know that we really thought her Christmas Date Nut Roll Candy was her best holiday treat.
One thing is for sure, no one else's recipe will ever be as good as Momma's.
Today I made a veggie casserole to take to a senior citizens Christmas luncheon. My hub was feeling "under the weather," so we skipped that event. For my lunch, I decided to taste what I had prepared. The casserole itself is nothing to write home about, but the crust topping is outstanding.
Here is my recipe for Pecan, Panko, and Butter Crust Topping;
(Simple, Simple, Very Simple)
1/4 cup salted butter
1 cup Panko bread crumbs
1/4 -1/2 cup broken pecans
First, melt the butter in a skillet.
Add the Panko and broken pecans.
Stir well and allow to get hot for 1 minute.
Then sprinkle the topping on your favorite veggie casserole, macaroni and cheese, tuna casserole, or steamed veggies. Bake casserole as usual, but make sure the pecans do not burn.
Give it a try.
(Next time I try this crust, I'll add Italian herbs/spices.)
I am finally walking, but climbing stairs up to my junk room is still a dream of 2016. I can't even go up to bring down the Christmas ornaments or to check to see if I am the guilty one who has been hiding my Mammaw's unfinished quilt top.
Oh, well (as my dear mother always said).
So yesterday I went back over to my mom's house and brought home a box of Christmas ornaments that no one seems to have tagged. There is a fiber optic Christmas tree, a wreath with jingle bells, a few hand decorated ornaments, a garland, and lots of twinkling lights. That will probably be the extent of my decorating this year.
Oh, and I found a real Gurley Santa candle (never burned) and these twirling angels with one "dangle" missing.
More photos to follow after I "decorate."
Who says a plastic wreath isn't nice. This one looks good on my corner cabinet.
Between the old family photos and WWII ration coupons, I found this poem in my mother's keepsakes. I have "googled" a few key lines with no results, so this must be Momma's own work. Let me know, if I am mistaken. Now if I can just find an "artsy" niece or nephew to illustrate this poem.
A poem by Virginia Darline Ridge Chapman (1925-2015)
Mama and Papa Turtle were sitting on a log.
They were enjoying the sunshine when up jumped a Frog.
The Frog croaked, "Move over and give me some sun!"
"No," said Papa Turtle, "that wouldn't be much fun."
"We've saved this place for a friend or two-
"We didn't save this place just for you!"
The Frog was unhappy so he took a big leap.
He jumped so high and landed so deep.
He landed upon a big lily pad.
He looked around and was so very sad.
The Turtles looked over and saw him sitting there.
At least I am finished with sorting through my mom's "things" that she left behind. I still have a few boxes of photos, diaries/journals, and personal odds and ends that I just need to peruse over lots of cups of hot tea, but the sorting has been finished, on my part anyway.
We didn't all follow the rules for distribution that I as self-proclaimed matriarch had set up, but I think we are okay. I even saw this as an opportunity to return a few items to the collection that my Mom had given me in the last few years . Maybe another family member will appreciate them more than I.
As my hub and I were almost ready to leave Mom's house yesterday, my sweet sister-in-law handed me a bag of "fat quarters" she had given Mom in the last year with the hope that Mom would feel like putting together a quilt top. And look what I found inside:
Not one, but two Log Cabin squares. Completely pieced and sewn by hand!
Notice that the corners match, and the stitches are divine!
My sick mom could still piece quilt squares even at 90 years old! And entirely by hand!
With all of the atrosities happening around the globe, it almost seems irrelevant to write a blogpost about gift giving. But for many parts of that same globe, at this time of year folks are deep into thinking about or purchasing gifts for holidays.
What do I do concerning gift-giving? Well, to be honest, not much anymore. Maybe I picked that up from my Dutch hub who has never been a gift giver? Or maybe I find the whole concept of trying to find something suitable for giving is a mind-boggling experience? Maybe I am just too thrifty (read cheap!)? Or maybe I have seen and heard how too many gifts have been "regifted," returned to shops, or just stashed in the back of closets and drawers.
This week my two brothers, one sister-in-law, and my hub started sorting out my mom's home. Of course, we found some wonderful old and dear mementos of our youth and some of Momma and Daddy's treasures, but we also ran across quite a few items that were in the original boxes or wrappings and had never been used. Gifts from the three of us or our children to my parents that were completely useless and perhaps not even wanted.
As I collected some of those (still in the original packing) gifts I had schlepped across the Atlantic Ocean in overfull suitcases, I thought it might be a good time to give my holiday shopping advice.
1. Know your gift receiver's clothes/shoe size before purchasing any clothing. If it won't fit, it won't ever be worn! Plain and simple.
2. Know what colors your receiver likes/hates.
3. Find out what your receiver has really been needing (according to them, not you!).
4. Tell your other family members what you are planning to gift to the receiver. If it is an expensive item, they might chip in. If not, at least you can discuss if the item is really something that will be used and not left in the closet for someone to find in the future. (Side note: I once told my dad what I would be gifting everyone in our family, and he duplicated the entire list. I am still trying to figure out that one!!!)
5. Back to the "know your receiver," if you know they never do something (like serve hot tea), don't give them a gift (like a tea set) that will collect dust.
6. And just come right out and ask what gift the receiver would like and really use or enjoy having. Maybe it is time for adults, as well as kiddies, to write letters to Santa (or whatever) with gift requests.
I know some readers are raging at my suggestions, since gifts should be special and a surprise.
But one of the best gifts my dear mom ever gave me was a warm pair of gloves. They were just my size, just my color, just what I needed, and she decorated the wrapping to give me a hint of what would be inside. And I am sure they didn't stretch her budget.
Having spent the last 6 weeks "bound" to a wheelchair ( actually three different ones!), I have a new respect and compassion for wheelchair and rollator users.
But, then again, we all know that we should have special respect for those who have any disabilities. What I have noticed more than once lately is that most adults have been good learners. Remember when your mother told you it was impolite to stare at folks with disabilities? Well, I have noticed that we wheelchair users are pretty much "invisible" to the average adult.
Not even a kind "excuse me" when a huge broom hits my broken foot ( resting on the footrest of my wheelchair!) at the local beauty shop. Or a sharp bump on my wheelchair when it is rear-ended by a shopping cart at Lidl grocery store. And even hurtled over by a 6 foot tall airplane passenger who thought he could use my bulkhead leg room to advance his exit of the United flight.
So living the mobile life hasn't been easy out in public, but what about here at home at the Beltway Apartment?
Let's begin at the entrance to the building. Actually, let's begin at the back entrance. Even when I could walk without help, I needed help getting into the front door. The front entrance is several tall steps up with a hand rail that is several more steps next to the front door, so as a wheelchair user I have been delegated to go around back.
As all entrances are kept locked, a key is always necessary. And even standing to get to the lock may be necessary at the back gate that opens for automobiles. Or I would have to carry around the remote opener ( which I would definitely do!). The other back access next to the sport school is even more difficult. Two heavy gates must be opened with a key and maneuvered open while I roll through. Thus, difficult. But, at least the two rear access points are on ground level.
Then after a steep roll up to the building door, there is the threshold. It is virtually impossible to cross alone without stepping out of the chair, stepping across, and then lifting the wheelchair over the metal bump. Then there is the rubber mat on the inside of the door (which I am still trying to figure out how to keep it from smashing my foot or wheelchair). On the way to the lift (elevator in Am. English), the brick walk makes for a amusement park ride. No giggles here, I am afraid. Then there is the ride up two flights after the lift door smacks against the handles of my wheeled carriage.
Home free, you think. Nay! But the ride from the elevator to the first breezeway door is a piece of cake, since that pathway is made of low carpet tiles. If our neighbor lady has left the breezeway door open ( against the fire marshall's rules!), then I just have to step out of the chair, step over the metal threshold, and lift my wheelchair over. Next, the breezeway with rubber beehive mats leads to the next breezeway door threshold. Step out, step over, lift wheelchair over. Sweat!!!
Almost there! Carpet tiles around the corner and then unlock the door to the Beltway Apartment. One more time, step out, step over the threshold to the apartment, and lift the wheelchair into the foyer.
In the six weeks we have been here, I never left this apartment on my own! I never stepped in and out and over by myself.
Things were easier inside the spacious apartment, as long as I didn't have to go to use the bathroom or to the pantry/laundry room.
Each of those WC's (water closets) had thresholds, but fortunately I learned how to manage.
But why, oh why, did it seem like my mom always cooked spinach for our Halloween supper?
I know that you think that I am pulling at straws to find a blog topic today, but this spinach/Halloween thing has been on my mind for years.
Whether it is true or not that Mom served us spinach for supper before we went out for Trick or Treating is debatable, I am sure, but it must have happened at least once. Otherwise, why would I remember it? Or keep telling anyone who will listen that my mom cooked spinach for us on Halloween?
Besides our large American family with lots of nieces, nephews, and grand-nieces and grand-nephews, we have two blond Dutch "heartbreakers" who live in Germany. As you can see from the photo, they are ready for Halloween next weekend.
Wishing all of you pranksters a perfect Halloween on the 31st!
Nismo and Flip welcomed me to our son's home after my mom's funeral yesterday. If the rain and wind of Patricia allow it, I will be traveling back to my Dutch hub at the Beltway Apartment tomorrow.
This wheelchair and I have tested the airlines the last two weeks! Hopefully on November 10 the wheelchair can be packed up and left in The Netherlands, and I can get back to walking life in Louisiana.
This has been a vacation to write home about.
Wonder which family members will be interested in my travel tales like my mom always was?
You would think that spending 6 weeks in a wheelchair with a broken foot would give you plenty of time to blog. And it does give time! But if you do not do too much or go anywhere, there isn't much inspiration for blogging.
I have pretty much mastered the art of maneuvering around the apartment. We now know that if this situation ever happens again, we could live in this apartment. The only hinderances are the outside door threshholds, and there are solutions for that. And actually my in-laws (who were the original owners) had ramps installed everywhere, and we removed them when we moved in. How dumb was that?
But we do sometimes leave the apartment. And my hub is learning every single time how to make managing a wheelchair an easier task.
Saturday we were invited for afternoon tea at a friend's home. Long story short, my hub had bumped into his best high school friend's younger sister while getting a new lens for his glasses. M. recognized my hub (I think she thought he was my father-in-law!), shared a few family/friends memories, and invited us over to visit. So Saturday we went to M. and her partner's home and enjoyed a few hours of stories and remembrances of "life before Linda." It was indeed interesting to get another perspective on what life must have been like in the family over 40 years ago. M. is nine years younger than my hub, so her outlook was not always the way my hub had described things. Even family member relationships were different. This all made for a fun afternoon.
Before we arrived for our tea visit, we saw this
And we visited a Thrift Shop nearby and bought enough yarn to keep me supplied here from now until eternity, a "gently used" red suitcase, some kitchen baking tins, and a glass cake pedestal that may never hold an American style cake (since my hub hates them!).
Tomorrow we will head out for another drive in the country.
Last evening we watched a very, very interesting presentation by Swedish professor Hans Rosling concerning what we should know about the world population. When you have some "down" time, give this video a watch. Click here for facts about world population.
Before making our short trip by plane to Italy, one of my followers reminded me to "milk" the wheelchair part of my recent life. I laughed, but spending most of my waking hours confined to a wheelchair is no joking matter. I feel old, labile, and downright useless! And the labile and useless part seemed to influence our flights to and from Italy.
It all began with requesting wheelchair (our own) assistance before going to the airport in Weeze, Germany. When checking in very early, we were treated courteously with an offer to check in one of our carry-ons for free. Then a kind attendant helped us scurry through security. My wheelchair even got "dusted" for drugs, and I got the "pat down." Then we waited with the other passengers for boarding the plane, having read that we would be last and being told we would be first. Next we rolled up the Priority Lane and were "rolled" onto the passenger bus. When the bus driver asked if I could take a few steps, I said, "No." [If I plan to get over this foot break, I have to keep insisting that I can't take any steps. So I have been consistent with this.]
The driver rolled out the ramp and zoofed me up onto the bus with the other passengers. When we got to the plane, he zoofed me off. Then the real fun began! When there was a lull in the passengers ascending the stairs to the plane, I was whisked out of my wheelchair and secured with a seatbelt in a narrow airplane aisle wheelchair. Slowly, but surely. I ascended the stairway (I was facing away from the plane) as the chair with special wheels pulled me up into the plane. Inside the aircraft I was asked if I could take a few steps. "No," was my answer, and I was rolled to my seat. In the meantime, my own wheelchair was quickly folded and stashed into the belly of the plane.
When we arrived in Bergamo about 1 1/2 hours later, I expected a similar experience. But this time I traveled in the airplane wheelchair to a movable lift and met up with my own wheelchair. After a brief ride across the tarmac in the lift, we were brought down to ground level and then I was wheeled through baggage claims and out to the rental car bus .
Super service, Ryanair!
The return flight yesterday was just as well orchestrated as the flight last week. This time instead of a couple of bus ramps, a strong man said, "Don't worry, madam," and managed my wheelchair up and down bus entrances. And I had the same buckled up ride on the staircase, but this time going down and in the freezing rain.
Ryanair, you get a 10+++ in ratings for handling wheelchairs and passengers!!!
How you can do all that for a flight ticket that costs only 9.99 (10) Euros per person is a puzzle to me?
But I am game!
I will fly Ryanair again, but hopefully without a wheelchair!
We have been here one week today, and my Dutch hub has taken up my walking challenge without even realizing it. He hasn't stopped running errands and pushing me around (this time really "pushing me around"in a wheelchair) since we arrived. It is a shame that I left my pedometer at home. He could have racked up some good steps for me!
Today we left the Beltway Apartment for an appointment with our "eye guy." My eyeglass prescription from a year ago is still good, but my husband needs a new lens. After the eye exams and lens order were made, we "pushed" on over to the supermarkets. I usually love grocery shopping, but since my mobility in the kitchen and in the supermarket is slow and limited, my hub has taken on the shopping job. At the first store, he had only one item (my muesli) to buy, so he left me outside the jewelry store next door. After I checked out the silver bargains, I turned around to watch the passing shoppers going by me.
Immediately I remembered I was in The Netherlands. Although I had backed my wheelchair up against the jewelry store wall between two parked bikes, pedestrians were walking incredibly close to my broken foot.
Now who could miss that Smurf leg? Well, a couple of shoppers came within an inch of knocking my broken foot off the wheelchair footrest.
My husband is quite excited that I am getting some practice in this "zero turn" procedure. I think he is ready for me to share the grass cutting chores in Wetcreek, and this wheelchair driving is getting me right into the groove.
If all goes well, we will go outside this afternoon in the warmish Dutch sunshine to try out my newly acquired skills. I just need to find a pair of gloves to protect my hands from blisters and, of course, sharp and tight corners.
Don't need anymore bruises. My left leg has a lifetime supply!
And I have been mending this "found" vintage quilt while I am mending.