The View

Wednesday, September 22, 2021

Transition from Summer To Fall

The ending of summer and the beginning of fall brings many chores to be accomplished.  It means putting away the porch furniture, making sure our heating systems are in good shape and bringing all those beautiful plants indoors.  I call it a chore because I never know where to put them all, and I know they won't look as lush and healthy as they do after a summer with proper temperatures and humidity.  I just hope I can make them survive through the winter.


Another thing I do (and it really isn't a chore either) is to go to the cemeteries to pick up the flower baskets that get placed there every spring.  I still put flowers on my parents', my grandparents', my great grandparents' graves and an unmarried aunt and uncle of mine.  It is something my parents took pride in, and I continue to do it although not to the extent they did.  

This fall my daughter went with me for the cemetery visit.  The cemeteries are a two hour drive, and it was nice to remember and tell stories of relatives to my daughter, many of whom she never met.  A friend of mine reminded me to start writing some of those stories down because a lot of them will die with me.  This was evident in the old section of one of the cemeteries.  Only one other grave had flowers in that section.  A lot of the stones have eroded away and can't even be read.  I am sure there are no living relatives for many of those souls.

The other cemetery we visited is out in the country.   It is a small serene place that felt very calm and comforting.  My mother's father, mother, grandmother, grandfather and her sister are buried in this area.  Her only remaining brother passed away almost three years ago and his family placed a beautiful stone near the family plot.  As long as his wife is alive, they will keep the ashes.  Then they both will be buried in this location.  I take a basket of flowers there every year and in the past have tried to plant some perennials and even a lilac bush or two.  I planted hostas which got eaten immediately by the deer.  I planted irises which lived but only bloom for a short period of time and the lilac bushes disappeared.  They probably died or got cut down somehow.  My parents would be so sad.  Every year they would take several hours cleaning up the area, raking out the weeds and then put down a new layer of white rock.  Hopefully next spring I can go in with a plan to bring this area back to looking fresh and loved.


While we were there, my daughter noticed a bronze flag holder with an emblem in back of my grandmother's stone and facing away.  I never met her.  My mother's mom died in 1938 two weeks before she turned 50. It is the exact age my oldest daughter is now.  My grandmother had given birth to ten children, and my mom was the second youngest.  She was only thirteen when her mom died.  She had to be strong and grow up fast.  I hadn't noticed this bronze emblem before.  It says RNA and In Memoriam.


We noticed a couple others in the cemetery.  Neither of us had any idea what it was.  After a google search, I found out.  It was from the RNA or the Royal Neighbors of America.  "Royal Neighbors members have been volunteering and doing good things in their local communities for more than 125 years.  Through their programs, they help stimulate volunteerism in the neighborhoods where their members live, work, and play." 

I don't know the real story of why my grandmother had this on her grave.  With ten children and no modern conveniences, I can't imagine she had a lot of free time to volunteer.  I do think communities were very close and helped each other out.   I am so proud that the women in my family have always been so strong.   Apparently RNA is still active to this day.  

My daughter and I had a wonderful day even if it revolved around people who had passed away, and we had the best lunch ever....A & W Root Beer floats and french fries.  

From the website:  "Royal Neighbors of America (RNA) - A non-profit fraternal membership organization that offers life insurance, annuities and Medicare supplement for women.  Back in 1895 when women couldn't vote, couldn't own property, and weren't allowed to own life insurance, nine women founded Royal Neighbors of America.  It is one of the largest women-led life insurers in the nation with a message that remains important and relevant today--empowering women to better their lives through financial protection solutions and opportunities to give back to their communities.  F.E.C.M.U. stands for Faith, Endurance, Courage, Modesty and Unselfishness."

Friday, September 3, 2021

Cooking For One Is Not Fun

After raising a family and cooking nearly every meal for many many years, the adjustment to cooking for two wasn't that easy.  Back in the day, we rarely went out for dinner.  It just wasn't done.  I am old and as hard as it is to believe, there weren't that many fast food or specialty restaurants.  Going out was a special treat.  Not anymore, most people eat out often, although the Covid 19 quarantine and mandates for masks have changed that somewhat.   Rather than cook at home, many people still order food to go or buy pre-made meals.  

Now since my life has changed,  it's even harder to cook for one.  This is true on many levels.  First it isn't fun to eat alone so I lack motivation.   Next, why make a mess when the only reason to cook is to not starve to death.  Eating has become more of a survival exercise than anything else. And third, if I do cook something, the quantity is so large I have to eat it for days or freeze it.  At first I grabbed whatever I could get together but soon realized my diet wasn't very balanced.  I then bought prepared meals that could be heated up.  They were good, but even these were more food than I wanted so I would eat it for three days.  They were acceptable but a bit high in sodium and calories plus not that cheap for the quality of food. How many ways can you eat a chicken breast which is the most common pre-cooked meal?  If I want chicken, I can buy an entire pack of chicken breasts for the cost of one pre-made meal.  

They got me through the past several weeks but now it's time to rethink this food situation.  I am not there yet, but I do have a couple handy gadgets that I like and use often.  One is the egg sandwich maker which I blogged about years ago. Another is my instant pot which I also have written about many times and love.  I can make soup in a larger quantity and it freezes well.  The third small appliance I really love is a rice cooker.  The one I have cooks rice perfectly.  Many people dislike rice, but I really like it.

In addition it has a porridge setting which makes great steel cut oats with dried fruit and nuts.  

It has a tray to cook meat and veggies at the same time as the rice or a steam setting for all types of food.  Last night I put frozen shrimp and leftover rice in the tray and water in the bottom pan.  It steamed the shrimp perfectly.  I have also steamed frozen meatballs and spaghetti sauce.  I used frozen peas with cubed chicken once,  but it over cooked the peas to resemble canned peas so I have to make those veggies on the side.  It doesn't look appetizing, but it didn't taste bad or maybe I have lost all sense for food quality. 

The last thing I can't live without is my Ninja Foodi XL Pro oven.  It replaces my big oven almost entirely.  My Ninja has so many awesome features.  It has an air fry rack, it dehydrates, makes toast and bagels, roasts vegetables but best of all it bakes perfectly.  It preheats very quickly (a minute or two) and doesn't start the timer until it's ready. It shuts off at the set time so if you get distracted, nothing burns.  It bakes a little more quickly so at first I had to watch carefully but I have learned.  If something needs a little more time, then just set it.  It's big enough for a 9 x 13 cake pan or a regular sized pizza.  I just love how it bakes salmon or cod.  It doesn't dry it out whatsoever.

There is really no excuse for me struggling to make meals.  I have all the advantages, but not always the motivation or groceries.  I doubt if this pandemic will ever be completely over so running to the store for every little thing will probably never happen again.  Don't worry, I have not withered away to nothing and always have a stash of Blue Bunny Homemade Vanilla ice cream or Hershey nuggets just in case.

Sunday, July 25, 2021

Tubing on the Fox River at Princeton

Last winter when things were still in pandemic mode and everyone was ready to do something fun, we commiserated with my son-in-laws' parents.  We decided to rent a couple cabins in the St. Germain/Sayner Wisconsin area for a week.  We share a grandson named Ewan, who has become very familiar to a lot of you through my blog posts.  We found a place with two available cabins for the 2nd week in July 2021.  We put down a deposit and went on with life.  As many of you know, life is never a straight line, and my husband passed away a month before we were scheduled to go.  The decision had to be made whether I should go or not.  In the end, I decided to go.  I thought it was another step in life that I had to conquer.  Believe it or not, I hadn't even filled a gas tank in twenty years.  We did everything together, so I didn't have to think about those kind of everyday things.  Today I noticed the water softener needed salt, and Mike still had a couple bags in the basement.  I never gave it a thought before, but I have to remember to pick up more salt next week.

I won't go into a lot of detail about my trip.  There were a lot of good things that happened.  I drove more than three hours instead of being a passenger.   I saw eagles, loons and even a pure white deer.  Of course, we spontaneously went for ice cream one night and no one had a camera they could reach in a split second.  That photo will have to remain in my memory.  We did get one of the ice cream however.

The lake was absolutely beautiful and clean.  Ewan paddle boarded, kayaked, drove the big boat, fished, rode horses and had a wonderful week thanks to his other grandparents.  

The bad part was that my cabin had a gas leak they were trying to fix when I got there.  They thought it was fixed, but I could still smell it even with all the windows open and fans on high.  The cabin actually looked pretty cute from the outside.  

There was another odor that resembled a dead animal which wasn't pleasant either.  The first night I went to bed, I got the chills and felt very sick about two hours later.  I got up and sat in the car,  then I walked around the cabin, I got extra blankets and tried to get warm and ended up in the car for the rest of the night.  I didn't want to return to that cabin ever again.  The owner was nice enough and said she didn't have any replacement cabins for the rest of the week, but she might have something for the next two nights.  I never heard from her again and slept on the couch in the other cabin for a couple nights.  At that point, being an intruder and not feeling all that well, I came home.  Maybe it was the universe telling me it was too soon, and I was pushing it.

Then last Sunday we had the fun drive-thru zoo experience.  I hadn't realized it was so close to home and I enjoyed it a lot.  Shamba Safari  Today I participated from a distance in another family activity even closer to home.  We have an ice cream shop called The Ice Bowl about a half mile from my house.  This spring they expanded the Green Bay Packer themed business to include tubing trips on the Fox River.  You meet at the store, they take you by bus to a starting point and you leisurely float back to your vehicle at the ice cream shop.  

Today my daughter, her husband and two sons went.  It was very hot and humid with a heat index of 97 degrees F so a few hours on the river sounded appealing.  Here is a photo of the bus with all the important information for anyone planning to be in the Princeton Wisconsin area.  They also have a Facebook page.

The boys are on the bus and ready to go.

The family is ready to hop on their tubes and shove off.  Since it is a 2.5 hour trip, I was in no hurry to go downtown to view them coming into the last leg of the journey.  To add insult to injury, sometime in the past five days I developed a chest cold or some kind of flu.  No Covid, thank goodness but not fun either.  I haven't had a cold for 5-10 years and brag that my bone broth is very good for my immune system.  Never say never because it will get you every time.

Almost two hours later I got a call that they could see my house.  I went out on the deck and sure enough, off in the distance there they were.  Ewan frantically waving his paddle.  A little too far a way for a good picture, but I could see they had gotten that far.

I waited a few minutes and headed down to a place I knew I could see them round the bend into the home stretch.  The Ice Bowl was so crowded today.  They were having a fundraiser with a Meet and Greet autograph session with some former Green Bay Packers, Gilbert Brown, Santana  Dotson and Craig Newsome.  I couldn't have found a parking space if I would have tried so I'm glad I chose an out of the way location.  I sat for a very long time in the hot sun.  I had underestimated how far it was in river miles.  I did see a lot of these very beautiful Cedar Waxwing birds flitting back and forth across the river.

I kept thinking they were coming so I would snap a photo only to find out it was a stranger.  I had a lot of deleting to do when I got home.  Soon I saw Ewan's bright green shirt in the distance.

There they were all in one piece and looking happy.

And as they headed back to the start I was thinking "another great adventure and memory in the books", and we didn't have to travel for hours to find it.  That's what summer fun in Wisconsin is all about.  Now for a little ice cream, a little resting and a nice supper. 

Sunday, July 18, 2021

Our Visit to Shamba Safari

Six weeks ago was one of the worse days of my life.  I lost my husband of nearly 53 years.  It was a shock to us even though he had health issues.  Most people have some things to deal with when they get older, but never in a million years did I think he would die so soon.  Everyday I struggle a little and have to pick myself up to tackle another day.   I was going to quit writing my blog because frankly I couldn't imagine having anything to write about again.  Then I decided that he wouldn't be a fan of that decision.  Although I won't have my partner to suggest stories or go on adventures with, I will still have a life.  It will just be a little (ok a lot) different.  Today's blog I won't dwell on my sadness, I want to report on a fun activity which is literally down the road from my house.

My son in law has a little outdoor kitchen he calls B's Bistro.  When we could only see the family outside because of the COVID virus, my daughter and her husband would have outdoor family meals.  Bret would cook everything outside, and then we could see each other.  Early in the spring, it was a little chilly but we bundled up and loved every minute.  Now it has become tradition.  Sometimes he makes brunch and sometimes supper, but it's always delicious.  

Today as we were finishing our brunch, my daughter asked if we knew about a drive-thru zoo that had opened up in the area.  I had heard of it, but didn't really know much about it.  We decided to take a ride.  As we turned onto a country road very near my house, the cars were lined up and we knew we weren't the only ones with the same idea and curiosity.  It is called Shamba Safari, W535 Eagle Road, Neshkoro, WI, 54960.

 This is the sign at the entrance to the park.  When it was our turn, we paid and purchased a bucket of grains and vegetables.  Even before we started, we were approached by two camels.  Yes, I said camels.  They were going car to car for a snack.  My grandson Ewan wasn't quick enough with the scoop and the camel stuck his head right in the bucket.  

There are camels, giraffes, wildebeest, lions, tigers, zebras, rhinos, various deer and big birds.  I haven't identified all of them yet.  Here is a chart, but there were others not on this list.  You have to visit to see for yourself.

I won't bore you with any more pictures of animals.  Pictures are never as good as the real thing and in this case that is very true.  I just hope the business survives as well as the animals.  Of course, there will be nay sayers that say it is abuse, and that the animals are not that healthy.  I don't know the history but hope to find out some day.  Chances are these animals are living out their final days in this environment and are making many people happy especially old people and young children who find a trip to the zoo exhausting.

Tuesday, May 4, 2021

DNA Runs Deep

Our DNA is very interesting.  Why do certain families have a propensity to certain vocations?  At first look it would seem if a family member was a teacher, then perhaps since it is familiar it causes others to go into teaching.  I think it's probably a combination of interest and exposure.  There were several teachers in my family.  Then our daughter became a pharmacist.  She didn't realize at the time that her dad started out in pharmacy and several members on her grandmothers side of the family were in pharmacy.  I did not inherit any of these interests.  I take after my grandma.  My grandma could make a mean fried chicken, she didn't like to do dishes and she would take on a repair job even if it wasn't done according to code.  One day my grandma wanted a bigger opening into her kitchen.  She had a regular sized doorway, but she wanted an archway.  She didn't ask anyone, she just took a handsaw and started to cut an opening the size she wanted.  How she didn't electrocute herself is a miracle.  When she got the shape she wanted, she bent a piece of Masonite and finished it off.  Sometimes you just have to do things yourself.  

I have written about fixing a food saver and my coffee pot but last week I had a new project to fix.  This wasn't electrical so it was safer.  It was the pull out chef's pantry in my refrigerator.  

Somehow a small plastic tab had broken off causing the cover to fall off.  

My husband would have gotten to it eventually, but my mantra is "I don't care when you doI it as long as it's now".  I rarely procrastinate because I want it out of my mind.  My mind is cluttered enough.  

The first thing I did was find the brand and model number inside the refrigerator.  Thank goodness for the internet because this would have been more of a problem years ago.  Appliance repair people aren't that easy to find.  Back in 2015 my dryer started squeeking and screeching when I dried a load of clothes.  I called a repairman and set up a time for him to come.  My sister was coming to spend a few days with our dad, and I didn't think she would appreciate that sound.  The repair person didn't show up, and to this day the dryer is still screeching.  It's in the basement and out of my ear shot so I don't mind it.  One day soon it will either stop working or I will tackle that.  

I quickly found a company that had the exact refrigerator part I needed.  I ordered it and within two days I had the part.  The website included a simple step by step video.  All that was needed was a certain type nut driver which we had.


I removed the screws.  One was stuck so I needed to spray a little WD-40, but it was a fairly straight forward process.

 In a few minutes the tray was fixed and everything was back to normal.  Grandma would be proud.