Sunday, March 19, 2017

Cody and his mission bathing

As Cody readies himself in a few months to return to civilization, I learn more about this primitive mission he's been on for nearly 2 years.  Recently, it's been about his bathing 'skills' which involve walking down INTO a well, getting water in a bucket and walking back up out of the well and pouring it over his head.  Some bath!

Last week I learned he's headed to Washington Island and will be Branch President, hoping to get a branch made there in spring. He was excited to be living in a stick house and I asked:

is there no cold water to be pumped?

His reply today was:

No it will be straight from a well as usual. It'll be fun because we
are living with a teacher at the local primary. There is this thing
called the "first water" in the morning. Everyone wakes up super early
to get the first water because everyone shares this water so if you
are the last to bathe the water is mixed up with a ton of dirt
hahahaha so excited. I take a decent amount of pictures so it'll be fun
to show those in a couple of months.

Really?  I read this to Robert when he returned from home teaching and this was the conversation which ensued. Robert had asked me didn't I have to share bath water as a child?  WHAT?  Was he kidding me?  Was he serious?  So this became my reply to Cody:

Grampa said, when I read him your email after getting home from HT, “this reminds me of my experience taking a bath.” I’m thinking in Belgium during his mission. But oh no, They didn’t get baths in Belgium.  They took spitz baths as it was called…more like a sponge bath. He was talking about as a child…in the 50s (for heaven sake..didn’t everyone normal have access to water?)  Apparently he had to share the bath water with his 3 older siblings!  GROSS!  Good heavens…what was wrong with his parents?

So I guess I lived a civilized life (in the lap of luxury Grampa just said) and poor Grampa had to live like some pioneer throwback.  UGH!

Wednesday, March 01, 2017

March 1

Those Groundhogs on Feb 2 must have been really asleep in the holes because we've barely had any winter.  A couple Fridays ago it was over 75 degrees and sunny.  A lovely winter.

I haven't written much and I actually do not know why.  But I thought I'd at least add something today to catch me I don't want my 2017 Blog2Print to be 5 pages long.

Donald Trump won the election for US President.  It was the hardest thing to decide who to vote for...actually didn't want to vote for either but I could not vote for Hillary Clinton.  Period.  I couldn't not vote for someone so Donald got my vote.  How bad could it get?  Worse than Hillary?  I still don't think so even though he needs to quit the texting and calm down.  But I'm OK to give him time.  Last night he spoke to Congress and the Democrats were pathetic.  Someone put glue on their butts cuz they basically never stood for anything.  But then again, there were those women wearing white, who must have thought they were pure nuns (and aren't).  Maybe because they refused to rise, their Democrat compatriots refused to stand too. Who knows.  I'm just willing to give him time.

And all these nimrods who are protesting and rioting?  Really?  that's all you can do?  Why don't you run for an office and see if you can do better.

I turned 68 last month.  Nothing too exciting.  Patsy turns 88 at the end of this month and most times I think she's fading fast but she's still not ready to come live with us.  That I do understand. She wants to be on the east side where she's lived her whole life and still has friends to check in on her.  Actually, she truly just wants to die there.  I get it.  I hope the Lord does, too.  But there are always lessons to be learned from every experience.  I hope Robert and I are ready to learn some with her.

I've got to decide on Christmas gifts for our grown children and the grands.  Man! Having 20 grands takes a lot of thought and preparation...hence the early start.

My eyes are getting cloudier and blurrier with the onset of cataracts...nowhere near ready for removal but it makes playing the piano very difficult.  It's a good thing Dawn gave me a ukulele for Christmas...except for the fact my voice is another story, it's easier to play.  At least I have fun. I've ordered a tin whistle from Amazon which is due to arrive today and figure maybe that's something else I can learn. Who knows how long I have left to learn things.

Always in a rush! it seems these day.

I talked with my cousin Kathy Swintek last week or so.  Robert had asked me if I had any Polish Pioneer stories and I thought about the one Kathy had mentioned so I called her to get the details.  My grandmother, Natalie Olecki Czekala Swintek Bryztwa, was married to her 2nd husband (Kathy's grandfather) at Park Drop Forge in Cleveland (actually my father was employed there as well) and basically died in an industrial accident while at work. For the company was paying my grandmother a stipend. Each month she'd go there and pick up a small check.  One day she noticed a house for sale on Sowinski Avenue, with apartments included inside. She goes back to Park Drop Forge and says, "If you will help me with the down payment for this house, I will be able to take care of myself and my family and will never return here for more money."  And with that promise, this woman with only a 6th grade education bought the house and rented out the apartments, keeping herself and her younger children with a little more salary from a clerk job at a dry goods store in Cleveland.  Just shows what good work, a work ethic, and determination can accomplish.  I have stayed at the very home as a child on a couple weekends.  But not the house is gone and is grassed over.

Kathy got me hooked up with her sister Lisa Marshall on Facebook.  The week or so before I had found another cousin, Karen Uridell, on Facebook and so it's been a little reunion of sorts.  Karen posted a picture of Pacski with a recipe for Fat Thursday (Polish version of Fat Tuesday, I guess).  and I made was incredible. BEST donut recipe ever:

Traditional Polish paczki – yeasted doughnuts filled with fruit preserves and rolled in sugar, popular on Fat Thursday and Fat Tuesday.  Here are MINE...had help from Robert:

  • 2 cups whole milk, warmed to 110 degrees F
  • 4½ teaspoons active dry yeast (2 packages)
  • ¾ cup + 1 pinch granulated sugar, divided
  • 5 to 6 cups all-purpose flour, divided
  • 1 egg
  • 4 egg yolks
  • 1 teaspoon vanilla extract
  • 1¼ teaspoons salt
  • 4 tablespoons unsalted butter, melted and cooled
  • Peanut oil, canola oil or lard, for frying
  • Fruit preserves, for filling
  • Powdered and granulated sugars, for coating

  1. Pour warm milk into bowl of a stand mixer. Stir in the yeast and a pinch of granulated sugar. Let stand for 5 to 10 minutes, or until it has become bubbly.
  2. Add 2 cups of flour to the mixture and stir with a wooden spoon until a smooth batter forms. Cover with plastic wrap and set in a warm spot for 30 minutes. The mixture should have risen and be very bubbly.
  3. In a medium bowl, whisk the egg and egg yolks until pale yellow and frothy, about 3 minutes. Add the sugar, vanilla extract and salt, and whisk until combined and smooth.
  4. Attach the dough hook to the mixer, add the egg mixture to the dough and mix on medium-low speed until mostly combined. Add the melted butter and mix to combine. Gradually add 3 more cups of flour to the mixture and continue to knead until a very soft dough comes together. (It will not clean the sides of the bowl or form a ball; it will be rather slack and a bit sticky.) If necessary, add up to another 1 cup of flour, a spoonful at a time, until the dough forms.
  5. Transfer the dough to a lightly greased bowl, cover with plastic wrap, and set in a warm spot until it has doubled in size.
  6. Remove the dough from the bowl and turn out onto a floured work surface. With your fingers, push down the dough into an even layer. Sprinkle flour on the dough and roll it out to ½-inch thickness. If the dough doesn’t hold its shape and springs back, cover with a damp towel and let rest for a few minutes and try again.
  7. Use a 3-inch biscuit cutter to cut out rounds of dough. Transfer the dough rounds to parchment-lined baking sheets. Gather scraps of dough and again roll out and cut until you have used up all of the dough. Cover the baking sheets loosely with plastic wrap and place in a warm, draft-free spot until almost doubled in size, about 30 minutes.
  8. Meanwhile, heat at least 1½ inches of oil in a heavy-bottomed pot or deep skillet (I used a 12-inch cast iron skillet) over medium heat to 350 degrees F. Carefully lower about six paczki into the oil at a time (be sure not to over-crowd the pan) and fry until the bottom is golden brown. Carefully turn them over and continue to fry until the other side is golden brown. Use a spider strainer or slotted spoon to remove them to a paper towel-lined baking sheet to drain. Allow the oil to come back to temperature, then repeat until all of the paczki have been fried.
  9. Allow the paczki to cool until you are able to handle them easily. Using a filling tip, pipe fruit preserves into the sides of the paczki, then roll in sugar. The paczki are best the same day they are made, but can be stored in an airtight container at room temperature for up to 2 days.

Since then I've seen picture and recipe for Chrusciki.  My grandmother Zielinski as well as my mom always made these.  So does Connie Greene and they are wonderful.  I really do need to hone the skill

    1. Beat eggs until thick.
    2. Add salt slowly while stirring.
    3. Add sugar and vanilla, beat well.
    4. Add cream and flour, alternating until blended. You may need more than the flour listed above depending on how humid it is that day.
    5. Turn onto a floured board.
    6. Cover with a cloth for 10 minutes.
    7. Knead until dough blisters.
    8. Roll very thin.
    9. Cut into 1 inch by 4 inch rectangles.
    10. Cut a gash in the middle of the rectangle and pull one end through so it looks like a twist.
    11. Fry in 375 degree oil until golden brown.
    12. Drain on a rack for 3 minutes then roll into powdered sugar.

    We also had a water leak between our home and the front street.  Luckily I had recently signed up for insurance (something Robert usually doesn't want to do) and so that totally covered the all day repair.

    and just cuz he's the most handsome and kindest, funnest guy are a couple picture of Robert.

    Rugby Feb 22 when we took Patsy to see her doctor and that always is followed by lunch, this day at Muldoons.

    And then here he is spying on all the fun birdies who are so happy he provides daily food for them.  This is a spyglass Cara and Jacob sent him

    Monday, February 13, 2017

    Valentine Gift

    Marissa:  When I was really young, I sat on the floor beside my mom as she cut out heart after heart, which she turned into this rad rainbow mobile. I remember being struck with awe at the finished project. She could make stuff like that?? How did she do that? All my life, I've loved that Valentine's decoration and this week, I went ahead and asked her if she'd give it to me when she died. (As morbid as that sounds, that's actually normal talk for my ma). And wouldn't you know, less than a week after asking, a package arrived from my sweet mom with this in it. Because she couldn't bear to part with hers, she went ahead and made me and my sister (who apparently was also chomping at the bit for it) our own rainbow mobiles. My mom always insists she's not artistic, but I can say it was her example of constantly making things, decorations, beautiful breads, painting Halloween characters, that put me on the path to being an artist. Thanks, mom! You are a special person.

    Jocelyn:  I try to be brave and then my mom goes and does the sweetest things ever and I bawl like a baby! Happy Valentine's Day, Susan!

    Friday, February 03, 2017


    I thought to share this accordion and its story Years and years ago, I had mentioned to this wonderful woman at church how I was Polish, not having had the chance to grow up with my father because he died when I was 4 months old...and how I thought it would be cool to one day play the accordion...becuase for real? what would a Polish woman do but want to play one? Marion Ballif surprised me by saying she had an accordion and it had been in storage but was being delivered with a truckload of other stuff. She asked if I would take it because her lungs were in bad shape and she was not able to play it. Would I? Would I! 

    Of course I would. OF course I did. this was a 3/4 sized accordion and was perfect to begin on. I took lessons from this amazing man, Al Battestelli in Lorain,
    but soon outgrew it because...well..because my hands are large. So he helped me find a full size accordion
    and I passed this one down to Jocelyn since she said she would learn to play it as well. 
    Before I passed the gold one to Jocelyn, I had my godfather come over and I promised his a surprise that would knock his socks off. He came, I walked to the family room playing this very accordion and he tossed a pair of Christmas sock at me. He and Patsy were thrilled since they always traveled with another famous accordion player in Cleveland, Johnny Vandal and his band, helping them drive to the various performance venues.  
    This week, a young friend of hers asked for the accordion and it will soon be passed on to a Mennonite family. Accordions are amazing. And after all this transpired on FB, I had a dream that I had resumed taking lessons.'s not a sign. I'm too old and almost too weak to play the one I have. I continue to think I ought to sell it but then Robert says not to. Maybe I need to try to practice on it a couple minutes each day, as I do with the ukulele Dawn gave me as well as the piano practicing I do. Maybe. Thanks Marion. You started something wonderful in my life.

    Saturday, January 28, 2017

    Breakfast Remembrances

    This morning I really just didn't want to make breakfast.  I wasn't hungry altho I knew I would be.  Robert suggested breakfast out and I happily agreed even tho I ate basically the same things I would have here. But having Steak N Shake for breakfast made it seem different.

    While we were eating, and for some unknown reason, Robert started recounting a couple of events in his life as a child (oh, maybe it was because I told him the story of Sophia and her non-member friend who came out from the east to take care of her for a week and he started to talk about his family friends, the Cadwells).

    At some point when Robert was about 12, his mom wanted to go somewhere and just decided to drop him off at the Cadwells' home so they could watch him.  She didn't wait to even see if they were home and she hadn't made plans.  Robert goes up the door.  No Cadwells. He said he stuck around for about 30 minutes and then decided to walk home.

    A year later he's in the car with both of his parents.  They were headed to some meeting about buying or selling concrete/cement. Suddenly his mom pulls over to the side of the street, kicks Robert and his dad out of the car and told them she'd be back in an hour and they were to just wait.  So wait they did...sitting on some person's lawn til she returned.  The owner at some point came out and asked if they needed help.  Frank C just said, "No we are waiting for a ride."

    I asked  Robert how he felt about these situations.  He said it was just his mom's way of doing things. The first story, well, he just went home. But the second one...well, he said a whole lot of pride was hurt.  Why wasn't his dad allowed to go to the meeting since it was their family business.  Why didn't she drop them off at a park, or a museum or a library or why not at home?  He said he always knew he lived a life that was totally different than most kids his age.

    And kids today think they have it bad?

    Monday, January 16, 2017

    Christensens come for a visit

    What a sweet treat it was to have Jocelyn call and ask if they could come and stay for the long MLK weekend.  She arrived with the kids on Thursday, Jan 12.  Steve had been in CA for work but he came home Friday night and they decided to have him drive here too.  We had fun.  The kids were able to sleep in separate areas since in their small temporary apartment the 4 oldest sleep in the same room BUT they all seemed to want to continue to sleep together in the red room.  Crazy Kids.

    Nothing like a wee one who can fit in the kitchen sink......

    Robert and Guy worked on Robert's Christmas show how heat is turned into warmth and energy...not to mention hot cocoa and hot dogs!


     This is the most restful child. She's kind and loving and I fear her heart will be broken too many times by too many people.  Miss Autumn

    AND a really fun moment was bringing up the old Pampered Chef Ice Shaver so the kids could have some slushy.  I think it was Honor who enjoyed it so much that she exclaimed, "let's get up every morning and come to Granny's."  Yes, they live this close (2 hours) so it actually would be possible but just not practical.

    On Saturday Steve treated us to  'Linner' at Bubba'sQ, run by Al 'Bubba' Baker formerly of the  Cleveland Browns.  Steve is now surrounded by Steeler everything and asked to have a picture taken with Bubba.  Bubba always obliges but this time he spent about 30 minutes with us, talking about his business and his love of the Lord.  How he wanted to turn his son around so James could inherit all he had (and yes, Bubba likened it to Abraham).  And to do that he had to just love his son as the Lord would and in time it worked.  The restaurant is closed on Mondays because that's the day they have chosen to worship the Lord and take their day of rest.  It was an amazing exchange with this man.

    It was great to have our pew filled with family again.  Lunch was fun and everything got snarfed up!

    But Monday came and the family had to return to Cranberry Township.  But they'll be back.

    Friday, January 06, 2017

    My Show-Shoveling Man

    Remember what I wrote on the 1st about how amazing Robert is?  I think I need to record this for my children and their children...for some future date.

    Robert has always shoveled the snow for the whole neighborhood.  Back when we lived at 809, he would always shovel the walks for the whole street and often almost to Forestlawn Elementary School which is the school our children attended.  Sometimes he'd shovel whole driveways for the widows or the elderly.  He always came in dripping with sweat even if the temps were at zero.

    Summer it would be mowing the lawns for the elderly, unasked, or in a vacant home...why?  Because it was his neighborhood, he'd always reply.

    Today it's subzero with wind chill. We didn't get as much snow as the east side of Cleveland did last night but it's still very cold. Robert appeared in his outdoor clothes and said he was going out to see if there was any snow to be shoveled.  I had been practicing my ukulele and looked out the window and saw that since he had shoveled last night by hand, the driveway was still clear.  I said this.  He didn't care...he just was going to look.

    Of course I knew this meant he would be out shoveling the neighborhood.  I continued to clean the kitchen when the doorbell rang and rang and rang. I opened the door and discovered a woman I did not know.

    She asked, "Is your husband, Robert?"  When I replied it was, she announced that her name was Joan Garris, that she was German, and that she lives on the corner of Lake Road and Lakewood Beach.  She's almost 87 and has been widowed for 25 years.  And she was so grateful that Robert had shoveled her driveway. He would not take any money which she didn't have but she might go to the bank anyway.  I assured her he expected none.  But she came with a stollen.

    Robert is still Amazing!  And always will remain so.

    Sunday, January 01, 2017

    Happy 2017

    It's a new year.  And it was great having the year start on the Sabbath.

    As per the tradition started by Bishop Gavin Young, on the first Sunday following Christmas we spend Sacrament meeting in a different sort of testimony meeting.  Those in the congregation who desire so come up to the mic and tell us what their favorite hymn is and why (in short manner) and then we get to sing the whole meeting.  At first it's just singing but then at some point in the parade of worshipper and hymns the spirit starts to teach us a different type of lesson through the songs.

    Today by the end, I had a hard time singing.  Yes, my voice was a bit worn out after all the singing especially after having had this strange cold/virus for 2 weeks. But it was more than that.  Some of the hymns chosen were my favorites (I mean who has just one favorite).  One visitor, a bishop from FL who's here waiting for his daughter to give birth, chose Called to Serve.  In tear-racked voice, he told how he wasn't able to sing this song for a few years because his oldest son was unable to serve a mission. But when his next son did, the ability returned.  Robert wanted to stand while we sang that one...and I understand the feeling!

    When I looked back at Todd, a wonderful man, father of 2 great kids, super husband, and saw him singing I had to grab him afterward, and told him I saw him singing and that when he decided to be baptized, he had better invite me cuz I'll be there no matter what.

    Yes, it was that sort of morning.

    Today I was also sustained as Ward Bulletin person...all that means is that I put out the weekly program for Sacrament Meeting.  Now I haven't picked up one of those things in decades. What a total waste of energy, paper, trees, print.  And usually most of the announcements in them are read over the pulpit anyway.  No one is asked ahead of time for prayers so it's always By Invitation.  I agreed, of course.  What else do we do?  We just plod along.

    I struggled with the paper program concept because I'm not into paper that just gets shuffled around.  We were handed 3 pages of paper in SS and I turned mine back in after class. I just don't need paper.  I think most things ought to be digital anyway.  I've been fussing over this for a couple of weeks.

    But then Robert repeated what has become his mantra:  1 Nephi 16:24-26.     And that's always followed by "Why Reinvent the Wheel".  Usually his saying this applies to something else but suddenly it just applied to me.  Why do I care about reimagining the program when people are content to just pick one up and then leave it on a pew or in the book holder?  If that's all they want then that's fine.  The bishop feels it's the pulse of the ward. So I will just agree with him and move on.

    I give up.  I'll just keep the tradition going and not fuss any more.

    I have abilities that won't get tapped in this area so I shall continue to find other areas to spend my time.

    I guess it's the age thing.  As we age, we do tend to become less so younger ones can become more.  It's been that way forever. Why any different now?

    So I'm back on steady, unfussing ground.  All is good. Life is wonderful.  Robert is amazing.  My kids and grands are stellar individuals, each in his own way.  I have a lovely home (thanks mom), great devices (thanks Jacob), and I know truth when I hear it.  I'm on the path and that's great.

    Happy New Year, al.

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