Wednesday, April 19, 2017


It was barely 7 years ago when we bought what I thought would be the perfect washing machine.  A large Samsung, front loader.  But sadly it died on Saturday, April 8,  and when we called for repair the man said that it was going to be a very expensive repair and recommended we buy new.  Robert and I drove down to Stewarts TV and Appliance in Elyria on April 11 and were given the full lowdown on the best 2 they offered. That was because Robert said he wanted to buy a washer that would not break down during the remaining part of our life.    The first one was a Speed Queen but the drum was too small, even for the 2 of us.  We opted for the 500 series of the Electrolux.  As the purchase was being finalized I asked if they also sell the dryer that matches since our dryer probably was here when we moved in.  It is gas and we always had electric at 809.  Robert decided that we would purchase the set!  THE FIRST TIME EVER THAT WE BOUGHT BOTH NEW.

Then Robert turns to me and asks, Do you remember when you bought the VW Super Beetle and we went out eat to celebrate?  I remember buying the VW, by myself, and calling him at work and telling him, I think I bought us a car!  Not the dinner but it was late and I'm always up for eating out.  The Foundry was recommended by the people at Stewarts.  The Foundry is in the old Moss Restaurant on Broad.  Turned out to be very good food.

 Clever decorations, too.

 I had the wedge salad which was beautifully presented.

Robert ordered the Tuscan Sausage soup which was a bit spicy but very good.

Then we shared this 9" meat lover's pizza which was so very good. Reminded me of Hank's pizzas back in the day when they lived in Lakewood and had the wood burning pizza oven out back.

Somehow, the idea was created that we could rework the laundry room.  Initially it sounded like a great idea but then Robert said he just wasn't in the mood to lay new tile.  The very next day I come in to find the floor had been removed, most of the ugly wallpaper that mom had put up.  Steve Christensen agreed to help Robert lie the tile. So Robert finished stripping the wallpaper and then corrected the wall dings and then painted it white.  Good Friday Steve used his very strong and young legs to lay the tiles which Robert cut out on the patio.  We were so grateful for his generous work, and on Easter weekend too!

The washer/dryer arrived April 18 (we delayed it so we could get the laundry room done) and installed. But wouldn't you know in the house that has had the strangest wiring problems forever, the 220 line had been cut, and dead.  And we have no clue why.  It had to have been done before my folks moved here cuz they always had the gas dryer.  Lucky for us Ken Bruderer is this amazing electrician and he spent 2 days here getting the wires straightened out, as well as a 3 way switch put into the laundry room so when we come in and out with arms filled, the light will automatically turn on and off.

Doing the laundry never was this nice.  No bending down and peering in.  Perfect.  Plus the platforms came free as a special.

Tuesday, April 18, 2017

our 3rd Eagle Scout

Even though Connor looked miserable in the Easter pictures (probably because of the no technology degree by me), come tonight he was all smiles as he completed his Eagle Court of Review and is now an Eagle. If only he'd smile like this every day!  But congratulations to him and his parents...

There should have been a picture of Connor with Dawn...she was the pusher, agitator, convincer, and she stormed the review when the court was in shambles and it looked like  AGAIN they were going to put him off!

The teeth necklace around his neck came from his High Adventure last summer.

Sunday, April 16, 2017

Easter 2017

The Christensens Thursday night and the Barretts came Friday afternoon.  I had declared this a technology free weekend, meaning no devices.  Not everyone was happy but I really didn't care. I've tired of seeing people on their phones even in restaurants and I know what the youth are like ... totally distracted and not 'with' us.  And so it was perfect...everyone was in the moment.

We colored eggs on Friday late afternoon.  But Jocelyn had arranged for a special egg hunt in the morning,

which was repeated when Dawn arrived.

Secular Saturday had the Christensen kids looking for their baskets (the Barretts had done this at home before coming down)  and then everyone went out looking for eggs that the bunny hid.

We had lots of food over the weekend. Saturday 3 different carloads of family headed to 3 different areas to shop and/or to play.

Easter Sunday naturally found us in Lorain Ward and the meeting had a great spirit.  Michael Schroth told this story which I am adding here so I don't lose it.  After a super dinner of beef brisket, the house was put to rights and everyone left.  We are tired but so very happy to have had kids here.  Maybe we are old but we still can walk and breathe and I think we can still have people stay with least for a little bit longer.

We are grateful for the Atonement of Jesus Christ and all it means for each person born to earth, little they may understand nor recommend it.  The story Michael told touched my heart strings because I live in my mom's house and I miss her something fierce when everyone returns to 3830.  Jocelyn had commented about how this house was always quiet when they came up as kids.  And I remember that same feeling...quiet and solitude with only the grandfather clock dinging throughout.  Special days, special memories.

I share with you a true story that my friend and former neighbor Ken McCarty shared with me. Ken has been an associate at Brigham Young University and in church callings, and I write this with permission from him and his wife, Debbie.
Their daughter Sarah died in 1997, after a lengthy and difficult struggle with cystic fibrosis. She was just 13. She had, though, lived an extraordinarily full life in that short time.
In 1993, when she was roughly 9, Ken and Debbie took her on a cruise along the Volga River in Russia. Just before they left, Sarah's friend Kerie Waters came to visit and to bring Sarah several balloons. 
Kerie, 32, wore a headband to conceal the aftereffects of chemotherapy. She had been diagnosed only a few months before with terminal melanoma, a skin cancer, and their fatal illnesses had forged a special bond between her and the McCartys' daughter. It was, as Debbie and Ken recalled, a tender goodbye.
One night, about two weeks into the trip, Sarah burst into her parents' cabin, sobbing uncontrollably.
"I held her little shaking body," Ken remembers, "and asked her what was the matter. When she finally caught her breath, she said, 'Dad, Kerie has died.'" Ken was shocked — they had had little if any contact with home in those essentially pre-Internet days — and asked Sarah what had happened.
"I was kneeling by my bed, saying my prayers," Sarah replied. "Suddenly I felt someone standing behind me. Then I realized it was Kerie. Kerie was in my room." 
"What did Kerie say?" 
Sarah responded that Kerie hadn't talked out loud, explaining that, in her heart, she could hear Kerie say that she had come to tell Sarah not to be afraid to die, that dying wasn't scary, it was beautiful.
"Kerie didn't want me to worry about her; she wanted me to know that she was very happy in heaven."
Shortly after returning home, says Ken, he called Kerie's father, Wes Waters, and found out that Kerie had indeed died — around 30 minutes before Sarah's experience in Russia. 
But that's not the end of this story. 
On the April morning when Sarah herself passed away, her parents decided to wait until around 8:30 a.m. before they began the mournful task of calling to notify family and friends. But at approximately 8 a.m., their telephone rang. The caller was a family friend named Don Wood, a BYU employee who also had cystic fibrosis.
In fact, at 42 years of age, he was one of the oldest surviving victims of the disease in the United States. Ken and Debbie hadn't been in touch with Don for several years.
Don inquired how they were doing. Ken answered that he wasn't doing too well.
"It's Sarah, isn't it?" Don asked. 
"How did you know?" Ken responded.
Don replied that he assumed she had passed away at roughly 6:30 that morning.
Shocked, Ken confirmed that she had died at 6:17 a.m. How, he wondered, had Don Wood heard the news?
"I was lying in my bed struggling to breathe," Don said. "I've been on oxygen for some time now, and I wasn't sure if I would last through the night. At around 6:30 I felt a presence in my room, and, when I looked up, I saw Sarah standing in the air at the foot of my bed. I thought she was coming to take me to the other side, but I was surprised to see her because I didn't know she had passed away. She was all aglow, and it looked as if light was emanating from her, not just from around her; her entire being was glowing. Her hair was long and curled and she looked beautiful and mature. She didn't talk out loud, but she communicated with me in a clear voice in my mind. She simply said, 'I came to tell you, Don, don't be afraid to die. It's not scary. I came to tell you that heaven is beautiful.'" 
Sarah looked happy and beautiful, Don said, and healthier than he had ever seen her. 
Eight months after Sarah died, Don Wood, too, passed away. 
54comments on this story
"For some people," Ken McCarty summarizes, "life after death is a hope, something to have faith in. For me, because of our little Sarah, it's a fact. And, most important of all, it's beautiful."
Daniel C. Peterson is a professor of Islamic studies and Arabic at BYU, where he also serves as editor in chief of the Middle Eastern Texts Initiative and as director of advancement for the  Neal A. Maxwell Institute for Religious Scholarship

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?

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