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.

Sunday, December 25, 2016

Christmas 2016

I awoke with no voice.  And that was after struggling with the strangest of colds for 3 or 4 days.  My nose would not stop was as if I needed a plumber.  My head ached like you wouldn't believe.  No fever.  No aches.  But boy could I have slept each day and night away.  But having the wonderful Trefethen boys here kept me happy and busy.

but this is the day they left to return home to California.   Since I had no voice, wasn't sure I wasn't contagious (poor Trefethens if I was) and since I could not sing in the choir for Christmas Sunday, I opted to take the kids to the airport and then went to bed.  And bed is where I stayed most of the day.

We managed to get the gifts opened but it was pretty sad.

Lovely ukulele from Dawn.

 Whole crepe set and pan from Cara and fam. Here are pictures from our first tries...very easy.   

The popcorn popper and gourmet popcorn from Marissa and fam.
Yarnbox with the loveliest spools of yarn/thread to crochet a shawl from Jocelyn.

An EA diffuser from Jordan and fam.
 Robert gifted me with an inflatable mattress for when we go camping (never) or maybe just to sprawl out at one of the kids houses, and a pair of lovely mittens
...the last purchase from the Country Cupboard in Lewisburg, PA (since the Christensens have moved) AND gave me this great chenille robe.

 Decades ago my mom asked me what I wanted for  Christmas and I told her I wanted a chenille robe. She told me I was nuts.  It was an ugly throwback to decades of the past. But I still wanted one.  She looked all over the place but finally found one. Pink. And yes, it was ugly but it was wonderful and warm and I kept it forever. Only throwing it away about 2 years ago.  How I missed it.  I must have made such a comment and Robert started his hunt online (boy are things easier to locate with the internet, right?) and found one. He called Dawn and got her assistance in purchasing it.  I immediately donned it and it kept me warm and snuggly comfortable all the day long with wonderful memories of my mom and loving thoughts of my husband who cared enough to find it for me...using technology that he's not all that comfy with. So what does this mean?  He's learned how and now will buy more things?  oops.

When we were at Jordan's after Hazel was born, Jordan introduced Robert to the BioLite set, which turns small trigs into energy which could also charge a cell phone and provide lights.  That's what I gave Robert for Christmas,

even though he knew I was giving it to him. I also provided him with a love hand created walking stick made of beech wood.  And for him and his Seminary kids, a page-a-day calendar for using words that make you appear smart.

No big dinner.  No big meals.  No treats.  Just recovering...and I hope it happens fast.

Tuesday, December 20, 2016

Leading up to Christmas 2016

Start the week with this pix sent from Cara of her 4 kids...minus our missionary Cody.

This is going to be an eventful week.  Marissa/Hank and boys flew in on Friday, 16 December, but Dawn drove down earlier so she could spend some time with the family.  Because her kids are older and as well as Ken, they have jobs, she was able to come alone.  PLUS she has a larger car so she drove with Robert to the airport to pick them up.

They walked into this home and it was just like they'd never left.  It all seemed so natural and I was so happy.  We ate dinner quickly and again, it was all natural and just seemed like it was the standard Sunday dinner...back when they lived in Lakewood. Oh how we miss those Sundays.

The boys made the flight very well and enjoyed the fancy, Christmas decorated basement...and I think Henry won't be so frightened of the basement.

Saturday was just a fun day of play and getting used to being in Ohio.

Sunday, M2T2 attended church in Lakewood Ward and Dawn went to church with us in Lorain.  In the afternoon I started the boys making finger puppets of the nativity and it's amazing how well they did at sewing and gluing.

In the evening Dawn got going on Christmas cookies and she makes great cookies.  Plus we had mentioned making french fries which we did...eating as much as we could until the kids noticed.

About 10pm Jordan, Hillary and their 4 kids arrived.  It was so fun seeing them.  Marissa had never met Marius nor, of course, Hazel.  I got a great big hug from young Rob and I told him I loved him and had missed him so much.  Later Hillary told me that in the car ride down, Rob said that he knew exactly what I would say...that I loved him and missed him so much!  Guess I tell him this all the time...who knew?

Monday dawned bright and early...way too early because we had stayed up til midnight the last 2 nights altho the kids stayed up til 2:30am talking.  Marissa even got a confession out of Jordan that back in 1989 he did, indeed, start a fire in the city plastic garbage can at Freedom Park as he set fire to his friend Keith Marvin's hat as well as writing his name on the storage shed there.  All these years he said he didn't and apparently Marissa had told us but we didn't accept her story.  The garbage can caught fire and was actually a melted mess. Marissa apparently saved Sheffield Lake from burning down.  All of Sheffield Lake!

Hillary wanted to go to Marc's and we managed to get Marissa, who hates shopping, to come along.  After coming home I learned Marissa had texted Hank and commented how this was promised to be fun but so was not.  she had bought Little Caesar's pizzas for the ones left home and so I brought the 3 of us Jimmy John's.  Dinner was fast and perhaps not as good as it could have been but I was so very tired.

The the New Hatch Batch loaded up the cars and started the trip back home.  Their kids need to be in their own home for Christmas and poor little Hazel needed to be in her own peace and quiet.  All the cousins running crazy and being loud didn't work with Hazel's new ears.  She has years left to play with cousin.

But all day long young Rob vacuumed our carpets.  He had cleaned out the vacuums and as well as the washing machine (this with his dad.  I think Jordan thinks we are slackers because every time he comes down he cleans out the washing machine.  My carpets have not been so clean ever.  I gave him 10 dimes and thanked him!

It was such a joy to have all these loved ones here at the same time.

At night we started making finger puppets which continued throughout the week so that the puppets were completed and ready to go home with them.  There was the Holy Family and the 2 Wise Men so each boy could make 2.

Jocelyn called and altho she had thought they'd come this Friday, it's obvious they aren't going to be able to.  Guy is having a really hard time with this move from Lewisburg to Pittsburgh.  The girls are willing to come but not Guy and as I told Jocelyn, this time it has to be all about Guy.  Maybe they'll come after Christmas.  But being 2 hours away now will make it lots easier to visit.

On Wednesday, Marissa got up (after going to bed early the night before) and made us Dutch Babies for breakfast. So good..and so much fun.  I really need to learn how to make actually making them!

On the 20th, Robert and I took Henry to see this movie...this is the 2nd grandson I was able to introduce this movie to but this time Robert agreed to go with us and wasn't scared one bit.

Perhaps you will notice Eeyore better in the pink colored photo but look closely at the black and white photo with just Henry and you will see Eeyore peeking he a Fantastic Beast or is it Henry?

 And afterwards, Robert suggested we needed some McDonalds so off we went.  The woman who took our order said she had made one too many ice cream cones and offered it to Henry who was more than happy to eat it.  I think he enjoyed it more than the chix nuggets!

 Here's me...just to prove I was along for the fun as well.

Early on the 22nd, Marissa, Hank, Robert and the boys took a wintry walk along Lake Erie at our beach:
Simon and Sloth enjoying the shoreline.

 Oskar checks out the area, too.

Despite living in sunny CA, Marissa knew to come prepared for Ohio weather in a lovely warm coat.


Come along, Hank says.  No swimming today but the lake awaits visitors in the summer...please come back boys.

And on Thursday, Dec 22,  However earlier, Hank took me to the Minneapolis Flour Company for Callebaut Semi Sweet Chocolate Chunks and some Patent flour.  But first we stopped at The Cleveland Corned Beef Company...a little hole in the wall place for wonderful corned beef.  This was only one half sandwich!

 It was so much fun being with these 3 wonderful boys.....

Later with the boys we made sugar cookies and frosted them because tonight Hank and Marissa went to the Green Tavern restaurant to meet up with friends from BHS.

On Friday, Marissa recalled how hard it is to bring up kids in Cleveland in the winter.  Not that it's much different that summer in CA but she bundled the kids up and planned a scavenger hunt for the boys in Robert's backyard garden.  I remembered I had a few odds and ends of toys and candy upstairs so I raced up, snuck open my bedroom window that looks out onto the garden and tossed out 2 penguin candy bars.  That got the boys excited. Then I tossed out 2 balls.  Marissa exclaimed something and the boys began to look up.  But sadly when I tossed out the 3 toys, Henry was looking directly at my window and claimed he saw me...of course he saw me...but I had to say, it wasn't me.

And certainly it was fun.

Saturday, Christmas Eve was the last full day we'd be with this fun family.    Hank introduced Robert to the joy of waxing his mustache.
 Robert liked it so I think we need to find some wax for him.  Today he used Hank's.

We played, they packed, we had a special Christmas dinner since they will be leaving in the morning  sniff sniff

One final request was granted.  Marissa had asked if we could make my mom's almond crescent nut horns...and we did.  I just made a half batch (should have made a full one at least but I didn't want a lot of cookies left over cuz I knew I'd eat them...but I had forgotten that normally I triple the recipe...but at least we accomplished the job.

 And a little snuggle time with Simon and the phone.

Simon is a huge help in the kitchen.  Here we smashed potatoes.

This year Hannukkah began at sundown on Christmas Eve.  Henry helped set the table but in red, not blue

 Marissa lit the Servant candle, or as Henry stated...the shamash...and then Henry lit the first candle

 And the dessert was a DQ cake with all 3 boys' names on it...but it was a special cake to celebrate Oskar's bathroom achievements.

                                           They were SO very happy to have a DQ cake!    

 After dinner we piled into 2 cars and drove around the west end of Sheffield Lake and then into Lorain to view the lights...and when we got home we were shocked to discover that Santa had made an early stop to leave some things in stockings for the boys and to remind them that he'd be leaving things at their home in California...just waiting for their return.  What a great way to end the visit.

 Robert and I opened our gifts from them...a new air popper as well as a bunch of gourmet popcorn, with oils and salt.  Naturally we had to give it a whirl. PERFECT.
 Then Sunday, just before they left, Simon FOR THE FIRST TIME discovered the button that made Charlie Brown's Christmas tree sing and he stood so sweetly listening and looking at the picture of a 'special' nativity scene..when his brother Oskar was a newborn and played Baby Jesus and big brother Henry insisted on walking onto the stage as a shepherd, carrying donkey Eeyore.  It is one of my favorite Nativities.

Here are a couple of screen grabs from their ward's Christmas party.  Henry portrayed Samuel the Lamanite on the wall.

This time it's Oskar popping in and out of the back curtain and smiling broadly altho he was not to be there.

And then there was the final scene..the birth of the Christ Child. At first Oskar and Henry weren't following the star.  Henry was the first to spy the star moving and

 then he realized what he must do.

Oskar, wearing this huge 'hat' of a wiseman opted to plop down with feet spinning up in the air just as the narrator reads that they fell down to ground and worshipped the Babe Jesus.  In the video you can hear Marissa chortling and soon so did the rest of the audience.  There's always that perfect comic timing...and Oskar had it this year.

 These will be the next pictures I print off and frame and set out in 2017.

Previous to this week, Dawn alerted me that I needed to act fast in order to use my Best Buy certificates.  Hers had expired, and so had mine but only by 2 weeks.  Immediately they renewed mine and eventually Dawn had hers renewed as well.  As soon as I knew they were renewed we set off to Best buy and used them. LOVE me some FREE money.

I selected a bluetooth speaker and it's large and loud and I love it.

Robert took the rest of the certificate amounts and bought a gift certificate to Cabela's Sporting Store and bought this sleeping bag which will keep him warm to -40 degrees.  He's very happy about this!

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