Saturday, June 24, 2017

Did They Know Their Grandparents

I received a phone call yesterday.  It was my sister Ruth.  She'd been going through some papers which prompted a question.  Did our parents know their grandparents?  Did they have the opportunity to sit on their elders' naps and talk and play?  Perhaps this was also prompted by her first grandchild who is less than a year old and who lives a long way away.

Dad was born in 1917 and his grandfather Ernest Saxowsky died in January of 1918.  No, Dad didn't know this grandfather.  However, Ernest's wife, Louise, lived until 1941 just a couple years before Dad married.  Louise lived in Hebron so there were plenty of opportunities for Dad and his grandmother to get to know each other.

Dad's mother's parents, the Birkmaiers, lived into the 30's and 40's.  Christoph died in 1935 and Margaretha in 1942.  They too had moved from the homestead south of Hebron into Hebron during their latter years and so Dad had plenty of opportunity to know them.  Both his parental and maternal grandparents regularly attended the same church that he did, so there were plenty of opportunities to see them regularly.  If customs of sharing the noon meal after church which I observed as a child was a part of their practice during Dad's childhood, they probably often shared meals at either Grandma Louise's house, Grandpa and Grandma Birkmaier's house or on the farm where Dad grew up.

On Mom's side the story is quite different.  First, Mom's grandparents lived on or near their homesteads in southeastern South Dakota and secondly her mother's father died even before Mom's mother, Regina, was married.  Adam Weisz died in 1907 and his wife Margaretha died in 1916, four years before Erna was born in 1920.

Mom's parental grandparents, the Zieglers, did live into her teens.  Wilhelm died in 1934 and Barbara in 1935.  However, they did live in southeastern South Dakota so visiting them was not a frequent event.  I suspect there was some connection and familiarity between Mom and her parental grandparents.

Ruth also mentioned that she thought that she remembered someone saying that each of our four grandparents were the first in each of their families to be born in America.  Unfortunately that is not true but what was probably intended to be said was that in all four cases our grandparents are first generation America, all born in America whereas all their parents were not born in America.  In all cases some siblings were born in America and some were born before their parents immigrated to America.

This bets the question did we know our grandparents or any of our great-grandparents.  The answer is simple: all of our grandparents were alive during our childhood although David was only two years old when grandpa Ziegler died; and all the great-grandparents had died before any of us were born.

Sunday, April 30, 2017

A Long Way

Just thinking:

We've come a long way since we had a president who said "Ask not what your country can do for you, but what can you do for your country" to one who we support because regardless of his ethics, his morals, or what he says, he will line our pockets with money.  At least that's our hope and anticipation.  Personally I like the approach from 56 years ago better.

Monday, March 13, 2017

A Day of Spring

Truly it has not been springlike this winter in Oregon.  However, today it's been quite pleasant, no rain, sunshine and temperature worthy of a sweatshirt only.  So it's time to blog about gardening and loving the yard.

I could have broken from the hiatus much earlier; the crocus were blooming-in the snow.  Irises were poking their leaves out, but then they do that the fall before and just sit there through the winter.  The bluebells are thick like a lawn, and mowed off by the deer like a lawn.  Tulips are slowing inching up and for the most part behind temporary fences since deer treat tulips like chocolate cheesecake-delicious.

We did have burn day last week.  The first burn of the spring is always special to reduce the pile of trimmings from throughout the winter.  It's a special annual season, a time to dig in the soil which is wet and soft but the skies are not so wet.  The transition is often surprisingly, going from constantly wet sidewalks to desert-like cracks in the garden.

So Sunday was a sun day and the last for a while as the weatherman posted a series of dark rainy clouds on this weeks forecast.  So back to some of the indoor activities until the next sunny day comes up.

Happy spring (a week early).

Sunday, February 19, 2017

How Long is Long Enough

Nine months is long enough for a fetus to develop in preparation for birth.  So science, experience and a mother's attitude will tell you.  College students figure it's about 20-30 minutes that they should wait for an absent professor.  More than an hour for a traditional Christian Sunday morning worship service is pushing the edge of being too long.  One hundred to a hundred and twenty minutes is just about right for the length of a movie.

But how long is long enough to allow a new presidential administration to establish itself before evaluating its performance.  If the actions in the first several days make everyone happy maybe that's enough.  If the actions in the first weeks seem to consistently disturb a large number of people, maybe that enough.  If there are highs and lows, if people have varied opinions, maybe one needs to wait a bit longer, weeks, months, a year?

Today it's been four weeks since inaugural day and the country is gravely divided on the evaluation of these first four weeks and the effectiveness of the government during this time.  Eight years ago an African American nominated and supported by the Democratic Party was elected.  Those who didn't vote for him vowed to disrupt any efforts by him to do anything.  Now the shoe is on the other foot, but again those who didn't vote for the current president have rather consistently blocked most efforts by the present president to govern the country.  Some would even say that he is not governing the country but padding his resumé, bankroll and ego.

While I may be among those who see his efforts as counter to traditional and progressive ideals, I more strongly believe that we must find common ground and work together to advance conditions to help all persons.  Perhaps my frustration comes when I don't see current policies and governance improving the lives of all persons but only some persons.  My frustration is also that that then finding a common goal for the betterment of all persons, we argue about what others are doing wrong and trying to obstruct their efforts.

I have no solution to our dilemma or even a clear understanding of our dilemma just as million of much smarter persons don't have an answer, but I would suggest one place to start.  Work with each to improve life on planet earth by finding a simple common goal and working toward that goal without labels and titles for our philosophies.  I believe that if leaders of traditionally opposed parties would clear define goals to improve life and honestly and intelligently debate the path to those goals we would improve our lives.  We can balance poverty and wealth without taking anything from anyone.  We can accommodate residents, natives and guests around the same table.  We can believe our faith while recognizing those who believe in another faith.

We can continue to maintain a great society.

Sunday, February 5, 2017

On the Edge

It's super bowl Sunday; they say it's an unofficial national holiday.  Sometimes I wonder if it's considered more important than Christmas.  Too be a bit extreme, I wonder if comparing a couple teams of big men knocking each other to the ground over or paying thousands of dollars to watch that to a poor man who taught us to love each other, to be non-violent and whose memory and lessons continue to inspire and affect the entire world after 2000 years.

Yet, the wisdom of our current catholic pope saw the virtues of this day: to come together in unity to enjoy ourselves, to be positive; to respect rules and work together.  He helped me to make the connection between something I cherish and something I accept.

At church a mother of a young man, probably just shy of 30 years old, asked if I might visit with him about his questions concerned the reason for life and how God fits into the picture.  He is very close to family who lost a son a dozen years ago to cancer.  Now the dead boy's sister, just over 20 years old, is fighting cancer and not doing well.  So where is God in this scenario?

The super bowl pre-show included a clip of Johnny Cash's "Old Ragged Flag."  It speaks to respecting the flag that has been through many wars.  The men and women that have worked and fought so hard to keep America free both in war and peace, I respect them highly, to the point that I tear-up when I think about it.  However, I don't agree with pledging alliance to a piece of cloth, despite its symbolism, instead pledging alliance to the principles that form this country and society.

A blog I follow recently spoke of an open mind and how after listening openly one can close the mind on an idea judged to be best.  I'd be a hypocrite to say that my mind is more open than that because saying that means I have closed my mind.  Despite being raised in Christian doctrine that didn't leave much room for questions, I think I have more questions than ever including the role of Jesus and the nature of God.

Just about everything seems to sit on a razor thin edge where one could go one way or another.  So what do I know or believe.  I believe that I should first and foremost benefit other people and most issues will stay on the edge as questions that are secondary to what's most important.

I hope that if I fall off the edge on one side or the other I can climb back up to see what on the other side.  And you know even when I question God I inherently accept the God's existence because I'm asking God about God's existence.  Confusing isn't it.  That's living on the edge.

Friday, December 2, 2016

Inside Homesteading

If we mimicking homesteading or living off the land, and I do envision that often from raising some of our own food in garden, orchard and barnyard, there is the inside component, baking, cleaning, preparing food, cooking.  And so is today.

We've cut back on the baking, which is really hard to do because the products are so delicious, breads, sweet breads, rolls, cinnamon or grey rolls, pies, cookies, cakes, but so full of sugars, fats and carbohydrates.  But it's Christmas and we get to bake all these goodies for the special meals, as gifts and for parties when someone else will eat them.  We just get to bake them.

Today is in preparation for tomorrow when we give cinnamon rolls to the volunteers at the clinic.  Almost before my feet hit the floor when getting out of bed, I sprinkle the yeast over warm water and dribble in a bit of honey, honey fresh from the bees near Carson, North Dakota.  After a shower and dressing, and after the yeasty water is frothy, I add the other ingredients: molasses for a old-fashioned homemade delicious flavor, oil, milk (actually I add water and powdered milk), a nip of salt to enhance the flavors, about half the flour as whole wheat, it's healthier and it's adds to the old-fashioned flavor and some of the while flour.  I continue to add white flour until the consistency is right on.

Here's where I gleefully deviate from the "old-fashioned."  I have it all in the Kitchen-Aid mixer bowl and I turn on the mixer watching all the ingredients become one smooth silky batter.  Switching to the dough hook, I slowly add the rest of the flour until it appears to be a bread dough climbing the sides of the now dry walls of the bowls.  Onto the chopping board for kneading and adding flour for that perfect texture, about 100 folds in the kneading.  Into a large bowl so the batter, now called dough, can rest and rise to about double the size.

When it's doubled, the fun begins.  The dough is soft and silky and feels so good to knead.  Once the gases caused by the growing yeast are all kneaded out, it's divided and rolled out on the chopping block, about a quarter to three-eighths thick.  Spread on the soft butter, crumble on the brown sugar and sprinkle a coat of cinnamon.  Roll up, slice into inch and a half pieces, and place on their sides in a oiled pan.  We like the glass pans.

After another 15 or so minutes of resting and rising, it's in the oven, gas not wood, with a thermostat set at 350˚F for about 13 minutes.  Then it's out with an old-fashioned pot holder, dumped upside-down on the chopping block and dig in.  Oh no, these are for gifts and so we only get the one that broke or fell apart or was distorted or was damaged [intentionally] when coming out of the pan.

Did I mention that during the rest periods a cake was mixed and baked?  It's an eggless, marble cake to be served at church as a test for the upcoming wedding cake.  And so the day's routine is gloriously not routine.

Thursday, December 1, 2016

Not Much Yard Work

There are parts of the US who yard work now means shoveling or blowing snow; feet of it.  Here in Oregon it means emptying the rain gage and mowing the lawn one more time before Christmas.  I did rake the last of the leaves yesterday and lit the burn pile of yard debris, twigs and branches.  That's because there was no rain accumulating in the gage.

Today might have been more routine for this time of the year.  Mix and heat some water and sugar for the humming birds.  Put seeds in the bird feeder for the jays, chickadees, juncos, and dove.  The quail can share also but they were out back searching through the lawn.  The deer wondered into the yard until I asked it to leave.

There's the route to feed the dog, Sheba, to feed the cats, Dr. Skittles and Toby, to feed the chickens and gather any eggs if there are any.  Actually yesterday there were two, the first ones in about a month and they were pullet sized.  The filter in the fish pond will have to be cleaned tomorrow.

We did pick the two squash and six pumpkins a couple days before Thanksgiving so we had real pumpkin pie and froze the squash for another day.  The forecast talks about snow in the mountains, even down to a thousand feet but we're at less than 500 and the valley floor is somewhat lower than that.  We're safe; maybe some scattered rain showers.  A great time to write, paint and do some woodworking.