Monday, December 25, 2017


And a Happy Christmas to all.

I thought about some of the most special gifts that showed
up at my house over the years.

Cars – cars were always a good thing

The moon wagon – which took one husband and one brother a couple
 of hours to put together

“So”, sez my mother, “I think your father is going to get the girls a puppy for Christmas.”
Fine – please nothing that has to go to a groomer. 
Meet Sherlock.

This package was most curious.

I loved to play pinball and so one Christmas morning ….

Merry Meet
Merry Part
and Merry Meet Again

Saturday, December 23, 2017

Egg whites, vanilla, sugar ….

So, I mentioned we always had Angel Food Cake on Christmas Eve.  Do you realize what a pain this cake is to make??? 

First of all, it requires 12 (Twelve) egg whites (and I never knew what Mother did with all the yolks), a lot of sugar, a little flour and other stuff.  Then it gets put in a special pan.  (I have one – I’ll bet I’ve used it, oh - maybe 4 times in the past 40-odd years and never to make angel food cake.)  Baked and inverted onto a coke bottle to cool.  (Having never made one, I have no answers to your questions.)

Once removed from the pan, it’s time for the 7-minute cooked white frosting (that’s actually like meringue candy).  As far as I’m concerned, that frosting is equally a pain in the patootie to make.  But, I will say, it does turn out pretty on a cake – shiny, thick, making all sorts of peaks.  Doesn’t taste like anything but sugar, but it is pretty.

Ah ha! you are thinking, job done.  No no. 

Next is slicing the cake.  You don’t just take a standard dinner knife and slice.  It’s a deal.  Each female in the family (myself, my sister, both my daughters, my sister-in-law – though she swears she never had that particular joy) were all taught the proper way to cut THE angel food cake.

So, first of all, you need special tools – a narrow, thin, serrated knife and a tool designed specifically for cutting angel food cake (sort of a large metal fork mounted on a handle). 

You know, there are things you learn that you never forget – riding a bicycle, swimming, driving a car and cutting angel food cake.  Wiggle the large fork top down into the cake to the plate, point down, gently, using a sawing motion, cut the cake with the knife, remove the fork and put in in the slice made and repeat with the knife, lay the slice of cake on the fork and put it on the plate.

I was never tasked with the responsibility of making the Christmas cake after Mother stopped.  That little job and recipe was given to my youngest daughter --- I don’t think she’s ever made it either.

Take care.

Thursday, December 21, 2017

T’was the night before Christmas and …

I’ve said before that Christmas was a really big deal in my family.  Christmas Eve was a very big deal.  My mother thought and said (many times), "Everyone should get dressed up at least once a year and there’s no reason it shouldn’t be Christmas Eve”.  So, every Christmas Eve we were all dressed “to-the-nines”. 

Dinner was the same every year – turkey, dressing, mashed sweet potatoes (with marshmallows on top), mashed white potatoes, green beans, giblet gravy, and little dinner rolls.  Salads were unique (perhaps to my family) – spiced pear halves (that came out of the can a red color) with a “santa” face piped on with cream cheese.  Then, dessert (which was absolutely unique to my family) – angel food cake with cooked 7-minute frosting and ambrosia.  It seems to me, this particular dessert must have been aimed at the adults because (and even to this day) neither my sister, brother or I liked it.  After dinner there was coffee in the living room.  

This was never the sort of dinner with everyone bringing part of the dinner.  No-no.  Of course, my mother never did any of the cooking either – well she made the cake and ambrosia but that’s all.  The rest was prepared by her maid/cook. 

Every year there was always a full house with my grandmother, visiting aunts and uncles, friends, and/or an out-of-town visitor with no plans for the evening. 

Eventually, I took over fixing dinner and there were some changes.  Everyone brought something.  My sister and Michael cooked latkes.  And although there was still the angel food cake, there were other things like chocolate fudge pecan pie.  Everyone still dressed up although there were fewer tuxedos and fancy dresses.  There were still lots of people - our children, their friends, aunts, uncles, in-laws, and the odd person or two that had no place to go on Christmas Eve.

Take care.

Tuesday, December 19, 2017

Santa Claus is coming to town …

So, Did you know …..

The legend of Santa Claus can be traced back hundreds of years to a monk named St. Nicholas of Patara, in modern day Turkey. It is said that he gave away all of his inherited wealth and traveled the countryside helping the poor and sick. Over the course of many years, Nicholas’s popularity spread and he became known as the protector of children and sailors.

St. Nicholas made his first inroads into American popular culture towards the end of the 18th century. In December 1773, and again in 1774, a New York newspaper reported that groups of Dutch families had gathered to honor the anniversary of his death.  The name Santa Claus evolved from the Dutch nickname, Sinter Klaas. In 1804, John Pintard, a member of the New York Historical Society, distributed woodcuts of St. Nicholas at the society’s annual meeting. The background of the engraving contains the now-familiar Santa images including stockings filled with toys and fruit hung over a fireplace.
In 1822 Clement Clarke Moore wrote "A Visit from St. Nicholas" (also known as "The Night Before Christmas"). It was published anonymously the next year, and to this day the plump, jolly Santa described therein rides a sleigh driven by eight tiny reindeer.

Once firmly established, North America's Santa then underwent a kind of reverse migration to Europe adopting local names like Père Noël (France) or Father Christmas (Great Britain), or Grandfather Frost (Russia). "

You want me to do what?
no, I don't think so

Who are you again?

Take care.

Sunday, December 17, 2017

Hand Tales

Once upon a time I was asked what’s the first thing I notice about others.  Well, probably the first thing is just a general overall “photo” in my mind of the person from hair to toe.  But the thing I really notice, the thing that sticks with me, that tells me about that person, is their hands.  Hands are very expressive – they can poke, hold, dig, show love or anger, tell stories, produce art and music, show confidence or fear, be graceful and firm, and reveal our thoughts.  

I may be more apt to remember if someone I've  met has nicely manicured and well tended hands.  I may not remember exactly what they are wearing but I will remember if their fingernails are painted orange and purple.  

At some point, when obviously I wasn’t paying attention, my grandchildren’s hands went from this

To this

Seems to have happened overnight. 

Take care

Wednesday, December 13, 2017

Who are you ..

In my family, I am the genealogy researcher; the keeper of various bits and pieces of history about who and when we were.  It’s an interesting, frustrating, thoroughly annoying hobby. 

Honestly – it’s a disease.

I got hooked when, 40-odd years ago, my mother gave me a letter that had been sent to her mother about the Storms family.  From then to now, once I get working on the history files, I completely lose track of my place in time.  Partly because when discovering that an ancestor came to America in 1700, I wonder what ship travel at that time would have been like.  Terrible, it would have been terrible.

"...during the voyage there is on board these ships terrible misery, stench, fumes, horror, vomiting, many kinds of seasickness, fever, dysentery, headache, heat, constipation, boils, scurvy, cancer, mouth rot, and the like, all of which come from old and sharply-salted food and meat, also from very bad and foul water, so that many die miserably.”

I wonder now, how did my grandmother (born in Center Point, TX) meet my grandfather (born in Schuylkill, PA).  Was a 4th great grandmother really captured by Indians in 1783 Virginia.  What would it have been like for my 52 year old 3rd great grandmother to have traveled via flatboat and covered wagon from Kentucky to Texas in 1860.  Where did one my 2nd great grandfathers come from prior to showing up in Texas in 1850.  Aarrggghhh!  This is the frustrating part.  NOBODY WROTE ANYTHING DOWN AND PASSED THE INFORMATION ALONG.  Honestly, I think that only happens in books anyway. 

I have a painting of a second great grandfather but it appears nobody ever wrote down his name.  After long research, I am leaning toward him being:

Johannas Karl Heinrich Baas 
Zierolshofen, Baden, GR 
Feldwebel in the Medlenburg Grenadiers
Personal Guard to the King

For the most part though, I have been able to find out a great deal.  Most family lines immigrated to the America’s prior to 1750, some as early as the mid-1600’s.  I do know we are 60% from England, Ireland, Scotland, Wales; 20% France, Germany; 20% Sweden, Norway.  There were British and Scottish
Robert fitzHarding
dukes.  There were many colonists that fought for freedom in the American Revolution.  A few that were British to the core and supported England.  Some that owned large plantations.  Some that were drunks and ne’er-do-wells.  Brothers that fought against one another in the Civil War.  We even have a couple of ancestors tried for witchcraft in 1600 Virginia.  And, if you want to go back really far, Swedish Royalty (of course that’s in the 900’s and there are many ??? about who and what) plus, as big as families were back in the day, I suspect there are a lot of people that can claim that tiny thread. 

If I could go back in time I wouldn't like to meet some glorious historical figure, I’d like to have a conversation with some of my many great grandparents to find out what life was like for them really. 

Take care

Tuesday, December 12, 2017

“What a curious power words have.” ― Tadeusz Borowski

Like all of us, I have a routine in the mornings which starts at 6:30ish with feeding Morgan and ends about 8ish with breakfast.  After breakfast, I open up the laptop and spend some time wandering around the internet, checking mail, facebook, the weather, the google news feed, and so forth.  Today, while looking through all the newsy articles, I saw one that stated Merriam-Webster had announced “The Word of the Year”.  Wow – who knew there was a Word of the Year.  As it turns out, there are several organizations and websites that offer a Word of the Year.

Merriam-Webster - 2017 - FEMINISM
1- the theory of the political, economic, and social equality of the sexes; 2- organized activity on behalf of women's rights and interests

So, I checked around to see what other Words there were.  Many and lots, let me tell you. 

From our long ago past, the Historical Dictionary of American Slang offers ---
1500 - Geck  An eccentric individual 
1600 - Addlepate  A stupid or foolish person. 
1700 - Claptrap   Nonsense. 
1800 - Shoddyocracy — people who get rich selling shoddy merchandise or services.

Then I found The American Dialect Society site (founded in 1889, ADS is dedicated to the study of the English language in North America, and of other languages, or dialects of other languages, influencing it or influenced by it).

Wowsy again – they not only have a Word of the Year, they have words in various categories.  Like

Most Useful
2011 - Humblebrag  - an expression of false humility

Most Unnecessary
2008 - Moofing - working on the go with a laptop and cell phone

Least Likely to Succeed
2012 - Phablet - mid-sized electronic device larger than a phone, smaller than a tablet

Then there was this –
"Trump" has been named the children's 2017 "Word of the Year" by the Oxford University Press.  Use of the word "Trump" has increased 839 percent. They analyzed over 100,000 short stories written by British children for a competition, and have already declared "Trump" to be the Children's Word of this Year.  From those kids' imaginations emerged such characters as Boggle Trump, Snozzle Trump, and Trumplestilskin. 

Take care.

                                           Emoji - 2015