Is  blue!

Blue flowers and white flowers are my favorites.

I always wanted to grow blue hydrangeas and have tried a number of times. They just didn’t live, alas. I know all about acid and basic soil additions to influence the color, but they just didn’t live for me.

But now, my dear son in law Ingmar has had success at the cottage and this is the third or fourth year of lovely blue hydrangeas! Lots of beautiful flue blooms!

Chautauqua july 2016 flowers

Alice’s Work!

Alice has been busy making a sign for the cottage. We still don’t have the final “Fern Lodge” sign made but she made one which says something Paul used to tell us all and our guests, too: GO JUMP IN THE LAKE!

Alice july 2016 her jump in the lake sign

Rather quiet days just now, outside of doctor’s appointments and tests. But the weekend was a sweet one – Clara had a lovely birthday party with so many cakes! Ingmar baked a Black Forest Torte and two Swiss Rolls – one with raspberry filling and one with blueberry. And he and his mother baked several other desserts – one with a wafer in it, a delicious nut roll, and one with poppy seed and Greek yogurt as some of the ingredients.

Clara july 2016 Papa and Oma with the million cakes

But there was nothing left at the end….There were a lot of guests, including  a dozen children…..Later on there was a buffet dinner with lots of salads and different kinds of meat (chicken, pork, hot dogs, bratwurst, etc.) which Ingmar grilled out on the deck. The German grandmother made a delicious carrot salad I’ve never eaten before, as well as a German potato salad. I made a quinoa salad with lots of vegetables, there was a huge tossed green salad and  a pasta salad. I’d been over for Kaffee and Kuchen the day before the party and all of us had a little chopping party to help get all these carrots, onions, and pickles chopped up. Lots of fun doing this together.

Clara july 2016 party

The picture above is from the family party on Friday  morning. These parties are celebrated at breakfast and always feature the train with the candles and the paper roses my sil Alice made for Emily’s bridal shower in 2003. They live in a cardboard box between celebrations.

Clara july 2016 bday when your first gift is a book

Clara loves books for presents! Sometimes it is hard to pry her out of them and back to opening the rest of the gifts!

Clara July 2016 family bday

This week the girls are going to Art Camp, about two hours a day of ceramics, and also swimming classes for a half an hour four days a week. Their sweet Oma flew back to Germany yesterday and now Emily is very busy working on two grant proposals due by the 21s of July.

Next week the Republican National Convention comes to Cleveland and Cleveland State University  does not want any students or faculty in the city. So Emily will be teaching online from home. I’m glad she won’t be downtown though I hope everything will be peaceful. So, perhaps these days are not as quiet as I began this post saying they were.

Nathan’s baseball team is in the playoffs!

Nathan july 2016 maybe last game of the year....they are in the playoffs

Stephen wants to be on American Ninja Warrior and I must say, it seems to be part of his character from his earliest days….When he was just two years old he dragged a case of beer over to the gate from the kitchen to the mudroom and tried to escape! And now he tries to climb everything he can! This is not the craziest thing he has done!

Stephen July 2016 ninja Stephen

And he went on his first family bike ride with no training wheels.

Stephen july 2016 first real no training wheels bike ride

And on that bike ride, by the Cuyahoga River, they saw something very strange….A snake was trying to eat a fish which was just too big for it, so it eventually stopped trying and left.

Stephen july 2016 first bike ride snake tries to eat a fish and gives up

Sorry if this photo seems a little too gross….It’s actually quite interesting, too.


Almost here.

It’s the time of year I think about ancestors who fought for this country. I think about what it meant when I was growing up. About the good and bad ways things have changed since then. I come to no conclusions, really. I know I love this land and wish it well. I wish every country well and am so sad by all the suffering in the world at the moment. This is not a new thing but the scale seems disheartening. But we can’t spend our time obsessing about the evil in the world.

I will just try to do whatever good I can and focus on what is good. What else is there?

And there is so much that is good.

America the beautiful

This is what it looks like south of me. Alice and I are planning a trip to Amish country soon. It’s been too long.

I love the song America the Beautiful and especially love the way Beyonce sang it at President Obama’s 2008 Inauguration.


Busy June

Don’t you find me the master of catchy titles? No? Why I can hardly understand that.

Still, June has been really busy for all of us….Emily flew off to Budapest to wish her dear Isa neni a slightly early 90th birthday and then she went to a conference in Prague for a week. I had my sweet granddaughters with me both Saturdays all day and we all, I think this is true, had a wonderful time together. Nathan had a week of boy scout camp. Then Ingmar’s mother (Fia and Clara’s Oma from Germany) arrived for two weeks. And lots more. Sorry I have not been blogging about it more as it happens. And, of course, regular life goes on. My D.E. Stevenson group has been discussing Vittoria Cottage and Ingmar has had great Saturdays at the market and Andy has been really busy with work and his steamboat hobby. Mostly, it has been too hot. I just read a sad comment this morning that if one is less than 31 years old they have never had a month in all their lifetime which has had lower than normal temperatures. Certainly we have not normally had so many days in the 90s in June in my life. But yesterday and today have been in the 70s and I love it!

Alice june 2016 tania in town

Alice’s friend Tania from Seattle is here for a week and we all had a fun dinner together the day after Emily’s return. You can see photos of us all together last New Years for the raclette dinner in this post:  https://thickethouse.wordpress.com/2016/01/03/busy-busy-busy/

Clara june 2016 chess with oma

Clara and Oma study chess together.

Andy june 2016 buying another old boat for the  pontoons

Andy bought a very cheap “donor boat” to use for extra pontoons for the Nyitra, the pontoon boat he is changing to steam. Getting it onto the trailer was lots of fun. Before he had gone far on the road home, a man came running out of his house and bought the canopy for $50.00.




This is the present state of the donor boat. Andy has been taking it all apart and putting the rejected material (the deck was practically compost) into a Home Depot bagster which will be hauled away.

Sofia june 2016 em comes back from europe

The girls were so excited to welcome their mother home again.

Sofia june 2016 fruit w oma and clara and papa near rittmansofia june 2016 fruit pail

And to end on a sweet note – Ingmar, his Mom and the girls picked strawberries and raspberries at a farm near Rittman, Ohio yesterday. Yumm!


I had a lovely time at the cottage with Susan and Norman except – it was so cold and windy we could barely sit on the front porch to enjoy the lake! After ten to fifteen minutes we had to go in. Not only was it cold but the wind was practically gale force.  Of course the morning we all left it turned warmer and calm!

Still, weather could certainly not stop us from having lots of fun together. We had a great time at East Branch Books in Sherman where we always manage to find a few treasures, and then on to Quilt Haven in Lakewood. And the three of us enjoyed playing Oh, Hell! every evening. And we had a great visit with Susan’s cousin Jane and then all four of us went out for a dinner at the Ellicotville Brewing Company in Bemus Point. This is a new place where the old Surf Club once was and it’s lovely and the food was delicious and the company even better.


There are great flowers all around and one can listen to the concerts at the Italian Fisherman from the dining room.

Chautauqua ellicotville brewing co 2016 bemus

And now we are into some really hot weather for Bath, in June. Several days in the 90s which is quite unusual. Today Alice and Mike took Nathan to Camp Christopher for a week of Boy Scout Camp and after planted orange flowers (Paul’s favorite color) at his grave in the little country cemetery just a stone’s throw from the camp.

Nathan june 2016 boy scout camp Christopher

Nathan june 2016 by to family at boy scout camp Christopher

Paul june 2016 fathers day flowers alice and family planted

When Alice was washing dirt away from the marker they discovered an enormous nest of ants just off to the left. But everything was accomplished, and despite the drought we’ve been having,  these are the kinds of flowers  Paul loved and some mint from the dock at Chautauqua. Beautiful memories.



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