Almost Christmas




Sunday night was the last Sunday of Advent but because of the program at the German School my granddaughters attend, we celebrated last night. There were ten of us, but the children were sometimes what my son Andy calls, “hangry”, meaning hungry and therefore cranky (angry). Lasagna helped the problem for three of them, but one was too “hangry” to eat! Still, peace was restored for the singing, and we all enjoyed it. We each had a chance to chose a song, so we sang ten carols in all and decided we might not survive another round! But it was good. Anytime a family gathers together is good, I think.

Yesterday was the first day at the new job for my sil Mike. He liked it, but first days are not usually that typical. I think, however, that it will be a good fit for him. And certainly, the commute, a half hour through the National Park and then a few minutes on another road, is wonderful compared to the highway driving he used to have to do.

I am enjoying the preparations and mostly succeeding in not becoming overwrought. I do have help. I have only a few more cards to send out and all the presents are wrapped. (Hmmmmmm…..That is not true, and not what I meant to type! I meant to say all the presents are bought. A sort of Freudian slip? Lots to do yet, but Alice is going to help me Thursday morning.) Decorating is still going on, but is very low key compared to the past.The Christmas CDs are doing their magic, and I find time, here and there, to just sit and think and count my blessings…..Tomorrow is the Solstice! And then, the long slog to the equinox, but the days will all be getting longer, day by day…

Part of me is already longing for Spring! But I can slow down and  find the beauty in every day. And that is what I wish for you all along with a very merry Christmas!


Some of you may know one of my sons in law lost his job last March when his employer began downsizing and eliminated, I think, 26 managers and most of the division he was in.

I’ve never seen anyone work as assiduously at finding work as Mike did! Everyday he networked and attended meetings and learned about things that might help him find a new good job. And now he has one! December 19th he will begin as Manufacturing Engineering Manager for a large plant a bit north of us. And everyone is happy and we had to celebrate. So Emily and Ingmar had a celebration dinner last Sunday evening. It was another raclette event, much enjoyed by everyone!


We had delicious bread and rolls baked by Ingmar – the equal of anything I’ve ever eaten in Europe, but so impossible to find here. And several kinds of meat – bacon, prosciutto, chicken, shrimp were on the table, and tiny potatoes and onions, asparagus tips, sprouts, zucchini, real Raclette cheese, and mushrooms…And best of all, wonderful company in the happiest of spirits.


We did not grill the sprouts, of course!

School holidays do not begin until the 21st, but everyone is feeling the excitement in the air! Decorations begin going up……(The blue plaque is a Hungarian house blessing which is always up at Alice’s.)


Stephen has been entertaining himself in unusual ways…….


(You can see some Christmas decorations in the next picture.)


When the tower is complete he shoots out one of the lowest cups and watches it all fall down….And then begins again!

Two days ago it was Thanksgiving! A wonderful Thanksgiving! Sofia came up with two ideas of what we could do for sharing our blessings. Her ideas were one, make a big poster of a turkey and give people feathers cut from paper which we could use to write down some of our blessings and two, make lots of leaves for people to cut out and write out our blessings on and tape them on a big poster.  In the end, the leaf idea won out, and was very successful.

All the food was delicious except for a new recipe Emily and Clara tried for pumpkin pie. It was from scratch, too….But so inedible that they threw it out! Luckily we had delicious apple pie and so much strudel, I think they are finishing it up today.

The Sagaponack Corn pudding was wonderful!  I think we will be seeing it again in the future. Ina Garten adapted it from a recipe at a store called Loaves and Fishes in Sagaponack, New York.

Ingredients1/4 pound (1 stick) unsalted butter
5 cups fresh yellow corn kernels cut off the cob (6 to 8 ears)
1 cup chopped yellow onion (1 onion)
4 extra-large eggs
1 cup milk
1 cup half-and-half
1/2 cup yellow cornmeal
1 cup ricotta cheese
3 tablespoons chopped fresh basil leaves
1 tablespoon sugar
1 tablespoon kosher salt
3/4 teaspoon freshly ground black pepper
3/4 cup (6 ounces) grated extra-sharp cheddar, plus extra to sprinkle on topDirectionsPreheat the oven to 375 degrees F. Grease the inside of an 8 to 10-cup baking dish.

Melt the butter in a very large saute pan and saute the corn and onion over medium-high heat for 4 minutes. Cool slightly.

Whisk together the eggs, milk, and half-and-half in a large bowl. Slowly whisk in the cornmeal and then the ricotta. Add the basil, sugar, salt, and pepper. Add the cooked corn mixture and grated cheddar, and then pour into the baking dish. Sprinkle the top with more grated cheddar.

Place the dish in a larger pan and fill the pan 1/2 way up the sides of the dish with hot tap water. Bake the pudding for 40 to 45 minutes until the top begins to brown and a knife inserted in the center comes out clean. Serve warm.



Yesterday I babysat for Clara and Sofia while their parents went to another Thanksgiving Dinner at a friend’s home. Four and a half hours of Pink Panther cartoons is rather wearying! But I love spending time with these sweet little girls.

Today I am resting. Tomorrow Alice, Emily and I and my grandchildren are all going to a performance of The Nutcracker at Hudson High School about a half hour north east of here. Many years we attend this somewhere. This will be a new program.

Afterwards we are going to Emily’s because tomorrow is the first Sunday of Advent. We will be singing Advent and Christmas carols in English, Hungarian and German from our family song book. We will have the candle light from the first candle and the warmth of being together. Advent is a time of looking forward to Christmas, but for me, it is also a time of remembering Advents from the past, and cultivating that sense of not being sad it is in the past, but grateful that it happened!


This picture is like and unlike the Thanksgivings of my childhood…We always had Thanksgiving at my grandmother’s house, so unlike. But it was the era of stoves which looked like the one in the picture and women who wore aprons all the time when working in the kitchen. It certainly was another world…

We all have a lot for which to be thankful, even in difficult times. My family is the most important blessing in my life, but there are many others.

But in order to feel really thankful, I have to limit my time looking at Facebook! It can be so overwhelming. I don’t think humans were designed to process so much information, and so much bad news so quickly. It doesn’t help me have the right feelings for this week!

But I am not going to discuss the bad news. I will pray about it. I will donate the money I can where I think it would help. But I don’t want to write about it. It’s like biting on a bad tooth to see if it still aches and making it worse with every test!


Andy has been cleaning out the guest room which had been a sort of dumping ground for all manner of things and found a poster I made for the Thanksgiving dinner I made for our Hungarian friends in Budapest in 1998. It is a beautiful memory from a time when we were all younger and alive and healthy. I have to guard my mind from slipping into sadness…. But good things, lots of them, have happened from that time. Perhaps the best events have been the births of four wonderful grandchildren, Nathan, Sofia, Clara, and Stephen! And the fact that we are all living here in our little township. Tomorrow I am going with Alice to see Sofia’s class play at the same school Alice, Emily, and Andy attended. It is much enlarged since then, but the same Hillcrest School. Another blessing. We have had a great deal of continuity in our lives.

art-thanksgiving-blue-backgroundThere are so many images of Thanksgiving on my computer. Looking through them makes me smile and puts me in a good mood to count blessings!

thanksgiving-not-oursWe do have one vegetarian, but I assure you the picture above does not reflect our Thanksgiving table! We divide our menu, which is always rather similar but always seems to have something new in it, into a sort of potluck. Ingmar, who has never done a turkey, though he roasts a mean goose at Christmas, will be in charge of this, this year, and he and Emily are hosting the dinner. He’ll make stuffing, too. But I will bring a vegetarian stuffing, a green bean casserole, a tossed salad and a cranberry orange relish. Andy and Nathan will be doing the potatoes. Andy bought potatoes for a small army. He was overcome with the possibilities of buy one, get one free! He is also roasting the delicious vegetarian Hazelnut Cranberry Field Roast en Croute which we’ve been enjoying for several years now…… And Alice is making Ina Garten’s Sagaponack Corn Pudding. I can’t wait to taste this! Emily and Clara and Sofia will make pumpkin pie and apple pie and Alice and Barney will bring, I think, strudel from their favorite Hungarian bakery.

A walk after the first part of the meal is usually in order!

For all those others who will be celebrating, I wish  you a joyful Thanksgiving!

May your moments be filled with the counting of blessings!


Beauitful Thanksgiving Cards For Business Sayings

Remembering all the veterans in my own family….This year I learned of a few more.
Having been adopted, and then having my first adopted father die when I was in Kindergarten and then having my mother remarry when I was seven, I ended up with five parents and have been doing genealogy for all five.  This year I did an Ancestry DNA test and discovered a first cousin on my father’s side from whose wife (and Ancestry)  I learned lots more about the Daniel side of my family. All three of my fathers served in WWII. My birth father was in the Navy, my first adopted father was in the Naval Air Force and taught flying at an air base near Chicago, and my third father was a dentist in the Air Force and stationed in Bedford, England.
In my birth father’s family, which was in Tennessee at the time of the Civil War, a father and son fought in the Union Army.  I imagine there are more  soldiers when I get farther back in this investigation. I already knew about my great great grandfather, Ruben Cole, from a Mennonite family, who enlisted in the Union Army in 1861 along with his younger brother John….In my mother’s family are two soldiers from the Revolutionary War, Henry Ferguson and Andrew  Pontius (Punches) and one soldier from the War of 1812, James Haverfield. I read history to try and gain a  sense, little though it may be, of the worlds they lived in and their lives. On this day especially, it is good to remember them all.
I have temporarily or forever left face book. It was becoming actually disturbing to my soul and had to be left. At the same time, there was a lot that was good about it and I am not sure what I will do in the long run.
After this unsettling week, the following poem seems to come into my mind. It seems to sooth me, though so do other things, especially the 5th Chapter of the Gospel of St. Matthew. But here is the poem, written in the 1920s by Max Erhmann, I think.
It has been read and heard often, but I still find it worth hearing again.
Go placidly amidst the noise and haste,
and remember what peace there may be in silence.
As far as possible without surrender be on good terms with all persons.
Speak your truth quietly and clearly; and listen to others
even the dull and the ignorant; they too have their story.
Avoid loud and aggressive persons,
they are vexations to the spirit.
If you compare yourself with others,
you may become vain and bitter;
for always there will be greater and lesser persons than yourself.
Enjoy your achievements as well as your plans.
Keep interested in your own career, however humble;
it is a real possession in the changing fortunes of time.
Exercise caution in your business affairs;
for the world is full of trickery.
But let this not blind you to what virtue there is;
many persons strive for high ideals;
and everywhere life is full of heroism.
Be yourself.
Especially, do not feign affection.  Neither be cynical about love;
for in the face of all aridity and disenchantment
it is as perennial as the grass.
Take kindly the counsel of years;
gracefully surrender the things of youth.
Nurture strength of spirit to shield
you in sudden misfortune.
But do not distress yourself with dark imaginings.
Many fears are born of fatigue and loneliness.
Beyond a wholesome discipline,
be gentle with yourself.
You are a child of the universe,
no less than the trees and the stars;
you have a right to be here.
And whether or not it is clear to you,
no doubt the universe is unfolding as it should.
Therefore be at peace with God,
whatever you conceive him to be,
and whatever your labors and aspirations,
in the noisy confusion of life keep peace with your soul.
With all its sham, drudgery, and broken dreams,
it is still a beautiful world.
Be cheerful.
Strive to be happy.

Yes, still we are having days of brilliant sun and tender blue skies with perhaps fewer leaves but those few are a glory of scarlet and gold and pale yellow against the evergreens and hollies….We will not have them long, but we have them still as we begin those dark days that lead to Christmas……


Daylight Savings time has ended and this weekend Alice and her family drove up to beautiful Lake Chautauqua and closed up the cottage for another summer.Our 35th summer of owning this place of such happiness.


I have two funny Stephen photos to share….

The first one is him training for American Ninja Warrior, something evidently dear to his heart.


He seems to have the look down pat!

The second, which is my favorite, was taken at the practice for Science Olympiad this afternoon…His brother Nathan is the one competing and he and his partner were working on their project when they were perfectly photo bombed. One of Alice’s friends very accurately called this the “I solemnly swear I am up to no good” face.



I am not quite sure why I felt unable to do a new blog  post before today, but so it was. A lot of good things have been happening in my world and I’ll try to do a bit of catch up.

Perhaps one of the most exciting was Andy’s trip to Hungary and Germany for two weeks. He stayed with his Aunt Isa who turned 90 this summer. All my children wished her a happy birthday in person. She lived in the States from 1971 until 2001 and worked hard at having personal relationships with her nieces and nephews! Andy also visited many other places in Hungary. Our friends the Ercsenyi family helped him locate some of the places in the  photographs of his great grandfather’s steam boat, the Nyitra. Some were remarkably similar to the earlier photos taken between 1896 and 1914. (The building in one of them was put up in 1896 and the steamboat was requisitioned in 1914, during WWI.)



He also enjoyed visiting a train museum, the one my nephew Christof and his family saw when Alice and her family were in Hungary in August, and lots of other places that had a personal meaning to him.

Then Andy had some time with relatives in Ravensburg, Germany, a place we’ve visited many times.

I was happy that he had such a great journey, but especially happy when he returned home! He got a very good price for the round trip by driving to Chicago and leaving his car with his friend Kevin P and his family, and then flying to Munich via Istanbul. However, on the way back poor weather kept the flight from leaving Istanbul. Turkish Airways put everyone up overnight but there was not really time for much sightseeing there, alas.

My grandchildren have been busy, too. Stephen and his Mom visited my inlaws Alice and Barney who are like third grandparents and spoil him immensely whenever he is at their home.


They are vegetarians, but have special chicken nuggets for Stephen because they know he loves them, as well as special desserts….Oh, and Stephen turned six on October 6th. We had a wonderful birthday celebration for him. He’s getting to be such a big boy and loves kindergarten!

Nathan is involved in Science Olympiad and Boy Scouts. They had a wilderness camping a few weeks ago and he loved it. His troop had to make their own shelters and cook their own food.

My son in law Mike, father of Stevie and Nathan, went to North Carolina for two weeks as a Red Cross Volunteer , working at a shelter for people who had been devastated by the flooding there. The day he returned, last Friday, Alice had tickets to watch the World Series Game on the JumboTron at Progressive Field. Yes, Cleveland is in the World Series and doing very well, indeed…I remember 1948! I was only three years old, but I remember how excited the grown ups were because we won the World Series!


My sweet Clara and Sofia come for dinner every Friday and we often play card games, but they also do an amazing amount of art work. They write original books that are many pages long! They make zillions of pictures for me. Clara often does lovely women in amazing costumes and Sofia’s pictures are usually of animals, or at least, have animals in them. Last Sunday was the German School Fall Festival and they were both in a production of The Pied Piper of Hamlin…….




They also both went to a fall pumpkin festival at Luther Farm in our area.


I think this is enough catching up for today! I hope it won’t be nearly a month before I post something again!