Smoking Adventures: Part Two

Friends! I last left you with my brother and three neighborhood friends in the cemetery trying to learn how to smoke when the town grocer, Tuenis Tillema joined them for some “real men” smoking lessons. Our smoking adventure continues. Enjoy!

By the end of the second cigarette Darren, Jason and Randy began to feel light-headed, a little… nauseated, and smoking wasn’t as cool as they thought it was. But, Tuenis persisted that real men could handle it, so on they went to cigarette number 3. This is where the glamour wore off…

It wasn’t long before Darren started to turn a little green. Cigarette number three was definitely his breaking point. He soon gave up and said he couldn’t do it anymore. I’m sure Tuenis was smiling from ear to ear; on the inside, of course. Watching Darren slowly walk, pausing here there to quell waves of nausea before slowly mounting his bike for the long peddle home.

One foolish boy succumbed to the nonsense of smoking, now for the remaining two. Eagerly encouraging the two remaining boys, Jason and Randy, Tuenis tapped the pack in his hand and drew out two additional cigarettes and handed each one cigarette number four.

Uncle!

Striking a match he lit the cigarettes and told them to draw deep. With cigarettes quivering between dried lips the boys could stand it no longer. Randy’s pale face had moved to a light shade of green and Jason was not far behind.

Coughing and half vomiting the boys threw the cigarettes onto the ground. Randy and Jason threw in the towel and said they were done. They watched Tuenis stamp out the half lit cigarettes and then slowly turned toward their bicycles.

Tuenis’s work was done. I’m sure he happily packed up his folding fishing chair and proudly stood. Giving a salute to the civil war veteran tombstone for a mission accomplished; behind which they all took refuge, and began his journey back to the store.

Randy didn’t have too far to bike. His home was just down the hill from the cemetery but Jason had a good block and a half. Climbing on to the bike, Jason felt waves of nausea and his once vigorous peddling was now half-hearted and shaky.

Someone’s in trouble now

Arriving home, my mother saw him ride his bike into the grass and half-crashing into the lawn, managed to walk right off his bike. He glanced up at the window to see my mom. The phone rang so she walked away from the window.

Sheepishly he quickly made his way into the house and down the stairs to the basement bathroom where he and the cool toilet bowl became fast friends for a few minutes.

This is where I come in. I had just arrived home from someplace and headed into the basement. I could hear my mom talking to someone, it started out serious but soon I could hear her holding back laughter and a few chuckles broke free.

I decided I should gather more information, so I sat quietly on the steps of the basement stairs. I heard my mom busily dialing the rotary phone and then hushed words, followed by busting-a-gut laughter.

Forgive me sister for I have sinned

My brother made his way from the basement bathroom to the stairs. He could hear my mom laughing and wondered what was going on. He was nervous, so I knew he had done something.

Slowly he told me what had gone down. Every so often his eyes would drift to the ceiling above as my mom moved around the kitchen talking and laughing.

Still green in color, I suggested he get a bucket and get ready because mom must know something was up. My advice- fess up and tell the truth. To which he nodded and steadied himself and went up the stairs.

Well, what do you have to say for yourself?

Opening the kitchen door, Jason walked into the kitchen. My mom had hung up from her phone call. A stern look in his direction let him know mom knew it all. “Well, what do you have to say for yourself?” said my mom.

From there, Jason delivered the whole sordid truth. I remained on the basement steps, hand over my mouth trying not to laugh. Mom clued Jason in on the phone call from Tuenis as well as a “chat” with Randy’s mom.

Once mom had finished scolding Jason, she invited him to lay down and rest. Adding that Dad would have a talk with him later. I just chuckled to myself and prayed for Jason. My dad was a smoker and I hoped he wouldn’t re-introduce the “art of smoking” to him that night.

That’s my story friends, and I’m sticking to it! Here is to great food, fun family memories and and very good life.

Smoking Adventures

If you’ve grown up in a small town, you know that there are some serious benefits to having spent your formative years roaming safely, freely, and without a care- well, till you were doing something your shouldn’t. Today I share with you some “smoking adventures” in our little town of Friesland.

The DMU certainly had their grip on the “goings ons” in the community. But don’t think the ladies were the only ones with their eye on things. The “old guys” kept a great eye on things as well.

Smoking in the cemetery

Image by Hans Rohmann from Pixabay

I remember one cloudy summer afternoon. I was making my way downstairs and my brother was making his way up. He looked a little sheepish and asked if he could talk with me.

We must have been at least fourth and fifth grade. With me being the eldest, I guess it became my duty to hear the “stairway confessional”. I found a seat on the stairs and he began to “spill his guts” on his recent misadventure.

As he relayed it, I began to conjure up the pictures in my mind. Somehow, someone found some money and had the wise idea they’d go buy a package of cigarettes. At that time cigarettes were about $2.31 a package. CHEAP compared to today’s price. Today’s price pretty much includes your health care costs, along with the program cost to quit smoking in every package. Anyway, back to my story…

So a few of the boys ran down to Friesland Foods and bought a package of cigarettes. Old Tuenis Tillema was working the till that day. He may have been “older than dirt” to us at the time, but he was pretty wise and sneaky. The money was laid down for the cigarettes, Tuenis eyed the group up and surmised that this really wasn’t for someone’s dad, this was for THE GROUP!

Thinking they pulled a fast one, they bolted out the door of the store, hopped on bikes, and drove up to the Friesland water tower and cemetery. They were right next to each other.

“Life is hard; it’s harder if you’re stupid.” – John Wayne

After holding a caucus at the base of the water tower, they decided that was too “out in the open”, and so chose to hide behind some big tombstone to being their smoking adventure.

In the meantime, back at the store, Tuenis had watched out the big store window where these boys were going. Tuenis told one of the other store clerks he was heading out to do some business, grabbed 2 additional packs of cigarettes and some lighters, and headed out. This is where the plot thickens.

Back in the cemetery, there are about five boys huddled behind some poor civil war veterans large tombstone. The cigarette package is open and they are trying to figure out how to go about smoking. Three boys decide to try smoking: Darren, Jason (my brother) and Randy. The rest of the guys were all just there to witness.

Hello boys!

As each new smoker attempted to light the cigarette and take their first puff, their lungs met this idea with great resistance. Coughing, sputtering and spitting, they each tried to make a go of this new past-time.

They all were so enthralled with the antics of the three virgin smokers they didn’t see old Tuenis walk upon them. Before they knew it, there stood Tuenis in the middle of the smoking session. “Hello, boys!”

Nobody moved as he took a seat on the little fishing chair he carried with him. He politely told them, that if they wanted to smoke, they were going to smoke like men. Those guys that were just witnesses to the smoking session jump and ran, but Darren, Jason, and Randy all froze.

Smoke’em if ya gott’em

I’m sure Tuenis was very pleased with himself. I can imagine his wrinkled face, with the wrinkles piling up in a large smile, so full of satisfaction, he probably had all he could to do keep from roaring with laughter. Tuenis was about to get the “show” of his afternoon.

Making each boy grab a cigarette, Tuenis gave them all the pointers they needed to start smoking right. The minutes ticked by and soon a regular cloud of smoke was rising from the tombstone. Through spits and sputters he encouraged them on. First one cigarette, then onto the second.

By the end of the second Darren, Jason and Randy began to feel light-headed, a little… nauseated, and smoking wasn’t as cool as they thought it was. But, Tuenis persisted that real men could handle it, so on they went to cigarette number 3. This is where the glamour wore off…

Cliff hanger! Till next time friends… here is to good food, good friends and a good life.

Read Part Two Here!

Michele

Stuck In the Barn Door

I was not born in a barn, but I did get stuck in the barn door. I’m sure you have paused from your reading and are thinking to yourself, “Hmm, did I just read that right?” Then you go back and read the sentence again confirming that, yes, indeed, you did read I got “stuck” in the barn door.

How, pray tell, does someone get stuck in the barn door? Easy! Let me explain in further detail. How we managed it is quite simple, but how we got out of it was not. It was this moment where my big sister bossy leadership skills took a backseat to panic.

Oh Happy Day!

Image by Couleur from Pixabay

If there could have been a song playing while I was packing to go to my Aunt Myrt’s and Uncle Carl Hoffman’s dairy farm, it would have been “Oh Happy Day”.

It was always a treat to go out to their farm. Farm’s, in general, have so much to explore, see, and do. Especially for town kids, farm life was absolutely mesmerizing. I was endeared to all the animals. My brother Jason? Well, he just wanted to ride tractors and shoot birds with his BB gun.

With great excitement, I began packing my clothes into a small, square, 1960’s avocado green toiletries “train case”. Shut the lid, and pressed the large metal clasps shut. There! I was now ready to leave. Ahead of the schedule as usual- it was only 5:30 am.

Lugging the trail case up the hallway, I paid my parent’s bedroom a visit. My dad was getting ready for work, and my mother was dismayed to see me already up and asked me to go back to bed for a few minutes.

Dejected, I lugged the suitcase back up the hallway, into my room, dropped it on the floor, and climbed back onto my bed. I knew what a “few minutes” meant.

Ready, set, go

Image by pjmdesi from Pixabay

The moment had arrived, my mom announced it was time to go to the farm. We grabbed pillows, suitcases, and a sweatshirt. I’m sure our feet didn’t even hit the ground as we flew to the car and piled in.

Although the trip to Aunt Myrts was not more than five minutes, it seemed an eternity. Finally, the rusty farm windmill was in sight and I knew that we had only seconds till we hit their gravel farmyard.

We pulled up to the cement pad that leads to the house. Barely able to contain our excitement, my brother and I unload from the car each wanting to be the “first” into the house.

Jason made it to the steps into the house first. He whipped open the screen door and ran through the breezeway, and opened the house door. “We’re here!” shouted my brother. My Aunt was sitting at the kitchen table having a peaceful cup of coffee, probably thinking to herself the “peace and quiet” are definitely over.

Aunt Myrt

We loved Aunt Myrt. She was THE best Aunt, EVER. She played games with us, she let us do crafts, and she read books. Bet you’d never guess she was a teacher. Most of all, she let us roam about the farm and just be kids, with just a few particular rules.

We generally got the same lecture:

  • DON’T climb in the corn cribs
  • DON’T go into the milking barn
  • STAY AWAY from the road
  • NO playing in the machine shed
  • STAY OUT of the haymow
  • STAY OUT of the cornfield

These rules were generally adhered to, and we nodded our heads in agreement, dropped our stuff, and flew out the screen door. There were batches of kittens to find, cow pies to poke at with sticks and cookies to be eaten.

Let’s check the feed room

Without even as much as a “goodbye” to our mom, we left the house racing toward the barn. Mom was going to stay and visit for a bit and then go back home where “peace and quiet” had now taken residence.

Pulling down the latch I swung the door wide and we entered to feed room and turned on the light. We were allowed in the feed room, this is where most of the cats had their kittens. We poked around only to find one batch of kittens-bummer. But as was well as we sat and petted and played with each kitten.

TO BE CONTINUED…

My America: The Secret Life of Trosky Road

I’ve lived on busy roads my entire adult life. So living on a busy road in Edgerton didn’t bother me. I enjoy life here on Trosky Road and it certainly has an interesting life. I can say this as my ever decreasing melatonin levels allow me to be awake at hours most can’t even comprehend. Believe me, I would rather be sleeping.

In the wee morning hours

I do try to remain in bed when I can’t sleep. I tell myself that I still need to rest. Not too long after telling myself this, a round table discussion about life begins, followed by making to-do lists as well as writing topic lists and so goes the merry circle of conversation in my cranium.

A famous time for me to get up is around 3 am. In the winter, getting up at 3 am is a bit of a chore as it’s colder in the house and so it requires an Alaskan dress code. Summer, however, allows me a little more freedom. I simply slip on some slippers and a housecoat and I’m ready to tackle the day.

I have been known to fold baskets of laundry, sort drawers, do some recycling, bring out the garbage, along with reading books, writing my articles, organizing my office, and then road watching.

Here come the trucks

There is very little traffic on the road till about 3:30, then you can hear the semi’s begin their runs. I watch Bolluyt trucks fire up and get ready for their day as well as other local truckers already rolling. The coffee begins to call me so into the kitchen to make a pot I go. I try to not make coffee before 4:30 am. Just in case sleep decides to return.

A little after 5:30 you have traffic heading in for Edgebrook Care Center, and I imagine Feys. Several other folks are driving by on their way to other jobs throughout the area. During the school year buses are making their way out of Edgerton around 6:30 am. Then at about 7:45 am buses begin their way back into town as well as busy moms and driving teens.

Trosky Road a great place to walk, jog and lose your stuff

Image by Rolf Hassel from Pixabay

Weekends seem to be a busy foot traffic time. You will see many people out jogging, walking, and a few biking. The nice wide road makes it safe to walk and the scenery going east is easy on the eyes.

I get a chuckle out of what ends up in the ditches on Trosky Road. You would be amazed at what we have stumbled upon over the years:

  • Hanes men’s underwear- in need of burning
  • jockstrap- obviously this sequester came to an end
  • misc. fishing items- guess they have as good luck as I do fishing
  • little girls jeans- took them home, washed them and they fit Gab
  • cooler- no food, raccoons must have got there first
  • shirts- unremarkable
  • single shoe- don’t you just wonder how someone loses one shoe?
  • bottles of urine- someone was doing the Cannon Ball Run I guess
  • complete lunches- did they read my story on throwing sandwiches in my neighbor’s evergreens?
  • money- collected $30 so far
  • smokes- a full pack of Camel’s

A bit of mischief

I wish I could try my old Friesland Fishing Pole trick on Trosky Road. But I am quite sure Pipestone County won’t find it very funny, especially considering my age. I will have to settle for some mischief from my newest four-legged neighbor “Stretch”.

Stretch DeKam is a Dachshund. He guards his side of Trosky Road from his landscaping pavers. Patrolling the narrow cement path looking for unsuspecting folk and giving them a good bark! This scares the daylights out of most folks, which is a hoot to watch play out.

First, Stretch is low to the ground giving him his best advantage. Second, he is sneaky- you have learned your craft well Stretch. Third, the pitch of his bark is just enough to scare you and then laugh at yourself for getting scared by this “wee little dog”. It’s terrible, but I truly enjoy watching the whole drama play out. Someone should tell Stretch the German Occupation is over! Ha, just kidding Stretch!

The play-by-play

Just imagine John Madden being the Trosky Road Color Commentator:

“Stretch, sitting by the hostas. He’s quiet now. Okay, here comes a guy on a bike not paying attention, too busy looking at his phone. Stretch like a dart, heads down the cement highway, nails clicking.”

Wait for it…. 3,2,1… bark! bark! bark!” Snickering is heard from the “peanut gallery” across the road.

Stretch sometimes is asleep on duty, but you can be sure once he has realized his error he makes up for it by the intensity of his bark. I have caught him unaware a time or two. There lays Stretch. Sunning himself on the driveway ontop a nice blankie, softly snoring. And then Michele says “Hiya Stretch” and with a snort, he’s up and on duty!

One day a group of walkers with children were coming by. Some unsuspecting boy got the shock of his life when Stretch exploded from the bushes with his war-like bark. That poor kid nearly tipped off his bike in surprise. It got a few snickers from the mom. He soon recovered but I bet he’s more the wiser now.

It’s good to have interesting things happening on Trosky Road. Makes my slice of life unique, along with a bit of good mischief and a few laughs. What’s life like on your road?

Till next time friends. Here is to good food, good friends and a good laugh in life!

Michele

Was That Supposed to Hurt?

It can probably be said that I was always sassily truthful in my younger years. I am probably lucky to have survived many a spanking from my dad’s 2×4 hands as well as “long-distance” kicks to the seat of my pants from dad’s Frankenstein size twelves.

Can’t believe I just said that

dad and daughter

Image by StockSnap from Pixabay

I can’t remember the circumstances under which I received my due penalty of a sound spanking from my dad, but spanked I was. I can still feel the sting on my hind end. Almost as if I could see the red spreading out on both “cheeks”. It stung but what came next( I am belly laughing as I type) was pure sass.

After dad had finished spanking me and turned me up off his knee, I looked him square in the eye and said “Was that supposed to hurt?”. There seemed to be dead silence in the room as my mouth closed, and the statement finished.

I could see my dad’s eyebrows raise, the skin between his eyes began to furrow and his jaw began to set. I was quite sure the fiery gates of Hades had opened up behind him and smoke began to pour out from underneath his chair.

In no time flat, my mother appeared out of thin air and yanked me from the living room so fast I thought my eyeballs were left mid-air and my shoes in place right there on the living room floor, directly in front of my dad.

Fire on the mountain, run girl run

Image by Jan Steiner from Pixabay

Like a flash, my mother had grabbed me, was into and through the kitchen, opened the door to the pantry/coat room, out the door to the back yard, and set my shoed feet on the garage floor.

There we stood, I and my mom. We stayed in the garage for some time. I chose to stand and wait out whatever we were waiting out because my hind end was not quite ready to be sat upon.

My mom chose to keep a careful eye on the garage door. I tried to admire the wood support beams and various sparrows that had found their way inside and made nests as well as “deposits” all over the family car. It was not a time for talking. That much was clear. So I occupied myself with my imagination as the time ticked away.

Upon further review

I guess enough time had passed, so mom took me by the hand and we walked back into the house. She sat me down at the kitchen table and fed me a snack. I chose to sit half and half, one cheek on and one cheek off. That way it hurt less.

As I ate my snack my mother walked back into the living room. My dad was still in there, but now the T.V. was turned on and the smoke from Hades had receded.

I could hear hushed voices talking, then an occasional assurance from my mother that ” this was a normal part of growing up…”. I continued to munch happily on my snack. After finishing my dad asked to speak to me. I told him I was sorry I sassed and that I wouldn’t do it again. I’m quite sure that probably wasn’t the last “discussion” he had with me either.

When dad got in some t-r-o-u-b-l-e

Image by 41330 from Pixabay

Fast forward a few years. I’m in 5th grade and having trouble spelling the word “impossible”. My dad worked and worked with me and my spelling list. Back and forth we went, taking the whole test over and over again. I am sure my mother’s eyes were rolling as she was a teacher and here my dad was “teaching me” to spell.

I had come to a point of exhaustion and my mother told me to go sit in the living room a few minutes before returning for the last spelling test. Having had a small break to rest my head I returned to the kitchen. Mom had started washing dishes and dad said I only had to spell impossible. And IF, I could spell impossible, I could have a (wait for it…) PONY!

Gasp! Oh my goodness. I was pie eyed at this giant promise. I loved horses. My mom said I had “horse fever” and that I drove her nuts with all my horse questions and begging.

My mom was now strangely silent, standing erect at the sink, hand still dangling in the hot sudsy dish water. She stared blankly through the window out into the street.

My dad was certain that this would be great motivation, but he also was betting I couldn’t spell impossible as I had missed it 6 other times. I am sure confidence was on overload for my dad, but I was about to win the biggest spelling bee of my entire life.

I’d like to buy a vowel please

Image by 41330 from Pixabay

Smiling, my dad asked me to spell impossible. Smiling back, I stood and delivered. Impossible. I.M.P.O. ( paused for a moment thinking to myself). Is there a double S or just one? Hmm. S. S. I. B. L.- this is probably the point where my mom began to wad up her dishcloth.

She knew d-i-s-a-s-t-e-r lay ahead with one more vowel. E! Yes! Yes! I spelled it right! Right, Dad? I-m-p-o-s-s-i-b-l-e! Impossible. My dad’s head hung low and at that very second a very soapy dishcloth flew past my face and hit him square in the head, followed by “RUSS!”.

I was asked to leave the kitchen as my mom proceeded to chew my dad out. There was absolutely no place we had to go with a horse. We lived in town, had a relatively small yard, and least of all, mom was not getting caught up in horse chores with two little ones still in diapers! Then I heard her tell him he needed to fix it.

Hope seen trotting away

I could tell by the conversation in the kitchen, things were not sounding so good for dad, never mind the fact that hope on having a pony was trotting away as well.

Dad explained that he made a promise he could not keep. He was sorry, but there would be no pony. I sat dejected on the couch, tears rolling down my face. I was robbed!

Time has a way of mellowing hurts and jokingly I would remind him of his thievery but it still seemed to pain him each time I mentioned it. That got me some great mileage though, as I could talk him into riding the neighbor’s horses with me.

One of the best memories of my dad is just me and my dad riding horses out in the country. Riding through woods, fields, and over the old railroad. Great memories to fill my mind with his absence.

I will never forget the time his stirrup came undone and flew off the horse or the time his horse decided to stop, drop, and roll with him still in the saddle. Luckily he just walked right off before the horse decided to roll. Good times to be thankful for.

Till next time. Here is to good food, good friends, great memories of a good life.

Michele

Rhubarb Fever!

There is a backstory to this title. I will tell that story later, till then let’s talk about rhubarb and it is definitely in season. I can see my patch right here from my window and it is telling me to “get picking”.

There are lots of delightful things to create with rhubarb. To satisfy all you rhubarb lovers I will give you some great recipes. Enjoy!

Rhubarb Cake Dessert- Florence Brouwer

Table Blessings church cook book- 100th Anniversary 1st Reformed Church Randolph Wisconsin

Ingredients

  • 1 white cake mix
  • 3 c. finely chopped rhubarb
  • 1 c. sugar
  • 3 oz pkg strawberry or cherry Jello

Make cake mix following box directions. Put in greased 9×13 inch pan; In a bowl mix together the chopped rhubarb, sugar and jello and then place on top of the cake batter. Bake for 34 minutes at 350 degrees.

-I like to serve it warm with a dollop of fresh whipped cream.

Rhubarb Fruit Cup- Wilma Vanden Berg

Family Favorites of Sheldon Christian, circa 1986

Ingredients

  • 4-6 cups rhubarb
  • 1 package frozen strawberries
  • 1 small can mandarin organges (drainded)
  • 2 or 3 sliced bananas

Directions

Cook your rhubarb until tender. Sweeten to taste, but not too sweet. Then add your frozen strawberries, mandarin oranges, and bananas. Cool thoroughly. Very refreshing.

Glazed Rhubarb Almond Pie- Daune DeVries

rhubarb pie
Image by Ulrike Leone from Pixabay

Randolph Christian School Cookbook, 1990

Ingredients

  • 1 4 3/4 oz danish dessert and pie glaze mix
  • 1/2 c. sugar
  • 4 c. rhubarb cut into 1-inch pieces
  • 1 8 oz pkg cream cheese softened
  • 1/3 cup sugar
  • 1 tbsp milk
  • 1/2 tsp vanilla
  • 1/4 c slivered almonds
  • 1 9 inch pastry shell

Directions

Prepare glaze according to package directions. Cover surface with wax paper. Set aside. Bring the first 1/4 cup sugar and 1 cup water to a boil. Add rhubarb, bring to a boil again. Reduce heat and simmer the rhubarb covered for 2-3 minutes. Carefully remove rhubarb with a slotted spoon. Set aside. Beat cream cheese with the remaining sugar, milk, and vanilla until fluffy. Fold in almonds. Spread over the bottom and sides of the pastry shell. Spoon half of the glaze over the cheese layer. Arrange rhubarb over the glaze and the remaining glaze on top of the rhubarb. Chill. Before serving sprinkle with additional sliced or slivered almonds.

Rhubarb Slush- Amy Hanson

rhubarb slush
Image by Sandy Miller from Pixabay

Ingredients

  • 8 cups of rhubarb, cut up
  • 2 quarts of water
  • 3 c. sugar
  • 1 box strawberry jello, small
  • 1/2 c. lemon juice
  • 1 container frozen strawberries
  • white soda

Directions

Boil together the rhubarb and water for about 20 minutes. Strain juice into a container to freeze. Pour half of the strained rhubarb juice into a pot to reheat adding to it: 3 cups of sugar, 1 box strawberry jello, 1/2 cup lemon juice, 1 container frozen strawberries. Stir together until well combined and sugar and jello are dissolved. Return the reheated portion into the container to freeze with the rest of the strained rhubarb juice. Stir together. Freeze. Stir frequently while freezing.

To serve, place two scoops of frozen rhubarb into a glass with a white soda, stir to combine. Refreshing! Enjoy!

Rhubarb Sauce- Brenda Groen

rhubarb sauce
Image by Gelly___ from Pixabay

Ingredients

  • 4 cups cut Rhubarb
  • 1/2 cup water
  • 1 cup of sugar
  • 3oz of jello

Directions

Combine water, jello, and sugar. Heat until dissolved! Add rhubarb and cook until tender!

Once bitten twice shy

My mother always told me we don’t talk about “illnesses” while eating food. I applied this maxim to reading recipes as well. Now that recipe reading is done, I shall tell my story.

My mother had made a rhubarb dessert for our Sunday evening desert after the big meal. Grandpa and Grandma Syens came over and we all enjoyed a nice meal together.

After supper, I ran outside to play. It had been a hot day with lots of activity and I wasn’t going to slow down that evening either. Eight in the evening rolled around and it was time to head home. Waiting for me at home was a nice piece of rhubarb dessert and a scoop of ice cream.

Wiping the sweat from my face in the kitchen dish cloth, I took a seat at the kitchen table and dug into the rhubarb dessert. Yummy! I really liked how it smelled, looked and tasted.

After finishing my dessert it was to the bathroom for a bath before bed. While getting ready for bed I felt kind of weird and made a point to tell my mother about my discomfort. Later into the night the fun began. My mom said I had the stomach “flu”, but I was convinced it was the rhubarb.

It’s been thirty years since that fateful night. I can make rhubarb desserts, I just can’t bring myself to eat them. Hopefully, I will be bringing you a few more rhubarb recipes next week. Stay tuned!

As always, here is to good food, good friends and a good life!

Michele

Red Apple Beauties

I had spied those red apple beauties from the biking through the church parking lot. The temptation to sneak under the fence into the horse pasture was mounting. But, I restrained myself. It was Sunday after all and you can’t knock on doors asking to eat someone’s apples. I decided that tomorrow after school when folks were working would be better suited to my red apple beauties thievery.

Tick Tock

I watched the school clock slowly ticked down. My eraser tapping my desktop certainly wasn’t in tempo with the clock- it was MUCH faster. All through the day, I thought about those apples. I thought about how good those red apple beauties would taste. I thought about their sweetness, the crisp “snap” and best of all, the juice pouring out and onto my cheeks… it was something that couldn’t be beat. Not to mention being all by myself. There was to be no sharing.

School finally came to a close- thank goodness. I grab my backpack and jacket and sprinted to the bus. I was going to sit as close to the front because I needed to get to that apple tree!

Won’t be long now

Safely on the bus, I quickly grabbed a seat as close to the front as I could get. I was in 4th grade and the first four front seats were saved for the “littles”. Not wanting to degrade myself I casually slipped into the fifth seat and took out a book.

Mr. Bender, satisfied with a full bus, looked into the mirror gave a nod to the riders, closed the bus door and we were off. Even though I lived 10 minutes from the school, I had to ride for an hour. Most of the time it was a pleasant ride, but other times a kid just wants to get home!

After 45 minutes of chugging through the countryside, Friesland was in sight. I gathered my items and scooted forward in my seat. I was ready to stand and be first off. Unlike earlier escapades of my younger years, there were no sandwiches to throw into bushes, so there would be no delay there.

Eat my dust

The bus came to a stop. I launch from my seat and made it to the front of the bus just as the bus door swung open. I pounded down the bus steps and hit the ground running. This backpack full of homework was weighing me down, but I managed to keep up a pretty good pace and made it home in record time.

Bursting through the front door, I dropped my backpack and headed to my bedroom to change out of my school clothes and into my play clothes. Then a quick pit stop in the bathroom, followed by a lackluster hand washing and I was out the door. I heard my mom say “STOP!”. Shoot! Delays, delays.

She wanted to know what the hurry was. I explain my plans to my mom somewhat cryptically. To which she gave me “the look”… not very convinced, she told me to be back by five.

Wheels don’t fail me now

My bike was ready. I grabbed the handlebars, started a jog and jumped on-peddling my heart out. I needed to throw anybody tailing me off the scent, so I biked up to the old school ground, around the cemetery and then quickly into the church driveway.

There they were, those red apple beauties. Hanging. No, floating on the unseen air currents… just tempting me. Scanning the area I wanted to make sure nobody else was in the church parking lot. Coast clear. Now, for the challenging part. The electric fence and the horses.

Bringing my bike to a stop, I hopped off. Swinging my foot I set the kickstand and looked into the pasture. Vander Streeks had several horses and they partitioned off three different sections of land. The first section was where the horses normally hung out between the barn and the church parking lot. The second and the third sections were the apple trees and then pasture for grazing.

Checking my options

Stepping up to the fence I could hear the “snap”. So I knew that it was live. With that off my checklist, I looked around for horses. Ah, shoot! Here they come. Horses are so snoopy. They always need to know what you’re up to. Scratching my head I quickly decided to drop, roll and run.

Dropping to the ground I quickly tucked myself into a ball, rolled under the fence, popped up and made a run for the next fence where I had to repeat the exercises all over again.

Safely under the fence, I glanced behind me to see Trigger, Buck and Lightning monitoring my every move. They knew what I was up to and an apple or two would by their complete silence.

First floor. Going up!

Giving a nod of agreement to my three nickering friends, I dusted myself off and assessed the tree climbing. I had climbed this tree before. Just a little bit of spit onto my hands rubbed in good. Then a jump up to grab the first limb. Success!

Swinging my legs up I caught the limb and together with my arms pulled myself up to straddle the branch. The horses were enthused by my progress. Soon we would be enjoying the goodness of those red apple beauties up above. My smile and nod to the horses were met with impatient foot stamping. Get on with it kid!

I took a few moments to scan the houses up on the hill. I have mentioned before that Friesland has the DMU. So I knew all to well to check and recheck to make sure no DMU members were spying on me. Sensing the coast clear I shaded my eyes and scanned the hefty branches above me.

Ah! There it was, or better yet… there they all are! Like picking out a Christmas tree, so many good ones to choose from. Spying a few favorites I pulled myself up to a standing position and began my climb further into the tree.

Good Clean Fun

I loved to climb trees, build tree forts and bike around. It was good to be a kid, outside, getting fresh air and using my imagination. This was “the life”. Standing there on the branch, the wind blowing gently through my long hair, sunshine dancing in-between the leaves- pure heaven. Not to mention the great woodsy Wisconsin air mixed with a bit of dairy and my horsey friends below.

For a bit, I got lost in exploring the tree, scanning the horizon and chattering to myself about the day. Finally, I settled on four red apple beauties and made an apron out of my shirt and loaded them in.

Carefully I climbed down, back to the original branch. Trigger, Buck, and Lightning were ready yesterday for these apples. I threw each horse and apple. It was fun to watch them eat.

How many bites does it take?

Image by Rebekka D from Pixabay

Trigger was taking his time by using his front incisors. Neat little nips were taken along with a nod of agreement. It was if he was critiquing each bite and found it completely agreeable with his assessments.

Buck was a plucky fellow. He wasted no time in taking the entire apple into his mouth. Juices flowed freely and a green mash caught in the corners of his mouth. His eyes were closed, neck stretched out and a puddle of apple juice and horse saliva was forming on the ground.

Lightning had grabbed his apple and moved to the end of the fenced section. He was going to have his apple in peace. He stood facing us all, with his back right foot cocked and tail happily swishing, flicking the occasional fly off his stomach.

This is the life

I decided to find safety in the crotch of the tree. One leg dangling down the other pushing up against the trunk and my head leaning back on a bigger branch.

Taking a bite, I was met with a pop as my teeth sunk through the skin into the bright white fruit of the apple. Juice began to pour around my lips. The more I chewed the bite of the apple, the juicier it got. I wiped my mouth with my hand and gave Buck a nod. Now I knew how he felt. The apples were so delicious!

Quite content, I began to relax. I let my dangling leg swing as I enjoyed all my thoughts. The red apple beauties, three interesting horses and the warm sunshine.

Closing my eyes I listened to wind blow through the leaves. I heard the horses blowing air through their noses; searching the ground for one more lost bite. For a moment, nothing really mattered. I felt at peace, content and if this was what heaven is like, I was ready to go.

The Dutch Mothers Underground

Where the DMU ( Dutch Mothers Underground) got their start no one knows for sure. But it is thought to have been birthed at a 3 pm tea time in either Grand Rapids, Michigan or Orange City, Iowa. Some much frazzled Dutch mothers banded together to put a stop to “the nonsense” going around the neighborhood.  They were going to get a handle on things or lose their wooden shoes doing it.

To this very day, Grand Rapids and Orange City claim to have established themselves as charter members. This has sparked a rivalry somewhat akin to the Hatfield and McCoy feud. No loss of life has occurred. Just some good “trash talking” about old recipe originality and the questioning of one’s Dutch heritage with threats of using 23andMe.

Welcome to the club

Friesland had its very own DMU chapter. Once you had children, it was an automatic induction. No fancy ceremony like the South and their coming-out parties.

A Dutch Mothers Underground induction went more like this: A DMU member pulls into your driveway. She makes a dead run from her car to your front door. She is hoping to make it to your front door, give you a casserole and her best wishes by saying “Congratulations on your baby! Here is a casserole. It’s the last warm food you’ll eat for a while!” Then a mad sprint back to the car before her passel of children figured their way out of the car. Not classy, but you get the picture.

Once a DMU, always a DMU

Photo Credit: ChaminaGallery pixabay

The Dutch Mothers Underground was never one to be showy. But, they made up for it with their impeccable network of tattle-tales, informers and retirees- aka grandmothers. The DMU is like the Chicago Mob. You NEVER really leave.

For the most part, we kids never knew the DMU existed. They had no secret meetings. No special handshake or membership dues- as mothers, they had already paid enough. They met in broad daylight, right under our noses. At the Tuesday night band concerts, they would publically share their information. Nice and civilized looking, sitting there eating pie and drinking their coffee. All the while sharing information on “such-n-so was doing this-and-that with you-know-who!”

Let’s not forget Church. Church was one of their major meetings. Well disguised to be sure. It’s where they gave a “recap” of the past week and an “FYI” for the coming week. The DMU was a force to be reckoned with.

Drive-bys and Looky Lou’s

The trips my mom took to the store- those were just opportunities to pass secret messages in the store. If you saw your grandma driving uptown to get her mail- that was just her spying on you. The Dutch Mothers Underground was everywhere.

Remember all the times your mother put out Kool-Aid and cookies for you and your friends? She was just taking notes on the conversations while pretending to iron shirts and checking the oven.

This is for your own good

Photo Credit: Elsamargriet pixabay

If you happened to get away with something, you’d have considered it a major accomplishment. Not much slips past the DMU. But if you got caught in a DMU sting operation, you were finished.

I remember Tim and Jane (not their real names) went out to the old chicken coop to kiss. Well someone on the DMU found out and told Tim’s Grandmother. Tim’s Grandmother, Sarah (not her real name either), found out and ran like the wind to the chicken coop to throw some cold water on the situation.

Another time some girls went down to “inspect” the boy’s fort in the woods by the railroad. Lucy (still not her real name), the mother of one of the boys and staunch DMU member, caught wind of the plan and with toddlers in tow, came marching down the tracks to put a stop to the “inspection” and possible war with the boys.

Thinking outside the box

Upon arriving at the boy’s fort, she found a group of girls mid inspection of a “bathroom” the boys constructed of brush and an old kitchen chair. The chair was missing the seat, which made using it as a toilet all the more impressive. Lucy also quickly figured out where all her toilet paper had gone a few days earlier. It hung neatly near the old seatless chair on partially snapped of limbs of the tree. Convenience and decorum.

We all know that every town, big or small has its version of the DMU. They always have your eternal best at heart. It takes a village to raise a child, and the Dutch Mothers Underground did their very best.

Summertime Picnic Sack Lunch

Ah, summer!  We have all been patiently waiting for spring to show up, much less summer.  But I thought it would be good to bring some summer thoughts into our head.  One of the good things about living in my childhood town Friesland was its smallness( population 300, think Leota but a tad bigger).  I could bike all over town and pretty much be only be about 5 minutes from my house.

Round, Round Get Around, I get Around

I liked how safe I felt biking around, walking around, or just hanging uptown by the Band Concert Wagon (I will explain this in a post this summer).  Friendly folks who watched out for you and then the folks who tattled on you when you did wrong or THOUGHT you were doing wrong.  But, that’s how small towns go, and for good or bad it was all part of the experience.

One of my favorite things to do in the summer was to pack a sack lunch, grab a friend and go biking around town to find a spot to picnic. In order for one to really call it a picnic you needed your sack to have a can of pop (pop is translated to soda in Minnesotan), I liked RC Cola at the time, so my lunch would contain one can RC.  Then( and this was the SUPER important part) I would have to have a good dessert. Continue reading