Sunday, October 07, 2007

High and Dry

Ah, Happy Sunday to everyone! And, a beautiful day it is indeed -at least here in a very bright and sunny central Pennsylvania. Also, a very warm day too, I have to say.

It's been a really delightful weekend thus far. My visit yesterday at my cousin's home down in Indiana was terrific. Her mother and my grandfather were brother and sister. He was next to the oldest in a family of 12 children and as such, was born in Sweden. He came here when he was 7 years old along with his older brother, two younger brothers and a sister. The youngest of the children was just a baby at the time my great-grandmother and the five children came over here. My great-grandfather had come to America the year before, found work in the coal mines and saved up enough to send for his family. That was in 1881.

My cousin Arline's mother was the baby of those 12 children, born in 1895 in the little coal town of Peale -which is the subject of the website listed in my sidebar -"Peale - a Ghost Coal Mining Town." About a year or two after she was born, the family migrated about 1 1/2 miles up the road from Peale to the little village where I live today - also where I was born too. The house my great-grandparents built sits on the side of the hill just up and across the street from my home which my grandparents built in 1903.

Out of the 39 grandchildren my great-grandparents had, only six are still living today. There is one cousin who lives in Michigan with her daughter -her father was the baby of the five who came over from Sweden - and then there is Arline and her four brothers. Three of her brothers were able to be at her house yesterday - the "missing" brother lives out in Las Vegas and just didn't feel up to the trip back east for this get-together. But yesterday was Arline's one brother's birthday - his 79th - and on the 24th, it will be her youngest brother's 70th birthday. The middle brother present -his oldest son drove him and his wife over from the Cleveland area - and it was his son's 49th birthday yesterday. So it was a bit of a mini-reunion as well as a nice little celebration of three birthday too.

I have to tell you this - Arline's mother, my great aunt Elin - was a gem! Short, heavy-set and always seemed to have a big, wide smile on her face as soon as she saw any family member heading her way. I remember when I was a kid, my Mom, grandparents and I would often go down to Monroeville, PA to visit at my oldest uncle's home and Indiana was about 30-35 miles from Monroeville - right on our route. So, we always stopped at Aunt Elin's house when we went to my uncle's place. Anytime we popped in on Aunt Elin and her husband, within five minutes of our arrival, she was out in the kitchen and had a pot of coffee started on the stove. Then began the raiding of the refrigerator from which she would pull container after container of foods out, begin heating them, slicing meats, you name it and within a half-hour's time, she would have the table set, calling us to come and eat and the amount of food on the table was like a feast! Always lots of home-baked Swedish breads, coffee cake, regular cake or pie too. I still marvel today at how much storage space she had in her refrigerator to be able to pull together the meals she did and in such a short period of time too. And all the while, she was back and forth from the kitchen to the living room, keeping up with the ongoing conversation there. Truly, she was one very amazing lady!

Her daughter Arline and Arline's daughter Sandy, are like replicas of Aunt Elin. Both are excellent cooks. Yesterday, she had a buffet set up on two large tables in her two-car garage with breaded baked chicken tenders done to absolute golden perfection, a very large serving platter of roast beef that was so juicy, tender and flavorful, I could have just camped at that plate and polished of nothing but roast beef! There were boiled potatoes served with butter and parsley, stuffed cabbage rolls, baked limas and northern beans, a casserole of carrots in a cheesy sauce that was excellent, pasta salad, jello salad (three layers of jello in between layers of whipped cream), a scrumptious pasta salad too. Then she also had homemade Swedish rye bread, rolls of several varieties, three platters of several types of cookies (including some bar cookies with various fruit filling, four different kinds of pies. I had made a Swedish family favorite called Panakaka and took some blackberries my son had picked that I'd frozen to serve with the panakaka and Arline had also made a pan of this baked custard too. She laughed when she saw I'd brought that along as she could tell on looking at it that we both use the same recipe for that dish! Needless to say, I was stuffed to the gills - so much so that this morning I was still feeling full from the meal of the day yesterday! Such good food, you just can't imagine unless you'd be there to see and taste it yourself.

Listening to Arline's brothers joke and tease back and forth though was really a treat. I told my kids it was like giving me a view into the future when my kids -hopefully -reach the ages of Arline and her brothers and start picking on each other, much the same way that they do today. Such a great way to spend a beautiful day, ya know!

Yesterday, my ex-husband arrived in town for a five day visit with the kids and grandkids. His flight was due in to State College at 4:38 but unfortunately, there had been a three-hour delay in takeoff from Las Vegas -which of course Mandy didn't know about until she got to the airport to pick him up. So there she was with the two little ones and needed to do something that might prove somewhat entertaining to herself and the kids while she waited. She decided to take them and go to the Target store nearby. She said later Maya about drove her bonkers wanting to see this, that, some other thing, etc., that she was spying as they moved through the store. When they finally went back to the airport to pick her dad up, she said as soon as Maya saw Grandpa coming through the airport to them, she took one look at him and called out "Poppy!" She hasn't seen him since his last visit here a year ago this past June!

Because of Poppy's late arriving flight, when I got back from Indiana, Mandy, the kids and her dad has just arrived home about a half hour ahead of me. Needless to say, Grandpa -or "Poppy" as Maya calls him - was quite excited, very happy, watching his baby girl showing off all the things she's learned since he last saw her -and believe me, there's a lot there for her to show off to him now!

This morning, Mandy decided to give Maya another shot at the potty training thing. She decided to put "big girl unnywears" on her. Ok, fine and dandy. That is until Maya decided to take a seat in my computer chair and Mandy realized she was sitting there with a somewhat confused and dazed look on her face, very quiet too. "Maya!" she called to her, "Did you pee-pee on Gram's chair?" Of course, she answers "All done, all done." to most any question so it was no surprise to hear her say that. Mandy went to check on her and sure enough - she'd been really nice, kind, sweet and very generous and there the entire seat of the chair was soaking wet.

That was about 10:30 this morning. We wiped off the chair cushion, then tried to scrub it down a bit too and it's now 4:30 in the afternoon, I have a towel folded up to sit on her and still, my behind is not quite completely "high and dry" from the event!

Kids, little kids especially - gotta love 'em don't 'cha now?

Hope you all are having a wonderful day, enjoying the weekend, football games, family, fall sunshine and also, that you're also higher and dryer than I am at the moment anyway.

And, here's a "do yay" for ya too! Penn State finally was victorious yesterday! Oh, yes! That is most certainly, in Maya's words, a very big "DO YAY!" WE ARE! PENN STATE! GO STATE!


janeywan said...

One thing I miss about Pa is that old country cooking. My mother-in-law was the best. She put out spreads like that.

How bout those Rockies beating the Philly's

Sylvia said...

Wanted to stop by and say hello. I have been missing in action due to personal issues in my life. I neglected the friends I met through my blogs and that I regret and apologize to each of you. The personal issues caused me to sink into depression and anxiety and withdraw from life for a while. I have begun the process of resolving those issues and getting back to life. I will be visiting and catching up with what is going on in your lives.

Smalltown RN said...

sounds like you had a fabulous gatherings are always fun...and you know I am from a family of 12 children...I have 30 nieces and nephews and 7 great nieces and nephews....and we all live in the same's amazing....our last gathering was for my sisters wedding in has always been abundant and the kitchen a great gathering place...

As far as little Miss Maya...she thought she was on the's great to put grown up pants on....but were the rubbers over top forgotten? Bless her heart, she will got to love them....I sure do....cheers my friend hope you are having a fantastic weekend...and by the sounds of it you are.....tomorrow is turkey day for me so I might be absent....

Paula said...

Sounds like a wonderful weekend. You deserve one! I love the story about your Great-Grandfather. Very very interesting. I hope someone (possibly you!) has written it down in depth so that it isn't a part of your history that is lost.

Happy Fall!

Theresa said...

My grandma was one of the oldest of 13 kids, and my mother was her oldest daughter so we grew up with aunts and great aunts all around the same age. I remember they used to sit around in a big circle in the living room just laughing and talking- I couldn't wait til I was old enough to join in the circle!

Sounds like a great visit!