Tuesday, April 22, 2014


These photos are for everyone, but especially for my English and Scottish readers (including Second Cousin Shirl in Golspie, Scotland), who have posted pictures of their English Bluebell Woods.

Taken by my sister-in-law Dana, these are Virginia Bluebell Woods. The woods are in Virginia, near where Dana and her husband live, and the flowers are indeed Virginia bluebells, Mertensia virginica.

I am so jealous of Dana's woods, and also of the English Bluebell Woods. I can hardly imagine seeing whole carpets of flowers. This would never happen in North Dakota. The only wildflower carpets you see are tons of dandelions dotting green lawns.

I have managed to grow a plant or two of Virginia bluebells in my garden, and a few grew wild under a tree at the station master's house in the village where I grew up. Maybe I will some day see blue bell woods - either in America or in England/Scotland.

By the way, the dog is Duke, a Wheaten Terrier. He seems to be having a fine time.

(Click on photos to enlarge.)

Above - Virginia Bluebell Woods
Below - English Bluebell Woods
I think the botanical name for English bluebells is hyacinthoides non-scripta. If I am mistaken, please let me know. 

Saturday, April 19, 2014

Blessed Easter/Ostara


I'm sitting here writing an Easter post when I should be preparing for hosting Easter dinner. I've had to move the celebration up to this evening, nearly 24 hours earlier than I had planned, because my nephew Mike has to work on Easter. He's a manager at Subway and you might ask, aren't the Subways closed on Easter Sunday? Well, yes they are, unless they're located in a WAL-MART!!

I've boycotted Wal-Mart for years, ever since I read "Take This Job and Shove It" by former ND Senator Byron Dorgan. First Wal-Mart destroyed small-town Main Street USA and shipped jobs overseas, now they are ruining American holidays! I remember when I was a child Sundays were closed down tight as a drum, with nary a shop open. Now I don't mind running to a Lowe's or a garden store on a fine Sunday afternoon, but what's so important to purchase on a holiday that can't wait one more day? Give me a break.

Anyway, I'm in a panic situation. Although I had Good Friday off, I was a couch potato. It was nice to laze around, but now I have to do everything today - finish the rest of my grocery shopping, clean, cook and bake. Yes, I, the famous non-baker, am baking. My friend Lila from the Indigo Blue blog posted an easy pineapple cake recipe on her Facebook that even I can follow. (Mix one 20-oz can crushed pineapple with juice and one angel food cake mix. Bake at 350 degrees for 30 minutes in a greased 9x13 pan.) For my niece's fiancé, the one person in my family who does not care for pineapple, I bought a cherry kuchen. This should satisfy the taste buds of a good German boy.

I'm switching up the menu a bit. I am cooking a small ham and a turkey breast, but I am not making the traditional mashed potatoes and gravy or baked corn. Instead, I am making my famous French Bistro Potatoes (sliced potatoes, Swiss cheese, heavy cream and garlic!).  My niece will make a salad. My sister, an RN,  has to work today, a grueling 12-hour shift, which is why I volunteered to host, although it is difficult to host special occasions without Dan in the kitchen.

I know I will get everything done - I always do. And when I wake up Easter Sunday morning I will be relieved to know the work is done and I can relax and enjoy the 70 degree temperatures. The one time it was over 70 degrees this spring, I was at work and a cold front blew through by the time I left for home.

I really, really miss Easters when Kristen was home. None of us liked hard-boiled eggs, so I - I mean the Easter Bunny - hid those wonderful candy eggs with the marshmallow-y inside and the hard-sugar coating. I think they might have been Brach's. I believe they have quit making them; I certainly can't find them in Bismarck.

Of course I - I mean the Easter Bunny - also brought Kristen a well-stocked Easter basket. The year our foreign exchange student Valentina  from Venezuela lived with us, the E.B. brought her one too, and she was delighted beyond measure!

My favorite Easter candy is Russell Stover Raspberry Whip Eggs. My sweet daughter sent me a box of them this week. In lieu of candy, which she no longer (or seldom) eats, I sent her an Olive Garden gift card. Who says you always have to be conventional, either in Easter food or Easter gifts?

As to Easter itself, I am ambiguous. I was raised as a Lutheran but I seem to have lost my religion along the way. Another blogging friend of mine, Mary from Moontides, calls herself a Christopagan. That seems to me to be a good description for myself. I try live my life by the teachings  of Jesus Christ, but also have pagan leanings, a nod to my Scottish, Irish, Welsh and English Celtic roots. (And though not Celtic, my Viking ancestors were certainly pagan.)

This is also the season of Ostara, the pagan celebration of spring and the goddess Eostre or Ostara. So in ending, I wish you a blessed Easter and/or Ostara.