Sunday, August 13, 2017

July 2017 A Memoir

Mother’s Day Surprises/ Birthday Celebration

This is my third attempt since Christmas to write a blog. My writing was going pretty well but now I can’t get out of being stuck. As Heidi says: just write, editing will pull it together. OK we’ll see.

The last six months have been up and down, mostly up though. Mother’s Day weekend was a big surprise. Heidi came of course and for the life of me I can’t recall what we all did on that day besides a big balloon, flowers, oh a new tablet and Heidi making Breakfast/Brunch?? We were sitting around the table talking and all of a sudden Heidi says “Mom are you going to open the door?” I said,  “Why should I open the door?” She told me someone knocked on the door or rang the doorbell which I did not hear, yikes! I opened the door and had the surprise of the year. My nephew Joachim was standing there from Germany. What a surprise. He knew I love surprises and this is the second time he did that. The first time was in Santa Cruz where I was working as Director of Food and Beverage at the Santa Cruz Hotel. 

Heidi had to go back home to Santa Cruz a little later.  Joe and I spent a week sightseeing and, at times, he went out on his own. We talked a lot, especially about my brother Manfred, his Father, who passed on in 2013. Joe wanted to know about Koenigsberg, our home before we had to flee from the Russians. Manfred would never talk about the war years to his kids. I answered oodles of questions about that time in our life. We were children: I was barely 10 and Manfred was 9. Funny, I remember so much from those childhood years all the way back to about 4 years old.

Now it is the end of July.  Heidi, and I each had a Birthday and it was a busy month. Neal has a Birthday tomorrow.

We all missed Kurt who passed on the 29th of July 18 years ago.

Heidi and I did a tour of the African Safari West in Santa Rosa for our birthdays. It was an interesting Adventure. We drove in these double decker jeeps and had a great time, learning about various animals out of Africa. The Birds were the most amazing part. I missed seeing Elephants and a Lion or Tiger. We saw Monkeys, a Cheetah, Zebras and a lot of different Mountain Goats. Our tour guide was very informative - a little long winded but all in all it was educational. I can never stop learning even at the age of 82, ha, ha. Once we got back home, we took a shower and I set up a Birthday Kaffee Klatsch for Heidi with two friends. It was a great ending to a busy day. In the evening Heidi took me out to dinner.

Neal’s’ Birthday wish is a dinner at a Mexican Restaurant and that is what we will do tomorrow evening.

Monday, November 7, 2016

Traveling to Boise Idaho

My son Rodmond took me on a road trip to Boise, Idaho to visit his brother my oldest son Walter and his family. It was a relaxing and fun trip. We stopped in M…… overnight and did some gambling. Rod showed me how to play poker on those gambling machines, so much fun. I lost $5.00 Rod only lost $2.00. The next morning after breakfast we took off for Boise.

Walter and Veronika were waiting for us, Jesse and Janine were in Church. Oh yes, we arrived in Boise on a Sunday. The first impression of their property and home was so unexpected. Beautifully landscaped and enclosed by high fences with a gate which makes it look like a little estate. Actually, the home sits on about 2 acres. Walter and Veronika added a huge master suite, a to die for bathroom which includes a tub with jets and a sauna. A Living room/music room also was added to the original 3 bedroom house.

After Rod cooked this great breakfast the next morning, Rod and I went sightseeing. Boise built a European style village with beautiful gardens and a big fountain which was music driven, the sprays went up and down by the tunes. We thought the music was a little loud. The stores and restaurants all had a European flair. We loved walking through it and sitting on one of the benches to relax. Flowers everywhere!

Jesse and Janine off to school
Back at Walter’s home, Walter and Rod worked on window frames to get ready for Walters next project. The girls went to school and Veronika and I got better acquainted.

The time went by so fast and we were back on our way toward California. Rod decided we should drive all the way to my home in Healdsburg, it took us 11 hours, not bad. Rod stayed about two hours and left for his home in Sacramento. I am forever grateful that I got to go and see how my oldest son and family are doing. It was a wonderful relaxing and scenic trip.

Less than 18 hours later I got sick. I ate a yoghurt which was in the hot car for almost 8 hours and got a staff food poisoning infection, yikes, how to spoil the homecoming.

The Big Surprise:

Three weeks ago I received another surprise. My children bought me a new car, a Fiat 500 Sport, black. I still am in awe. They been talking about how I need a new car for almost a year and I kept saying no. At some point over the last month my daughter Heidi says: “Mom it is not your decision anymore”, wow. My thoughts were, ok this will pass and everyone is going to be happy with the way things are. Boy was I wrong. The surprise was total and we will try and post the video so you all can see my face when I was handed the keys to the car. Heidi and Bill and Rod where the ones who got the ball rolling. When I saw Heidi and Bill and our friend Josie besides me at that parked car which had a for sale sign saying: “FOR SALE YOU SHOULD BUY THIS FOR YOUR MOTHER”; I laughed at that and then Bill steps forward and says: “Maybe they did”.  I was so flustered. I got to drive the car to my home with Bill besides me explaining all the buttons, ha, ha. We all went home and Rod cooked lunch. Heidi and Bill had to leave for home after lunch which is in Santa Cruz and Rod decided he was leaving also. Neal was the one who directed Rod to the parking lot where the Fiat was parked. Neal of course also went home, he lives here in Healdsburg.

After everyone left I had myself a good cry! The generosity of my children overwhelmed me and still does. I am forever grateful for my thoughtful children.

Monday, August 8, 2016

Celebrating 81 Years

July, 2016/ Celebrating 81 Years!

It is a good day to write if I can just get my head around it. I been avoiding my manuscript! Perhaps I am afraid that my book will bomb but I will never know unless I finish it will I? It is time to change my attitude and my time management. Making a new schedule for writing is the first thing I need to do. Stick with it every day and voila, I will finish it. I am retired and have the time. Unfortunately, I always find a different project to do, more physical than sitting at the computer. The sun is peeking out and it will be a very warm day.

My 81st Birthday was July 15, and my daughter Heidi was here one day before my Birthday. Heidi took me for a facial which was fun, even though I am not fond of facials.

Bill, Heidi’s husband came on my Birthday so did Rod and of course Neal. We had a great time. Chinese was on the menu at the 8 Dragon Restaurant and it was good. Saturday morning Heidi and Rod made breakfast. Then, Bill, Rod and Neal left. Heidi and I went shopping and Heidi left for Santa Cruz on Sunday Morning.

I feel blessed. My other children and grandchildren called. My home was filled with flowers from my children and friends. Cards galore, I really do like my birthday, ha, ha.

Weekends are strange when I am alone, I really do not know why but they seem more lonely, even though I am alone most of the time. I also have not been very social for the last couple of years, not healthy they tell me!

Slowly but steadily I am evolving again and will entertain more and also travel some. Las Vegas and Boise are on my bucket list and I hope one of my children will travel with me in the next year or two. I feel bad that I disappointed Walter for not being in Boise for his Birthday which was in April.

Heidi had a Birthday July 28 (she’s past 40 years old), oh boy no wonder I feel so old some of the time.

Neal had a Birthday on August 1 (he’s past 50 years old).

July ended with a sad note. Kurt passed on 17 years ago on July 29. August also has sadness my husband Marc my children’s father passed on 40 years ago on August 23.

As for a favorite recipe that all my children and Marc loved is in my blog: The California Adventure 1982-1996 I believe it is blog number four.

The recipe is: “SIGRID’S CHILI”

Monday, February 15, 2016

Christmas 2015, January 2016

Our Christmas had its ups and downs. We really did have a nice Christmas Eve and Christmas Day. The sad part was Heidi got sick the day before Christmas Eve and was under the weather until the 27th of December when she started to feel better and she and I went shopping. Heidi stayed an extra day, her hubby Bill and my son Rodmond left the morning of the 27th, Neal of course lives in Gyserville so he was back and forth.

Our new tradition of having live Lobster, which we started about seven years ago was so decadent. I tried to convince my children that it is too costly but of course I was out voted. Heidi’s hubby Bill really insisted and bought dinner for us.  It certainly is so much easier on me since I used to cook Duck with all the trimmings. I miss it at times and tell myself I will cook one just for me, ha, ha.

As usual my kids surprised me and I received a Robot Roomba vacuum - so much fun and it helps my back. I still need to learn more about the Robot Roomba because even though I schedule the time I want to vacuum he has a mind of his own and starts vacuum in the middle the night sometime, yikes. Have not had a chance to study the whole manual because I got sick and was sick for about four weeks. I’m still not at a hundred percent but getting there. Neal was a big help these last few weeks and I am so grateful to have one of my children live close by.

Once I felt better and ventured out my car broke down and I had to take it into the shop, no fun! In the meantime I also had to have two new front tires. Isn’t the saying unexpected things come in threes? Hopefully this is the end of it and all will go smoothly from here on out. When unplanned obstacles happen I wonder at times why did I choose to live alone?! However I would not like it any other way, ha, ha.

I love living alone and love the town I choose to make home. I have a beautiful apartment and great neighbors and made good friends here in Healdsburg. Visitors from near and far makes life interesting and busy which is a good thing when you are a senior.

Our traditional  Christmas Eve dinner is Curried Shrimp Leek Soup has been for more than 40 years. I believe I posted the recipe in a previous blog. Will have to check that out.

I hope who ever reads my blog will stay healthy and happy and warm. Will attach a appetizer recipe which goes great with any special occasion especially at Christmas!

Portobello mushroom carpaccio

4 medium portabella mushrooms
extra virgin olive oil
salt and fresh ground pepper to taste

extra virgin olive oil
balsamic vinegar
1 clove garlic finely chopped
2 shallots finely chopped
2 ripe tomatoes seeded and diced
2 tablespoons capers
4 tablespoons grated fresh Parmesan cheese
6 fresh basil leaves chopped
2 tablespoons chopped parsley
salt and fresh ground pepper to taste

Mix olive oil and garlic in a small bowl. Brush the mushrooms with the garlic and oil mixture, place on sheet pan then season with salt and pepper. Bake in 350 degree oven until cooked through about fifteen minutes. (This can be done up to two days in advance).

Slice the portabellas 1/8 inch thick on the bias and arrange neatly on four oven proof plates. Mix the ingredients for the topping and spoon on top of the mushrooms. Put into 300 degree oven and warm through for about 3 to 5 minutes. Drizzle with olive oil and season with fresh ground pepper. Serve with crusty French bread.

Makes 4 servings

Wednesday, October 21, 2015

Visit from Germany

The third week in  August my Nephew Joachim, his wife Britta, their daughter Alina and Alina’s boyfriend Fynn arrived at my doorstep for a stay of three weeks off and on. It had been 17 years since I saw Joachim, my brother Manfred’s son. Manfred passed away almost three years ago. This visit was a great surprise.

Britta and Alina are new to the family so, needless to say I never met them before - everyone was nervous about how this visit would play out. They were on the road for 34 hours or more traveling from Germany via Copenhagen Chicago and finally San Francisco, renting a car and arriving in Healdsburg tired and hungry.

I had set up a buffet with Gazpacho and cheese boards with crudities and different breads as well Champagne. It was just the right thing to do. A sit down dinner would have been disastrous, especially since they arrived about 2 hours late.

The first day here they explored Healdsburg and Joe and I talked a lot about our families. The second day they went exploring in Napa and Sonoma wineries. Onto San Francisco the next day which included a side trip to the Oakland A’s stadium to take in a baseball game between the A’s and the Tampa Bay Rays (just for the record, they did tell my daughter Heidi that they wanted to go to a Giants game but they were playing out of town). Joachim and Fynn are big fans of baseball. There is no baseball in Germany however, they follow baseball via the internet in Germany. Britta and Alina had no choice in the matter, ha, ha.

Dinner became a challenge, as did breakfast. I had not cooked or set up breakfast for more than myself for years except when my kids and families have been here – even then one of my kids usually makes breakfast.

After four days they left for Santa Cruz to spend some time with Heidi and Bill. From there they went to LA and stayed for few days in Venice Beach, then onto Las Vegas and back up North to Sacramento to spend time with Rodmond and finally back to Healdsburg. We spent one day visiting various Tasting Rooms here in Healdsburg, and bought some wine of course. We had dinner at Bravas - one of my favorite places to go. The last evening my friend Josie came for our Soup Supper, “chili and an empty the fridge Vegetable Soup”. Josie brought Tooey her dog instead of Kim her husband (who was to be here but had some work to do - I am still bummed about that, not about Tooey, I love that dog, but about Kim, ha, ha).

 The Chili recipe is in a previous Blog. The Vegetable Soup is up to you how you proceed. The most important cooking advice about cooking Vegetable Soup is to sauté all of your vegetables including at least one medium size onion. Add the spices you like to use and sauté for about 15 minutes until all the veggies are limp, not browned, and still firm. Then fill up with Chicken or Vegetable Broth, cubes can be used. The veggies need to be crunchy if you do not want to puree the soup. I like to puree my soup and serve with sour cream, grated cheese, chopped hard boiled eggs and parsley. Good luck! If you have questions send a note via Facebook or put a notification on the blog.

This has to be the most boring blog ever written!! Ha, ha!

Monday, July 27, 2015

80th Birthday Surprises

My Birthday was full of surprises, it was a wonderful two days full of fun. Heidi, Rod, Neal and my friend Josie were not telling what was in store for me.

Surprise, surprise, Bill came after work all the way from San Jose so he could join in the festivities. The festivities were at Josie and Kim’s home. The backyard was all decorated and a beautifully set table awaited us. Rod and Josie joined efforts to produce a wonderful meal with salmon, steak, roasted potatoes and a wonderful corn salad. Josie and Kim’s children Everly and Ely helped serve and were part of the fun.  An Almond Birthday Cake was the highlight and of course Champagne for Mama. Gifts were part of the surprises - the biggest one a balloon ride over Sonoma and Napa County from my beautiful and thoughtful children.

The next morning, before 6 am, Heidi and I took off to Santa Rosa Airport to meet with the pilot of our balloon. Michael is his name - he had to drive us up to Lake County because Santa Rosa was all fogged in. The one hour country road drive was beautiful. Through all the years I lived in Healdsburg I have never driven in that direction.

Once we arrived, the balloon was unloaded and Michael and staff started to get the balloon ready for takeoff. We all watched of course, took pictures and some of the men pitched in - it was a labor of love and adventure. Once ready, we started to climb into the basket. Well, I was the oldest and had a hard time getting up into the basket. Helping hands were lifting and pushing me into the basket, kind of embarrassing, but I was grateful for the help. There was no way I would have given up this adventure.

The view over Sonoma and Napa County is awesome. If you have not done it, do it for the fun and adventure. I did it and it is off my bucket list, yahoo.

Coming back home I got another surprise: my son Rodmond painted my living room and put the room back together. This put a big smile on my face.

Three things are off my bucket list and my goal for next year is to get that book published which is more than half ready. Writer’s block has been the culprit.

However, I know I can overcome that with some effort. Here is to stopping procrastination and getting on the ball, ha, ha.

The rest of my children and grandchildren could not be here but of course phone calls were on the agenda.

No recipe this time! Will post pictures from my two day Birthday celebration. This is one Birthday I will never forget. Thank you all!

Sunday, April 12, 2015


Staying Young in Mind and Spirit approaching 80!

Being a senior has its benefits and negatives you want to interact with your younger friends and find that it is at times difficult. For me to be surrounded by younger friends makes me happy. I find friends from my generation to be more into themselves as I am at times.

However the younger generation has a tendency to overlook us in a social setting. It makes one feel insignificant. There is a lot of value in being older to share with younger people.

Some day you will approach my age and wonder the same thing. Yes we have hearing problems but that should not stop anyone from talking to us and not at us. I feel very fortunate to have friends 30 to 40 plus years younger than I am. Age related problems become less worrisome and you feel happy to be part of the friends you choose. Yes you have the privilege to choose your friends, you also must make an effort to keep friends, people in general do not come to you it is up to you to be the moving force. In our younger years it did not take much effort to make friends. As we get older we become choosier and rightfully so.

Like a marriage it takes work to keep friends. It is so easy for us seniors to say, “I am tired” or, “I really do not want to do this or that” or to use health issues for an excuse. We all do it, including me, but in the end it is not healthy for us.

Here is to all my senior friends to get off your fanny and go out and enjoy life for what it is, do not be afraid to annoy someone younger or your own age with questions or remarks that can lead to disagreements.

A true friend will forgive your indiscretion and move on. Sulking or bitching is another thing we seniors like to do. Well, bitching is ok but only with one close friend or family member with whom you feel safe and that your bitching will not go any further, ha, ha. You know from experience how rumors flow and grow.

I am attaching a fun recipe for all - especially seniors - to cook for your friends where you do not have to stay in the kitchen when your guests arrive. Seniors, do entertain. It is good for your soul.

          Baked Penne with Radicchio and Sausage 
            8 ounces sweet Italian sausage (about 2) removed from casing, crumbled
            8 ounces hot Italian sausage (about 2) removed from casings, crumbled
            1 small head radicchio, thinly sliced
             2 tablespoons kosher salt, plus more to taste
             1 pound penne pasta
              1 ½ cups whole milk
              2 large eggs, lightly beaten
              ¾ cup freshly grated Parmigiano-Reggiano
              Preheat oven to 375*. Lightly butter and 8-by12-inch baking dish.
Heat a 10 inch skillet over medium high heat. When it is hot, add the sausage. Cook, breaking up the sausage into small pieces with a wooden spoon, until the fat is rendered and the sausage has lost its pink color. Pour off all but 1 tablespoon of the fat. Add the radicchio, stir well, and cook, stirring until it is soft and well blended with the sausage, about 4 minutes. Season with salt to taste, and transfer to a large mixing bowl.
Mean while fill a large pot with water and bring to boil over high heat. Add salt. Add the pasta, stir, and cook until al dente. Drain the pasta and add to sausage. Add the milk and eggs and mix well. Pour into the prepared baking dish and sprinkle the top with Parmigiano-Reggiano.
(You can prep this the day before, refrigerate, and take out 30 minutes before you want to bake it)
Bake in oven until the top looks a bit crunchy and golden, 20 to 25 minutes. Let rest for 15 minutes before serving.
Note: This is a wonderful simple dish for entertaining. Serve with an intense red wine. Nice crusty Italian bread and a salad.
From Luongo/Strausman classes