On Saturday, October 26 we were evacuated from our home and town, known as Healdsburg. My son Neal and I packed up and drove to Sacramento to stay with my son Rodmond. It was a long drive. What usually takes 2 hours took 6 hours; highways were a parking lot from Healdsburg to Sacramento. We were tired and relieved at the same time that we had a place to go to. After 6 days we were able to drive home. We are so grateful to the First Responders and volunteers who made this homecoming possible.
The devastation around Healdsburg is sad; wineries and homes were lost in the rural areas. Families are struggling with their loss. The community is stepping in to make it easier for the families.
As for me, it is not the first time I had to evacuate my home. I was nine years old when we had to leave our home in Konigsberg, East Prussia during World War II. We never could return home. Here, I am happy that I could return home.
The mind does play tricks, thinking I have to leave again. Trying to settle down has been and is hard. As they say, life goes on, yes, but the fear is still here!
Sonoma County is resilient, the people are proud and rebuilding the homes and businesses they lost. All of us need to support local business throughout the county in order for the county to survive. Healdsburg is a great little town with wonderful shops and restaurants and social activities for families throughout the year. Everyone is picking up the pieces to move on. Come visit us and find out how we are doing.
Getting together with family and friends is important any time but especially now.
Food is the binding mentor. I for one will cook some hearty soups and meals in a pot to share with family and friends. Thanksgiving is around the corner and family will be arriving in droves. When I wrote this part, I was in the planning stages. Doing something productive makes me happy.
Everyone stay focused on the positive and smile.
Another year has passed. The last three years where more difficult due to the fires in Sonoma and Napa County. Yet, we survived and are so fortunate that the First Responders saved our town. Moving on was not easy. 2019 was an especially tough year for all concerned. With a grateful heart we celebrated Thanksgiving with our family. My oldest son, Walter, and his daughter Janine arrived from Boise the day before Thanksgiving and it was really nice to have them with us. Walter’s wife Veronika and daughter Jesse stayed home in Boise, presumably having a special Mother-Daughter time.
Here with me in Healdsburg my sons Rodmond and Neal, my daughter Heidi and son in law Bill all did their share of pulling Thanksgiving dinner together. It was a special Thanksgiving, we were so grateful to be able to be together. Sons Steven and family, who live in England, are always missed. I expect them to be here next year for my 85th birthday in July. Paul also could not be here. Over the last 20 years or so it has never been possible to have all my kids together in one place. Hopefully next summer, ha, ha.
Christmas, my favored time of the year, was full of surprises as it usually is. I, with Neal’s help, bought our Tree two weeks before Christmas. That is one tradition I changed after all the kids flew the nest. I still celebrate Advent the four Sundays before Christmas. I enjoy some quiet and listen to the Messiah or other Christmas music with a cup of coffee or hot chocolate, sometimes even a glass of wine. Only three of my children were able to be here this Christmas and, of course, my son-in-law as well. All of my grandkids are scattered around the country and abroad; no show of grandkids.
Christmas Eve for me still has more meaning than Christmas Day. This goes way back to when I grew up in Germany; my family always made Christmas Eve festive. When our children were born, Marc, my husband went along with me. I kept the same traditions alive, at least a good version of home.
We open gifts after we have supper/dinner, our traditional Shrimp Leek Soup which I have cooked for over 45 years every Christmas Eve. Dinner tradition has changed over the last 15 years or though. I used to cook duck with red cabbage and all the trimmings. Heidi no longer eats such animals, and Neal does not like duck. Our dinner now is a seafood medley, whatever we can afford at a given time. Heidi and Bill have brought Lobster tails the last 3 years and before that, they bought whole lobsters which was decadent just to look at. We all had to work for our dinner and it is always fun and we appreciated the luxury of lobster and tails. I add Alaskan crab legs and large shrimp which we peel at the table. I made Basmati Rice and a Snow Peas Red Beet salad with a warm vinaigrette dressing. Bill made dessert: strawberries with brown sugar and sour cream. Needless to say we were stuffed and happy.
We all pray for a healthy prosperous year in 2020. Happy New Year!
A Recipe from my Family's Traditional Christmas Menu
Grandmother Schweders Red Cabbage
4 quarts water
1 large red cabbage (2 small is also ok)
salt and pepper to taste
2 strips of bacon (fat from the goose, duck or even chicken is better, (olive oil as an alternative for vegans, for more flavor add finely diced vegan bacon).
red wine vinegar to taste
sugar to taste
Remove outer leaves from cabbage and remove the core. Chop cabbage into medium to small pieces. Wash and rinse.
In a large pot
Put the water, cabbage, apple and onion with salt and pepper and bring to a boil. Lower heat and simmer for about 40 minutes. Drain, set aside. In the same pot fry the bacon or melt down the goose/chicken fat on medium heat. Remove the bacon strips. Set aside. Now add the cabbage to the fat and stir for about 5 minutes of and on. Add diced bacon if desired.
Vinegar and sugar (start with 1/4 cup of vinegar and 4 tablespoons of sugar). Stir and taste, increase vinegar and sugar to your liking.
NOTE: Has a 10 day shelf life.
Makes 10 to 12 servings