Tuesday, May 27, 2014

Memorial Day Weekend at the Memorial

It is Monday evening.  We have just returned from a quick trip to Kansas City.  Some may wonder why we would travel to Kansas City (from Toledo) for such a short time...especially when we are leaving for Alaska in three days.  We found out after we had booked our Alaskan Cruise, that Eric, Ray's son, will be deployed to Kuwait in June...probably the beginning...when we are in Alaska.  He will be coming to Toledo...but we would not be here to see him before he left for overseas.  So...that is why we went to Kansas City.  We met Eric and his girlfriend, Alicia, and got to spend Friday evening, all day Saturday, and Sunday morning with them. 

Alicia and Eric at the Dubliner

This was the first time I had stayed in Kansas City, so was glad that Eric suggested we go downtown to the Power and Light District for dinner.  We had a nice dinner at the Dubliner while listening to a great band.  Then we went back to the Drury Inn for a good night's sleep. We planned to visit the National World War I Museum in the morning.

Power and Light District

This museum is divided into four sections:  The Exhibit Hall, The Tower, the Memory Hall and the Main Gallery.  Since it was spitting rain, we decided to go to the Tower first...just in case the weather changed to storms.  The tower is 217 feet high.  It was built in 1921 with an eternal flame at the top.  We took an elevator to the observation deck since the stairs were blocked.  (I have to admit, I found being squeezed in an elevator with room for only eight people was much more inviting than trudging up those steps.)
The Tower
View of Kansas City from the top of the Tower

View of Union Station from the Tower

From the Tower we went to the Exhibit Hall where I was fascinated with a wall mural, the Panthéon de la Guerre. According to the brochure..."The Panthéon was created in France during World War I and was the largest painting in the world, measuring 402-feet long and 45-feet tall. The Panthéon was created as a cyclorama and involved hundreds of artists who collectively painted thousands of military and civilian personages from France and the Allied nations."

This gives an idea of the size of The Pantheon.
France loaned this for the Chicago World's Fair in 1933.  Somehow it got forgotten and was found later, rolled up in a warehouse.  Some of it was damaged, but a lot of it is exhibited in this museum.

Close up of the people painted in The Pantheon.

From the Exhibit Hall we went to Memory Hall where I met Fred.  Fred was a volunteer who showed me how to use this computer type display that would identify each person on the wall murals.  He saw me rolling the track ball but not hovering long enough to see the pictures.  Fred seemed to love his job.  I am not too sure how old he was...maybe a WWII or Korean Veteran.   He kept returning to me to see how I was doing and seemed happy to see that I was taking quite an interest in the pictures.
This is a picture of Fred and me.  Behind us are
paintings of maps from World War I.
Ray found this map that happened to be the place where my father was
wounded in World War II.

The last section of the museum was the main part.  We walked over The Glass Bridge overlooking 9,000 poppies. Each poppy represented 1,000 combatant deaths during WWI.  We saw a short film explaining events leading up to WWI and the European countries involved.  From there we circled through exhibits of artifacts from the beginning of the war.  Halfway through there is another film that explains why the United States entered the war.  The last sections were full of artifacts from the American involvement.
Glass Bridge and the 9,000 Poppies

We really needed to spend another day to explore the museum...there was just so much to see.  But, it was getting late.  They close at 5:00.  Our next stop was Union Station where I thought I might find a big cookie for Valerie, Ray's daughter.  She had gotten two while visiting Eric last year, and really liked the one she was able to eat...but had left the other one in Eric's refrigerator...and of course, he ate it.  So I thought we could get her one...but realized that this was not the same place...so no cookie.  We did see four different wedding parties posing for pictures.

This wedding party was walking to the stairway for pictures when
Eric was walking toward us after getting some coffee.

It had been a long day, so we headed back to The Drury Inn.  They serve an evening meal (salad, chili, hot dogs, baked potatoes, macaroni and cheese, veggies and chips) so we decided to eat there.  Eric suggested we go bowling...but Ray and I decided to call it a night since we had a long drive the next day.

Sunday morning we all met for breakfast and I took a picture of Ray and Eric.  I don't like how it looks.  I was trying to get the Kansas City Stadium in the background and it did not work.  But, this picture will have to do.  What I wish is that I had taken the picture of Ray and Eric hugging....but I was just too touched to realize the camera was in my hand.

First Lieutenant Eric and Ray
 (Note: I did not frame this to include the stadium.)

So, Eric, we might see you for a day before you go on your deployment, but if we don't, know we love you and will think of you every day you are overseas.  We are so proud of you and how fortunate our country is to have you serve and represent us.


Tuesday, May 20, 2014

Cooking for Thirty... or My Goose Is Cooked

It is Saturday afternoon.  I need to study my German,  but I am distracted with a responsibility I have 'volunteered' to do.  Come to think of it....Rae is the one who 'volunteered' me. 

From June 16-23 the Cuyamungue Institute is having a Centennial Celebration, to celebrate the 100th anniversary of the founder, Felicitas Goodman.  I have written about the institute a few times, but not sure I have described the facilities.  We are nestled on about 250 acres of land just north of Santa Fe, New Mexico.  In fact we are surrounded by the Pojoaque Pueblo.  We are a small non-profit that runs workshops and does continuing research on body postures depicted in ancient art.
This is a bird's eye view of Cuyamungue Institute. 

I will write some day about the work...but this post is about our facilities...and my concern about my responsibility.  I (Rae) volunteered to be in charge of food.  This may sound like an exciting challenge for those who enjoy cooking and entertaining.  Too bad my niece is getting married this summer or my sister could have saved me.  But she has set aside June for helping Maggie finalize wedding plans....leaving me (along with Rae) to prepare menus and food for about thirty people for seven days. (Normally, our workshops are limited to 10-12 people because of the size of our facilities.)

I put out a plea on Facebook...asking for advice...recipes...menus...anything.   I still am not sure of serving sizes. So how much should I prepare?  I received great ideas and plan to use a few.  One person even remembered Maxine's Chicken Casserole for 30 and suggested that. I also have three great helpers...people who have prepared meals for workshops at the institute and know our limitations. 

We try to have vegetarian menus during workshops....but sometimes prepare chicken that can be added.  I am concerned that there will be people coming with food allergies that I can not address. I wonder how the preparation of the meals can be done in our small kitchen.  We have one kitchen...average sized...one refrigerator and one stove.  We have enough plates, bowls and flatware for 24 people....so I will need to purchase a couple more place settings.  Our dining area can seat 12...so some of the participants will have to use the outside picnic tables....or maybe eat in shifts.
This is our dining table....not large enough for 30 people.
We use this counter as a space for buffet type serving.  Here, Rae is organizing
the cups at the tea station.  We will have to move the tea station to the
outer room so the cooks will have room in the kitchen.

So, those are my concerns...and this is a really boring post, but my head can't stop thinking about menus and food portions.  Will our pots and pans be large enough?  How much is enough?  Will people be happy with soups and salads?  We will have fresh fruits, nuts, chips and salsa out for snacking.  Should I worry about pack rats?...probably not...with so many people there, the pack rats may leave the area.  Will we have enough or will we end up with too many leftovers?  Questions, questions and more questions....but I keep telling myself that things will work out...what will be will be.
Cleaning up after dinner....you can see the small space for
preparing for a large group.

Hmmmm.....maybe I should take the advice of one of my former students....order pizzas!  No...back to my planning....a trip to Costco to make a list for the week....and be thankful that everyone coming to the celebration will be there to celebrate....and have all been there....so they know we have a few limits on what we can do.  I will take pictures and write a blog after this so you will know if I survived.

Tuesday, May 13, 2014

Step Right up to the Carlson Circus!

I could not let Mother's Day pass without another Maxine story.  Born in 1919, she experienced living through the Great Depression.  Her family, like many at that time, was quite creative in entertaining themselves.  One summer (and I think this was continued for couple of years) they put on a circus.  Everyone in the neighborhood and surrounding area was invited.  Each family member participated.

Signs were designed to advertise this event.  "Come to Carlson's Circus!"  "See Daring Acts that Defy Gravity!" "Laugh, Eat, and Gasp!"  "Have Your Palm Red by a Fortune Teller"  "Enjoy the Trained Wild Animals"   The signs were colorful and looked like smaller versions of Ringling Brothers' Circus signs.  My grandfather was an artist.  He drew the pictures and Maxine and her siblings colored them.  I wish I had a sample, but none has survived through the years. 

The children set out to distribute their signs: Frank, the oldest, (13), Maxine (11), Marge (9) and little Harold (6).  The park across the street had a bandstand where they posted their largest poster.  The rest of the posters found homes on telephone poles and the small neighborhood store window.  The word was out!  Time to prepare!
The Carlson Children, Frank, Maxine, Marge and Harold

All of the Carlson children had learned acrobatics from their father.  They practiced routines and soon it was The Big Day!  The backyard was the venue.  People came and sat on the ground in a large circle.  Here came the Carlson Children playing kazoos, a toy street organ and a drum.  They were dressed in costumes that my grandmother had made.  Their dog had a lion like collar around his neck. and little tufts above each paw.  Marge was carrying, Hank, the cat who jumped from her arms and ran into the makeshift Fortune Teller's tent.  Small bags of peanuts were passed out to the audience.

Harold, stepped forward and announced the first act.  Leo the Ferocious Lion did typical dog trick like sit, roll over and shake hands.  The crowd loved it...or maybe they just enjoyed watching a little boy trying to get his a 'lion' to jump through a hoop.  Maybe something frightened Hank, the cat, because he ran out of the tent, through the hoop, distracting Leo.  Leo set out after Hank dragging his ruffled mane.  They disappeared down the ravine path behind my grandfather's workshop.  After the dog...oops...the lion act, Harold bowed and introduced the acrobats. 

Of course, Maxine was the star.  She began by doing forward flips to the center and then standing on her head.  The rest did flips and cartwheels around her.  Maxine then flipped up, did a few jumps and landed in the splits...hands raised and smiling at the crowd.  She was loving the attention.  Frank was not so much into the acrobats, so after a few forward flips he picked up the drum and did a drum roll.  The excitement was growing...what was next?  Maxine climbed a ladder to a bar that her father had suspended from some sort of structure.  (He was a carpenter as well as an artist.)  She swung to the middle and did a few stunts...and then....there she was...hanging by her heels, swinging high above the ground...and still smiling at the crowd.  The applause was deafening.  (Maxine always blamed her bumpy heels on this....that she would hang from her heels...but I always thought cause was her refusal to wear shoes large enough...and stuffed her size 7 foot into a size 6 shoe.)

  Maxine, Frank and Marge disappeared into three different tents.  Harold announced that his mother had baked  pie, for refreshments and made tea or lemonade for drinks.  After the final act everyone would be invited to enjoy the food and the side acts.  He pointed to the row of slumping tents; "Get Your Picture", "Have Your Palm Red", and "See the Bearded Lady". " But NOW"....he sang out...."Ladies and Gentleman....please, be quiet and stay in your seats....The Amazing Mr. Frank Carlson...my father....is about to risk his life for your entertainment.  Look up!  There he is!" 

And yes, there he was...my grandfather walking the tightrope.  Back and forth...standing on one foot...then the other...turning quickly...oh no!  He slipped!  Ah...he caught himself...he is chuckling...was that on purpose?  He was truly enjoying himself...as was the crowd.  He grabbed the tightrope with both hands, swung down, did a small flip and landed on his feet with a sweeping bow to all.

The last part of the Carlson Circus was to visit each tent.  In the first tent was Marge....face covered with fur.  She was a bit shy, so just sat there as people passed through her tent.  Next was Maxine's tent.  She was the fortune teller, dressed in full costume and jewelry with an upside down fishbowl as her crystal ball.  Only one person at a time was allowed in the tent...and they had to leave out the back.  Once inside, Maxine would ask to see the person's palm.  Holding the palm in her hand, Maxine would use red lipstick to write a small red X on the palm...and then said, "Now, you have had your palm red. Please step out the back to Frank's tent for to have your picture made."

Frank's tent was open on one side.  There was a long line.  His tent was the most popular.  Each person sat down across from him as he drew a quick caricature.  Of course, some of them were much more comical than others...as he usually would exaggerate some facial feature...but everyone would recognize each drawing.  And...of course...if some pretty young lady come in...her picture always looked beautiful.
This is an example of Frank's work after he was older.

The circus was over but many stayed longer to visit with friends.  My grandfather lowered the tightrope and formed a slack line where he gave tips on how to do this. Neighborhood children loved trying their skill and balance.  Adults would attempt and soon realize how difficult it was.  Everyone was comparing the pictures that Frank had drawn.  Everyone had red palms. Everyone was full of good food.  Everyone had a fun afternoon at the Carlson Circus.

Tuesday, May 6, 2014


Last Sunday I flew to Fort Lauderdale, Florida with my good friend (since high school), Ann, to pick up a car that her husband had bought.  It was a bit of a whirlwind trip because Ann had to be back in Toledo before Friday because she was scheduled for knee replacement surgery.  We planned to visit my friend, Rae, (Yes, the Rae who has been the subject of a few blog posts.)  at Clearwater Beach on our return home.  Our goal was to get to Toledo on Wednesday.  That would give Ann Thursday to prepare for her surgery. 
Frank and Ann showing all the pins where he has
sold cars on EBay.

Ann booked a flight on Spirit Airline...one way...aisle seats.  I had heard about Spirit.  The flights were cheap, but at a cost.  The seats are closer because they added three more rows.  Everything costs...even carry on baggage.  We packed light...one carry on between us....figured that we could do some laundry at Rae's.  I was prepared for an uncomfortable two hours and fifty-four minutes. 

The night before our flight I stayed at Ann's because we had an hour drive to the airport for a 7:00 A.M. departure.  It was going to be an early morning and an uncomfortable flight.  For some reason, Ann was able to board with the second group and I was with the last group.  We thought it was because she had the carry on and I was empty handed.  I did not mind though....that meant less time sitting in that cramped seat.  I finally boarded and slipped into my seat.  Hmmm...not bad.  Of course, I am 5'3", so did not have the long legs and long torso of the poor guy next to Ann.  He was in a middle seat.  The thought of trading seats with him flew through my mind...but he fell asleep soon after take off, so I let it be.  All in all...Spirit was a pleasant surprise.  The seats did not feel that cramped, the flight was smooth and we even got to Ft. Lauderdale early.

This was our promotional gift of a beach
towel and bag.

Neither one of us was impressed with the airport at Ft. Lauderdale.  We had thought we would find a restaurant to eat before we got to the car dealer.  (Ann was to call and they would send someone to drive us to the dealership.)  We had not eaten breakfast and were hungry.  There was no place except a place with pre-wrapped food with tables with no seats...just stand and eat.  We decided to wait for lunch because the dealership was to have all  of the paperwork ready for Ann to sign and we would be on our way soon.  We had about an hour to wait and found seats next to outlets so that we could charge our phones. (I hate to let my phone charge get low.)  The airport earns an A+ in having outlets close to seats.

Finally, a silver Cadillac arrived.  Soon we were at the dealership, Century Motors of South Florida.  I admit, I sighed in relief when this place looked like an upstanding real business.  I knew that Michael would not have gotten a car and sent us to pick it up without knowing that the business was okay...but I did have a few visions of finding this car on some back alley with a bunch of shady looking employees.  Any doubt I had had was washed away when I stepped through the doors.  Sitting on the desk were two friendly kitties.
Katty the Kitty

After a couple of couple of hours we were on our way to Clearwater Beach.  We got there in time to see a beautiful sunset and a dinner of meatloaf, scalloped potatoes and broccoli.  The next day we relaxed....walked along the beach....took a dip in the pool...and had pizza for dinner.  The next morning we were on our way by 5:00 A.M.  We hoped to miss the storms traveling across the south.
EBay the other kitty

We made it to Williamsburg, Kentucky and stayed at the Cumberland Inn.  The air conditioner seemed to vibrate the floor when it was running...and my bed was closest to it...so it felt like one of those old bed massagers they used to have in hotels.  It was great...and it seemed that the bed even vibrated when the air conditioner from  the floor below was running.  The beds were comfortable...and mine gently rocked me to sleep.

The next day morning we were on our way by 7:30.  We had managed to skirt the storms the day before but it was raining when we left.  Radar showed that we would be leaving the rain after about an hour and then have clear skies all the way home.  (I love having so much information at my fingertips with my iPhone.)
Sunset view from Rae's window
at Clearwater Beach.

Ann had Thursday to rest and prepare for her surgery on Friday.  I visited her Friday afternoon and she was already moving her toes and walking.  Wow....she was discharged on Sunday.  Megan, her daughter is an RN has been there for Ann's transition.
Ann: Day after complete
knee surgery.
So...this has been a long post describing our short trip.  I was traveling last Tuesday and so Ray posted my blog post for me.  I really did not have an opportunity to read many blogs to write comments, so will to more this time.  One more thing....the car was a Rav-4...cute, black, drove great, and happy in its new home.

Here is a video of Ann walking.