Summer Hiking

Summer Hiking
Mt. Constitution

Monday, December 29, 2014

Sausage Making at the Essers

Yes, the Essers want to eat homemade sausage.  But Garry also wants to preserve the tradition and teach the younger generation about the process of making traditional German-style smoked sausage.  He set up a grinding, mixing, and stuffing station with white butcher paper atop a big tool chest in his shop after he ordered 100# of pork shoulders from a local butcher, who removed all the bones.
Does this look like 100 pounds of pork?
The girls, Connie, Julia, Aunt Cindy Bennett and cousin, Karli, removed the excess fat from the pork.
John and Garry took charge of the grinding.  They said it was so much easier this year because they located the motor-driven grinder.  Apparently Garry's dad loaned it to an in-law years ago and Connie happened to mention their need for it to a colleague at school who said, "yes, I have it, do you want it back?"  Now is safely in the hands of the next generation of Essers.  
Grinding the sausage into Mom (Bertha's) steam table pans
 Following Mom (Pat Esser's) handwritten recipe
Garry added his own touch - minced garlic soaked in hot water.  

Connie browned some of the seasoned sausage
And these guys, Karli, Brady, and Julia patiently waited to taste their work. 
But Mom, Pat's, opinion ruled!
Perfectly seasoned sausage now ready for stuffing into the casings.  I wonder how old that sausage stuffer is?  Garry told me they found it in the attic of John's house!  

Garry and Cindy sharing family stories, laughing because Pat recalled that her job, when she first experienced butchering and sausage-making with the Essers, was to clean out the intestines so they could be stuffed with the sausage.  Ewwwuuuu!
The links are ready for smoking.
John tending the fire in the smokehouse.
I came home with fresh sausage patties!  
I wandered around the shop and then sat on a chair to rest my ankle near the heat source.  I asked Connie about the "furnace"  and she told me it's an efficient little burner that is fueled by "dirty" oil from all the farm machinery.  What a great way to recycle and reuse!  

Garry's office....a few awards, John Deere miniatures, and St. Joseph, the Worker, right in the center.  I suspect Garry's faith sustains him every year as he plans, plants, waits, and celebrates the harvest.  How else could someone work at a job with so little control over the elements?  This place is truly 
HOLY Ground!

Tuesday, November 11, 2014

This Day

This day, November 11th, holds a lot of memories for me.  As the memories of this day, nine years ago, fade, one thing remains certain.  I miss my mother!  A dear 93 year old resident at Juniper Meadows said to me years ago, "I think about my Mom every day.  We are never ready to lose our mothers."  So true for me!

I've had my eye on this last rose of summer for weeks now.  I'm certain a single rose has never grown so tall on a rose bush.  I hobbled out to the back yard and picked it today because the weather man tells us it will be in the teens tonight.

I picked the roses to honor my Mom, as a way to bring attention to her presence today.
Because, today, I'm visiting Dr. K. and I hope he'll tell me I can walk without the aid of a walker, crutches, or the knee scooter.  I'm sure my Mom would be whispering to the Dr. that it's high time I get up and move around instead of spending so much time doing nothing.

It seems timely that I would've finished a 25 year quilt project just yesterday!  The pattern, double wedding ring, seemed to be one of Mom's favorites.  I know her Mom made lots of them - it was the best way to use up little scraps of fabric.

A local quilter helped me pick out the fabric - can you tell it was during the mauve and blue phase of the 1980's?  I finished piecing it in 1995 and started the labor-intensive process of hand quilting soon after.  It's been tucked away for over 10 years and my recent ankle accident prompted me to drag it out of the basement storage and finish it!

I found these pictures of two quilts that we found in her stash:

I think Grandma Hoene made this wedding ring crib size quilt.  It's quite tattered and torn, but it warmed the little bodies of several Kopczynski toddlers.  I remember it being in the crib in Mom and Dad's bedroom.  I treasure it because of all the love put into it and the utilitarian way Mom used saving this one in the closet.
Pictures on the piano, January, 2006.  I have the big group picture from the Golden Wedding hanging in my stairwell going down to the basement.

This little scene in the basement quilting room always tickled me.  A sign taped over the heating control, in Dad's handwriting, "Don't turn up the Heat."  Mom found another place to stick her quilting needles.  The blue sticky note has the cable equivalent of the TV Channels.  Someday we'll consider the wall hung land line phone an antique!
The best part of this day - I can bear weight and walk again!  I could barely keep from crying tears of joy when I realized how great the news was....  "your ankle healed really well."  I breathed prayers to Mom, Carole, Dad and joined with Sister Petronilla, "Thank you, Jesus!"  Dr. K gave me a stirrup brace, just to give me a little support as I re-learn how to walk.  He suggested I walk around the house, with the brace on and crutches for support, until I'm confident of my walking ability.  Then the crutches and all devices can go bye-by.  "How long might that take," I inquired.  He responded, "it might be this afternoon or two weeks from today.  No physical therapy necessary."  I'll have to wear my hiking shoes because the brace doesn't fit well into my walking shoe, but who cares?

Friday, October 31, 2014

Gus & Mackenzie's Wedding

This sweet couple wasted no time tying the knot once they made the commitment to live out the rest of their lives together.  They met each other in September, 2011, got engaged in Sun Valley in August of this year.  My sister, Karen, shared their journey off and on during our hiking, biking, and kayaking trips.  At one time she'd hoped that they would choose to get married next summer at the Stubbs home near Moscow Mountain.

Gus and Mackenzie had a very different idea.  I happened to be with Karen when Gus called her, curious about her October calendar.  "Mom, Mackenzie and I don't want the stress and drama of wedding planning for a year.  We're considering an October wedding.  When are you going to India?"   That started some quick planning..... venue, caterers, photographers, etc.  Karen told me they wanted a small intimate wedding so it all seemed doable in six weeks!

They probably wouldn't admit that they just breezed through the planning, but honestly I think they should be proud of the lovely wedding that happened without a lot of fuss!  They admit their relationship grew because they had fun....  I found them to be lighthearted, relaxed, and filled with joy!

To keep everything simple Mackenzie told her bridesmaids just to wear a dress they'd worn to another wedding.  Amazingly they were all in the same color hue.

The sweet nieces, Kennedy and Taylor, stole the show.  Kennedy carried off her duties perfectly, but Taylor had a little more anxiety.  Once they were safe in their mother's arms, we heard Kennedy say, "Can we have our cookies now?"

Gus and Mackenize surprised me with an invitation to be the officiant.  Accommodations had to be made so I wouldn't topple over while officiating this precious wedding.  The sound technician told me, "I've never been to a wedding where the officiant sat down."  The sweet photographer reminded me that she'd had an accident before Zeke and AnnMarie's wedding and took all their pictures with a cast on her leg.  I've "borrowed" her lovely pictures from Facebook.  Thank you Thia!
Gus and Mackenzie wrote their own vows and shared tender words with everyone present.  God surely blessed this sweet couple because they both have big hearts and a tenderness for each other and all their guests.

I didn't take any pictures because it's all I can do to get my body placed, much less worry about a camera!  Thank you to everyone who posted or sent me the lovely pictures from this wedding!

Grandma Karen and Kennedy doing a happy dance!
Cant have a wedding without a family picture and this one is perfect!
Dena took this picture of all the Kopczynski siblings at the rehearsal dinner held at lovely rented home in Sun Valley.  We still all line up for a group picture in front of a fireplace.  We did that at our Cottonwood home for years....
 The boys
And the girls....
Karen rented a lovely home, with five bedrooms, so we could enjoy our time together.  This view is of the back yard and deck.
 Connie and Maureen cooking up a great breakfast for us!

There's nothing better than sharing a meal with siblings ...thank you Mom and Dad for bringing us into the world and holding us together, even after you are gone!

Our Dad married Mom when he was Gus's age.  We pray for a long married life and lots of kids for this sweet couple!

7 Weeks and Counting

Tomorrow is the 7-week anniversary of my broken ankle.  The time passed quickly because my dear friends showered me with visits, car rides, and invitations out to lunch.  I don't think I've missed a thing.  The ankle gets stronger every day because those bones are knitting themselves together while I sit and quilt, watch tv, or read.  Below are a few things I've learned during this recovery time.

I started making a list of things don't really matter - dusty furniture, unmade beds, yard full of leaves, staying in pajamas all day, shopping trips.  I got the idea from a book I read about a young mother diagnosed with breas cancer....  Truly there are hundreds of things that don't matter when you are fighting for your life.  

It took me just a few minutes to reconcile my bank account because I haven't used my debit or credit card since mid-September.  I must be saving a lot of money, just in gas alone.  

I can sit for an hour a day and really pray for people who come to my mind.  There's no reason to rush through the prayer time.  Every day I feel God's presence, especially when I'm tempted to have a little pity party.

I've been reading a book by Ann Voskamp titled, "One Thousand Gifts."  Her story helped me appreciate incredible moments during the past seven weeks including feeling the cool air coming in my bedroom window while I sleep, the fall colors, the antics of squirrels on power lines, bouquets of flowers, homemade soup, beautiful music, fleece blankets, FaceTime with Colin, phone calls and on and on.....

Everywhere I go someone tells me their story!  I've heard several broken ankle stories, lots of foot surgery recoveries, even a broken foot followed by a broken ankle.  I'm grateful because I see these people walking fine, getting around as if nothing had ever happened.

Today I prepared  my ankle for the visit to Dr. K on November 11th.  I felt like a pioneer hauling water for  a bath.  It took several containers of water and several trips to the basin to get enough water to soak my feet for my pedicure.  

The picture shows my ankle on October 8th

this is how it looks today, ready for the next XRay!

I finished quilting the 24 year project today!
The very last stitch!!!  
Just had to put it on my bed even though it still needs the binding sewn on it.  My sister, Marilyn, will take me to Joann Fabrics this weekend to purchase the fabric and next week I can make the bias and really finish the quilt.  My Mom will be proud if I finish it while recalling her untimely death on November 11th.  She never had projects go on that long.  I'm so not like her....

I'm celebrating the gift of my IPAD and Marilyn's IHOME keyboard that allows me to do a blog post.  Another one of my thousand gifts!!!!!