Category Archives: son-in-law

Any Room At Your House?

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Tis the season of busyness and preparations for the holidays.  Presents bought and wrapped.  Baking.  A surprise visit and present from my son.  It is Dean and I’s heart to get these holiday greetings sent via postage mail long before Christmas week. Please know that you are in our hearts year round. Christmas joy has filled our home, peace with God and grace to all people despite any differences.  This snowy Christmas Eve is the slow-down to reflect on His Gift, Jesus, lessons from 2017 and what is hoped for 2018. The 4 Advent Sundays reminded us of this moment. Father Peter shared at Mass tonight the Christmas story, how there was no room for Joseph, Mother Mary, and the birth of baby Jesus.  A meager manger would be the chosen place of His birth. It was asked how many of us would say the same “no room at our house”? “What would you do if Joseph and Mary came knocking on your door tonight?  Do you have time to deal with this?  Can you make space in your house without resentment or casting judgment?  Would you empty the tool shed or a spot in the garage?  Would you charge high $$ to profit from this situation?  Or worst yet, steal their possessions, what little the guests have?  Scriptures tell us “What you do to the least of my brothers, you do unto Me.”

“Family” would summarize our year of 2017.  As a reminder, Dean and I have 6 children, 5 in-law children, 6 grandchildren, 3 parents, 5 siblings and their families, and we cannot forget our dog, Midnight and cat, Celine, the 7 grand dogs, and 3 grand cats.  Dean and I began 2017 in Key West, Florida with his parents and siblings, an 80th birthday celebration for Dean’s mother.  Such a while ago, but lovely memories of the beach breezes, discovering new sites, and time with family.  We still have our greeting card boxes that niece Amelia made each of us.  After the hurricanes there, I suppose the scenery is quite different.  In a couple of days warmth awaits us in San Antonio, where we will meet up with Dean’s son, AJ, Nancy, Elise, and  Nancy’s family there.  Spiced rum eggnog, homemade chicken soup, Christmas carols, and having each other will keep us warm tonight …

In February my daughter, 33-year old Elisabeth was diagnosed with 2 types of breast cancer, stage 1 and stage 2. Elisabeth went through a strict regimen of chemo treatments, hair loss, zapped energy and strength. She had a double mastectomy and reconstruction this summer. We are so very thankful to our Father as she has been given a cancer-free diagnosis in July.  Elisabeth is regaining her strength and hair while under hormone therapy and low-dose chemo.  Her husband, children, family, friends, and all the supportive, praying communities continue to surround her. Her bravery and fighter personality helped Elisabeth stay above.  I reached out for prayers by many women, visited church 1-block from my office to take part in many noontime prayer vigils, and Dean and I together continue to provide a quiet and calm home while she heals.

Refreshing spring brought us to the completion of our 2-room addition.  It took a whole year, but it is beautiful and has provided the much needed space to our home.  At this season of our lives we share our home with my daughter and her family.  More warmth with the woodwork, a set of barn doors matching the stained doors in the rest of the house as well as a high ceiling to heighten the spacious floor layout.  We use the 2 rooms as a family room/dining area and an extra bedroom that Elisabeth and Mark can rest their heads in. In May Dean and I spent almost a week in the Smoky Mountain region of our beautiful states.  Experienced the AirBnB hospitality for this vacation. We loved Gatlinburg, TN and Asheville, NC.  Antiques, the arts, and foodie places were our hangouts. Of course, a few walks in the woods. There was a sign warning us, and you know the saying “hindsight is 20/20”. Dean drove the Dragon’s Tail Highway with all its hairpin turns, not understanding what we were in for.  I was very close to losing lunch during that ride. We tried the glamper scene one night in the middle of nowhere land. And we stopped in Nashville for a night. Love the nightlife there with all the honky-tonks and country music.

Weekend trips to Lee’s Summit and Farmington keep us on the road at least once a month visiting with children, grandchildren, and Dean’s parents.  When we are home we read, write, catch a music venue or new foodie joint in St. Louis.  And there is always those weekend chores.  We garden and mow at the greenhouse site on Boone Hollow Farm near Defiance 7 or 8 months out of the year. This year’s gardening included a voluntary cherry tomato plant that literally took over the whole vegetable bed from July until the October frost killed it.  We dubbed this plant as “Audrey” from the play/movie Little Shoppe of Horror. We made a delicious green tomato marmalade from the abundance of fruit left after the killing frost.  Our perennials are inside now, and our bird of paradise is about to bloom again under the plant lights in the garage.  Autumn brought Dean and I a steal-away weekend to Pella, Iowa.  We loved this Dutch town so much, we are planning a Mother’s Day weekend there with our mothers.

My occupation as the employee wellness coordinator of St. Louis County is the work God called me to this season of my life.  We had our Billion Steps Challenge using Fitbits and a web portal called One Community.  With two 8-week walking challenges this spring and summer, we cleared the 1 billion steps goal and went well over 2 billion steps amongst 2800 participating employees and spouses.  I have been asked to speak along with a panel at the St. Louis area American Heart Association’s Wellness Forum in February discussing employer wellness budgets on a shoestring.  Personally, my biometric numbers were improved substantially with the walking challenges, and my primary care physician is thrilled.  The walking culture continues through winter.  Dean, Midnight, and I still take an evening constitutional almost every night.  At 20 degree temps, I declined tonight. Hives or worse a visit to the emergency room would not be good.  Dean’s occupation with the National Archives keeps him going, and work he was called to as well.  He loves the hunt for military records especially for his family and friends.

Our youngest granddaughter, Elise has captured her Grandpa Dean’s heart.  I think he counts the days until he can see her again.  This Father’s Day was a wonderful gathering of Dean’s children and their families with us at our home. The red children’s swing in our sweet gum tree remind us of that special weekend.  We had a Gall Family Thanksgiving  at Rainer and Erica’s newly bought house in St. Louis City, and a birthday gathering for Dean the following day at a local bakery cafe. Another day that weekend we celebrated my oldest grandchild, Hannah’s 16th birthday.  Church every Sunday and occasional birthday celebrations and plays keeps us in touch with my mother and family. While celebrations and victories punctuate our year, so does illness and death. Dean’s extended family lost a cousin recently. Cancer, this wicked stuff.  Keep Mike’s wife, Terri and 2 daughters in your prayers please.  Another extended family member is undergoing treatments ; please say a prayer for Marion, our son-in-law’s father.  My oldest daughter, Rachel has multiple medical conditions, her conditions declining, which cause severe pain.   In 2018 I plan to take more time off from work each month to help Rachel with the kids and house.  Please bathe Rachel in your prayers.

What room do you have in your heart, home, and life for the least of these My brothers?  What has God prepared you for this very night, or the 365 days in 2018?  Blessings to you this eve of Jesus Christ’s birth.  As the carols sing … “Christ was born to save!  Christ was born to save!”… “He rules the world with truth and grace and makes the nations prove the glories of His righteousness and wonders of His love, and wonders of His love, and wonders, wonders of His love.” Joy to the world!

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Whirl Wind Day

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Frozen Leaves
“Dull November brings the blast,
Then the leaves are whirling fast.”

~ Sara Coleridge

Veterans Day means another day off for the government worker. In the past, Dean and I have used this day for a long weekend trip, catch up on doctors’ appointments, and/or chores around the house or greenhouse. This year the whirl wind day encompassed doctors’ appointments for all three of us. The cold air literally blew in while we traveled 1 hour north for our labrador’s annual veterinary exam. We visited my father’s cementary site. Old flowers withered and brown, and I forgot to bring a sprig or two of colorful leaves and mums, Dad’s favorite flower. Not sure the wind would have allowed them to stay. The whirl winds brought the last of the leaves down, and a stark-gray filled this November afternoon. It followed us back to St. Charles County, Missouri.
My youngest daughter is in the hospital once again with major back issues. We make our way over to their apartment to watch after the two grandkids when they arrive home from school while our son-in-law stays with my daughter at the hospital. A congenial disorder she found out a few days ago, same as her older sister. My heart aches. A mother despises the pain her child is in no matter how old the child is. A sense of comfort envelopes me as I spend time with Libby and Brendan. The grace of God is evident in this family. We gathered under fleece throws while watching a Disney classic. The wind whipped about outside the patio window, frozen leaves nestled in the corner of the deck. Their three cats take turns for a gander as the howls come and go all evening. Spits of snow tell us winter will follow this whirl wind day. Good-bye autumn, my achey joints are not ready for winter yet.

Pumpkins, Bumpkins

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The past two days it has been a steady rain off and on. So some red, orange, and golden yellow-colored leaves had remained on the trees, illuminating from the fresh water. Today’s rain has been heavier, more color has fallen to the ground. But the most colorful this Halloween are the pumpkins and bumpkins that glow tonight. Trick-or-treaters walking on streets or at the neighborhood trunk-n-treats while gourds and pumpkins are displayed for autumn vignettes. Shared in the collage are photos of my children and grandchildren, and some of their pumpkin art … and a poem written by my brother. Such creative bumpkins in the family.

AUTUMN AGAIN by Richard Bates

Bleeding with color, leaves parachute
and cry out: this is the end
of something great; now the trees
wear a fashion of surrender.
Deep shadows pour over the lawns
and streets- where there’s a feeling
that it’s getting late; despite all rumors
and denial, dark clouds play out
some ancient prophecy: how the cold wind
scatters secrets come September…

House Warming Planters

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Rain, rain, and more rain! We need it so. The plant life is saying “ahhhh!”. After such a lovely weekend, the most beautiful for Missouri that I have experienced in many, many months! And I hear we will have another one this upcoming weekend. I took last weekend off from working at the spice shoppe to enjoy the weekend with my kids and grandkids. My oldest daughter and my chef son-in-law bought a 100-year old house full of history and character in Farmington, Missouri about an hour and 45 minutes south from us. My granddaughters, Hannah and Ella helped in making some planters using kingston ferns, hibiscus, asparagus ferns, and succulents as house warming gifts. The planters bring life to their wrap-around porch, well more life. The kids do plenty of that, too! The planters will warm their house when the air gets cool, and the summer warmth will follow into their new home.
Suddenly, Dean & I’s house is empty! After 7 people living in a modest 3-bedroom home for 9-months, the house is in need of deep, deep cleaning. We are determined to conquer 1 room each week for the next 6 weeks, carpet and upholstery cleaning this evening, with wall washing, dusting, and shining the windows in the living room later in the week. We will rearrange the furniture for a pleasant change. After the deep cleaning, a fresh coat of paint will liven the rooms again. Soft hues on the walls with sparkles swirled into ceilings. Cannot wait. Autumn’s arrival will bring our houseplants and tropicals back into our home after growing taller and fuller in our landscape this summer. Their lovely green leaves will bring a nice contrast to the walls and wood furniture.
So what are some of the benefits of having house plants? Plenty. See below.
Health Benefits From Houseplants
Contact Deanna Greens And Garden Art for your houseplant needs!

Herb Harvest

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Our dill is daintily charming, and so fragrant. Yesterday evening we harvest our 1st crop, and will put in a 2nd crop after the 4th of July holiday. Wild sunflowers and sprigs of dill fill a green vase today. Our chef son-in-law will use this 1st crop of dill to make pickles with his homegrown cucumbers. Maybe a jar or two of Hannahway Farm sun pickles are on our way?! The patriarch spice shoppe owner says in Europe dill is used in just about every dish. I love it with my baked fish and potato salad dishes. The 3rd crop of dill will go in early autumn, with plans to take as show-n-tell farm products to the City of St. Charles preschool classrooms Farmer Dean and I visit in November. Our 1st crop of basil screams pesto! Served with veggies, chicken, bread, and pasta, I cannot wait!
Dill
This week’s other farm chores include straightening and cleaning the screenhouse, putting extra pots and trays together in somewhat orderly fashion, and throwing broken items in the recycle pile. One recycled dresser is filled with “tea room” stuff, as well as a recycled tile-top table put aside for our meal and snack times. Another recycled dresser holds pots of blooming geraniums. We are making space in the screenhouse in case we need to move our plants to this cooler side of the greenhouse structure. Last year at this time the heat wave and drought was well underway in Missouri. The extreme heat required us to water two times a day, early morning and early evening. Our plants were housed under the shelter of shade trees in our yard while the greenhouse reconstruction plans were being modified until autumn when the heat subsided. The lack of rain has not been an issue this spring and early summer, thank you God! The growing gourd plants will go into the ground this weekend.
Growers, what are you harvesting now? What are you putting in for an autumn crop?

My Friday Family Adventures

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Tornado
So this Friday is like so many of my days, filled with family adventures. Early morning we are greeted by my son-in-law asking to use our van to help a mutual friend move his bee hives. Big bee hives, and the trunk of a car would not suffice for the task. Of course, use the van, put gas in it, though do not leave any bees in it. Remember we will be loading the huge van with plants later tonight.
The morning goes along with a telephone call from my younger brother while at work, asking if we had found out if we can sell Grandpa’s snake-skin belts and jewelry at the farmers’ markets. A few days ago I told Dean about this request, but I had not heard whether we gained permission to include my grandfather’s handmade snake-skin crafts at our tent. But I will follow-up with this. The next question my brother ask, “Would you like to donate your body to St. Louis University when you die?” He asked this with no hesitation, like he was asking if Dean and I can come over for dinner tomorrow night. Now, I have to take a few seconds to think why he is asking this. With my pause in reply, he interjects that this is what our 97-year old grandfather is doing, and what him and Uncle Earl have discussed doing as well. “Would it be neat for the university to do genetic studies on the Bates Family?” Steve says. “I am going to ask Rick and Marge (my other siblings), too. And maybe Rachel and Elisabeth (my daughters) will consider doing the same?” So it takes what seems like 5 minutes to respond, probably more like a minute. “It’s a good idea, and I am open to it. I always thought to donate an organ to science after I pass, but I need to consider what Dean wants when I pass. I will ask him.” Dean and I discuss briefly on the commute home from our jobs, “no immediate answer, we have time for this decision,” I add.
Then Mom calls late this afternoon asking about the weather-stripping for the front door. It appears what we installed this winter caused a suction when it rained earlier this week, that she could not get the door open. Great, she is trying to sell the house. We will be up there to take care of this weekend or on Wednesday when we assist her with her move to the villa 1-1/2 miles from our house rather than the hour’s drive we currently have. Mixed feelings altogether there.
We get home to eat a quick dinner my chef son-in-law prepared, fried fish, mashed potatoes, and a tomato-mozzerolla salad. Dean and I needed to get to the greenhouse as soon as possible as a large cell of violent storms was on the way. Dean checked http://www.wunderground.com, and it was in Warren County, one county west of us. Onward to the greenhouse to pick up a few plants for the Saturday morning farmers’ market. The radio said a tornado had been sighted in Franklin County, one county southwest of St. Charles County. Probably 30 minutes from us. The earlier rains had the ground soaked already, so we parked the van just past the barn. Dean and I quickly walked up the hill, gathered armfuls of plants, each making 3 trips back and forth. By my last trip back to the van, the sky was an eerie green with a black cell right in the middle. Lightning flashes bolts bright, and the heavy rain starts. Our Charlie Brown spruce tree was in full glow with the solar lights like it was nighttime already. It was only 7:15pm. The van radio told me a tornado warning was issued for St. Charles County, and a tornado was sighted in Defiance. Wonderful, we are in Defiance! I guarantee that black cell I saw had a tornado in it! Dean arrived with his last armful of plants, promptly loaded them in the van, and backed the van up in a hurry. We slide off the gravel road right into the slippery clay mud. That van kept sliding towards the rushing creek! Inches from it! Dean tried pulling forward, and we were stuck. Dean and I tried gravel, wood planks, and prayer. We were not going anywhere, especially when Dean accidentally locked the keys in the van. Thank God the engine was turned off! Flash flood warnings came over the weather band radio in the barn. I asked my husband to call our landlord, to see if we could start the tractor to pull the van out. No keys were available, with the landlord in another county over. We asked for the farm neighbor’s telephone number. We called my son-in-law and this farm neighbor. My son-in-law got to us with our spare van key and a smile in his voice within 30 minutes. Our rescuer! The farm neighbor was not home, 30 minutes away but would try to get to us. Dean rocked the van back and forth shifting in reverse and back forward. Mick and I pushed with all our might. A wood plank shot back and hit my ankle. Bruised, swollen, and sore but no cut. Thank Jesus. Rocking back and forth for 10 minutes, the van was out of the muddy mess onto the gravel road. Shovels put away, barn light turned out, and we all managed to cross the creek to the safety of a paved county highway. A call to the farm neighbor to say we were out of our predicament. Reports of a huge tornado touching down in the local towns of Weldon Springs and Harvester, Missouri wiping out multiple houses came over the radio. Cannot help to think we were stuck in the mud for a reason, to avoid being in the path of that nasty tornado. A muddy mess and sore, we all three were, but safe in our house now tonight. Yes, my family adventures never end. Sometimes like the whirlwinds I experienced tonight. Peace I sense. Gratitude, I have family to help when we need it, and to be with on this stormy night. St. Louis University is not ready for me yet. Stay tuned, another chapter of our family life on this blog, maybe with Dean’s family.

Off To Market We Go

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This coming Saturday Deanna Greens And Garden Art will be at the Lake Saint Louis Farmers’ and Artisans’ Market for the first time this market season. We hope the weather holds out. Another cold front arrived yesterday with wet snowflakes overnight, and yet more storms on Friday evening into Saturday. 14″ coco-lined baskets of various ferns, swedish ivy, moses-in-the-cradle, and variegated airplane plants will be featured, if the weather stays above 45 degrees. A few small pots of the same will be available. I would like to showcase our cactus displaying her red blossoms. Fair warning: our inventory is 1/3 the amount we had last year. This is intentional. With a long winter and no electric, we have managed to keep most of the inventory alive in semi-heated garages. Miracles happen every spring. One of our tropicals, a bird-of-paradise is blooming beautifully and an elephant ear has sprouted, surrounded with lush green swedish ivy. In case this is your first visit to this blog, my husband Dean and I bought a greenhouse full of houseplants and perennials in November 2011, more than we can handle while working full-time jobs. The type of plants we will grow is changing. We want more annuals and herbs. In autumn I hope to harvest bird house and long-handled dipper gourds for the market, which will be grown near the greenhouse at Boone Hollow Farm on teepee trellises. They take a long time to grow, and even longer to dry for multi-purpose use.
The past 2 months we have propagated more geraniums, swedish ivy, moses-in-the-cradle, bridal veil, and wandering jews to make some beautiful terra-cotta planters and moss baskets. Our ferns and succulents have been transplanted into natural pots as well. The coco-lined hanging baskets offer a natural alternative to the plastic pots, what Deanna Greens And Garden Art strives for. Dean will be at the market all morning this Saturday, and I for the set-up and a prayer for cooperative weather and sales. Our annuals such as zinnias, marigolds, nasturtium, and various herbs have just been sown this week, so it will be a few weekends before bringing them to the market. No tomato or pepper seedlings this year. Not enough warmth in the garages. I shared our heating pads with my chef son-in-law, Mick. He will have a CSA that includes heirloom tomatoes. Some tomatoes may make their way to the farmers’ markets as well. Check in with chef and farmer Mick at TheBentPig@gmail.com. One of the other features this year will be “hanging herb and greens gardens”. More on this later.

Rumblings Of Spring

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Storm FrontThe clouds have been ominous since early this morning at daybreak. As the sun came from the east, the clouds and cold front came from the southwest, meeting for a spectacular contrasting display in the sky. Rumblings of spring have been heard all day, some rain produced from those clouds. I observed from my 5th floor office in Clayton, as a tornado watch had been issued until 9:00pm tonight. We need the rain, come rain. No high winds or hail, and definitely no tornadoes. please. The unseen sunset this evening was met with heavy cloud cover. Rotating, violent winds brought about alarms and sirens all around St. Peters just before 8:00pm. Composure, an herbal supplement was given to our nervous labrador, and we tried to find Celine, our timid cat but she found low shelter somewhere in the house. I enjoyed two strawberry daiquiris spiked heavily with Captain Morgan while the local tornado alarms blared for 15 minutes just minutes after savoring homemade fajitas and saffron rice by Chef Mick. While no basement, we were feet from our interior bathroom just in case that train sound started. So much for rumblings of spring. The storm screams and alarms blare to tell us spring is here in Missouri. We all survived, thank God!

A Day In My Life

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Leftovers packed in lunch totes; early morning commute met with the sun in my face while putting make-up on; a kiss good-bye from my sweetie as he drops me off at the Clayton campus; personal e-mails perused; work e-mails followed through; a multitude of onsite fitness class rosters collected; information gathered for another disability claim; a meeting to make; lickety-split lunch; research or webinar on yet another wellness topic; a networking telephone call; an employee whining on the next telephone call; a walk for my sanity and fresh air; a spot of afternoon tea; possible vendor to interview; a wellness project with a timeline to keep; another Scrabble word placed on the board for stress relief; unwind on the way home; greetings from the family: two excited Labradors, three grandkids, two adult children, and eventually the two brave cats; dinner extraordinaire from Chef Mick or Chef Anna; plants propagated or pruned; garden art designed; a post read or written on this blog; sweet slumber; this is a day in my life.

Pasta Primavera

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Pasta Primavera
According to my culinary book Food Lover’s Companion, primavera alla [pree-muh-VEHR-uhl] is the Italian phrase which means “spring style”. The Italian dish pasta primavera is an example of this culinary style. Fresh vegetables, are diced or julienne cut either raw, blanched, or lightly sauteed and added to al denta pasta tossed with olive oil and parmigiano-reggiano [pahr-muh-ZHAH-noh reh-zhee-AH-noh], Italy’s premier parmesan cheese. Well, this evening was my turn to cook dinner, as Chef Mick was off with his family with other dinner plans. I thought to make a fresh arugula pizza, but did not have any flour in the house. My low-gluten diet. One way or another I was using the organic baby arugula mix I bought at the store yesterday. Store-bought is not quite as tasteful as the home grown variety, but arugula’s destinctive flavor is what I craved, if you can tell by my previous blog. Spring fever has offically hit! I found a box of multi-grain penne, so I prepared them al dente. My kitchen’s vegetables on hand were lightly sauteed in 2 teaspoons of olive oil + 1 teaspoon of vegetable oil. So here are the ingredients found in Anna Marie’s Pasta Primavera made tonight:
2 Deanna Greens And Garden Art dried jalapeno peppers, hydrated and chopped finely
1/2 cup yellow squash chunks
1/2 cup zucchini squash chunks
3 large button mushrooms, chopped in chunks
1/4 cup fresh baby arugula leaves
1-1/2 teaspoon dried basil leaves
1/2 teaspoon garlic powder
1/4 teaspoon Kosher salt
1/3 cup petite cut tomatoes
1/3 cup + shredded Italian cheese blend
10 oz penne pasta, cooked al dente, drained, coated with 1 teaspoon olive oil

Here are the recipe instructions:
1. Heat both oils in a medium skillet.
2. Add the finely chopped jalepeno peppers to the heated oil; saute for 30 seconds.
3. Add both squash and mushroom chunks to the skillet; saute 3 minutes.
4. Toss in arugula; stir to coat with oil.
5. Toss in basil, garlic powder, and salt; stir.
6. Stir in tomatoes and 1/3 cup cheese.
7. Toss saute vegetables with al dente pasta.
8. Pour into bowls; garnish with additional shredded cheese, if desired.

Sure savored every bite of this dish. Buonanotte!