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Surviving Yet Another Natal Anniversary Topped With A Maraschino Cherry Cake, Too!

I like birthdays. I’d like  them even more if I didn’t always end up being another year older after each one. Well, to be honest I’ll admit to being born on September 5. We needn’t go into the actual year … suffice to say the #1 hit song at the time was Over The Rainbow from some movie that had just opened.

Anyway, we have always had a lot of family birthdays in September. (I was born the day after my mother’s birthday and I was always hearing about how she spent Labor Day in the hospital and how it was no picnic.) Currently we have three family birthdays in September and we usually celebrate them with one super birthday with my youngest brother’s family. This year with celebrated with splashing in the pool and a super barbecue. And after a brief after dining break …DSC01520

… we headed outside for a surprise.DSC01521

A water balloon fight!!!


And a somewhat one sided fight at that!


Then it was time to open gifts and eat birthday cake.  But first, photos of my great nephews and niece.

DSC01516   Jake as an alien visitor …   DSC01517 Nichole as a Hollywood ingenue …  DSC01518 and Luke as a studious inventor.

Good golly, we have such cute kids in the family!  But finally … the cake!


My sister-in-law outdid herself by creating a super chocolate maraschino cherry cake!


And it really was, too!

And that’s how the eldest Edler managed to survive yet another birthday.




Today, we challenge you to show us what “express yourself” means to you.  (For more information go here.)LittleLuke

When it comes to EXPRESS YOURSELF, no one does it better than a two-year old.  In this case … my grandnephew Little Luke!


Thanksgiving Turkey  I have always spent Thanksgiving surrounded by family. And this year was no different … I was again invited to share the bird with my younger brother and sister-in-law and their children and grandchildren.DSC00824

Naturally, Mlle. Renee didn’t like the idea of being left home alone with a few of her favorite play toys. Notice the fearful look on the stuffed fallen star who had just seen the unstuffed squirrel and bear. He wasn’t too keen about staying home with Renee and her unstuffed pals either.  But, after promising to bring a bit of turkey home for her I was allowed the get dressed. So as an unforecasted snow began to fall, I packed up my contribution to the family feast (fresh-baked dinner rolls and Carrot/Pineapple Orange Jello Salad) and headed off into the woods of the far western burbs.

I arrived to discover my great-niece and great-nephew working in the Kiddy Kitchen cooking up a storm of their own.

DSC00826Don’t know what they were cooking, but apparently they had to wear safety goggles to cook it. My sister-in-law was a bit luckier as her dinner was either in the oven or on the stove taking care of itself. Also, she didn’t have to wear goggles to do her cooking.  She was also able to take a break for a little family game session.DSC00825

And she was winning.DSC00831

My brother was playing on the floor with his grandkids. DSC00827Then Little Luke had discovered something better to play with on the floor.


It was the velcro strap on my lazy-man shoe, and he began to open and close it for just about 479 times.  Thankfully, the dinner finished cooking itself and we prepared to eat. We were seated at two different dining tables.DSC00829

This one was rather historic because it celebrated its 77th birthday this summer. It was the original dining table of my mother and father. My brother restored it several years ago. (They made furniture to last in the 30s.)  I was seated at the other dining table with the rest of the family. Which is why I didn’t take a picture of that table.

Naturally, dinner was fantastic and we all gobbled it up like turkeys!  And then we just sat around …DSC00832

… waiting for our dinner to settle down to allow for dessert!DSC00834

When I got home, Mlle. Renee gave me one of those It’s About Time looks that really means, “So, where’s my TURKEY!’GoofyTurkey

“That’s all, folks!”

This Thanksgiving dinner story starred one brother, one sister-in-law, four nephews, four nieces, two great nephews, two great nieces, Mlle. Renee, one very big turkey and me.




JungleBeasts  Starting off the final zoo segment with a display of carved wooden jungle beasts. It’s a work my nephew brought back from Lagos, Nigeria. It shows several of the animals that retired for the day before the picnic even started at the zoo.  As we walked through the River’s Edge, all we saw were empty display areas. At the brand new exhibit for the Andean Bears all we saw was other zoo visitors with their noses pressed to a glass panel trying to see the two bears huddled at the back of their cave. (I can just see the mama bear asking the papa bear, “Do you think they want to sleep in our bed?”)

We lucked out an exhibit later when the black rhino began to strut around his stomping grounds shortly after we arrived and even pretend to charge the viewers. (For about two or three feet)


Unfortunately, he didn’t even scare the sacred ibis from ancient Egypt that shares part of his domain. (Hmmm, what is the plural of ibis? There were about six of them.)


The star attraction of the next exhibit area was an abandoned ant hill.UncleHill

It was a real nice ant hill, but the sign on the fence said that this was the home of the cheetah family. (Guess they were all lurking in the shadows and licking their lips as they decided which one of us would make the best dinner guest.)

Next up were the warthogs … but they were dining. On what appeared to be takeout wrapped up in old newspaper.WhataMessyPig

What a messy pig!EvenMessierPig

And his friend was even messier!

And next door, we couldn’t even get a chuckle out of the snoozing Hyena!  (Never ever heard of a somber hyena before.)SlumberingSomberHyena

However, the African Painted Dogs were actually much more active group of canines.AfricanPaintedDog

Guess they’re trying to prove they’re not extinct yet. They are an endangered species in Africa, and the Saint Louis Zoo is part of a world-wide effort to keep them from disappearing. That’s why this year’s picnic was A Painted (dog) Picnic.ZooPicnic2014

The big stars of THE RIVER’S EDGE were the HIPPOS …HipposAreBig

And LITTLE LUKE (standing next to the hippo on the bottom of the pool) decided that hippos are really BIG!!!  He liked the little fishies, too.


Hippos do love swimming in their pool though!FloatingHippo

And that brought us to the end of THE RIVER’S EDGE!  There was an Elephant Enrichment Program scheduled for 6:00, but that was the time for our own enrichment … the picnic dinner! Besides we had to get to CHILDREN’S ZOO first, so the adults could watch the little kids pet the baby goats, big snakes, and guinea pigs. There are so many things for the kids to play with here, it’s hard to get the away.  The adults got a special treat though, we were watching the new moma tree kangaroo and her little baby stuck his or her head out of the moma’s pouch.  (Yes, I again failed to get my camera up fast enough to photograph him or her.)


Nichole with the little goats!


Luke with the big snake that was taller than he was.

(And the kids wouldn’t touch the real live Python. Guess kids really aren’t that dumb!)

And that was our annual family trip to the zoo!

But we missed the lions, tigers and bears!!!



ZooPicnic2014  It’s time for me to continue my visit to the Saint Louis Zoo and the ZOO PARENTS PICNIC OF 2014 with my own family. I arrived from the north entrance, so my first stop was to the INSECTORIUM. I had planned on visiting there in August right before the heat wave hit us. But it really was too hot to venture out into the broiling sun and into  the park back then.  Friday, however, was jacket wearing weather and I briskly walked down to the insectorium and big, bad bug that guards its door.



There are more than 300,000 species of beetles, and I have no idea which one posed for this sculpture. A good guess would be one of several possible species of rhino beetles. The insectorium has a double set of  sliding doors that keep the outside bugs from becoming inside bugs. And if you have and aversion to big, hairy bugs … move quickly past the next photo.Tarantula

And this one, too!



Outside this building there was a big sign advertising …MantidMania

Inside this was the only example I could find.PrayingMantis

Hopefully, you can see him in the picture.


Then next exhibit was a wall-sized display featuring the insects of the south west.RedBackedDarklingBeetleI passed on putting my eye up the eye-hole of the skull of the long departed bovine just to see what the Red Backed Darkling Beetle looked like. You never know what can jump out of the eye-socket of a long dead cow.

With that I moved on to the friendlier insects that live in the butterfly dome.HSBH2

The decor was a lot nicer, too.  And so were the butterflies!BWR2


And my favorite … THE OWL EYED BUTTERFLY!  This extra-large sized butterfly appears to have the eye of an owl on the underside of its wings, and when flying it looks like an owl which scares anything that would prey on it.  I’ve simulated this by putting two pictures of the undersides together to give you an idea how this looks.


Here’s the full-sized photo of one side.




Here’s a butterfly eating a special butterfly fruit salad …ButterflyFruitCocktail

Just about this time, my cell phone rang telling me that the rest of my family who had entered from the south entrance of the zoo were now waiting for me outside.ClimbingCousins

And you know what kids do when they meet a giant beetle on which they can climb!  Featuring great-nephew and niece Jake and Nichole.



And I survived …

Yes, boys and girls, I managed to survive yet another birthday last weekend. And only a couple of the cards I received commented on my impending senility.DSC00478What I was not expecting was a surprise birthday party in my honor given my family.  I was expecting a small family gathering to celebrate all of the family birthdays that occur during the month of September … (there happen to be four of them) … and I was enlisted to make a batch of my baked mini-mostaccioli. So I got up at seven in the morning and began making twenty pounds of Italian delights. (I know that sounds strange for someone with German, Polish and French grandparents, but then my DNA analysis says my ancestry is 75% Scandinavian. Guess they might have been Italian Scandinavians.) 

When I got to my brother’s house, I noticed a line of signs running up the front walk.DSC00460


And I realized that something was up!  And once inside, it was verified when I discovered the house was full of three odd generations of my family. OMG! Would 20-pounds of Baked Mini-mostaccioli be enough? DSC00450






I did receive some very nice gifts. My two nieces made a scrapbook of my life …DSC00476



It was very impressive!  And my six-year old grand nephew Jake built me a cute little birdhouse.

DSC00474Note that he couldn’t resist adding that I’m as old as the Wizard Of Oz. I suspect that my nephew had something to do with that, too!

And the day closed with the arrival of a super-sized harvest moon.DSC00468

A special thanks to all my loving family. OMG, I just realized that I’m the official patriarch of this bunch of crazies.


Well, I got up early on Friday, so I could get my grocery shopping done and return home before the mercury boiled out of the thermometers around town. Also, I was racing against the possibility of a promised thunderstorm.

So I got up, dressed, had a quick slice of buttered toast and a cup of dark chocolate …





If you’ll look closely at the cup of hot chocolate, you’ll notice a rather strand marshmallow floating on top. Actually, it one of those mini-Peeps I mentioned in another post a couple of weeks ago.  Who knows, maybe Peeps really aren’t little chickies, but really are little duckies.

I ate and then headed out the door to the nearest Metro Transit Center. You know, you meet the craziest people … and dogs when you travel by Metro Transit. Thankfully, it was very air-conditioned.DSC00280

Not only was I shopping to restock my larder, but I was also picking up hamburger and hot dog buns, but also the ingredients to make my mother’s fresh cucumber pickles. These were the things I was preparing to bring to my niece’s old-fashioned birthday barbecue on Sunday. So after I picked up the things I needed, and worked my way through the  checkout line, I was ready to head back to my Metro Stop. Along the way, I spied this cute little weak flower.DSC00274

While the flower was delicate and pastel, the stems holding it up were thick and woody. One of Mom Nature’s little jokes.

As soon as I got home I started on the fresh pickles.



*4 ripe large cucumbers — peeled and thinly sliced

*1 red or white onion sliced into thin rings. [Note: the red onion will give a sweeter taste to the finished pickles, but also a pink tint to the pickles. The white onion will give a stronger onion flavor, but will leave the pickle slices white.]

Place the sliced cucumbers and onions in a large Ziploc plastic bag and sprinkle with

*1 TBSP. salt

Seal the bag and shake to cover all cucumber and onion slices with salt. Refrigerate overnight.

The next morning drain all the salty water that has been drawn out of the cucumbers, and place them in a large bowl. My mother used to squeeze the salty juice out of the cucumber and onion slices.

Mix and dissolve together …

*1 cup granulated sugar

*1 cup white vinegar

Add …

*1 tsp. celery seed

*1 tsp. mustard seed

*1 light shake of  ground black pepper

Mix and pour over the cucumbers and onions and stir them all together. Cover the bowl with plastic wrap and let stand in the refrigerator for 24 hours before serving.

OPTION: My mother never used it, but if you want you can stir one 8 oz. carton of sour cream into your pickles before you refrigerate for 24 hours.DSC00315

I always serve my fresh cucumber pickles in  a Mason Jar with a large slotted spoon.  The recipe should make enough to fill to large jars. BTW, three of the ladies asked me for the recipe at the birthday party.

While searching for my mother’s recipe I also discovered the last cookie cutter that belonged to my grandmother.DSC00279My grandmother gave all of her cookie cutters from the early 1900s to my mother. And when my mother died, I handed out one each to my brothers and nephews and nieces. I saved the chicken for myself … I think I must have worn off the red enamel on handle helping my grandmother and mother cutout sugar cookies.

The party was a lot of fun.DSC00288

My great-niece Nicole (2.5) played doctor with my nephew’s new puppy, Stella. (9 months)





And my great-nephew Luke (1.5) preferred higher dog safe areas where he could eat hotdogs, instead of being licked by the puppy.DSC00291He also does a great godfather impression.


And that was my weekend that really wasn’t lost at all.





Father's Day 1943



MY DAD - BORN 6/7/1914

MY DAD – BORN 6/7/1914


I went to my youngest brother’s home for Easter Brunch last Sunday. Afterwards we settled down for a crazy long game of Farkle





Fark 6



We laughed, we cried, we ate all the M&M Peanuts, the Malted Milk Eggs and most of the jelly beans except green.  For some reason, nobody seemed interested in plain M&Ms.

For not being able to remember any of the rules, I came in second place with just 35 points shy of 10,000!

And wouldn’t you know, only my elbow showed up in the photos!