Memories of Grandpa

Five years ago we lost a great man:  my grandpa.  I wrote this the evening that we found out he passed away and  I found it appropriate to post it here as I have been thinking about him a lot lately:

Memories of Grandpa

The last week has been one of remembering, little things will happen and trigger a thought, beautiful memory.

 

 

I was remembering how, as a child, there was always a hot cocoa jar.  I don’t know where they got the hot cocoa but on cold winter days we would always have some after playing in the snow.  It was “different” hot cocoa, probably because it was at Grandpa and Grandma’s.  It was always there and Grandpa was always willing to make it for us.

 

Fishing.  It was what Grandpa did all summer and when we would visit, we would go fish.  I remember learning how to put a bobber on the line, how to put a minnow on (he used mostly minnows) and then catching the fish:  sunfish, blue gills and crappies.  It was SO exciting catching those little fish and we would always take them along.  I’m sure they were too small for anything but Grandpa made sure we took them along, no matter what.

 

Grandpa always had heart issues and had lots of surgeries:  open hearts, bypasses, etc.  I remember a specific time we were up there visiting after one of his surgery’s.  We went for a walk and it was so special, just me and Grandpa.  I don’t remember what we talked about or how far we went but it was a special time for me.  Those one on one moments with him.

 

And Grandpa LOVED his garden.  Not just the veggies he grew but especially the flowers.  He made his own flower boxes to set in the front yard, always had a little flower bed around the birdbath and had other flowers everywhere in the yard.  He took time picking the flowers: petunias, marigold, zinnias, etc. and made sure that they were colorful.  He would spend so much time in the garden weeding it and making the plants grow to their best.  Grandpa was always a farmer at heart and carried his love for growing into his garden in town.  He also did a lot of woodworking, making vases, flower boxes and toy animals.  I remember helping him by painting some of the things he made.  We would spend time in the basement painting and cutting things out of wood.

 

The one thing that was always close to his heart was his love of this country.  Grandpa fought in WWII, one of the brave Army souls that marched across Europe and lived in foxholes.  I always knew that Grandpa had been in the Army and served in the war because he went to a lot of Army reunions and kept in touch with his Army buddies but it wasn’t until I was in college that I really knew what Grandpa had done.  That’s when I learned that Grandpa had seen some horrible things in Europe.  He helped liberate both Dachau and Auschwitz and had seen what the Nazi army had done to the Jews.  He lived with the horrors he had seen and didn’t talk about them for decades.  He told us stories of friends dying for their country, of nearly freezing their feet and hands off and then telling stories about the people he met along the way, like the German family who took him in for a Christmas.  He still kept in touch with that family, all these years later.  Grandpa was a proud Army soldier and was a part of the Turtle Lake Legion from the time he returned from war until his dying day.  What he did for our country was of utmost importance to him and I’m proud of his dedication.

 

And Grandpa loved his family.  He loved his kids, his grandkids and the time he got to spend with them.  He loved visiting his kids that were spread throughout the US, seeing the different areas.  Time he could spend telling stories, playing games or just being with them were cherished by him…and by me.  I was just telling Dad that Grandpa was down here six years ago for Christmas, it was the Christmas before I moved.  I remember taking the trip to Gateway and his amazement at the geography and then his disappointment of the little town of Gateway (this was before Gateway Canyons was built).  I remember him telling stories, stories I had probably heard a million times before…but I listened.  Each word was important, because it was Grandpa.

 

And now he is gone.  He has no more pain, will no longer have a weak heart and has his final wish of being with Grandma, who was the love of his life.  We are happy because he no longer has pain but mourn because he is no longer with us.  I miss you Grandpa and love you…

 

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I took a trip to Seattle…

Yes, the great Northwest.  If Chicago is for foodies, then the state of Washington is for those of you who like your food and adult beverages.  My brother is a graphic designer and owns his own business, Fresh Bread Design.  He works almost exclusively with distilleries and breweries in the area north of Seattle as well as some in Seattle.  So I had the inside track on what was amazing to sip on while in Washington.  And it was a fun time!

I love flying into Sea-Tac on a clear day, the views are amazing!  I arrived at a good time in the morning and my dad and brother, Scott, picked me up just in time for lunch.  Since we had plans on going to Ghostfish Brewing Company when they opened at 3pm, we had time to kill.  Scott found a little fish and chips place that had a dedicated fryer for gluten free foods.  I loved the fact that he did research ahead of time, read reviews and planned this for us.  It meant so much!

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The fish and chips place that we went to was called Emerald City Fish and Chips.  It may not be the biggest place to eat but it packed a punch!  It turns out that they only batter their items in a Bob’s Red Mill gluten-free batter so the only things that aren’t gluten-free are their sandwiches.  It was awesome getting a great meal and knowing it was totally safe!

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We then headed downtown-ish Seattle.  We parked close to Ghostfish Brewing but Scott wanted to take us to Letterpress Distilling.  It was a gorgeous, sunny fall day so we walked there.  Letterpress is right around the corner from SafeCo Field, home of the Mariners and they currently make vodka and Limoncello.  Their vodka is super smooth with a hint of vanilla at the end, very enjoyable.  The Limoncello was smooth as well and lemon-y but not overpowering.  More like a lemon drop without too much sweetness.  We also got a tour of the facility which was really cool!

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Ghostfish was a place I was DYING to go to.  They brew only gluten-free beers and it was awesome to get to go to a brewery and drink a beer!  Since I’d never been there, I had a flight and my brother and dad shared a flight with other flavors.  I’d never had a saison before and fell in love with the light flavor with a hint of flowers.  Just a beautiful blend!  The other flavor, much to my surprise, that I loved, was the stout.  I’d never been too much of a stout fan, it’s usually got too much of a coffee flavor for me, but this one is less coffee and more chocolate.  Wow!  Talk about a beer you can sip and savor!  Needless to say, we took some beer home with us.

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A couple of days later we ventured to Anacortes.  If you have never been there, go visit.  It’s a beautiful sea town with a marina and fresh sea air.

IMG_4746 IMG_4745 IMG_4747We ate breakfast at the Calico Cupboard.  They have many gluten-free items including thick, fluffy pancakes for breakfast and carrot cake (my favorite!) and cookies to take home.  I didn’t get a picture of the carrot cake the next day but it made for a great breakfast!  IMG_4744On the way home, we stopped at a store and picked up a bottle of Ground Breaker Dark Ale.  This was also a great beer with a full flavor.  Not as deep as a stout, obviously, but had a great finish to it.  IMG_4791

That Saturday was our “Tour day”.  Scott took mom, dad and I out to see a couple more of his clients.  Our first stop was Temple Distilling.  Temple, for the time being, makes gin.  Disclaimer:  I’m not a gin drinker.  I always think that someone put Lysol in my drink.  Not Temple’s London Dry gin.  Super smooth, no bite, it might make me a gin drinker.  Put it into a gin and tonic and…wow.  So good.  You have to try it to believe it, really.  They also just released a Navy Gin which is a bit more potent.  (I’m also a photographer and the next day Scott and I did some publicity photos for Temple, they turned out so good!  Sorry, a little self promotion).

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After Temple we headed to Elemental Hard Cider.  Elemental does all gluten-free hard ciders and MANY flavors.  They also have lunch which is all gluten-free sandwiches. Whoa…lunch and cider and it’s all gluten-free?  I’m in heaven!  I decided to go with the classic grilled cheese and it was amazing.  But the ciders…oh, the ciders!  From a classic dry apple to cherry to spiced apple to spiced pumpkin to acai…these are just a few flavors.  And they just introduced a root beer, not for the kiddos to try!  All of them are so good but the acai was bottled and I took one home with me.  The root beer was to be bottled a few days after I left so I may have some mailed to me.  It really was hard to pick a fav but I loved the spiced apple or the spiced pumpkin.  Two distinct flavors and perfect for fall!

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It was an amazing trip and I had a great time visiting family too, it wasn’t all about the beverages.  My family is super important to me and I got to surprise my 4 1/2-year-old niece and my 2-year-old nephew.  Spending time chasing them around was so precious to me.  Seeing my brother and sister-in-law and having time to hear about their future was amazing as well.  It’s so hard being so far away…but the memories of this time helps get through to the next time.

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