Just a spoonful of sugar…making the humdrum enjoyable

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By Sr. Christina M. Neumann

Last week,  I made a couple of rhubarb coffee cakes for people to enjoy after Sunday Mass.  I’ve also made a couple of batches of rhubarb sauce recently for our residents to enjoy.  One thing I’ve learned about rhubarb is that it needs sugar.  In fact, I wished I had pre-soaked the rhubarb in sugar before I made the cakes last Monday morning at 2 a.m. (I was working the night shift.)  This lesson about a little sugar making the whole batch better is a good analogy for life as well.

Yesterday, we were cutting up yet another batch of donated rhubarb (two big bags this time).  Doing this isn’t the most exciting activity.  However, during our “rhubarb parties” at St. Anne’s, we’ve learned to “sugar-coat” what could otherwise be a little bit of a sour job; we end up joking and even sometimes singing while we work.  Yesterday, we sang “I’ve been working on the rhubarb All the live-long day.”

Another way that humor (unintentionally) helped “the medicine go down” yesterday came about when one of our ladies kept trying to throw her pieces of rhubarb into the bowl.  It was kind of far away, and she didn’t make it into her target.  I kept telling her to stop throwing it, and that I would take the pieces for her.  However, she would not stop throwing them.  In frustrated fun, I took a big piece of rhubarb (resembling a plank or a bat) and swung it a little, telling her to knock it off or face the consequences (jokingly, of course).

If we didn’t have a little humor in life, things would certainly be boring.  Our slogan, “It’s great to be alive at St. Anne’s” is true, in part, because of the fact that we are not afraid to incorporate humor into the humdrum things of life.  Just as “a spoonful of sugar helps the medicine go down” (or the rhubarb taste better), so a little bit of good-natured humor and positive attitude sweetens all of life for us.

Today, let’s give thanks for the gift of humor and use it wisely!

A Thank You to our “Fathers” for Fathers’ Day

from our 60th Anniversary Celebration
from our 60th Anniversary Celebration in 2012

Here at St. Anne’s, a lot of our men are not biological fathers.  Therefore, our activities staff have taken to celebrating “Men’s Day” the week after the annual Fathers’ Day observance.  This is a way of honoring the men who live here, regardless of their role in life (be they fathers or not).

I’d like to take this opportunity to recognize and thank some other men, who, while they also lack the title of “Dad,” are affectionately, gratefully, and respectfully referred to as “Father”- and with good reason. We are very grateful for our priests who have served us over the years.

I won’t attempt to name all of them here; there have been many who have come to offer Mass for us; the service of priests to St. Anne’s dates back to when the Home was located at the former location by the river.  I would guess it even dates back to the time when St. Anne’s was in Fargo.

I could not, however, fail to mention Fr. Gerald Potter, whose link with our Sisters dates back to his school days at St. John’s in Collegeville, MN.  He was a waiter there as a student and worked with our sisters who ran the kitchen there.  In later years, he offered Mass at St. Anne’s innumerable times before coming to reside here.

Also, I’d like to thank our priests from St. Michael’s parish (past and present) who have come to offer Mass atSt. Anne’s (both the current and the former locations).  I am very grateful to Fr. Braun, Fr. King, and Fr. Haman for offering Mass here every Tuesday, and on other occasions as needed (as well as Fr. Pfeifer when he was here) .

We very much appreciate the generosity and thoughtfulness of our priests.  It has been very, very seldom (during my six years here) that we have not had daily Mass offered in our Chapel.  Thank you for helping to look after “our little flock.”  A special thanks goes out to Msgr. Vetter and Fr. Bernie Schneider for also making a commitment to us more than once a week!  Fr. Ed Sherman and Fr. William Callery also deserve a special word of thanks for so often filling in.

I’d like to thank all of our priests as we celebrate Fathers’ Day.

From “I – Scream” to Cherry Su-preme

As you may know, we had our annual pie & cake ice cream social yesterday afternoon.  I think people had a good time and enjoyed their desserts.

In the past, sometimes the ice cream has gotten rather soft by the time our servers got toward the bottom of the pail.  Rather than toss the “soupy” stuff (or try to re-freeze it and hope it isn’t too crystallized), I’ve been known to make “cherry supreme.”  This is a family favorite recipe we enjoyed as kids.  You make a crumbly crust and serve the dessert with hot cherry pie filling (see recipe below).  Shelly (our Activity Director) was too efficient this year and got the ice cream back in the freezer.

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Next time your vanilla ice cream gets a little soft, you might want to try out “cherry supreme” – it might become a family favorite of your own.

Cherry Supreme
(9 servings)
1/2 cup butter or margarine
1/4 cup brown sugar (packed)
1 cup flour
1/2 cup chopped pecans
1/2 gallon vanilla ice cream (softened)

Heat oven to 400.  Mix butter, sugar, flour, and pecans.  Press evenly in bottom of un-greased baking pan – 9X9X2.  Bake until light brown (about 12 minutes). Crumble with spoon.  Cool.  Reserve 1 cup of the crumbs, press remaining crumbs evenly in bottom of pan.  Pack ice cream on crust.  Sprinkle the reserved crumbs on top and refreeze for at least 4 hours.  Just before serving, heat a 21-oz. can cherry pie filling and serve ice cream dessert with hot cherries on top.

Beans, potatoes, carrots, and self-esteem…growing in our little garden at St. Anne’s

vegetable garden

This past week, we planted a little vegetable garden in a soil-filled bathtub on our west patio. But did you know that gardening is actually considered “moderate cardiovascular exercise” by the CDC, according to one online article. It burns calories (200-300 per hour) and doing so several times a week can be a good way to fight obesity, according to this same source.

They also noted that, according to the American Horticultural Therapy Association, “gardening can benefit people who are recovering from physical illness by retraining their muscles and improving coordination and strength.” Gardening is also good in that it causes you to stretch and move around. It is a form of exercise which is easier for people with certain health challenges that make more strenuous exercise not practical, according to the below-mentioned CNN article.
However, nextavenue.org suggests that one change body positioning frequently to avoid “overusing or overburdening any one area of the body.” Proper bending technique (using the knees rather than the waist) is also recommended to avoid problems.
According to care2.com, gardening can increase your muscular volume and strength., An article by CNN cited some less tangible benefits of “getting down in the dirt,” including stress relief, fighting depression, and possibly even decreasing risk of dementia. They say that a bacteria found in soil can increase serotonin in the brain.
I started gardening with our residents last spring as a fun activity for them to enjoy. I don’t expect much of a vegetable yield from such a small space, but I do hope it yields the fruit of improved mood and a sense of accomplishment.

Beans, potatoes, carrots, and self-esteem…growing in our little garden at St. Anne’s

This past week, we planted a little vegetable garden in a soil-filled bathtub on our west patio. But did you know that gardening is actually considered “moderate cardiovascular exercise” by the CDC, according to one online article. It burns calories (200-300 per hour) and doing so several times a week can be a good way to fight obesity, according to this same source. They also noted that, according to the American Horticultural Therapy Association, “gardening can benefit people who are recovering from physical illness by retraining their muscles and improving coordination and strength.” Gardening is also good in that it causes you to stretch and move around. It is a form of exercise which is easier for people with certain health challenges that make more strenuous exercise not practical, according to the below-mentioned CNN article. However, nextavenue.org suggests that one change body positioning frequently to avoid “overusing or overburdening any one area of the body.” Proper bending technique (using the knees rather than the waist) is also recommended to avoid problems. According to care2.com, gardening can increase your muscular volume and strength. An article by CNN cited some less tangible benefits of “getting down in the dirt,” including stress relief, fighting depression, and possibly even decreasing risk of dementia. They say that a bacteria found in soil can increase serotonin in the brain. I started gardening with our residents last spring as a fun activity for them to enjoy. I don’t expect much of a vegetable yield from such a small space, but I do hope it yields the fruit of improved mood and a sense of accomplishment.