Wednesday, February 28, 2018

North Wind

The north wind doth blow and we shall have snow
  and what will poor robin do then, poor thing?
He'll sit in a barn and keep himself warm
  and hide his head under his wing, poor thing.

(a poem from a poetry book read many times to our children)

I hope there are no robins in this vicinity. The other evening there was a cold north wind
blowing past our place. I went out to start the car and discovered my doors were all frozen shut.
That happens when one washes a car in winter.
The wind was whistling past my ears as I tried the passenger side door. Just as I realized it was

locked and useless to try I felt my head covering slide off. As I whirled around I saw it light on the

ground and skitter across the icy driveway. The ice kept me from any fancy maneuvers as I watched

it blow ahead of me just out of reach. It flew under Ellis’s pick-up out of sight. I considered my

options and decided to borrow Ellis’s pick-up instead of going inside, heating water and thawing the 

door on my car. When the pick-up was started and warming up I opened the door and stepped out

in the biting wind hoping for one last chance to find my fly-a-way covering. “Oh joy!” there it was,
just a few steps away. It was protected from the wind just enough to stay in place until I reached it,
picked it up and pinned it to my hair.

This episode reminded me of a childhood adventure very similar but with opposite weather.

Picture a pontoon boat on Lake of the Woods in northern MN. Blue sky, puffy clouds, warm sunshine, sea gulls calling to each other as they fought for minnows we tossed high over head. We were a family consisting of Dad, Mom and four giggly, wiggly girls out on the lake enjoying the fishing. A picnic supper of egg salad sandwiches, barbecue chips, a water jug filled with Kool-Aid was a happy way to end this perfect summer evening. About the time Dad was pulling in a nice walleye one of the wiggly girls pointed at a gentle wave not far from the boat. A round, mesh object was softly riding the wave. “That looks like a covering!” she cried. Another girl’s hand flew up to her head. “It is a covering!”

We watched it sink out of sight - laughing hysterically. Clearly we weren't the ones sewing our head coverings at that point in time. 

Thursday, February 1, 2018

Memories of Williams School

When I was a little girl, coming back to school on a wintery morning after Christmas vacation, my bus driver would always ask me if I'd seen Norma and Sharon and Sid over the holidays. I was so pleased that he knew the names of my aunts and uncle. But how did Russell know their names? When I asked Dad he said, "Russell was our bus driver when we were your age and went to school."

Every year for six years Russell would ask me how my aunts were and how was my Uncle Sid.
But, dense child that I was, somehow I never put two and two together and pictured Norma and Sharon and Sid and my dad walking the same halls I did or sitting in the same classrooms or checking out books from the same library.

How I wish I could go back to that school and go with my class to the library once more. Kindergarten, first, second and third grades were in the "new" wing. When Library Day came we
walked across the gigantic, echoing gym, then into the "old" school and up a wide stair case with a wooden banister to hang on. It was smoothed by hundreds of hands. It was the kind of stairs where you walk up a flight, turn and walk up the next set of steps, then the next and when you get to the top you can look down down down to the floor where you started.

It was the kind of stairs that made you want to run up and down them and maybe slide down the banister too, while you were at it. There is a story Dad told of a time he ran down the stairs pell mell tumble bumble and almost ran into a teacher (or the principal) at the bottom. This person told him to turn around and walk up the stairs and walk back down. Now I caught a faint glimpse of a black haired boy with mischief shining in his eyes turning and marching back up the steps.

On that long ago library day my class would climb the stairs then walk down the hall past the school mascot, a real wolf that was on display in a glass case. What shivers chased up and down our back bones as we tiptoed past then turned and walked into the library.  

I wonder if each of the rooms really had ten foot ceilings and oversized heavy wooden doors or is my memory making everything huge because I was little? It seems like there were windows above the doors that could open or shut as needed for air to circulate. There were lots of windows and fire escapes at the back of the building which we learned to walk down when the fire alarm rang.   

I grew up reading Laura Ingalls Wilder and Betsie, Tacy and Tib written by Maud Hart Lovelace. Books about the underground railroad enthralled me. I traveled with pioneers on the Oregon Trail
and went through nursing school with Sue Barton.

Have you ever pictured a book that you read and loved as a child, but now can't remember title or author no matter how hard you try? That has happened to me several times. Recently, well, maybe a few years ago, I tried to remember a fairy tale I used to read. Everyone in the story had white hair, young and old. Everyone had blue eyes. and they lived in a mountainous area. When I described this book to others the general consensus was, "You'll have to remember more about the book before you will find it."

One day, Nancy, the librarian at our local library, and I were talking about books we'd read as children. I told her about the fairy tale I was looking for. She mentioned a website where I might find it. This website listed books in alphabetical order. As I started looking at the beginning I thought, "This could take a long time!" Then suddenly the letter T popped into my mind. I scrolled ahead to the letter T. And there it was. Tatsinda by Elizabeth Enright. I ordered that book off Amazon and gave it to myself for a birthday present or something like that.

Now I need your help. Neither Nancy or I can remember the name of that website. How do you find old books you are looking for? Do you have a favorite website that has worked for you? I would love to hear from you.

One other method is: ask a teenager for help. I mentioned a book to Krysta and described it to her.
Wait a minute - 
          that will be another story for another time.

Monday, January 29, 2018


Who would have thought a paper napkin could spread little bitty pieces all over everything that way? When I opened the washer and pulled out the clothes, I surveyed the mess with dismay. Did the napkin start out in a pocket? or accidentally get mixed up with the cloth napkins? I hung stockings and wash cloths and pajamas on the drying rack and hoped the pieces could be brushed off later.

All of those miniature flecks of soggy paper remind me of little snippets of memories that come to my mind. One thought leads to another and before I know it that ties in with something else and reminds me of something completely unrelated but in the end it all comes together as a blog post.

I thought about childhood days when we didn't use paper napkins at the table. Mom brought one clean, wet washcloth to the supper table. We wiped our sticky fingers on that, sharing it around the table.

If that sounds awful to you go back a few more years when buckets of cold water sat on kitchen
counters with dippers in them. Family members drank from those dippers when they were thirsty.
Why didn't they fill a cup and drink out of that?  a. That would involve  hauling water to wash so many dirty cups. b. They didn't have plastic cups. c. I need to ask Mom if they had metal cups in the cupboard for Sunday. . . or glass glasses for Sunday.  Mom tells me how delighted they were to eventually save enough plastic milk replacer measuring cups and use them at the table as drinking cups.

Mom was born at the end of the 30's, just before WWII started. That time frame must have shaped her habits and influenced her childhood and growing up years. Then in turn my thought processes were influenced as well by her stories of long ago days.

The other day the lettuce in my salad was slightly limp. I picked through the colorful leaves, noticing the different shapes of the greens and enjoying the red lettuce. I pushed the deep dark greens to the edge of the plate and left them. They looked a little bit beyond edible. Then I remembered Anne Frank and her family. They had little variety in their food when they were hiding during WWII.

Anne says, "We had nothing but endive for a long time, day in, day out, endive with sand, endive without sand, stew with endive, boiled or en casserole . . . " Later she writes, "Vegetables are still very difficult to obtain: we had rotten boiled lettuce this afternoon. Ordinary lettuce, spinach, and boiled lettuce, there's nothing else. With these we eat rotten potatoes, so it's a delicious combination!"

Every so often when our children were younger I would bring Anne Frank: Diary of a Young Girl  to the table and read her descriptions of food they had to eat. Just to let my children know the food in front of them was not nearly as bad as it could be.

Now I wonder if my family remembers this *eccentric* behavior of their mother which in turn reminds me of The Pathway Readers we had in school along with the vocabulary books that went with them. It was in those vocabulary books where I learned to spell eccentric, what it means, how to pronounce it and how to use it in a sentence.

I also learned *hypochondriac* and found out in seventh or eighth grade I did not want to grow up and be - a person abnormally anxious about my health.

All of this is background chatter to bring you with me (in my memory) to my school in Williams MN.
-  to be continued

Wednesday, November 22, 2017

The Aunts Go Marching

The Ants go marching one by one Hurrah! Hurrah!
The Ants go marching one by one Hurrah! Hurrah!

As little girls my sisters and I must have bothered our parents a great deal by singing this song
on road trips. I suppose it's a variation to the dreaded question,
"Are we there yet?"

Or the other family saying invented by my cousin,
"We're lost and you're just not telling us!"

The other day I saw a cute book that took me back to those long ago days.
The title is The Aunts Go Marching One By One *

The pictures were delightful. Lots of ladies holding umbrellas were marching up and down the
streets followed by a little girl banging on a drum. I didn't get a chance to read it until this past Sunday.

Every third Sunday we have a carry in lunch at church. The wonderful aroma of scalloped potatoes and ham tickles our noses all through the morning service. After the Doxology a bevy of women gather in the school room and also in the basement getting the food lined up on the tables for a buffet.

This particular day I brought a lettuce salad. My huge salad bowl was still sitting on the shelf at home. I needed a container to tear the lettuce into. (Maybe I will bring some cheap, red, Walmart bowls to the church for future forgetful people like me.)

 Eventually I found a small tote that had these words printed on the side: Lost and Found

I carefully washed it after I took the glass marble and the soup ladle out of it and tore the lettuce leaves and tossed them in with grated mozzarella cheese. The dressing was on the side to be
added - or not - as everyone wished.

The amazing thing about our pot luck lunches is the salad display. It is almost like the salad
island at Pizza Ranch. The only thing missing is a bowl of cottage cheese.  Croutons and bacon
bits and sunflower seeds are sometimes missing, too, come to think of it. Otherwise there is everything you need to have a wonderful salad lunch.

We haven't even mentioned the hot dish and the dessert table yet.

Stop! I'm getting hungry!

After we've eaten and cleaned up the lunch room lots of little people gather in the school room to read. Big people are welcome to relax and visit as well. I remembered this book on the shelf in the reading corner. No sooner had I settled in Krysta's big comfy chair behind her desk when a little moppet with brown eyes appeared at my elbow, begging to have me read to her. She perched on my lap and we bounced through the book and the song. Before I knew it two more little gals gathered close by and wanted me to read it again.

I asked them if they had ever heard this song. No, they didn't think so. My apologies to Kenny and Judy, parents of this darling trio, if you have been driven crazy this week with The Ants go Marching song. I confess. It was my fault.

This week I started thinking about my aunts - that great army of women who have marched with me through life. Let's just say, they are amazing. One of these days I will sit down and
count them. Maybe I will tell some more stories of their influence on my life.

Today I am thankful for my aunts.

* The author of this book is Laurie J. Manning

Monday, November 13, 2017

Hallelujah Chorus

"Hallelujah! Hallelujah!"

A sing song voice perfectly on key floated forward from the middle of the bus
and reached my seat at the front.

I looked in the mirror and tried to locate the singer.


Later, as more students climbed on board and settled in their seats I heard it again.

The hallelujah chorus in miniature on my bus as we waited in front of the grade school.

After awhile as we started out on the route a small student came to the front seat.
He was my friend with the flowing words from a month ago.
He asked me, "Do you speak opera?"

"Excuse me?" I said. "I didn't understand what you said."

"Do you sing opera? - like this." And he opened his mouth and out poured this song,

"Hallelujah! Hallelujah!

I was delighted. "You're singing the Hallelujah Chorus!" I joined him and sang,
"Hallelujah, Hallelujah, Hal-le-lu-jah."

It was a surreal moment, one which made me feel like I should pinch myself to see if
I was awake or dreaming.

Friday, September 22, 2017

Grape Juice

Yesterday I met a little boy who voiced every thought that entered his mind.
This entertained me for a short space of time, but I soon wondered,
"What does the teacher do in class to shut off the faucet?"
Then after another short space of time,"How does he do that?"

Then this thought came to me  - what if I would start typing about my week - end away?
If I just let the thoughts flow from brain to fingers there would soon be a blog post ready to post!

Before Krysta and I could leave for a get-a-way we had work to do. . .
she at school and me in the kitchen. The night before I shut the burner off under the juicer/steamer and thought, "I'll get up early and finish these grapes."

The grapevines Ellis planted many long ages ago are going crazy this year. Fortunately Ellis helped pick both vines so hopefully there will be no more talk about, "I really should order a couple more grape vines next spring."

Mom has a wonderful contraption that juices the grapes. She lets me borrow it each year.
Water fills the pan at the bottom. The next pan holds the juice. The pan above that is like a big strainer and holds the grapes. A hose from the vat of hot juice lets me fill each jar, then I tighten
a lid on the jar and it seals. Pure grape juice concentrate . . . pour the juice into a pitcher, add ice, water and sugar to taste and enjoy!

The last count of jars with juice: 62 jelly jars, 12 quart jars, 4 pint jars

Come visit us!

Well, the words still flow if I give them a chance.
- to be continued

Sunday, August 20, 2017

Visiting Grandpa and Grandma Skrivseth Years Ago

Childhood Memories

Aroma of baking bread

Fills the room

Coffee perking on the stove

Adds its charm

 - in the yard -
Smoke from the chimney 

Curls in the air

Black and white border collie

Bounds across the grass

Rough pink tongue licks my hand

Little ones roaming

Down garden paths

Searching for raspberries

On prickly branches

A rope swing in an oak tree

A play house in the shade

Sleek brown horses nibbling

The sugar lump I held

Memories, like a sugar cube

Melting in my hand