Wednesday, May 20, 2020

The old home place

The roof on the old home place was leaking. Ellis and Allen talked about getting a crew together to go to MT and fix the problem.  We hoped to go over Easter vacation. Then that virus shut everything down. When MT opened up and before Allen and Ellis got swamped with work they asked the youth guys if any would be interested in helping. We had a great crew respond.

I tried to get these pictures in the right order and two were so obnoxious as to get in the wrong places. I will need help from my editor.  ;)

The guys had a great time and so did the gals. My sis-in-law and I made breakfast and lunch. Supper every evening was down the road at a cousin's house. 
The weather was great for two days in a row allowing the guys to get old shingles torn off and a good start on the tin. We heard that rain was in the forecast so every surface that didn't have tin was covered with tarpaper.
We went to bed Friday night to the sound of rain and howling wind. In the morning we found the tarpaper and lathe held up under the onslaught of rain and wind. There were snow flurries at breakfast. This called for some serious site seeing so the roof had time to dry.
We are thankful for all of the Lord's mercies. The timing of the project, the response of those who helped, safety on the roof, safety in travels --
We want to give God all the glory !!
Around noon they were able to get started again and kept working until the job was done at 6:30 - 7:00.
A gigantic thank you for all involved.

Friday, May 8, 2020

May 2020

Time flies when we're having fun. A year ago we were getting ready for this big day. There were three weddings last summer and one in late fall. (Youth from Prairie Mennonite Church) Many times there have been four or five years between weddings at our church. Those four couples are glad they aren't planning weddings this spring/summer. 

This winter, before covid 19 took over, Ellis and I visited Texas. We went to visit Krysta and her husband, Allen. They were working in an area that had been flooded. Allen was a crew leader and Krysta helped with food preparation. New groups came each week to help rebuild homes that had been flooded. 

While we were in Texas we found out a baby is on the way to join the Nolt family. We are excited to meet our new grandbaby!

Back to the 60's. 
   Krysta, posing in her 
           Grandma's maternity outfit ...

And more modern days
April 2020

Happy Days!

Saturday, May 2, 2020

Brown Bread

The whole process of making bread was very satisfying. Especially the kneading. It just felt good to work off some extra energy.

Of course eating the bread was super! I was reminded of my Grandpa Ben. He always said the bread Grandma made was bread. Anything you buy at the store is "brind"  --more wind than bread.

Here's the recipe I used. I cut it in half. The original recipe called for 24 cups of flour and made 8 loaves. I didn't feel that energetic!

                        Brown Bread
4 cups warm water
1/2 cup honey
2 T. molasses
2 T. salt  (I think I will use less salt next time)
1/2 cup shortening
6 cups whole wheat flour
4 - 6 cups white flour

Mix 2 T. yeast with 3/4 cup warm water.
Stir everything together and add 6 cups whole wheat flour. Mix very good. Add 4 cups white flour and start to knead. I keep some shortening on hand to grease the sides of the bowl and my knuckles to keep dough from sticking. Then knead, knead, knead. About 10 minutes or more if you really get into the mood. Great for your arms!

Here comes the great controversy... do you knead dough in the bowl or on the counter?
You know what? It doesn't make any difference.  It's all personal preference. Do what you have always done. Or if your mom always kneaded bread dough in the bowl and you'd like to try kneading it on the counter, go for it. If you've never heard of such a red neck method of keeping the dough in the bowl to knead, maybe you want to shake up your life and try that. (It's one less surface to clean so that's my reason for doing it that way.) Lazy or efficient - whatever you want to call it.

Let the dough rise until double, grease pans and knead the dough again, then shape into loaves and let it rise again in the pans. I poke the loaves with a fork before they rise. Again personal preference. It makes a cool design on the top of the bread. Bake at 350° for 35 minutes. Take out of pans and cool. Makes four loaves. Freeze the extra loaves or give them away.

I got teased by my husband who thought I'd forgotten how to bake bread. It comes back to a person - a little like ice skating or riding bike. How did I happen to have yeast and whole wheat flour, molasses and honey on hand? Even white flour for that matter...
Everything was right here in my freezer and cupboards just waiting to be mixed together.

Thursday, April 30, 2020

Peaches and Ice Cream and Homemade Bread

I don't want you to think everything was peaches and ice cream in our travels. I'm sure there were days that we didn't like each other very much - pinches and squabbles - that sort of thing. We had a lot of fun together, though. There was that time when all the noise and babbling got on Dad's one remaining nerve. He looked back and said, "Cut that out!" One of us had the impertinence to say, "Give us a scissors so we can cut it out!" Not a wise thing to say we quickly found out.

Our daughter gave us a sign to hang up in our house the other year.
                          REMEMBER  ...
              as far as everyone knows ....
            "We're a Nice Normal Family"

That describes the family God gave Ellis and me, and it also describes the family I grew up in. I think if we are all honest we could say we each come from a "dysfunctional" family. I just looked up a little blip that described what a dysfunctional family is. One of the signs can be perfectionism. Always trying to make the family appear perfect. That hits me square between the eyes. How many years did I try to make my house/life perfect and all the little people in my life as well? Not even mentioning trying to remake my husband ... and the sad task of making myself "good enough." If we could make ourselves perfect why did Jesus have to come to this earth and die for us? I'm thrilled beyond words to accept Jesus Christ's perfection for my life. His precious blood cleanses me from my sins. I am grateful.

To continue on to the mountains ... Dad and Mom were probably very thankful to finally say, "There, on the horizon, you can see the mountains!" We strained our eyes and looked and looked. We had no way of knowing what we were looking for being used to peat bogs and forests and potato fields in northern MN. The only mountains we ever saw were the Turtle Mountains in ND when we went to Bible Camp every summer.

Lake Louise  Banff National Park
Columbia Icefield  Somewhere we trekked out to touch an actual glacier.
Jasper National Park  and Mt Robson which I mentioned before. I've heard if you hanker to go to Switzerland to see the mountains - and can't go - drive to the Canadian Rockies and vacation there. I recommend it.

At last we came to Dunster BC, a tiny village with a school and a depot and train tracks. Maybe a store ... and a post office. A dirt road curved around and took us to our cousins' farm. When we pulled in to the lane we had no idea how often we'd be coming back to visit this family who were, at this moment, strangers to us.

Part of the reason it has taken me so long to arrive is because of all those visits. I don't know what memories are first. Did this event happen on our first trip?  or was that later when we went back for a wedding?

Or when we went back in the fall of 1973 and lived in BC for three months? We went to school in Dunster and made even more friends.

For now we had eight cousins to meet and a new aunt and uncle we barely remembered. To hear all the stories our parents and Lester and Norma shared we finally had to believe that once upon a time they were little people like us with adventures just like ours.

We landed on a working farm where chores went on as usual. I hope we didn't interfere too much with the daily schedule.  I remember picking huckleberries. There was food to make and dishes to wash after the meals. There was a darling baby, only six or seven months old. Cows to be milked twice a day. I think I should ask more questions and find out what my aunt and two cousins older than me remember. I don't even know how long our visit was that first summer.

Around this time I was learning to bake bread. Our recipe was for white bread at home. Now we learned all about whole wheat bread. Freshly ground whole wheat flour was used for bread making. The wheat had to be cleaned. A row of little ones sat at the table with Norma and Mom supervising.We each had a plate with a pile of wheat berries on it. Anything you didn't want to eat was separated from the good wheat. Weed seeds, parts of grasshoppers, etc. The clean wheat was ground in an electic grinder and then mixed into bread dough. There is nothing better than fresh whole wheat bread pulled out of the oven, sliced, spread with butter and honey and devoured. I tremble to think how many loaves of bread we consumed while we were visiting that week.

On that thought we will stop for now. I am leaving you to go bake some bread.

Monday, April 27, 2020

A step back in time

                      Here we are in 1973. 
                Arnie and Leona Skrivseth 
          Ladina, Dawn, Trenda and Maria.
  In order by height instead of age this time.

Ellis looked up the car and thinks it is a 1965 Chrysler wagon. I'm still looking for a picture with the trailer.

I asked Mom and my sisters for their memories of this trip. How did we spend our time?

For one thing we had more room than usual since we had a station wagon. Maria didn't have to stay up front sandwiched in between Dad and Mom. She could come back with us and join the party. Maria remembers kneeling on the floor mat and facing the seat, then playing with her paper dolls.

Ah, paper dolls! Do any of you remember what fun that was? (Excuse us for a little minute if you are a gentleman reading this blog.) We cut ours out of the Sears,  Montgomery Wards or Penney's catalogs. Whole families. We named the children our favorite names. At home we each made a little house for our family using wash clothes for the rooms. Then we went galloping around the house to visit each other, going on picnics, climbing on the bus to go to school, Vacation Bible School, bike rides - whatever hit our imaginations. We were a bit more cramped in the car. Now we could play "going to the mountains." Maybe we even put ourselves back in time and pretended we were going by covered wagon.

Trenda remembers she was closest to the ice chest so her job was to hand out snacks when people got hungry.

We all remembered the cars stopped by the side of the road. That was a sign to grab the camera and get ready to take pictures of big horn sheep, or moose or bear. Who knew what it might be this time.

One day we had lemon drops for a treat. A person soon finds out it's not good to suck on too many lemon drops in a row. After awhile your mouth gets sore. Trenda didn't want to harm a big horn sheep, but before you can say Jack Robinson she fed a big horn sheep a lemon drop.

We had stopped to look at a line of sheep walking down the side of the road. We rolled the windows down to get a better view. Everyone looked out the left side of the car. Trenda felt "someone" looking at her on her side of the car and turned to look. She found herself nose to nose with a big horn sheep. "Agh!" She had a lemon drop in her hand and held that out. The sheep nibbled it off her hand and walked on to the next car. We all knew we weren't supposed to feed the animals. But what is a girl to do when she is startled by a foreign creature sticking his head in her space?

Ladina and I remember fried chicken for lunch. It was fried in the morning and layered in a wide mouth gallon thermos which kept everything piping hot. This was a meal we stopped at a park to eat instead of eating while driving. I wonder how we washed our hands after that scrumptious greasiness? (the days before wet wipes) Maybe there was a well with a pump handle at the park.

Mom remembers that it was blistering hot across those prairies as we traveled on  the Trans Canadian highway. We girls were not used to air conditioning in cars. We insisted that it would be cooler if we rolled the windows down and couldn't figure out why Dad told us to keep everything shut up.

Maybe Dad needed to stop for gas or maybe he was sick of our grumbling. One way or the other we soon stopped and met head on the heat of an oven as we piled out of the car. Maria says it was 100° F. Dad had no more trouble convincing us to keep the windows closed.

This brings me to the end of our memories and we still haven't arrived at the Martin Farm near Dunster, BC. Maybe tomorrow...

Friday, April 24, 2020

British Columbia

When I was 12, Ladina 11, Trenda 9 and Maria 6, going on 7, we traveled to British Columbia, Canada. We had some double first cousins living at Dunster, BC. Lester Martin, Mom's brother, married Norma Skrivseth, Dad's sister. We rarely got to see these cousins. Fifteen hundred miles is a long way to travel as we quickly found out.

Dad had made a camper trailer that we pulled behind our car. It folded out, a bed on each side propped up on sturdy legs, and a tent popped up - with Dad directing the whole set up and all of us helping with our varied abilities.

We took our time, stopping to visit friends on the way. One of our stops was Wild Rose ND to visit Ken and Lorene Meagher. Also Coalridge MT where we stopped to see Mark and Florence Harshbarger and family.

I don't know if we stopped on our way to Canada? Or on the way home. Hmm! It would be fun to read an old diary or journal of the trip. None of us were keeping diaries yet. Unless Dad wrote everything down - where we stopped to camp, fill up with gas, etc.

Another stop was in Duchess Alberta, close to Brooks AB. More distant cousins live there. Again I don't know if we did the Mennonite - your - way on the trip up to BC then stayed at camp grounds on our way home or if we mixed them up ... doing some of each, coming and going.

Sometimes I remember trips by the books I read as we traveled. I remember filling the long hours of this trip with word searches. Whole books of them!

After we finally reached the mountains we had lots of scenery to observe. Sometimes we'd yell, "Look at that _____!" You fill in the blank - lake, mountain, road, tree, animal. Then, just as quickly we'd tell Dad, "No, don't look! Keep your eyes on the road!"

I spent a lot of time in my grade school years reading adventure stories of people heading for Oregon. This wasn't Oregon but there were mountains and switchbacks for roads. We talked a lot about the miracle of driving on a trip for three maybe four days, arriving at our destination, unscathed.

It didn't take months of hard slogging with wagons losing a wheel now and then. Dealing with raiding Indians, disease, death. Throwing out cherished items at the side of the trail to lighten the load for the weak, starving oxen that were pulling our wagon.

No, we just breezed along in our air conditioned station wagon, pulling our sleeping quarters behind us. We had ice in the ice chest to keep our food cold. Water to drink. Books to read. Word searches to puzzle over. Eyes to see all the beautiful panorama around us!

Words cannot describe Banf and Jasper parks. Our first sight of Mt. Robson, 12972 ft. my atlas tells me. The peak, so rarely visible because it's usually covered with clouds, was visible for us that day.

Thursday, April 23, 2020

Word Search

I'm working on a word search as I eat my breakfast and drink my morning tea. What a lot of memories niggle at the back of my brain over such a simple exercise!

You see, I was an experienced traveler from my infancy. The story goes that I was six weeks old when my parents moved from Fort Wayne IN to Graceton MN. Before that they had taken some weekend jaunts to Kentucky to visit family and friends.

After a time my little sister Ladina arrived, and my family moved to ND for a year. We lived in ND but we went to church in MT. There is a difference in time so we left our house at 10:00 and arrived at church at 10:00. (It is always best to travel west!)

The trip home was not as nice. We stayed for lunch and afternoon visiting. If we started for home at 4:00 we got home at 6:00 ... a long, full day.

We moved back to MN in time to welcome another little sister named Trenda into our family.

Remember, all of this traveling was before car seats. (Just a little side note)  We must have stayed in MN for two years then moved to IN where my dad was learning the painting trade with Joni Beachy. It's possible we spent two summers in IN. ?? I can't ask dad now how long he worked with Joni. I do know that the girls in our family had lots of play dates with the girls in Joni's family, making friends for life ... Anita and Merilee.
Please forgive me if I spelled your name wrong.

At the end of the summer we lived in a little brick house and were next door neighbors to my friend, Linda. We went to kindergarten together. Linda and I still send each other letters and family pictures.  Maria joined our family October 1966.

Somewhere along the way Dad went to Rosedale Bible School so we traveled to OH for that. I don't think I was doing word searches yet at this point. (You are being very patient with me waiting to hear what word searches has to do with any of this.)

I am trying to imagine how my parents traveled with four little girls 5 1/2 years old and under. I know Mom read to us. A lot.
Of course we had dolls, too.

Back home to Graceton after Bible School. I started first grade at Williams MN. *Mrs. Tallefson worked her magic with phonics and the alphabet and I learned to read.

Dad went to OH for Bible School and again took all of us with him. I went to a Christian Day School for a couple months while we were there. When we went back to MN Miss Farmwald had all of her students write letters to me. A packet of letters I still have to this day.

After that our travels were confined to summers and Christmas vacations. Every summer we drove to the Angle to visit cousins. Every Christmas we drove to WI to visit cousins by the dozens. In July we went to a Bible Camp in ND.

All of this prepared us for the trip of our lives. Our lives up to that point, at least. In which we were introduced to word search books to keep us out of our parents hair.

*If any of you readers went to school in Williams MN and know how to spell Mrs. Tallefson's name please correct me if I spelled it wrong. Phonics does not always help when spelling last names. Take Skrivseth for example -- a name that gives people the heebie jeebies when they try to pronounce it. It's really quite simple if you forget phonics for a second. Skreev set  There - isn't that easy?  :)

And now I will leave you to finish my word search. See you tomorrow!