Tuesday, July 17, 2018

July Travels

Monday morning, July 2nd, Mom and I drove over to WI to visit Aunt Grace. I thought about all sorts of people I could call and visit while I was there. In the end I just relaxed and listened to Grace and Mom reminisce.

I have a lot of memories in that neck of the woods, too. Every Christmas we went to WI for a
Martin reunion. Since the Martins were together we might as well have a Skrivseth reunion.
Four of the Martin clan married four Skrivseths. We would have a lot more relatives if they wouldn't have doubled up like that! ;) On top of that two more Skrivseths married cousins of the Martin family.

One of my younger cousins asked his mom to explain the family records. It truly is something that becomes more clear if you write it all down on a chart and read it. This young man listened to the whole explanation and then said, "Mom, by the time you and Dad got married didn't you feel like
you were related?"

Tuesday morning we drove to Sheldon and got groceries. On the way home we stopped at the cemetery where Grandpa and Grandma Martin are buried. Then we drove past the home farm.
On down the road and around the curve, across the bridge and through the woods to the spot
where Mom and her sisters picked berries every summer. They walked there, picked berries then walked home. Ate lunch then walked back and picked more berries. Grandma canned them in jars and they had berries for winter eating.

Listening to Grace and Mom talk was a little like reading an Anne of Green Gables book. They walked everywhere. To school, to the pond for skating, to the woods to pick berries.

As we drove down the road we passed a pond on the left hand side. Mom said they used to
skate on that pond. That comment intrigued me. Since Mom and her siblings skated there why
hadn't they shown us that sweet spot? We drove around the curve and crossed the bridge.
I slowed down and said, "This is where we skated. We went down that bank, put our skates on
and went swimming." The instant the word fell off my tongue I knew it was wrong.

"No, no, I meant skating!" I protested above shrieks of laughter from Aunt Grace and Mother.

What causes these twists of the tongue?! I have no idea. I looked at the water flowing under the bridge and the word swimming came to the surface.

At any rate there used to be a week of Winter Bible School held at the Sheldon church between Christmas and New Year. We studied, listened to lectures and sang during the day and skated in
the afternoons. Now my mind comes up blank. Was there an evening session back at the church? Someone help me remember if you were there all those years ago.

Mom and I drove to Boyceville, WI Tuesday afternoon and attended a 50th anniversary celebration for my uncle and aunt, Amos and Carol Kauffman. All of their children were there - cousins I haven't seen in years.  This was a momentous occasion. The reception was held in a large green house at my cousin's place. Tables and chairs were arranged in long rows. We helped ourselves to an assortment of delicious food at a buffet then we could sit down and eat.

The weather cooperated with a beautiful summer evening . . . sunny and warm. Eventually there was a sunset, too. What fun to look at old pictures and memories and meet so many people.

There was another slip of the tongue to embarrass me on this lovely day. Mom and I got there early. We drove up to the house and went inside. There was a bustle of activity with last minute food preparation. Two lovely gals were spreading a cream cheese/ranch dressing on the pizza crusts. To make conversation and be friendly and fill in the silence I said, "I don't know your names."

My cousin looked up and said, "I'm Michelle." At the same moment I remembered the other gal was Evelyn, my cousin Curt's wife. Laughter is good for the soul. We had lots of funny stories to
tell to keep us laughing.

Congratulations to Amos and Carol and to their beautiful family. It was a lovely party!

Saturday, July 14, 2018

Summer in a Bowl

"Did you plant some berries beside the shed?" my husband asked me a couple weeks ago.
"No, I don't know anything about them. What berries?"

It turns out that Ellis saw red - raspberry looking fruit on prickly vines every time he mowed past
the shed at the edge of the lawn. There is a big walnut tree shading the shed. The foundation of the old chicken coop is hidden under brambles and stinging nettle. Some rotten wooden pallets are hiding there too. They make treacherous footing when you step on them and reach for a big black berry that hangs just out of reach.

While I was on a mini vacation to WI Krysta braved the mosquitos and picked these berries. (They turn black when they are ripe.) Then she looked up a recipe online for blackberry cobbler and turned them into a scrumptious dessert. It was soo delicious that I followed her to the patch and helped pick more berries so we could make more cobbler.

The garments required are leggings and knee socks, old tennies, an old dress that doesn't matter because it will get ripped from brambles, and a long sleeved shirt. I lit some mosquito coils and hung them on branches near by. That will keep the pesky creatures at bay.

I dangled an ice cream bucket over my arm and prepared for battle. The shade from the walnut tree was wonderful. I thought garden things won't grow under walnut trees. The combination of seeds planted by birds in well aged chicken manure must be the trick because these berries are flourishing.  We still don't know if they are blackberries or black raspberries. Is there a difference?

I contemplated all these thoughts and questions as I picked. And I thought about my dad. Every summer Dad went to the back side of his property and picked berries just like these. Every summer Mom made a pie for Dad's birthday with them.

This year my daughter and I picked berries from a corner of our property and made a cobbler. On July 9th, Dad's birthday, we had a hot dog roast at Mom's place. We sat in the shade in the sweltering heat and enjoyed lemonade, baked beans, lettuce salad, braats roasted on a fork. Mom had a fresh raspberry pie on hand. Krysta made the blackberry cobbler.

Ellis dished up a bowl of amazing purple yumminess and took a spoonful. "It tastes just like summer in a bowl," was his happy comment.

Wednesday, June 6, 2018

A Travelogue

April 16, 2018

It's in the middle of the day in Edmonton, AB. The street lights are on - it's that gray and cloudy. or should I say grey since I am in Canada. What a whirlwind of events for the past month or so. We (Mom, my sisters and I) didn't know if we would come on this trip or stay at home.

At last it was decided. Yes, let's go! The search for tickets begins. Motel reservations are made.  A vehicle is rented. Trenda is our travel agent. She's doing a superb job. Maria is flying from Ontario to Edmonton. Our cousin, Laura, flying in from Mosinee WI. All plans forward to go to AB, Canada to help our aunt, Norma, celebrate her 80th birthday. All of Norma's siblings are planning to go except for two sisters. Laura is going to represent her mother, Sharon. Jo Ellen and her husband have plans to go to Belize instead.

Mom and I planned to leave early Saturday morning, April 14th. When we heard the weather forecast we changed our plans and left Friday evening after my bus route. We were ahead of the storm. We arrived at John and Ladina's house about 10:00 pm. Sleep was wonderful!

The next morning John and Ladina served a brunch of Belgian Waffles. They are famous for these brunches! Jorgan and Zoey, Jerry and Mandy and Pat and Taylor came, too. We got to meet the newest member of the family, a little son born to Jerry and Mandy. His name is Grayson. He joins his big sister, Bailey. We got reacquainted with Paisley, Pat and Taylor's daughter.

After brunch I went with Jorgan and Zoey to see their house. Jorgan shared some of his birthday pie. Peanut butter pie! mmmm! Made by Zoey's mom, Kim. It was amazing! I had a few things to pick up at Wal-Mart and Zoey got her pizza, then back to John's for a pizza supper. Jerry, Trenda and Brooke came over. Also Jeremy and Janine with their three sons. We had Papa Murphy's pizza plus Janine made a couple yummy pizzas, too. This was a great evening with lots of family joining us for supper and coming over to see Grandma. There are so many cousins and now so many little people, Mom's great-grand children. So much fun!

We are on the way!

- to be continued

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