Wednesday, December 16, 2015


Sharing some quotes that made me laugh the other week . . .

Mom was getting ready to travel after a weekend of family festivities . . .

Thanksgiving feasting, Lefse making, cooking for a small army of wood haulers.

Mom was washing sheets and towels.  Maria and I were fixing beds.
Mom rounded up her
and money.
Suddenly she said, “I hate getting ready for trips.”

She made me laugh and I thought of this quote:

“Is there anything as horrible as starting on a trip? 
Once you are off, that’s all right, but the last moments
are earthquake and convulsion,
and the feeling that you are a snail being pulled off your rock.”
Anne Morrow Lindbergh 


_ _ _ _ _ _

Mab Graff has a little commentary on the differences in girls as she observes them at her
daughter’s seventh birthday party.  Mab doesn’t quite have the games prepared because
she was reading instead of er  . . . preparing. 

So she asks the girls what they would like to play.

(Quoting Mab in her book, God Loves My Kitchen Best )

Theresa, dark eyes huge behind petite glasses, spoke with wonder and derision:

“Don’t you have the games planned?”

Angelica, a child you wanted to hug on sight, leaned on me and whispered,

“I would like to play ‘pin the dart on the horse’s bottom.’ ”

(End of quote)

Mab Graff Hoover writes:

God Loves My Kitchen Best

God Still Loves My Kitchen

God Even Likes My Pantry

In My Upstairs Room

I have found two of her books at the Salvation Army. Keeping my eyes open for more.


Wednesday, December 9, 2015

Thanksgiving Day 2015

It's hard to believe, looking back on 35 years of married life, to suddenly realize:
I've never cooked a Thanksgiving meal all by myself from turkey to pumpkin pie
until this year.  Which is good in one way -- because we must be very healthy. 
We were never too sick to turn down the invitations to the Harshbarger gatherings in MT
or the Thanksgiving feast at Maranatha Bible School where our church family gathers each year.  Each year I signed up for caramel sweet potatoes and pumpkin chiffon pie
or a huge salad of some sort and dinner rolls. 

There was the year I was assigned to bring turkey and Deanne said,
"Mom! do you know how to fix a turkey?"

This year we had Josh, Elsa and little Joseph at our house.  Evan and Chelsea had
Thanksgiving with Chelsea's family in the evening because Evan worked in the morning.
The rest of our children are in MT.  Elsa's parents were in Florida over the holiday.
So we got to play Grandpa and Grandma !

Every Thanksgiving in my growing up years was spent at Grandpa Skrivseth's.
We had snow for sledding. We had ice for skating. On a pond. In the pasture.
On the back side of the pasture if I remember right because it was a very long walk
home when we were *cold and hungry and cross.*

By the time we got back to the house we were warmed from the long walk and ready
for turkey sandwiches and hot chocolate and a game of authors with our aunt, Leah.
She is our aunt going on a sister.  She is not much older than us and we have
bugged her half to death many a time.

Especially if Ladina and I were uncooperative when it was time to quit skating.
 (We took turns being uncooperative  =)
There was one year when I insisted, "I'm not cold. I want to keep skating."
But that is a story for another day.

Well - that was a little trip down memory lane. As I was saying . . .
I had all day Wednesday free - no cleaning jobs lined up or duties of driving bus.
Our school gave us Wednesday, Thursday and Friday off !

I put a gigantic, home grown chicken in the oven and started cooking sweet potatoes
in a kettle.  I dug out my dusty meat grinder, washed it in hot sudsy water and attached
it to my piano bench.

(This provided my exercise for the day. I had to nearly stand on my
head to get it out of the bottom cupboard where it was living.) 

Now I was ready to grind the cranberries for the salad. I used the recipe from
The Mennonite Community Cookbook that calls for cranberries, oranges, apples, pineapple,
jello and chopped nuts. Oh, and sugar. Let's not forget the sugar. I think you can top it
with miniature marshmallows when you serve it if you want.

Then it was time to peel the sweet potatoes. Again I followed the recipe in the Mennonite Community Cookbook. This one takes brown sugar and cream and marshmallows on top.
I didn't do marshmallows . . .

I made pies. One of pumpkin chiffon, a recipe from my sister Maria, and a couple more using Grandma Martin's recipe in The Mary and Martha cookbook.

On the day of feasting Ellis made stuffing out of a box, just like his mom always did.
Wait, that doesn't sound right. He made Kraft's Stove Top stuffing just like Mom used to.
We mashed potatoes and made gravy. We heated the chicken in the oven.

Maybe the bird tastes better if it comes out of the oven whole and is carved at the head
of the table like Norman Rockwell's paintings. But I deboned it the day before and it was

What a wonderful day ! Krysta took some pictures of Joseph, our happy, bright eyed grandson.
We ate yummy food and played a game of Risk. We should have all walked to the far side of the pasture in the rain and snow . . . Maybe we can have a sledding party later.

* I was thinking - that phrase came from a poem our children memorized in school.
(with slight variation)
So I looked it up to refresh my memory.

Goops And How To Be Them
        Gelett Burgess

It's terrible brave
to try to save
A girl on a runaway horse;
You could do that, of course!
But think of trying
to keep from crying,
When you're hungry and tired
and cross,
You couldn't do that
of course!
Or could you?

We should have had this memorized - maybe it would have helped.

Friday, December 4, 2015

A Prayer for Laundry Day

Thank you, Dear God . . .

for water, soap, electricity, automatic washer and dryer

Sunshine and wind to dry clothes on the clothes line

Clothes pins and sturdy clothes lines

Thank you for clothes to wash - enough for each person
We can have clean ones every day

Warm P.J.'s
We don't have to sleep in our work clothes

Sheets, blankets, pillows
Mattress and mattress covers

When I look at the tabs to check how to care for my clothes I see:

Made in Vietnam     Made in Brazil    Made in China
Made in Pakistan     Made in India      Made in Bangladesh
Made in El Salvador

I don't have to raise sheep, shear them, wash the wool, dye the wool
card it and spin it into yarn before I can knit my socks and sweaters

I've always wanted a loom to make rag rugs
But what if I had to weave all the fabric we need?
Then sew all the clothes we need?

My family would be in trouble.

Thank you, Dear God, for Laundry Day!

Monday, November 16, 2015


May I use your eyes now to weep for My children?
Will you let your spirit be touched with My grief?
It is night, and lone midst all forces of evil,
I stand with My hands holding precious relief.
(I haven't found out who wrote this yet.  As soon as I do I will let you know.
Or if you know please let me know so I can give credit where credit is due.)

I just got done reading Kisses From Katie by Katie Davis.
Krysta brought it home from the library and said,
"You've got to read this, Mom."

I wasn't sure I wanted to.  But I'm glad I did.
I asked her if all who read it will get
sent to Uganda.  =)  She probably thought,
"Oh, silly Mom," but did not say it.

Katie is like a modern day Amy Carmichael.
Or Mother Theresa.  She adopted a family of girls as
they came to her doorstep or as she found them in villages
around her home.  She poured out her life for them
and they in turn started finding girls with needs and
brought them home.  They wanted to share their
home with everyone they met.

Recently I went with friends to a seminar
and heard a talk about adoption and infertility.

One thing the speaker said about adoptive families -
When you adopt a child you are breaking a cycle.
It could be a cycle of abandonment, alcohol, drugs . . .
. . .  the list goes on.

By doing that the adoptive family has stepped into
enemy territory and is in line for Satan's darts.

This is not a new thought for me. 
This summer I have been thinking
about that very thing over and over.
But I had never heard it said out loud
in just that many words.

This verse came to my mind. 

Pure religion and undefiled before God and the Father is this,
    To visit the fatherless and widows in their affliction,
        and to keep himself unspotted from the world. 
                                    James 1:27

How do I make this practical in my every day life?

While reading Katie's book I found out about the organization she founded.
Amazima Ministries

Krysta and I found out about Operation Christmas Child and every fall we
try to get some shoe boxes ready and on the way.

There are all sorts of opportunities to help if you look up Christian Aid Ministries.

Here is another way to get involved.
One gal I talked to said she and her husband signed up to sponsor
a child after the birth of each new baby in their home.

There are so many questions that come to my mind
         when I think about war-torn countries
  and refugees looking for a place to sleep at night . . . 
                                a warm place . . .
                             when I think about
                     homeless people in our country

I don't want to just do a whole string of these projects to salve my conscience.
I want to be more purposeful in my prayers for those serving in mission work,
and pray more faithfully for my friends and family who are in the middle of a
spiritual battle because they have courageously adopted children.

    You are brave.  May God richly bless you and your children.

Sunday, November 15, 2015


We sang this song today at Prairie Manor.  I love singing Thanksgiving songs in autumn. 

“My God, I thank Thee, who hast made”
By Adelaide Anne Procter (1825–1864)
MY God, I thank Thee, Who hast made
        The earth so bright;
So full of splendour and of joy,
        Beauty and light;
So many glorious things are here,        
        Noble and right.
I thank Thee, too, that Thou hast made
        Joy to abound;
So many gentle thoughts and deeds
        Circling us round;        
That in the darkest spot of earth
        Some love is found.
I thank Thee more that all our joy
        Is touched with pain;
That shadows fall on brightest hours,        
        That thorns remain;
So that earth’s bliss may be our guide,
        And not our chain.
For Thou Who knowest, Lord, how soon
        Our weak heart clings,        
Hast given us joys, tender and true,
        Yet all with wings,
So that we see, gleaming on high,
        Diviner things.
I thank Thee, Lord, that Thou hast kept        
        The best in store;
I have enough, yet not too much,
        To long for more;
A yearning for a deeper peace
        Not known before.        
I thank Thee, Lord, that here our souls,
        Though amply blest,
Can never find, although they seek,
        A perfect rest,—
Nor ever shall, until they lean        
        On Jesus’ breast!

Tuesday, November 10, 2015

My Home Town

I like my little home town. Everyone knows everyone, everyone is friendly.
One day I met a lady at the grocery store that I knew only from meeting her
on the road every morning driving to school. She was driving her family to school
so they didn’t have to ride the bus. We recognized each other from these daily meetings
and introduced ourselves to each other then stood and talked for twenty minutes or more.
One thing we had in common is our name. Her last name is Larson. That was our last
name in Norway. Maybe we are cousins! Our family took the farm name for their
last name when they emigrated. Now we have a name no one can pronounce or spell. 

When you go to Norway you can still visit the Skrivseth farm.
There is a Skrivseth Mountain, and a Skrivseth Lake, too.
The family living in the house has taken the farm name too,
but they may or may not be related to us. It is confusing. 

Now that was a little bunny trail . . . 
I was filling the car with gas the other day when a memory flashed
across my mind. Krysta and I were on the way to ND last summer.
We needed gas so we pulled into a gas station being careful to pull
up on the passenger side since our Ford Focus has the gas cap on the
*wrong*side of the car.  I often forget. This station had two pumps in
a row and someone was fueling at the pump ahead of us.  I got out and
started filling the car. Just as I finished I thought,
“Oh, yes, I want to wash the windows.”

I suppose the proper way to do that is wash the windows while the gas flows
but I had not thought of it in time to be efficient. It was a lovely day, the sun was shining,
the birds were singing,  the traffic was rolling down the interstate as I leisurely washed the
windows on one side of our little white Focus. Just as I went around to dunk the window washer in the water someone said, “Can you pull ahead so other people can get gas too?” I wish I would have feigned deafness and kept on with my task. But I looked up - and made eye contact - with a disgruntled looking guy who was oozing impatience out of every pore.

I thought, but did not say, “You aren’t from around here, are you?” 
I put the washer thing-a-ma-jig in the water, got in the car and pulled ahead
to the empty space in front of me. I finished washing my windows. Out of the corner
of my eye I could see this guy rolling his eyes, sighing a huge sigh and shrugging his shoulder’s
at my obvious stupidity.

He filled up with rapid speed and pulled up in front of the store and parked to wait
for the pretty gal who had gone inside.  And that’s when I saw his
North Dakota license plates. Nope, he wasn’t from Minnesota.

Now I realize Minnesotans carry niceness to extremes.  Ellis and I went on a mystery bus tour this spring. The school bus company comes up with an *end of the school year* event. We heard about the murky past when gangsters were welcomed to St. Paul and the police kept them safe as long as they checked in with them, performed no crimes in St Paul and shared a portion of the loot with them. One millionaire was kidnapped outside his house when he came home for lunch. A crook strolled up to him, engaged him in conversation by asking if they could discuss a business proposition. The get away car pulled up, they slipped a pillowcase over his head, pushed him in the car and drove off. This man realized the only way to stay alive was to keep cool and not struggle. The robbers started arguing.
"We got the wrong man."
"No we didn't!"
"Yes we did!"
“Why do you think this is the wrong man?” 
“Because he’s not trying to get away!”

Finally the man who was kidnapped told them they have the right man.
Is that carrying Minnesota niceness to an extreme?


For the most part we have found people in ND very friendly.
Since the oil boom things have changed a bit.  There was that one trip
when Ellis and I traveled home from MT in two vehicles.
- one in a white van and the other in a brown pick up.
(We buy used vehicles from MT. There is hardly any rust on them.)

The van developed a funny little hiccough.  It would go along nicely for a half hour
or so then stop.  Twenty minutes later you could start it up and drive again for another
half hour only to have this repeat. We limped our way to Minot in this fashion. Ellis wanted
to have a dealer look at it but they were closing.
"Nope, come back tomorrow and good luck with finding a motel in this town."

So plan B was to get a dolly that would hook up to the pick up, drive the van onto it and pull it home. The gal punched in the make of the pick up and said, "Oh, that pick up isn’t the right size
to pull a van on a dolly."  Company policy or something.  Ellis was frosted.

So we ate supper at a nice restaurant and talked over the situation.
We decided to get on the road and head for Bismarck.
After dark since it was cooler the van ran.
At Bismarck there were no motels with vacancies either.
Ellis fueled up and headed east on the interstate and the van continued to run.
We stopped at a rest area to get a few winks of sleep then drove home as fast as we could
with a few more stops and starts. We pulled into Blooming Prairie and parked in front of our
local garage.  Ellis explained the trouble to the owner.

He listened, and said, "I think I know what’s wrong."
He made a minute adjustment all within five minutes or less 
and the thing ran with no trouble after that.  

If the man in Minot had listened for two minutes
and made the same adjustment . .  . 

how nice that would have been.

I suppose we needed to learn something - maybe patience - right about then.
One thing for sure - we like our home town best.


Monday, October 26, 2015

Washing Dishes

One of my friends knows someone who will not go to bed until all the dishes are washed.
My friend's friend says, "If I get sick and my husband calls the ambulance
the paramedics will see all the dirty dishes."

My friend dismisses this with, "I don't think the paramedics will look for me
in the kitchen sink."

The other night the dirty dishes were taking over the whole kitchen.
I woke up at 3:30 and couldn't fall back to sleep so I got up and started
washing dishes.

I kept thinking about two book characters who loved to wash dishes.
One was Sue Barton. She was never given the chore of washing dishes
in her childhood. She was only allowed to do dishes as a treat.

As an adult when washing dishes she noticed
rainbows in the soap bubbles,
   steaming hot water,
and sparkling glassware
gleaming in the dish rack.

The other girl was Victoria North, in the book, The Secret Language. 
When she washed dishes she always imagined a battle field after a war.
She was Clara Barton or Florence Nightingale come to the rescue.
She washed the poor battered soldiers (silverware) and put them to bed
in the hospital (drawer) in neat rows.

This reminded me of a report I wrote every year in grade school.
The subject was Clara Barton. I would pick the same book out of the library,
 read it and then come up with a report.

Nurses intrigued me and some day I was going to be one.
Then I discovered that I wasn't too excited about giving shots.  

My list of things to enjoy was more along this line:

Bandaging minor scratches on cute little pinkies
- giving kisses for ouchies
- warming up milk for bedtime treats
(with lots of  chocolate and sugar mixed in)
- chauffeuring family members to the clinic or hospital
when they developed ear infections or strep throat,
       pneumonia, appendicitis or cellulitis

Recently I pulled a couple books off my shelf at home . . .
Sue Barton, Student Nurse
Sue Barton, Rural Nurse

After I read them I wondered if Krysta could find more of the series
in our library system.  First she looked them up on Amazon and found
that we could spend a small fortune. Then she found them in the library system.
Some of them even came from the library in International Falls, MN.

Helen Dore Boylston was born in 1895.  She wrote this series of seven books
in the 30's and early 40's after serving as a nurse in World War I. She worked
for the Red Cross in Europe and also became friends with Rose Wilder Lane.

Sue Barton, Student Nurse
Sue Barton, Senior Nurse
Sue Barton, Visiting Nurse
Sue Barton, Rural Nurse
Sue Barton, Superintendent of Nurses
Sue Barton, Neighborhood Nurse
Sue Barton, Staff Nurse

And now I am so curious about that Clara Barton book
in the Williams High School Library
that I kept checking out year after year
because Helen Dore Boylston also wrote
Clara Barton, Founder of the American Red Cross

This series reminds me a little bit of the Anne of Green Gables books.
Sue and Anne are both red heads with tempers to match.
They each marry a doctor and both series continues on after they
get married instead of abruptly ending at the altar like some books.
There is humor and some drama and a great deal of mischief  that
threads through the set.

When I wash dishes it's fun to write blog posts in my mind
while I'm enjoying the rainbows, bubbles and sparkling plates and silverware.
That's how this one came to be.

"The best teacher is also a student." ~HyVee fortune cookie

Friday, October 2, 2015


Way back in August - or was it the end of July? -  Krysta and I walked into Wal Mart

and saw aisles of


I wanted to run away from that store, but we bravely went on and shopped for other things.

All the while I kept telling Krysta, "Don't look!  It isn't really time for school stuff yet."

And Krysta was saying, "But I want to go look at those folders! 
They have some really neat ones this year."

That same day I read a comment on facebook, written by my daughter-in-law,
all about how much she loves the "back to school" things that are showing up everywhere.

Maybe it's the feeling of time rushing by at the speed of light that gets me every year.

Because if it's time for school then before we know it MEA week will be here.
            And the fall craft sale . . .

    And then it will be Thanksgiving.

And Christmas . . .

      and just like that it will be the New Year!

Kind of like that story when the lady of the house calls up the stairs
to her maid on a Monday morning.

"Eliza Jane!  It's half past five! 
We don't have the wash started.
It's time to hang the clothes on the line.
If we don't hurry up soon it will be Tuesday
and the next day is Wednesday. 
   Half the week is gone
and we haven't done a thing!"

Now that school is started and we have one month done I am kind of enjoying it.
This year I am trying to see the colors all around me.
Yellow school buses
Red plaid skirt on a little girl . . .
She was walking backwards
reading a book out loud
to her little brother
who was dragging his back pack behind him.
Red and yellow leaves on the trees
Beautiful flowers everywhere
        . . . still blooming like crazy
Orange and cream colored kitties
A full moon and a lunar eclipse
Stars in the night sky
Puffy white clouds in a Blue sky
Green grass that keeps growing and growing
Goldfinches at the bird feeders
Old fashioned blue-green canning jars
Red tomatoes
Jars of salsa and red beet pickles
Pink applesauce

The list goes on and on . . .
and now it is time to say "Good night!"

Saturday, August 8, 2015

Thyme to Visit the Peace Gardens

International Peace Gardens
My family has visited the Peace Gardens a few times through the years. 
Here is Dad and Mom and my little sister, Maria.
This picture was taken in the early 70's.

One highlight of each visit is the Flower Clock.  The hands really move and tell correct time.
This summer Krysta and I drove to Lake Metigoshe State Park for Bible Camp. On the way
Krysta mentioned that she has never been to the Peace Gardens or if she has she was too little
to remember. I called Ellis with a list of things we had forgotten.  At the top of the list was our
passports.  Ellis had to work Friday and had to be home Monday morning.  He started out Friday afternoon and drove part way. Slept in Grand Forks and finished the trip on Saturday. He was able to be with us for 24 hours before he started home.  The rest of our family started for home early Monday morning.  Krysta and I ate breakfast, took down the tents, packed the little, white Ford Focus and started on our way for a mother/daughter outing. 

The Clock 2015
On the last evening of Bible Camp everyone gathers in the dining room to snack and chat.  I had just been talking to an old friend about Chicago Street meetings.  A little later another friend asked what we're doing the next day.  I said, "Krysta and I are going to Pacific Garden Missions."
As soon as the words left my mouth I knew I had been thinking one thing and said something totally different.   
I am so glad this happens to other people too.  I am not the only one.  Maybe it was the extreme heat that caused fuzzy thinking.  Monday morning another friend mentioned that she had drawn a complete blank in an earlier conversation and couldn't remember the country where her adopted children were from.  None of this is caused by aging, right?

Most definitely not!
If you are ever looking for a family outing let me recommend the North Dakota Bible Camp in the Turtle Mountains at Lake Metigoshe State Park.  Monday morning is the perfect time to drive to the Peace Gardens and wander along the paths of the gardens bordering Canada and North Dakota. Visit the Peace Chapel, listen to the bells in the Bell Tower, bring a picnic lunch to enjoy in the shade after walking in the sun.

Wednesday, August 5, 2015

Logging with Dad

Can you hear that chain saw? 
  Smell the spruce trees?
      Sometimes we packed a picnic lunch
      and spent the whole day in the woods
       helping Dad. 


Mom must be the photographer
on this outing because there is not
one picture of her.
      (this was long before the days of selfies)


There's a small scale model of this on
a shelf above Dad's desk.

In December 2013 I wrote about visiting the book mobile and checking out a book named
      ~ The Taste of Spruce Gum   
                   by Jacqueline Jackson

When I look at these pictures I think about that story.  A day to remember . . .

What an unwieldy beast this computer is! I attempted to move some pictures and edit some words and add a line or two.  Then things went all askew  and refused to cooperate.  That's why there are large empty spaces with no words.  This is an experiment to see if I can fill in the blanks.



Dad and his four daughters....

It didn't work.   =/

Thursday, July 9, 2015

We Saw a Bear on Highway 65

It sounds like I've been reading too many Sugar Creek Gang books. 
         Maybe I can ramble on for a few pages in Paul Hutchens style. 

Mom, Krysta and I were driving south on hwy 65 on a bright Monday morning. 
Lupines and Indian Paintbrush were growing at the edge of the road.  Cattails in the
ditches looked like lightly roasted marshmallows on a stick.  The flower beds in the yards
we passed were breathtaking.  Our road wound around through forests of pine trees. 
Now and then fields opened up on either side.  We had just come to more trees when we
saw a black bear sprint out of the woods and bound across the road ahead of us.  By the time
we got to the spot there was no sign of the bear, not even a bush swishing back into place.

We had just been to Janine's house for coffee and muffins and warm conversation
with Ladina and Trenda and Mandy joining us.  Stories of days gone by came up when
Ladina, Trenda, Maria and I were little girls.  Hans, our younger brother, wasn't here yet
to share our escapades.

We talked about the trip by boat to the Angle.  The boat was a ferry and had a
gigantic steering wheel.   I remember the pilot let us steer.  Summer vacations
at the Angle reminded me of stories of bears at the dump.  We were told that bears
came to the dump.  If you sat very quietly in your car at dusk you could watch them
digging for food. 

It never worked for us. 

Summer after summer went by and we never saw any bears. 
After the road to the Angle was finished we drove in our car. 
There was always the excitement of crossing the Canadian border
and listening to Dad answer the questions the border patrol asked.

"Where are you going?" 

"How long were you at the Angle?"

One evening the man leaned in the window
          and looked in the back seat
                at all of us girls sitting in a row. 

"Did you see any bears?" he asked in a gruff voice.
We shook our heads, too petrified to say a word.

As Dad drove away we breathed sighs of relief and asked him,
"What would've he done to us if we had seen some bears?"
Dad chuckled and told us not to worry.  The man at the border
was just brightening up a boring, mundane day at his job.
                                  ~ ~ ~ ~ ~ ~ ~ ~ ~ ~ ~ ~ ~
Today, July 9th, 2015 would have been my Dad's 76th birthday.
Mom is visiting Dad's siblings in Idaho.  I'm sure they are sitting around the table
drinking coffee and sharing lots of memories.

Krysta and I tried to come up with something different for Father's Day this year. 
We ordered flowers out of a catalog for our shade gardens. 
I found some new flowers - Bear's Breeches.  We ordered them for Mom to plant
in her garden close to the Dutchman's Britches that come up each spring.

We chose thornless blackberry plants for Ellis. 
They will need a spot in the sun and one of these days we'll be baking blackberry pies.

Each day is filled to the brim with new adventures.
Those adventures turn into stories to one day be shared around a kitchen table
with family and friends.

Monday, July 6, 2015

Curious George and The Man in the Yellow Hat

Friends of the Library getting ready for the 4th of July Parade

After the parade Curious George is tired!
                                               Clifford, the little red dog, is taking a nap.

Tuesday, June 16, 2015

The Five Little Peppers

Deanne is interviewing Ellis and me and asking each of us questions about our
                                             "growing up years."
One ? she threw at me is: What is your earliest memory of your mom?

When I go back back back  back to earliest memories  sometimes it's hard to know if this is
my memory? or is it my memory of stories told to me when I was little?

One thing that is my memory without a doubt is this:

Mom read to us
She probably ended up reading until she was blue in the face
and completely sick of the books.
We knew those stories by heart
(and still quote some of them.)

When we were old enough to read Mom let us read.
She let us read in our spare time.
When we had chores to do she let us think of innovative ways to keep on reading.

  -- like the days we mowed lawn
Four girls in the family
 two push mowers
Two girls outlined the patches of lawn to be mowed.
The other two could amuse themselves while waiting their turn to mow.
  play on the swing set
  play with dolls
  fix a cold pitcher of Kool-Aid for everyone.

We decided how many rounds we would take per person.
If it was extremely warm we took two rounds pushing the mower.
Then we'd drop in the shade and read like crazy until it was time to start
around the square again. As the patch got smaller and smaller we
could go around more times before we stopped to rest.

When it was time to do dishes we had some sort of schedule taking turns.
When it was my turn to dry dishes I propped my book up and read at the same time
as I dried dishes.
(It didn't work to read and wash dishes at the same time I found out.)

Mom took us to the Book Mobile in the summer.
We shared our books with her from the school library during the school year.

This is a long circular motion to get around to my earliest memory of Mom
and a little church library and two or three little girls begging every chance we got for
another visit there after church so we could check out our favorite books
                 - especially one beautifully illustrated edition of -
                     The Five Little Peppers.

Wednesday, May 27, 2015

Hard Shell Tacos

Don't shop for groceries when you're hungry.  How often I've heard this little piece of advice.
Sometimes shopping and hunger happens at the same time in spite of good intentions. 

One day I dashed into Aldi for supplies -- hungry as a bear.  Near the door boxes of hard shell
tacos were stacked.  The picture on the box showed grated cheese, lettuce, tomatoes, browned hamburger, tacos and the words *Taco Bell*.  Everything I needed to start some memories rolling.

The first time I ever tasted tacos was January 1974.  Our family traveled from British Columbia, Canada south through Washington to Portland, Oregon to visit friends.  I remember the novelty of the middle of winter and no snow!  Weather that was damp and chilly with clouds and rain . . .

This weather was unheard of for Minnesota girls from a small town west of International Falls, MN, the coldest spot in the lower forty-eight.  It didn't seem like January to us -- no winter coats or boots, scarves or mittens.  We traipsed about with light spring jackets over our shoulders and high top tennis shoes on our feet.

Our friends took us to sea world and a wax museum and to the coast where water stretched toward the edge of the sky.  There were lots of rocky cliffs and waves splashed into the rocks spraying salt water all over the place.

One of the delicious meals we were served was tacos.  I can still remember watching the process of spooning the meat into the taco then loading it with lettuce and cheese. Maybe there were tomatoes and onions to sprinkle on top.  I don't remember for sure. And then trying to eat all of that crunchy goodness without everything falling to pieces . . .
                                Like they say in How to Talk Minnesotan, by Howard Mohr          
                                 "This taco is really good but it's dripping down my arm!"

That evening while I browned hamburger and grated cheese I told Krysta stories of my first visit to Oregon and my first taste of tacos. 

*Add salsa to the mix and make tacos even more scrumptious and messy.

Thursday, April 9, 2015

Caddie Woodlawn

We have a family tradition.

Every time we travel home from a funeral in WI we stop at Caddie Woodlawn's home place.
We started this 20+ years ago after Grandpa Ben's funeral. Somewhere we have a picture of
Jeremy, Evan, Deanne and Jorgan posing beside a wooden fence and soon - very soon - I will
scan it into this computer and show you what they looked like so long ago.

The next time we stopped was after Grandma Christina's funeral. We posed everyone for more
pictures. We were going to get school pictures to give away. They are in an envelope in a box
packed away with my good intentions.

This past Tuesday Mom and I headed west on Hwy 29. In Menominee we turned south on
Hwy 25. I kept watching for a brown historical marker that would tell me where to turn. This
busy road with trucks and cars speeding along is very different than the road that went past
Caddie's house all those years ago.

The little white house shaded by the surrounding trees has seen many changes since 1864.
You can read all about her and her family in the books, Caddie Woodlawn and Magical Melons,
written by Carol Ryrie Brink

One of these days I will pack a lunch and drive to WI on a warm summer day. I hope I can hike
to Chimney Bluffs and explore there. So far every time we've stopped we had some reason
we had to hurry away.

This time was no different. We were on the way home after yet another funeral. We are at a stage
in life when our family reunions are not planned but hastily thrown together because someone we love has gone on to a Heavenly home. This time my mother's brother went on ahead of us.
I can picture Ray visiting with his dad, my Grandpa Jason.

And as so often happens, when one goes on ahead, God gives us another family member.
My niece and her husband welcomed a little boy named Jason Emerson to their home.
He was born on Monday morning . . . 
The same day as Ray's funeral.

We have seen pictures of Jase and his delighted brothers, Jensen and Julian.
Maybe some day they will be racing up and down the trails at Caddie Woodlawn's park.

Friday, April 3, 2015

February ~ 1978 Maranatha Bible School

"What were you doing when you turned 17?"

Krysta asked me this on the morning of her 17th birthday.

My memories had to back up -------------------------------

   Krysta was amazed when I told her I was at Maranatha

Bible School.  Yes, they let 16 year olds go to Maranatha way back

in the long ago days.  Now students are asked  to stay home an extra

year and grow up a bit more before attending for the first time.

Just a teensy tiny history lesson here -- 

The grade school in Lansing MN was leased in the summer/fall of 1977.

There were a lot of renovations made and plans went forward to start

Maranatha Bible School. 

There were two three week terms in the winter of 1978.

I still remember visiting Deanne at Maranatha one evening in 2008

for an end of the term dorm party. I did some math in my head.

 I was wildly startled to figure out she was in Bible School

thirty years after I was there.

So many things change -- so many things stay the same.

Same dorm parties

Same skits with a few new ones added

Same laughter

Mothers and daughters stretching and growing and learning together.

Tuesday, March 17, 2015

Man's Cookies

When one wants to bake cookies it's a good idea to have flour on hand.
I grabbed the bowl and opened the door in the island where the glass canisters
are kept. For my recipe I needed two cups flour and two cups oatmeal.
I could see there was not enough for two cups flour. There was lots of oatmeal.
I had whole wheat flour and coconut flour. I could have experimented but
fortunately I didn't have to this time.

Before panic set in a happy memory came to me. At Chelsea's bridal shower we
exchanged recipes. One was for cookies made out of a cake mix. Thankfully I had
a cake mix. After that it was easy.

Dump the cake mix in a bowl.
Add two eggs
Add  1/2 cup oil
Mix together
Add 1/2 bag of chocolate chips
Drop by spoon on a pan
Bake at 325* for 10 -12 minutes.

When I make these again I might try a stick of butter instead of oil.
It would have to be softened of course. And vanilla. I forgot to splash vanilla in the
cookie dough.  They were quite delectable even with this major forgetfulness!

Here is the famous recipe for Man's Cookies that I was trying to make.
1 cup white sugar
1 cup brown sugar        
Cut in:
1/2 cup margarine or butter
2 eggs
2 tsp. vanilla

Dry ingredients:
2 cups flour
2 cups oatmeal
1 tsp. salt
1 tsp. soda
1 tsp. baking powder
Mix all together with a big spoon.
Add one 12 oz. pkg. chocolate chips
Add one or two tablespoons water if it seems too dry.

(I cut the margarine in half for this recipe.
The original recipe calls for a cup of shortening or margarine.)

Drop by spoon on cookie pan. Bake at 350 for 8 - 10 min. Do not over bake.
We take them out when they are still gooey looking and let them finish baking on the pan.

This is the very first cookie recipe I ever made. When I was about ten or eleven a young
couple at our church had a little baby. I helped as a mother's helper and learned how to make
these cookies.  They have been a family favorite ever since.

Monday, March 9, 2015

Camel Train

When you are invited to a wedding in Sparta then its a good idea to look up directions
for the place in the town of Sparta instead of say - Tomah -   a neighboring town.  That
saves a bit of trouble when you actually get to Sparta and start looking for the wedding.

The night before we carefully looked up the directions online and very carefully wrote
them down on a piece of paper. Then I stuck the directions in my purse with the invitation
and made sure my purse was in the car when we started off.  But something went wrong -
very wrong.

The directions looked like someone had dyslexia - hwy 21 turned to 12. 
Streets turned to avenues. Nothing added up and nothing matched.
But my husband is one of those rare men who will stop and ask directions. 
I know!  He is a keeper!

So we made it to the wedding with five minutes to spare.
What a sigh of relief to find out there was a relaxed atmosphere inside.
We walked in and saw the groom's dad and uncle and brother standing there talking.
They welcomed us in and said find a seat and we did.

Chatted with grandmother of the groom and more cousins. After awhile the groom escorted
his grandmother to her seat and the wedding began. There was a darling flower girl tossing
petals down the aisle and the cute ring bearer did his best to keep up.

Bridesmaids and groomsmen

Bride with her parents

The minister broke the ice by declaring he never gets in on any of the pictures so he's
solving that by taking a *selfie* on his tablet right then and there with the bride and groom.

Then he went ahead and preached a sermon that spoke to us all. 
And the groom said his vows
        and the bride said her vows.
They exchanged rings
          and kissed
 and were introduced
    to the audience.

There was a feeling of deja vu. The girls who sang at our wedding were there. 
(Two of them weren't able to be at this wedding) The trio sang this song which has
become a favorite of mine ever since I first heard it at my sister's wedding. 
My aunt and uncle sang it at Dad and Mom's 50th wedding anniversary as well.

’Twas a day in early springtime,
By an ancient wayside well,
Eliezer paused to rest his camel train.
He had found a bride for Isaac
Ere the evening shadows fell,
For his weary journey had not been in vain.

 Oh, get ready! Evening shadows fall.
Don’t you hear the Eliezer call?
There’s going to be a wedding,
And our joy will soon begin,
In the evening when the camel train comes in.
So he took the fair Rebekah,
Dressed in jewels rich and rare,
Quickly to her waiting bridegroom far away.
Where Rebekah loved her Isaac,
And he loved Rebekah fair;
Oh, it must have been a happy wedding day.
Now the blessed Holy Spirit,
From our Father God above,
Has come down to earth to find a worthy Bride.
For our Isaac over yonder
Has prepared His tents of love,
And He wants His fair Rebekah by His side.
We have left our kinfolk gladly;
We have bade the world goodbye.
We’ve been called to be His pure and spotless Bride;
Where we’ll soon behold our Jesus
In that blest eternity—
What a happy, happy wedding that will be!

- Hansel P. Vibbert
      - from Genesis 24

Thursday, February 26, 2015

Visit a Library

Ellis is out of town this week.  That's why Krysta and I are at home
"doing all the fun stuff, like put wood in the basement, fold laundry
and eat pizza." 
(A quote from Krysta's letter to Dea and Jorgan.)

. . . and a visit to a library that is celebrating its 115th anniversary
Krysta had a friend over Sunday afternoon. We had a quick lunch of :

                                      Banana Splits
ice cream
sliced bananas
peanut butter
home made granola
chocolate topping

To make your own topping put 1cup sugar in a small pan.
Add 1-3 T. cocoa, depends on your taste
Add 1/4 cup milk
 1 T. butter
Melt over low heat, stir with a wire whisk.
Bring to a boil. Remove from heat and pour into a small pitcher.
Make sure the pitcher is made to withstand hot temperatures.
I do not want to be responsible for breaking your great - great
grandmother's creamer for her china set.
Pour over the ice cream.


Pour one container of old fashioned oats into a large roaster.
(or minute oats if that suits your taste better)
about 12 -15 cups
2 cups brown sugar
1 T. salt
1 cup coconut
Stir all together
In a small pan heat gently
1 cup oil
1 cup water
a splash of vanilla

If you want to use honey cut back on the brown sugar and add honey to the liquids.
Pour over the oatmeal. Stir very well. Toast in the oven 1 and  1/2 hours. Set the timer
to remind you to stir every half hour.
Options: You can add sun flower seeds, wheat germ, any other healthy goodies your
family enjoys.

After inhaling this delightful, delicious, nutritious lunch we scurried to the car and hit
the interstate. We were aiming to get there in time for the tour but we were running late.

"Are you here for the open house?" a young girl asked  us at the door. She told us on which
floor to find the cookies and coffee.  Cookies?!  We didn't know there would be cookies!

We found the tour group and got in on the tail end of it. Our friend who conducted the tour
took some of us late stragglers back to the top floor and showed us the attics.  In one attic
wooden rails are stored that used to be set up in front of the shelves of books to keep the
common people from reaching and choosing their own books.

They had to request them and the librarian got them off the shelves.


There is a big room where people gathered to hear recitals. The grand piano that used to be
there was donated to some place else.  We saw the door and the metal fire escape and tried
to imagine the piano being lowered down those steep steps!  a few strong, brave men would
have been needed to accomplish that task.

An older gentleman gave away thin, wooden bookmarkers. He asked our names and printed
each one on our own personal bookmarker with beautiful hand writing and special colors of
 ink to contrast with the finish on the wood. Krysta's name was printed with a silvery, gray ink.

The room where the cookies were served had a fire place with stuffed chairs pulled up in a
cozy half circle.  A high bench was built under the windows. Climb up on a sturdy chair,
plug in your lap top and look out the window at the scenery below. The atmosphere just begged you to pick out a book and sit down and read. 

But we had places to go and things to do so we left that beautiful building. 
If you are ever in Owatonna MN stop at the library.  I recommend it to you.

Tuesday, February 24, 2015


When you make pizza with cauliflower in the crust (recipe from THM)
 be sure to line the pan with the right kind of paper especially made for ovens . . .   

Not freezer paper . . .

Last night, Krysta and I were very hungry! I threw that pizza together as fast as possible.
When it was baking I started noticing a funny smell.  Like wax melting?   maybe?

I checked the furnace in the basement.  Nothing out of the ordinary.
Back upstairs I looked in the oven and noticed the lining was wider than the pan.
That should have stopped me when I put the paper in the pan, but being in such a hurry
scrambled my brain, I guess.  

Then I thought maybe the paper was burning. So I trimmed the edges.
Finally, when the pizza was done and we were loading up our plates we discovered
a strange thing. The lining was glued to the crust.

We had upside-down-pizza. We couldn't even be sure we got all the paper off.
We discovered chewing on freezer paper is not good!

Tuesday, January 20, 2015

Dawn and the Colored Pencils

Christmas is a colorful time with many activities to fill the days. Dawn got her
colored pencils out to make some pretty cards and to write her Christmas letter.
But all those plans fell through the cracks because she was very busy getting ready
for her children to come home to visit. This caused a lot of excitement and much
hurrying and scurrying about. When a family is all together much food is consumed.
In fact, you could say it disappears at an alarming rate.

One day Dawn decided to bake a cake. First she drew a kitchen with a wooden table
in the center of the room. Then she drew a white stove and a white refrigerator beside it.
She drew a sink and cupboards and a counter. The cupboards had a warm honey gold finish.
The first thing she drew on the counter was a coffee maker. Dawn measured coffee and cold
water and started to brew a pot of very strong coffee. Then she drew a cookbook with a tan
cover opened to the cake section. Dawn drew a white mixer with beaters and a big red bowl.
She drew a blue canister set and clear glass measuring cups and yellow measuring spoons.
She measured sugar into the bowl, then butter. Using the mixer she had drawn she creamed
the sugar and butter together. Dawn drew two brown eggs and carefully broke them into the
bowl. She drew the vanilla bottle out of the cupboard and poured some into the mixture.
She measured milk into a cup then added a splash of vinegar to the milk and stirred it in.


A green bowl was drawn out of the cupboard. Into this the dry ingredients,
flour, cocoa, soda and salt, were measured. Dawn drew a big spoon and stirred the
powdery mixture. She poured the dry ingredients into the bowl of sugar, eggs, milk and

vanilla. Next Dawn drew a cup of very hot coffee and poured that in the bowl, too.
Then she held on to the mixer with one hand and a red scraper (spatula) with the other
and beat the cake batter until it was completely mixed. She drew a cake pan and greased
the bottom and sides of the pan. After that she poured the batter into the pan. She drew
the open oven door and the pan sitting in the oven. The door was closed so the cake
could begin to bake.


Dawn poured coffee into an orange mug then drew hot sudsy water in the sink.
She enjoyed drinking her cup of coffee while she washed the dishes and placed them
in the cream colored dish drainer she had drawn. By the time she was done washing dishes
there was a lovely smell of chocolate cake in the air. She drew a chair beside the table and

sat down to enjoy a game of Boggle with her girls
. . . and drink another cup of very good coffee.


The whole family was invited to the home of some friends for dinner on New Year’s Day.
Dawn made her favorite chocolate frosting, frosted the cake and took it along to share. The
evening was a special time of visiting and playing games and, of course, eating delicious food.


At last it was time to go home. By this time Dawn was very tired. She looked at all the
lights in all of the houses they passed. So many houses in the country. She wondered which
one was hers. Then she remembered seeing the moon set in the western sky through her bed
room window. She drew the silvery moon in the western sky. She drew a window around the
moon. Then she drew her bed with the blue blanket. Dawn climbed into bed, dropped her
colored pencils on the red rug beside her bed and fell fast asleep.

A parody (3rd definition in Encarta, by Dawn) of Harold and the Purple Crayon by Crockett Johnson
I would like to give credit to my friend, for introducing me to the book,
Harold and the Purple Crayon. In all the years of growing up I had never
heard of it until recently. Well, kind of recently. Within the last ten years.

And I didn't learn about parodies at my school either. Or - if I did - I forgot.