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!

Friday, April 10, 2020

Oh Henry Bars

 Here is an old recipe you can put together in a very short time and it feeds a crowd. It's easy to throw together Sunday afternoon when you've forgotten you're supposed to take finger food for snacks after singing at the nursing home.

4 cups oatmeal  I always use old fashioned oats. Your choice, of course, if you'd rather use minute oatmeal.
1/2 cup brown sugar
1 cup butter

Don't melt the butter, just cut it into the oats and sugar with a pastry cutter or your fingers. Press into a greased jelly roll pan and bake at 350° for 10 minutes.

Melt 1 cup chocolate chips and one cup peanut butter: either in a double boiler over hot water or in a glass microwave bowl, stir mixture as it melts. Spread over the crust and cut into bars when everything is cooled.

I usually use more chocolate chips. One cup is pretty skimpy to cover that gigantic pan of oatmeal.

I'm sorry to say I don't know who gave us this recipe.  I remember making it at home before I got married so that's many long years ago. Ellis and I will celebrate 40 years of married life in September.

Thursday, April 9, 2020

Lentils and Rice

Everyone is making food these days. I found a couple of old favorites in my family recipes to share...

Herbed Lentils and Rice

2 2/3 cups chicken broth
3/4 cup lentils
3/4 cup chopped onions
1/2 cup rice
1/2 tsp. basil
1/4th tsp. each salt, thyme, oregano, pepper
1/8 tsp. garlic powder
grated cheese, Swiss or Cheddar
Combine all but half the cheese. Pour into 1 1/2 quart greased casserole dish. Bake, covered, 1 1/2 - 2 hours @ 350°. Uncover and sprinkle the rest of the cheese on top. Bake  2 - 3 minutes until melted.

If you have never tasted lentils and have always turned up your pretty little nose at the thought of them - this is the recipe to try.
I used to double this recipe to fit in a 9"x13" pan and everyone in our family loved it - even the people who love beef best.

The story behind this recipe goes back to the mid 80's. My sister, Trenda, was newly married and lived near Albert Lea, MN. She was invited to a gathering for new gals in town, an opportunity to make new friends where you don't know anyone. (Maybe it was a Bible Study) Each one introduced themselves. Trenda thought Beth Kramer looked familiar but couldn't remember where she might have met her before. Later, Beth asked, "What is your maiden name, Trenda?" And the rest is history. Trenda's maiden name is Skrivseth. Beth's maiden name is Olson.  Our two families went to the same school in Williams MN. Beth has a younger sister, Jeanette, who was in Trenda's grade at school. Her sister, Diane, was in my grade.
Our Moms, Leona and Audrey, are friends and we used to have Sunday lunches together occasionally before we moved to southern MN.
Beth invited me over for lunch one day and served this casserole and shared the recipe.

Thank you, Beth. This recipe is delicious!