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2018…It Was (not) a Very Good Year…


A lot of good things happened in the past year…

I painted the inside of my home, all by myself, and I also finished the inside of my tiny, tiny building out back, not by myself at all, creating a crafting Studio.

I turned 70 years old.  How the heck did that happen?!

My friends treated me to two birthday celebrations, one planned, and one a huge surprise!

My Australians visited!  One of them twice!

I made four trips to Wisconsin, one of which celebrated my dad’s 94th birthday.  Go Dad!

I am healthy, mobile, and busy.

I have my faith, family, and friends.  I’ve had really happy, grateful days.

And then,

My brother, Reed, lost his life after a four year battle, and I do mean battle, with prostate cancer.  He lived right up to the last bit, and set a pretty high bar for courage.

My step-dad suffered a health crisis that lasted four months, and involved daily hospital visits, rehab, two assisted living moves, and more. 

And then, my baby sister, Paige, unexpectedly died of heart failure in early December.  She was the kindest, most hopeful, loving, caring, generous-spirited, sweetest, funniest soul anyone ever received the graces to meet and to have in her/his life.

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And that is why I didn’t do Christmas cards this year.

God gives us only what we can handle, they say.  I handled it.  I’m full up, though.  From my mouth to God’s ears.   

And so, Amen.


Making Lefse


For those of you who do not know what Lefse (lef-suh) is, let me educate you…it’s basically a Norwegian tortilla, but that’s really blasphemy.  I’m not Norwegian by blood, but by love, so when I visit my family in Wisconsin, I get the full-on Norwegian heritage experience.  I love that about my life.


There are several variations of a Lefse recipe.  Me:  What’s in this?  Just potatoes and flour?  The women:  Yes.  Later…

One of the women:  I like the Lefse made with cream.  Me:  It has cream?  Along with potato and flour?  Them:  Yes.    Still later…

One of the women:  It tastes better when we make it with butter, too.  Me:  Butter?  And cream, potatoes, and flour?  Them:  Yes.  And then I found out…all of the recipes consist of potato (real mashed, powdered, or flakes), flour, a shortening of some sort (lard, butter, Crisco-type), a liquid (cream, milk, or water), and salt.  A smidge of sugar is optional.  I guess I just needed to read a recipe.

The potatoes are made the day before.   They sit in the refrigerator to cool for at least 24 hours.  The dough is mixed by hand, adding flour to make it the correct consistency, and it is rolled really, really, really thinly on a round cloth, covered Bethany board.  A special thinly-ridged rolling pin is used, and that is covered with a sock thingie.  Then long flat sticks, sometimes decorated on one end, are used to lift the circle of Lefse, which is brought to the hot, Heritage Griddle, carefully laid across, and then cooked until it bubbles on one side, is flipped, and cooked briefly on the other.  The flat is lifted off with the Lefse turner, and laid on a cloth.  Many circles of Lefse are piled up, and later, when properly cooled, the Lefse are folded in fourths, and packed in baggies.


Lefse is a tradition.  Like Krumkake, around here, Lefse is a taste of the past.  People eat it with butter and sugar, or jam, or just plain.  Saturday, I went to the church with my sister to make Lefse.  There were eight of us…one mixer, four rollers, and three turners.  I, as a rookie, was assigned to be a turner


People will come to special church sales just to buy the Lefse.  And women in churches all over the northern midwest are gathering to make the Lefse to sell.  Some have a personal business, selling Lefse for at least $4-$6 a folded over piece.  It is a big money-maker for the churches, and a bargain for the buyers who get a baggie of 9 pieces for $15.  All aspects of the experience are bonding events for the Lefse-making women and the Lefse-buying folks.

America is a melting pot.  We are people from all the lands on earth.  We embrace our past, share our traditions, and look to a better future for all our humans.  It’s a better world with Lefse making women, or any other food-making tradition that’s practiced.  My take-away lesson?  It’s all about teamwork.  If only we could have an overflow of this practice in the real life world-at-large.


Civil Rights are for Everyone


“They sat so we could stand up,” reads the motto on a t-shirt in the window of the International Civil Rights Museum I recently visited  in neighboring Greensboro, North Carolina.  My Australians were in town, and they asked to go.  It was a sobering experience, even though I’d been to the museum before.


On February 1, 1960, four young college students went to the lunch counter at the local Woolworth Dime Store.  Because of the Jim Crow laws, and because they were Negro, these young men could order at the counter, but they had to take away their food.  They could not sit and eat at the counter with white people.  And by the way, there were many other restrictions on their freedom besides that one, based only on the color of their skin.

They were not served that day, nor were they and the other young people of color who went each day from February 1 to mid-July, to sit and wait to order and be served, from opening to closing… every single day.  Persistence, politeness, and peacefulness finally broke the system.  Four employees (of color) were asked to sit, and they were served, ate their food, and integrated the lunch counter.  Part of that counter is displayed in the Smithsonian Museum in Washington, D. C.  The rest, there in Greensboro, is the original.

Our past is our past and our history is our history.  We have moments of pride and moments of shame.  It is the human condition, individual and collective, across time and nation.  Being in the museum, that original Woolworth’s store, in the cafe, and knowing that four brave guys took a chance to peacefully change a wrong practice for the right one made gave me goosebumps.

Civil Rights are not just about race.  They are about equality for all humankind.  You don’t need me to list all the groups for which this need for equality applies.   I’m pretty sure I’m not as courageous as the Greensboro Four, and I’m grateful they were.

How we Hurricane


First, Hurricane Florence is not funny.  There are a lot of people who are suffering.  The storm has literally crawled across the Carolinas at a pace slower than one walks.  It has been seven days in the news before she even stepped a toe into the Piedmont area, in the form of light showers and winds.  Our coastal brothers and sisters have flood waters to contend with and no power.  Yes, we had plenty of time to prepare.  Yes, we waited and waited.  And yes,  here in the Piedmont, we’ve had way fewer effects than anticipated, praise God.  Still, rain continues to fall.  Rivers continue to rise.  Branches and trees continue to topple.

Saturday morning came, and with it the steady rain.  Cancellations abound, and many of us hunkered in.   Sue-on-the-corner sent out a text inviting us to gather at her home for Trivial Pursuit, Baby Boomer edition, sans board.  Just as we did when she invited us all for a Snow Day Film Fest a few winters ago, we  gleaned our cupboards and fridges of crackers, cheese, snacks, and the obligatory wine.  Two times a charm, Sue is now our official “Inclement Weather Hostess.” 

We thought the Baby Boomer version of Trivial Pursuit would be a piece of cake for four of us.  Our fifth player had no chance in hell, anyway.  She is a Julia Roberts lookalike, the lovely, Dr. Loli, here from Argentina to do a fellowship at Wake Forest Baptist Medical Center.  She stays with Sue-on-the-corner (not to be confused with Sue-‘round-the-corner.)  Loli not only is not anywhere near a Baby Boomer,  she has a cultural disadvantage, but we were to discover that we all were disadvantaged when it came to Robin, the actress, who knew every song, entertainment, and news question.

Since we had no board, we made up our own rules, and after a few rounds, we saw ourselves being trounced by Robin, who finally ended up answering all the questions, anyway.  We then turned to good old conversation, solved the problems of the world, and compared American life, death, and television with that of Argentina.  Snacks gone, wine drunk, daylight ebbing, we rugged up in our foul weather gear, and headed for home. 

And that’s how we hurricane here in our little neighborhood. 


Guess which one is our Baby Boomer Trivial Pursuit Champion.

Photo, courtesy of the Lovely Loli.



Hunkering Down for a Hurricane



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Well, this is a new one for me.  I’ve written about snow storms in the South, but so far, hurricanes have been for those other people on the coast.  Apparently, not this time.  We are expecting Hurricane Florence to hit sometime after the next forty-eight hours, and she is supposed to be a doozy, heading straight inland with 80 mph winds.  (I’m bordering the bright orange to orange colored areas.)

I wasn’t especially concerned until my sister in Greensboro texted me.  Here is what she said, paraphrased, “You better get yourself ready, and those fur babies of yours, too.  Get gas so you can escape.  Have their carriers ready.  Make sure you have light, and fill a cooler with ice.  Also have cash, and food.  Fill your bathtub with water.”  Okay, so some of that could have sounded more urgent in my own mind, and some could’ve come from my brother, as well, and oh, the TV.

So I had to ask…escape?  Escape where?  What’s the cash for?  What’s the gas for?  What do I put in the cooler, for heaven’s sake?  And the bathtub of water?  Won’t be drinkin’ that.  A wine stock-up, I can see, but that wasn’t on the warning/preparatory list.

The tub water is for flushing.  Oh, yeah.  Good plan.  The gas and cash are in case a tree takes out my roof, and I have to take the “kids” and stay in a motel.  Food,  also, a good plan, and ice cream won’t hold.  The ice and cooler’s for wine, I guess, though I’m good with room temperature.  So maybe it’s for milk and hard-boiled eggs.

Now I’m getting sort of nervous, and then my neighbor tells me when Hugo struck back in the day, she was without power for six (6!) days.  So I’ve gathered up all my yard art and bird feeders to save them from blowing all over the yard.  I’ve turned my deck furniture on its sides, and yes, I got gas, cash, and will fill the tub tomorrow.  Hoo-boy.

I just hope all this is for naught.  Meanwhile, I may just be making a wine run, as well.



It’s back to school time.  And though it’s just first weeks, I found myself subbing and surrounded by young people.  That led me to thinking…

It is amazing how the human body is designed.  This first came to my awareness when I broke my dominant right wrist back in 2011, in the depths of my brokenness.  Yes, pun intended.  Wouldn’t you know that I had to actually, really break something, to get my attention.

Anyway…I had an elbow cast which locked my arm at a right angle.  I couldn’t do much of anything with my right hand…couldn’t brush my teeth, fasten my bra, and even more personal self-care tasks.

All that made me think at the time of the miracle of engineering, by which we were put together.  It’s a God thing.  And it all came to mind when I thought about knees, this past week, as I watched kids rapidly run up and down three flights of stairs.

I was subbing for the Middle School, and I had stair duty.  The upper school really is upstairs.  At dismissal, the kids leave by the stairwell, and my spot was the mid-tier.  Hoo-boy.  You should see the way those kids go downstairs!  Those feet and knees move at super speed!  I used to go downstairs that way.  I remember.

Nowadays, I often go down the steps one at a time with the same foot.  Mostly, it’s slow, sometimes I go right left, but I always hold a rail.  I have a fear of pitching forward.  It’s all in the knees.  And the quads.  I’m fairly light.  I’m fairly agile.  But…hello, 70.  Body parts just wear out.  Knees and legs don’t lift the body, or let the body down, as it were, like they used to.  Falling is a reality.

It’s good to notice what used to be, and appreciate a good working body that is now.  The kids next door and my nieces and nephews remind me of agility and the spontaneity of life.  As for me,  I just want to be able to move, yes literally move through the rest of  my life.  Oh, welcome back to school!



Wait in the Waiting Room


“Wait” is my year word for 2018.  Who knew I would need such a word on which to rely?  Well, I guess we all know who knew.  But it wasn’t me, at the time it came to me.

I, along with my sister, have spent the entire month of August in waiting rooms at Wake Forest Baptist Medical Center, right here in Winston-Salem.  Baptist is a teaching hospital, and according to the standing adverts in several now familiar waiting rooms, rated the “best in the state” and “one of the top in the nation” in neurology, according to U.S. News & World Report.  That rating has been a source of consolation, but I am going to tell you, the waiting rooms would not receive such accolades.

There are waiting rooms, and then there are waiting rooms.  I never knew there were so many kinds of waiting rooms.  There is one for everything…for the CT scans, for the blood draws, for the EKGs, for the families while their loved ones are in surgery, for the doctors’ appointments, and for admissions and for discharges.  There are waiting areas, not to be confused with actual rooms,  for the transport vans to arrive and drop.  I think there are waiting rooms for the waiting rooms.

My step-dad is enduring a medical crisis, and Baby Sister and I are his “go-to” people.  We’ve developed a criteria for a good waiting room, and here is it, in no particular order:

Good magazines.  Up-to date, but Field & Stream doesn’t cut it.

Snacks.  Close by, not three floors down, and seven corridors to the left and right.

Comfortable seating.  Preferably a recliner or two.  Definitely a sofa or two.

Available blankets and pillows.  We would greatly appreciate the warmed up kind, please.  Those places are like a butcher’s freezer.

Attractive wall art.  I guess cows are acceptable.

T.V. with working remotes.   NOT tuned and locked in to Fox News, for Lord’s sake.  A loop of all seasons of Big Bang Theory might be nice.

And frankly, a complimentary cocktail bar would be a real perk, but I’m guessing that is just crazy dreaming.

Our Five Star ratings go to the Neurology Waiting Room, 4th floor, Janeway Tower and the Family Waiting Room of Surgical Services.  They both have huge windows overlooking the city to the west and the helicopter pad.  We can see the comings and goings of the emergency chopper, the weather, and  feel like life still moves forward.

I have to say that Family waiting at the Neuro ICU, Ardmore 5th floor, is pretty good, too. Maybe four stars.   There’s a little kitchen with microwave and fridge.  One family we talked to had set up a nice little camp at one end of the lounge.  They’d been there a week, and were from out-of-town.  There is always someone who is worse off than you, if you look around.

Meanwhile…we “wait.”