Tag Archives: faith

Making Lefse

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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.

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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.

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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

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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.

 

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Making Stuff…

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Two years ago, two of my neighbors and I got together to create Vision Boards.   A Vision Board is a way put forward the setting of goals and to visualize one’s Ideal. 

My “board” morphed into a book that I called My Life’s Intentions.  I ended up with about 23 pages.  Some were esoteric goals like: be a friend; live my faith; pursue peace; and be joyful,  Others were more concrete like:  write, write, write; live my faith; keep family close; and care for my pets.

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Many were day-to-day intentions, and others were long-term goals.

Long-term goals were to travel to Australia.  Tick.  Exercise.  Tick.  Dress nicely.  Tick, I hope.

And the one to which I dedicated this weekend was:  Make Stuff.

I have been making stuff since I was a kid.  Mostly, as an adult, I have paper crafted and sewed.  My high school friend/college roommate taught me to sew, so that I could have more clothes.  (See Dress nicely.) 

In sewing, I found my niche by repurposing already existing items.  I’ve made aprons from skirts and shirts.  I’ve made smocks from shirts, purses and bags from upholstery material and old wool coats and sweaters.  I’ve made pillows, quilts, and more.

Enter Pinterest.  I saw a dress I liked from repurposed men’s shirts.  I was motivated and inspired.  I went to Goodwill, and I got going.  It was a great afternoon, and I ended up with a dress. 

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Making stuff.  Never completely a tick, but a start.

Intercessory Prayers…

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Intercessory prayers are when a person prays for others.  That is what Christianity is all about: love, unity, forgiveness, acceptance, mercy, patience, and kindness towards every single person.  No exceptions.  These are all basic needs for everyone, and there can’t be too many people praying for each other in my opinion.  Oh.  That is Pope Francis’ opinion, too, by the way.

I guess I am unofficially a “Cathoran.”  That would be a Catholic/Lutheran.  They aren’t that different, though some Lutherans may beg to disagree… or maybe some Catholics.  I don’t know.

Anyway, I am Catholic.  My Wisconsin family is Lutheran.  When I am here, I go to both churches.  That may be a little over the top, but I figure I have a lot of lost time to make up for, and I like it.  That’s what matters.

This year, Cooksville Lutheran Church is celebrating its 125th year here in the small village where some of my family’s ancestors settled in the mid 1800’s.  This tiny congregation has about 35 families in membership, and has been a big part of my visits when I am here in southern Wisconsin.

My sister is often Cantor and Assisting Minister, and she and Mom and our niece sing in the choir.  Our cousin is the Music Director, and when I visit, she reels me in to sing, play bells, and most recently, to write the Intercessory Prayers for special services.  Last year, I wrote some prayers, and got goose bumps hearing them sung.  This year, I wrote the Father’s Day prayers, though I was still down in North Carolina.  And today for the Homestead Service, I am reading my prayers and leading the congregation as we send up our deepest concerns for mankind.

I thank the Holy Spirit for guiding me.  It is humbling to be asked to speak through written word and voice, on behalf of others who are no longer with us, those who can’t be present, and those who will fit their feet into our shoes, moving into the future, for our world which is hurting badly, now.

So, when we respond, “Let us find You in everyone,” it is a deep felt appeal.  Intercessory prayer is the way we can make a difference when it seems as if there is nothing we can do.  Let us stand, with one voice, and pray for everyone and everything.  Lord, hear our prayer.

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Tic, Tic, One More Thing Checked off my Bucket List…

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Five-and-a-half years ago, when I was newly single, I decided to make a list of dreams to achieve, desires, as they were.  I called it My Life’s Desires because Bucket List sounded just too, too final.  Then I set out to accomplish said feats, some of which were just plain madness, and some of which were/are worthy of a Bucket List.

Up until that time, I had never lived alone.  I was nearly sixty-three years old.  I was terrified.  I vowed to live by myself for five full years.  So far, I have liked living alone just fine.  I cheat a little bit, though.  For two months of the year, I visit with my family in Wisconsin, and stay at one of my sister’s houses.  This is my sixth summer, and I have my own bedroom, closet of hanging clothes, dresser drawers with more neatly folded clothes, and bathroom with two drawers of cosmetics and all the beauty aids it takes for a woman of a certain age to feel confident enough to go out in public without a huge hat and sunglasses, thank you very much.

Another promise I made to myself was to go on a sister road trip.  My baby sister and my lake friend who is a sister-by-different-parents drove to Indiana a few months after I moved back to North Carolina.  It was a never-to-be-forgotten adventure, where the two of them, grabbed the car keys from my hands at the very first pit stop, relegated me to the back seat, and took over the driving.  We made several unplanned stops at “thrift” stores, talked until our jaws ached, and laughed until we…well, had to stop for facilities.  It was very healing.

Tomorrow, my lake sister and I are taking a road trip once again.  She is accompanying me to Wisconsin.  We have big plans, and I can be sure that most of them will be shuffled around because if anything is sure, it is that we will be casting our fate to the wind (and God, of course).  She will stay for a week, and then she will fly back home.  Meanwhile, I have promised her I will bring back anything she buys there that can’t fit into her suitcase.  We already have big excitement in store before we even leave.  We are carrying her 89 year-old mother-in-law back to her home in Indiana.  I love her mother-in-law nearly as much as I love my friend, and I am grateful to be able to do the transport.

We will have a full car, with belongings of four people.  It’s complicated, but when my sister was down here last fall, she bought a few things like a wooden high chair, Fiesta bowl, and a small wooden wall decoration, plus an entire new wardrobe at Talbot’s.  The Talbot’s things she took home.  The old clothes she left here.  Then there’s my stuff for two months, and my dog and her stuff, and my two guests and their stuff.

In between the first one and this one, there have been other sister road trips with other sisters, including last summer’s that involved the transport of a rescue cat.  There is no way on earth or in heaven that I could have foreseen how exciting, funny, and memorable any of these trips have turned out to be.  That’s why a road trip is an appropriate “life’s desire.”  So, tic, tic.  Another adventure is about to unfold.  That is probably the best desire of all…to be ready for the adventure.

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Some of the stuff of two people, one dog, and a few gifts.  Hoo-boy.

Holy Moments…

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Thinking back, I recognize some moments I know as holy that occurred in my past life.  I didn’t have a name for them, but they were golden, just the same.  Holy moments come often to me now; following one after the other from the time my mind becomes aware right before waking until my eyes slam shut as I lose myself to sleep.

I’ve had so many holy moments the past four-and-a-half years, I’ve lost count.  This Sunday, last, I experienced a moment so sacred, I could barely breathe.

I listened to words that I had written… strung together, actually… performed publically.  The place was church.  The words were a prayer. The prayer was broken into parts, read by three different women, one of which was my niece.  We, the congregation, responded at the end of each reading, and then sang a further response.

They didn’t sound like my words, though I recognized them.  The delivery was so beautifully directed and enacted.  The voices were so sincere and rich.  The background music was so poignant.  What a holy moment.

I just wish I had a way to tell you about it.

It’s the most wonderful time of the year…

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If you want to get to your happy place during this season, go spend some time with three year-olds. It is certainly one of the most exciting places on the planet. At least it is in the class where I am once again subbing regularly until the Christmas break.

Spending four hours a day there is arts-and-crafts mania, complete with my most unfavorite thing of all…glitter. Yet, I have succumbed to the glitter and everything else it entails this year. Here is a list of some of the things we have made in the last four school days…a count-down chain of multicolored circles topped by a star with a manger scene to count the days until Baby Jesus is born; bricks painted with sponges and brown and red tempera for the fake fireplace; sewn-with-yarn stockings to be hung on previously mentioned fireplace; feet and hands angels topped with each child’s face photo made into keepsake ornaments; glittered “presents” for name recognition and roll call; grandparent wreaths; and God knows what else I have conveniently forgotten in my happiness delirium.

We have learned lines for a Christmas show to be given to parents on the day before break, a peppermint stick poem, and a song. Meanwhile there is snack, Gym and Spanish, Taste and Spit or Swallow, Show and Tell (you don’t want to know), and Pledge/Calendar/Weather/Alphabet-Sounds Practice/Days of the Week, and oh, recess! I am earning that afternoon nap big time!

It is a time of magic, what with Santa watching our every move, and us looking for Rudolph on every roof as we move from building to building. I am here to tell you, if you haven’t any faith for the beauty and joy of simple everyday living, come spend a morning. As one kid with full excitement and conviction said, “Can you lee-beeve it?”

I can.

Three Weddings and Two Surgeries…

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None of them were mine, thanks be to God, but that is how I have spent the last six weeks. I think we’re done for now, but it has been a heck of a ride.

The first wedding was in Sedona, Arizona. The backdrop was the red rock cliffs that two weeks later, sadly, were in engulfed in flames. This gathering was remarkable in that my former spouse and I sat next to each other, held hands, and laughed with each other the entire evening. It was a very bonding event for me with all the family, of which I was once near the center. Oh. The bride and groom were stunningly beautiful, and great happiness is surely in store for them.

The second wedding was in New York City. The backdrop of that wedding was a city rooftop, elegantly cosmopolitan, with waiters passing hors d’oeuvres, an open bar, and an international contingent of guests. My sisters and I had a blast, eating street food, ferrying around the Statue of Liberty, wandering around Times Square, tour-bussing all over Manhattan, subwaying to the night-before-dinner, taxiing to the venue, and walking in Central Park. The bride and groom were gorgeous, and great happiness is surely in store for them.

The third wedding was in Janesville, Wisconsin. The ceremony was in a church! The backdrop of the reception was Rotary Botanical Garden. The weather was perfect, and the flowers in the garden were at their springtime peak. All of us danced, laughed, glammed it up in the Photo Booth, and relished being together. The bride and groom were glowing, and, well, great happiness is surely in store for them.

Then there were the surgeries. One, I have previously mentioned. My niece broke both bones in her right leg just above the ankle while she was running around with her school children. She had several screws placed to bind the bones for mending. We learned that this is a fairly common fracture, and she is on the mend. The second surgery was for my sister. She broke a collarbone ten years ago, when she was run over by a horse, and it never mended. Her clavicle was repositioned, plated and screwed together, and bone was grafted into the union to stimulate bone growth. Her shoulder is now straight, and though she is slinged on her right side and is exhausted from anesthesia, she is recovering nicely.

Looking back, it seems like it was a lot of emotion, activity and excitement. In the midst of it, life just moved from one event to the next. The last six weeks of three weddings and two surgeries have been a metaphor to me of faith. Our lives really simply flow, and though we try to manipulate events to our desires, none of it is in our hands. Life is merely all about trust. Oh, and breath, too. I hope this thought helps me to be “belted in” for both the anticipated and the unknowns that are just around the corner.