Tag Archives: family

If You Like to Eat, Thank a Farmer…


Recently, I reposted a meme from several years ago.  It said, “Without farming, you’d be hungry, naked, and sober.”  So true.

I’m in Wisconsin, again.  I’m grateful to be able to visit here two or three times a year.  It is a blessing.  My dad turns 95 years-old next week.  He and my step-mother have been married 65 years on Christmas Day.  I have two brothers  (sadly, one of whom is deceased) and two sisters who live here, two fantastic sisters-in-law, four grown nieces, a nephew, and a growing number of great-nephews and nieces, all who live near-by.  Arriving soon are another brother, his fantastic wife, and another grown niece and nephew.  You’d have to be crazy not to appreciate this bunch, actually a small city, of fun and loving family members!

My youngest brother is a farmer.  Among other endeavors, he and one of my sisters raise Scottish Highland steers for meat.  I’ve written about this before, and you can read back about the rogue steer and the butchering episode. 

This week, I was sent to pick up the remains, I mean meat, of some of the most current residents, now no longer with us.  I have to say, that after the pick up, I was once again a vegetarian.  This is what greeted me when I pulled up to the processing place:


My sister-in-law gave me a lesson on the difference between deer and cow toes.  (Deer toes, close together/Cow toes spread apart)  Who knew?  Who cares?

Then we entered the store, where the smell near knocked me over.  “Doesn’t it smell wonderful?” she asked.  NO!  It did not!  But, ready for the experience, I took a few photos, and collected two terrifically heavy bags of frozen hamburger, steaks, and roasts, and breathed through my nose until I could get out in the fresh air.

Though it’s not my cup of tea (today), I am grateful to those who do the work (breeders, growers, butchers, processors, and y’all who are the eaters), because this is economy, People.  And these are the ones who feed us, clothe us, and give us wine, beer, and booze.  And though I’m a vegetarian, at least for today, I have an affinity for clothes, and I like my wine.  And, I especially love my family!


So, on behalf of my brother, I say, “Thank a farmer.”  God knows, they deserve at least that much.

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.


Making Stuff…


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.


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. 


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

Merry Christmas



If I had to choose one word that would define the year of 2016 for me, it would be FAMILY.

Remember, family comes in all shapes and configurations and is not only determined by birth or blood or even marriage. For me, I am related to my family by love.

Year ‘round, I am enveloped by my sisters and brothers, their spouses and our parents in North Carolina, Georgia, and Wisconsin. I couldn’t survive without them, and I hope I give back just a little of what they give to me. Laughter is everything. Presence, in many forms, is everything.

My Australian family hosted me in Sydney. It was an amazing time, swimming as the sun rose over the oceanside pool, walking beaches, visiting vineyards in Tasmania, and shopping in Melbourne. I could live there. And then, Patrick visited me in November. Who knew a busy, funny, adventuresome young man would want to spend time with me?

My Arizona family, and that includes my BFF, welcomed me for a few days, and we picked up, just as family-of-the-heart does…right where we left off. Some things never change, and it’s all good.

My Lake Waccamaw family helped me celebrate my birthday in June, accompanied me to Wisconsin for a whirlwind week, and fed me Thanksgiving dinner. They fed me more than that. They fed my soul.

Last, but not least, I have my neighbors, who have become my family, as well. We have a book club, frequent dinners, snow day movie fests, walking times, talking times, and even some crying times. We look out for one another.

I hope this heartfelt, though maybe not so creative letter finds you well and happy. May each of you be surrounded by the strength and the joy and laughter, and especially the love of FAMILY at all times. May you feel the Peace of Christ. …and so, Amen.

Friendship, Friendship, Such Perfect Friendships…


I’ve been thinking about friendships a lot lately.  Four times in my grown-up life, I have had to start all over.  That means starting by not knowing another soul of my peer group, and coming into groups of people who already had established relationships.  Four times I have put myself “out there.”  Four times I have had to leave my comfort zone, and contrary to my introverted personality, I have had to put on a happy face, stick out my hand, and hope that others would draw me into their circles.

It has been worth every single shaky social situation.  I have incredible friends, and I wouldn’t trade a single one, near or far, longtime or new, for comfort, an easy life, or security.

So, let’s go back.  My oldest friends, with whom I am still in contact, are two of my high school friends.  I love those two women who are very different, and who have picked up our friendships whenever I have re-entered their lives, embraced me for myself, and lifted me up from the depths more than once. There is my lake friend, who was my soul-sister from afar, is now much nearer, and whose generous heart pulls those she loves close and never let’s go.  I have my teaching friends who walked with me as I grew professionally, supported me, and held my hand as my marriage fell apart, and continue to rejoice with me as our lives progress.  There is my Australian daughter/sister/friend, who gives me encouragement and endless “onyas” because that is just the way she is.  And, last but never least, of course, there are my three sisters who were little girls when I entered adulthood, caught me as I free-fell into an abyss, and then danced around me as I climbed out of the hole.

That leads me to my new friends.  Making friends takes time.  People have busy-ness going on.  They have their nuclear families and their extended families.  They have long existing friendships.  Yet, my new peeps have opened their hearts to me and overlooked my social flaws.  They have brought me into their circles, and taught me their ways.

During these times of national division, let us all remember that friendship is everything.  We aren’t meant to walk alone.  We are meant for friendships.  Cherish yours.  Personally, I don’t want to even live without mine.  Ever.

Another Birthday, Thank the Lord…


Four years ago, I published a blog entitled “Shootin’ Sh*t in Wisconsin.”  It got a lot of traffic, and that surprised me.  It was about spending my birthday with my siblings, and doing some target shooting at the farm.  I had a great time that birthday weekend.  I laughed with people I love like nobody’s business.  This weekend, I celebrated a birthday weekend at Lake Waccamaw with my friends that are just as much family as my Wisconsin folks.

Having a birthday, no matter how many of the numbers accumulate, is a gift.  There are a significant number of people who won’t have another birthday after last night.  That breaks my heart, and it breaks the hearts of all the people who loved those who were shot down like pigeons in a barrel, if you will pardon my using that simile.  Why someone would give up their life and leave their family, with children, because they didn’t like the way someone else lives is beyond my comprehension.

What I do comprehend is that America has got to do something about easy access to assault weapons and guns in general.  The Founding Fathers did not mean for the Second Amendment to be a blank check for mass murder, or murder of any kind, thank you very much.  No one in their right mind would even begin to assume such a thing.  As a matter of fact, the Amendment states, “A well regulated Militia, being necessary to the security of a free State, the right of the people to keep and bear Arms, shall not be infringed.”  I am not a lawyer, but it certainly reads, “A well regulated Militia…”  The people who argue for the right to bear arms are not arguing for the cause of a Militia.  They are just arguing.

I am tired of seeing my country’s flag flying at half-staff for human beings, our citizens, being attacked and murdered for nothing but hate and anger.  That is not a human way to deal with others.  That is just inexcusable, and it needs to not be excused anymore.  The world doesn’t understand it, and neither do I.

And I got to have another birthday.  God bless America.

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On Eagle’s Wings…


Sing?  I’d love to.  I do love to, but I don’t have a remarkable voice.  It is just a voice, and mostly I can sing in tune, that is, if I know the tune.

I have written about singing before, so if you are a regular reader, you know that it is one of my deepest desires to sing like, I don’t know, somebody really, really good.  And sometimes, just sometimes, I can sing really, really well.  Last Sunday was one of those times.

On Sunday mornings, I walk up to my brother’s, and then the whole family walks to Mass.  That would be my brother, sister-in-law, their five children, and me.  That is a gang.  We enter the same pew: me and then the gaggle.  So, this week the lineup was me, my 9 year-old nephew, my brother, and then the rest.  I say this, so you can picture the proximity.

The Communion hymn was On Eagle’s Wings.  The chorus goes like this:  “And he will raise you up on eagle’s wings, bear you on the breath of dawn, make you to shine like the sun, and hold you in the palm of his hand.”  And to give proper credit, it was written by Michael Joncas, published in 1979 by OCP Publications.

I began to notice my nephew’s voice as we were singing, and that may be because I don’t sit by him that often or because he hasn’t sung that clearly before.  My brother, the musician/mathematician, has a very strong voice, and I do better when I have a supportive voice to follow.  As we got to the chorus, I found all three of our voices getting stronger.  We seemed to lean into each other, and we sang our hearts out.  I have heard that family members’ voices seem to blend well because of genetics.  I am not sure if that is true, but I wish you could have heard us.

It is a beautiful hymn.  It has been in my head all week, and I cannot stop thinking about that one glorious “God spot” out of many this week, when I was born “on the breath of dawn and held in the palm of His hand” while singing.


Dear Dream Reader,


My second “assignment” for Blogging University, course 101 is to write to you.  I actually write to you each time I compose and post a blog, but this is a direct address.  First, thank you for reading me.  Second, I love you…just sayin’.  Most of you are related to me, and if you aren’t, it seems as if you are.  So thanks for being part of my family and being interested in what I am doing and thinking.  Thanks for commenting on my posts and encouraging me.  I try not to be high maintenance”  but I am, I guess.

Since I live alone, you have been my partner in conversation.  That means a lot.  You have laughed with me, cried with me, and helped me “pull up my big-girl panties,”  which by the way, those are a bit bigger after the holidays.  I am working on that for another blog.  I digress, though.

I know those of you that have read me from the beginning, have seen a lot of personal growth, and maybe growth in my writing skills .  Those who have picked up in the middle see a lot of musings.  Those that are new, see an observer.  I am trying to observe right back.  I think of you each time I write, I couldn’t live this life without you.  Anyway, again, a huge thanks and a big hug.


Three Weddings and Two Surgeries…


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.