Bake Someone Happy

It’s not yet December 1, but my holiday baking is done. Granted, the Buckeyes still need to be dipped in melted chocolate (yes, a Michigander-born girl doesn’t let the Ohio-ness of those tasty treats dissuade), but that’s it.

Why the frenzy? The reasons range from wanting to mail a tin of cookies to son Erik in Germany to having a nice variety for a tray for my department chair husband to take in to the last faculty meeting of the semester and…

…wanting to get it over with. There I said it. The days of joyfully dumping out all my Grandma Rock’s old metal cookie cutters and pulling out her sugar cookie recipe are long gone. Sometimes I wonder why?

Frosted cut-outs and golden cookies studded with M&M’s were just two of my maternal grandma’s specialties. Both my grandmothers excelled in the kitchen. My dad’s mom, widowed when my dad was just 12, supported him and her four older daughters by being the head cook at Mercy Hospital in Benton Harbor, Michigan. Even though she was on her feet cooking all day, Grandma Andrews spent all her time in the kitchen when all her children and grandchildren gathered for holidays. From her sister Carrie, my great aunt, I learned how to make shortcake dotted with butter and Sugar Cakes, melt-in-your-mouth sugar cookies made fluffy with buttermilk.

My mother didn’t like to bake so she taught me when I was very young. Soon I was adept at family favorites from both sides, including chocolate applesauce cake, date nut bars, tomato soup cake, best two egg cake….and inept at things like fudge and one concoction involving powdered sugar, cocoa, milk and Cocoa Krispies. I think it was supposed to be frosting.

In 7th grade I nearly flunked the sewing part of Home Ec (In middle school, my sons took BASE, which was…home ec with careers added. Sensible addition.). I did much better in the kitchen. I can still remember the day we learned the ‘water displacement’ method to accurately measure peanut butter. It’s slimy, but it works.

So what happened over the years?

Well, writing became a much better (and lower calorie) outlet for my creativity. Then there was my husband’s diabetes diagnosis…and the fact the disease runs on both sides of my family. The oldest of Grandma Andrews’ four daughters was Dorothea, a nurse, who had a foot amputated due to complications from the disease. Also, while both my children enjoy an occasional cookie, and Erik is very partial to the chocolate chip oatmeal cookies (recipe listed below), neither seems to have inherited my raging sweet tooth. Finally, the whole working mom balancing act ultimately left no time for laboriously rolling out cookies and decorating with colored sugar, not when there were papers to grade and copyedits due.

Now there are no more papers to grade, not for me. After 15 years at a large university, my husband and I were ready for a lifestyle change. This will be our second holiday season here on the prairie, in the town my husband wanted to live in for nearly 20 years. Long before we had children, we’d drive ‘home’ for the holidays from Flagstaff, Arizona to our folks in Iowa. This Nebraska town on Interstate 80 enchanted him, though at the time I thought he was nuts. And not the kind that go in cookies. Instead we went east. But when a job opened at this university of 6,500 students in his ‘dream town’ at the exact time we were ready for a move, it seemed like fate and faith were aligned.

It’s been a challenging yet wonderful change. Soon I will be realizing my life-long goal of staying home to write fulltime. It’s scary, exhilarating and, apparently, baking inducing.

Maybe next year I will pull out Grandma Rock’s cookie cutters.

What’s your favorite holiday cookie recipe?

Basic Cake Box Cookie/Bar recipe

  • 1 box any flavor cake mix (Pillsbury Classic Yellow particularly good)
  • 1/3 cup oil
  • 2 Tablespoons water
  • 1 egg

Pre-heat oven to 350 degrees. Mix all ingredients. Add one 12 oz. package chocolate chips or any flavor. Spread in a greased 9 x 13 glass pan. Bake at 350 for ten – twelve minutes til golden brown. Let cool and cut into bars.

You can also use this dough to make cookies. Bake the cookies at 375 degrees.

Roll the yellow cake mix cookie dough into balls and flatten with a sugared glass slightly. Bake at 375 7-8 minutes or until golden.

Frost or sprinkle with colored sugar.

You can also use a chocolate cake mix, but it’s drier so use ½ cup oil. Or just make brownies!

Lemon is also a good flavor. Just form into balls and let flatten as they bake. Make a thin glaze out of lemon juice, powdered sugar and a little milk or water.

Or bake in a greased 9 x 13 pan again til done and frost with canned lemon frosting.

Try cherry cake mix, and add cherry chips and almond flavoring and a vanilla frosting glaze or spice and melt caramel and drizzle on top.

Iowa State Fair Cookbook Chocolate Chip Oatmeal Cookies

  • 1 cup packed brown sugar
  • 1 cup white sugar
  • 1 cup shortening or margarine (I use margarine sticks)
  • 2 eggs
  • 1 teaspoon vanilla
  • 2 cups all-purpose flour
  • 1 teaspoon baking powder
  • 1 teaspoon baking soda
  • ½ teaspoon salt
  • 2 cups rolled oats
  • 1 12 oz. Package semisweet chocolate chips

In a bowl, combine sugars, shortening, and eggs; beat until light and fluffy. Stir in vanilla. In a separate bowl, combine the flour, soda, powder and salt. Add to shortening mixture. Add oats. Stir in chocolate chips. Drop by teaspoonful onto ungreased cookie sheet. Bake in 375 degree oven 8-10 minutes or until done.

The dough works better after it’s been chilled a bit in the refrigerator. And the best thing about these cookies is you can freeze them as drop cookies or roll up as logs in wax paper. Either way you can bake right from the freezer when you want some.

Happy Thanksgiving!

On behalf of everyone at Sons of Norway, have a happy and safe Thanksgiving!

Stitchess 77 admits she lied... well, sort of

After nearly TWO LONG YEARS of asking, Stitches finally cracks that she pretty much made up the whole thing up about Patty Wetterling:


So she admits attacking Patty Wetterling. She "read it somewhere?" Really? The only places I've read it in a Google search was comment board where Stitches posted it, at AZU, and at one of their sister sites. That's it.


Essentially Stitches admits, at least half-heartedly, she attacked Patty Wetterling. The reason? Because Patty Wetterling stated we need to reform sex offender laws. You know, so your child doesn't land on a registry for having consensual relations. Thanks, Stitches, for admitting you're a big fat, liar. Makes us wonder what else you lie about. Like EVERYTHING!

Thanksgiving Eats and Treats!

Thanksgiving is almost here! In a little over 24 hours I'll be knee deep in turkey, mashed potatoes, stuffing, cranberry sauce, lefse and pumpkin pie. Unlike past years I am hosting the dinner this year and that means I'm responsible for sending everyone home stuffed and satisfied. Kind of nerve wracking but I think I've got a good game plan in place. I've got it figured out as to when I need to start the turkey, then when I have to get the pie and stuffing cooking.

There's so much to plan out that it makes my head spin and I've gained a whole new respect for the folks who, year after year, host large family Thanksgiving celebrations. Seriously, it took me until this week just to decide on what I would serve , then it took me 3 days to figure out which recipes I would use!

So, in the spirit of the season, and in hope of helping others out there make it through Thanksgiving unscathed, I have put together a full Thanksgiving menu to use if you are running out of time or nerve. Enjoy!

Let's start with a traditional Lefse recipe.
2 quarts potatoes
1 tbsp lard
3 tbsp sweet milk

Run potatoes through a meat grinder, set aside to cool. Heat lard and milk. Pour over the cold potatoes. Knead well in flour, enough to roll out very thin. Bake on lefse iron.

Next, we need something warm to sup on (yes, I really did use the word "sup." And in the proper, not-greeting sort of way, too) since it's supposed to get pretty chilly around here on Thanksgiving. The following recipe for a warm Rhubarb Soup should do the trick.
12 ounces of Rhubarb
3 pints of water
6 ounces of sugar
3 tsp potato flour

Clean and cut fine the rhubarb. Bring to a boil in the water, then dissolve the potato flour in two tsp of water and stir into boiling soup. Bring the mixture to a boil again and add the sugar. This recipe will serve 6, so you can adjust up or down as needed.

Now that we have the soup course out of the way it's time to bring out the main course! If your family is anything like mine, that means that cooking a meal that appeals to everyone can be tricky. I've learned over the years from watching my mother and aunt cook for the fam that it's just a better idea to have a couple of entrees. That way everyone has a great Thanksgiving feast. So, in the interest of keeping the peace, I've got two different entrees that should work great for a traditional Norwegian Thanksgiving dinner.

The first entree is Faar I Kaal
4.5 to 5.5 lbs of lamb or mutton
1 large head of cabbage

2 oz butter
2 oz flour
1 tablespoon whole pepper corns

Wash the meat in lukewarm water. Cut into suitable pieces and place in just enough boiling, salted water to cover the meat. Skim when it rises to a boil and let simmer for for half an hour; then remove meat from water.

For the saus, melt butter and stir in flour. Add the strained broth. Place the meat in this mixture in alternate layers with the washed, parboiled and cut up cabbage together with the pepper tied in a cheese cloth pouch. Boil under cover until all is tender; usually 3 hours.

The next entree is the one I KNOW you ALL have been waiting for: LUTEFISK! Yes, the smelly, jelly-like fish dish that has numerous songs devoted to it! Unfortunately the recipe I have for it takes up to 2 weeks to prepare, but if you need a faster way to get this delicacy, then check out the Sons of Norway recipe box here for a great recipe.

9 lbs dried cod
2 lbs slaked lime
1 and 1/3 lbs washing soda (if you can't tell yet, this is a very old and traditional recipe)

Saw the fish into convenient pieces and place in a wooden receptacle and cover with cold water. Let it lie for a week changing water every day. Make a solution of the slaked lime, soda and fifteen quarts of water. Place the fish in this solution under weights to keep the pieces in position as they swell. Add more water if necessary to keep the pieces covered. In about a week, or when properly softened through, take out and rinse thoroughly and place in cold water for eight days, changing the water twice daily during the first few days.

Cut in pieces the size you wish to serve, skin and wash. Tie in a cloth and place in boiling water to cook for 10-15 minutes until tender. Serve with melted butter.

Now that's over, it's time for desert! Today I bring you a traditional Riskrem.

1 qt cream
2 cups cold boiled rice
2 tbsp gelatin
1 cup cold water
2 egg whites
1/2 cup blanched almonds
Sugar to taste

Soak gelatin in water, then put over heat to melt. At the same time, whip the cream until thick. When the gelatin is cold, add to the whipped cream. Add sugar, almonds and whites of eggs and beat until stiff. Serve very cold, and, if you like, add some grated pineapple for color and texture.

So there we have it--a four course Thanksgiving meal that will pull at the heartstrings of any Norwegian American family.

If you have your own recipes or Norwegian American family traditions for Thanksgiving, why not share them in the comments section below.

Happy Thanksgiving everyone!

Rob Taylor on the defensive

Poor Robbie Taylor. A man so confused to his identity, he can't even identify with a race, religion, or sexual orientation. Perhaps that is why he feels the need to bash people with his incessant communist/ zionist rants. What do you expect from a hate group that bashes child victim advocates for calling for sex offender law reforms:

hXXp:// [link incomplete, Sorry Robbie, no advertising here]

It is a long boring tirade filled with more lies and personal attacks than an hour of Nancy Grace. To summarize his rant, essentially he's mad because a Conservative Christian paper printed an article he didn't like, and went on the attack. First he attacks the author with AZU lies, including a false statement perpetuated by AZU, false allegations of rape, claiming him a pedophile, and claiming he is "actively lobbying to lower age of consent laws." The author must have a stunt double if that's the case because not a single allegation on Taylor's trash site is true.

Of course, not satisfied with bashing the author of the article, Taylor goes on to bash the magazine that published the article. He's mad because said paper removed inflammatory articles that bashed the writer and fuel AZU's unhealthy obsession with the writer. Taylor, despite being a PAGAN, goes on a rant about how paper is not acting "Conservatively Christian." He accuses them of being racist and anti-gay. So if you disagree with Rob Taylor, you're a Klansman and a gay basher. If you don't allow AZU to attack people and bash victims, you hate blacks and gays.

The author has nothing against gays. Many issues with laws addressing sexuality are wrongfully applied to homosexuals. The author does not agree with homosexuality but feel it is not his place to condemn anyone for their lifestyles, and only the individual can change their ways. Hell, there may even be hope that some dy, AZU repents from their wicked ways, but its only the slimmest of hopes.

Ironically, Rob Taylor DEMANDS someone give him and AZU what AZU and Rob Taylor does not give others. AZU routinely censors comments they don't like, in addition to creating false comments out of thin air. I'd love to know how Logue was making comments on AZU when he was out on a date at the time. Unlike AZU, this site or Logue's sites are not monitored every waking hour of the day. In fact, Logue hasn't even been around since September, except to release two new articles, due to moving to a new location. Yet within 2 hours, AZU was all over the article, bashing it and making personal attacks. AZU truly has a sad, sick obsession. They make a very good case for civilly committing every member.

AZU and Pagan child abuse

Most AZU members, like Dodia Fae, BRD, and Rob Taylor, claim PAGANISM as a religion. Paganism does believe in free love, does not believe in lifelong marriage (instead opting for a one year long "handfast"), and other assorted sexual beliefs not mainstream in the eyes of Americans. It is ironic, then, they formed a group called "Pagns Against Child Abuse." That's like saying "Klan Members Against Lynching" or "Al-Qaida Members Against Suicide Bombings."

I just found it ironic in light of Taylor-trash's recent article:


How ironic. AZU goes into a place, makes outlandish accusations, then cries about getting "banned:"

"In any case, it is disappointing, but not surprising, that a popular gathering place for Wiccans would become a place that welcomes child rapists and ended up banning every member of PACA who spoke out against the grooming of children by adults. What is surprising is how openly vicious the Wiccan members of PaganSpace were toward child advocates. Women who criticized men in their 40s, 50s and in one case 60s for sending sexually suggestive cartoons to girls as young as 14 or 15 were told they were acting “Christian” and PACA itself was said to be endangering children.

"The offenders themselves, still quite active on PaganSpace as of this writing, were allowed to threaten and harass PACA members, including women, after they were tipped off to the fact that many had been reported to the proper authorities."

Cry us a river, Taylor.

At any rate, they're part of a religion that rejects the legal, God-given boundaries of sexuality, so what do they expect? But then again, with AZU its a matter of hating people, NOT about protecting children. Hate groups are no more religious than businesses that sell private information. PACA is no more religious than the "White Knights."

Static and his grudge

Thanks Static, for being admitting your grudge. Admission is the first step to change, next, do the world of favor and get castrated before you... oh wait, AZU already emasculated you!

Merry Thanksgiving

St. Nick candles sit sandwiched on one bookcase shelf. Directly above is the still-fresh Halloween/Thanksgiving pumpkin nestled in the spray of bittersweet. This is the earliest we’ve ever decorated for Christmas, unless you count the year Erik, our older son, was about three. The apartment-sized tree never went down that year, just kept being redecorated for Valentine’s Day, Easter, etc.

Over time, the mantle of being in charge of the tree has passed from older brother to younger. It was a tradition for years that the minute the pumpkin pie was eaten, out came the Christmas boxes. Our long-time friend, Jean, who joined us every year for Thanksgiving dinner was more than happy to assist…instead of looking askance at the breakneck speed with which the next holiday was ushered in.

Times change. Since we moved from West Virginia to the prairie, Jean is more than 1,100 miles away. Erik is a continent away. My husband, younger son and I had planned to spend Christmas in London to meet up with Erik, who would travel from Rostock, Germany.  However, Erik decided earlier this fall to do study abroad for a semester not a year, so we’re staying home. Works out well. Husband will be in the throes of page proofs for his writing deadline; Mom and I have a January deadline, so it’s nice to have the extra editing time.

On the shortest day of the year, Erik turns 19. This will actually be the third time he’s been away from home for Christmas. When he went to Germany the first time as a high school foreign exchange student his junior year, some people were shocked he wouldn’t be home for Christmas.

It wasn’t the first time.

When he was a freshman in high school a friend’s family took their sons, Erik and another boy to Disney World over the holidays. It was a lovely gift. Sure we missed Erik, but it wasn’t about us.

His younger brother jokes that next year will be an ‘on’ year for Erik being home for the holidays if the pattern continues.

Just because I am good at letting go doesn’t mean it’s not bittersweet. Understanding fully that children growing up is the ultimate wonderful goal doesn’t mean I’m immune to missing them intensely when they’re not around.

So if I had a child who wanted to put up the Christmas tree on the Fourth of July, I’d be draggin’ out the boxes myself. The joy of the season is with us year-round, and the time we get to keep our babies is short indeed.

Embrace it all, and if you’re the first house on the block with tinsel…so be it.

More of the same but worth reading

First off, a new article which blasts AZU's idols John Walsh, Mark Lunsford, and Family Watchdog, among others exploiting sex offender panic for money:

And, once again, another death comment from an AZU mainstay, ZandJsMom:

Yawn... another day, another call for killing SOs

I know its par for the course, but another AZU POS troll, Rookiee, advocates murdering registrants. I just wish one of them had the guts to get in my face:

I am thankful for…

Earlier this month, a friend from church offered a challenge on Facebook: Every day this month until Thanksgiving post in your status update one thing you are thankful for.

Lately, I’ve been caught up in life’s little issues and have not taken time to reflect on things I’m thankful for. I admit I’ve been dwelling on negatives rather than positives. A couple of good friends have got to be tired of my constant refrain: “Why can’t I be happy being happy?”

I’m sick of my own whining. It’s time to ante up and be thankful for all the blessings in my life, too numerous to list.

So here’s a start, in no particular order, of things I am thankful for:

1. A husband who cooks. I have NEVER cooked a Thanksgiving dinner nor do I ever intend to. I hate to cook. I love to eat. I do like to bake but that’s a post of a different color.

2. My children

3. My mommy. She’s my best friend and my writing partner. I know how truly fortunate I am to have the mother/daughter relationship we share. When I was five, I did throw a little brass vase down the stairs at her. She gave it back when I was 18, though.

4. A job doing what I love: writing. And all the writers who’ve give me so much reading pleasure over the years.

5. All the students I’ve taught writing to.

6. My friends, from my very first best friend in St. Clair Shores, Michigan, whom I bopped with a metal truck when we were toddlers (my mom said she was trying to play with me when I was trying to get her brother’s attention) to the ones I cherish to this day. And no, I haven’t hit anybody with a Tonka truck since.

7. A wonderful church

8., 9., 10., and so on….My extended family, my older son’s girlfriend, my favorite professors, M&M’s….

What are you thankful for?

Joyce G. Larsen Obit

It's Lefse Time!

Just a week left until Thanksgiving, which is called Lefse day at my house! Now I've never made my own lefse before, but I am considering it this year--if I have enough time. If I do, then I'll probably use the video below to help with the recipe. I thought all you readers might enjoy it as well.

Have fun!

Lunsford's integrity in doubt again

AZU's hero, Mark Lunsford, a man of questionable integrity at best, found a friend in Hank Asher, another man of questionable integrity (not to mention a former DRUG SMUGGLER), and one in the business of selling your personal information to the highest bidder. Just a reminder, Lunsford aldo helped create AZU sub-group WASP (Women against sexual predators). For more on Hank Asher, see The below article is from Tampa Bay Online.

HOMOSASSA — Since his daughter Jessica was raped and murdered in 2005, Mark Lunsford has become one of America's best-known child advocates. With the help of donations to his nonprofit foundation, Lunsford has lobbied nationwide for tougher laws against criminals who prey on children.

But unknown to most, Lunsford has had another source of income for the past two years — a Boca Raton company that could profit from the very child-protection measures Lunsford has sought to enact.

It is the latest revelation about a man who has been hailed as a hero but whose handling of the foundation's finances has also raised questions about the line between advocacy and personal enrichment.

In an affidavit filed in a paternity case, Lunsford disclosed he is paid $4,000 every other week — more than $100,000 a year — by Technology Investors and its multimillionaire founder, Hank Asher.

Asher, who created databases used to track sexual predators and other criminals, is developing new technology to help in the fight against child molesters.

Asked what he does for Asher's company, Lunsford says: "It's not what I do for them, it's what they do for me." The steady pay, he says, enabled him to dissolve his foundation last year and concentrate on what he likes best — lobbying for Jessica's laws, not raising money.

"Mr. Asher wanted to help me because he knew what passion I have," Lunsford says. When the two first met in 2007, Asher "got real teary-eyed and said, 'You have the heart of a fighter.' "

It was Asher, Lunsford says, who persuaded him to drop plans to sue the Citrus County Sheriff's Office over its alleged bungling of the investigation into Jessica's murder. News of the intended suit triggered criticism that Lunsford, 46, was trying to profit from his daughter's tragic end.

"Hank said, 'I understand your anger and I know you want results, but the best thing is to close your nonprofit and focus on legislation.' "

Thus the Jessica Marie Luns­ford Foundation quietly disbanded after just three years. But questions remain about how nearly $400,000 in donations was spent.

'Rock star status'

On Feb. 24, 2005, convicted sex offender John Couey slipped into the Homosassa trailer where Jessica, 9, lived with her father and grandparents. Couey took her to his nearby trailer, raped her and buried her alive.

Immediately after Couey's March 18 arrest and the discovery of Jessica's body, almost $50,000 in donations poured into a trust set up for the Luns­fords at a local bank.

"They wrote to help with our bills or to use however you wish," says Lunsford, who bought a used truck.

Lunsford says some of the money went into the nonprofit foundation he set up that spring with the help of Joe Boles, a nephew who briefly served as a foundation director.

While in Sarasota for a 2005 fundraiser, Boles and a girlfriend got into a drunken, violent fight at a Hyatt hotel. "Blood was literally on all of the walls, furniture and bedding," police said.

The $4,789 in damages were billed to a foundation credit card; Boles disappeared and never repaid the money.

That incident went unnoticed at the time as attention focused on Lunsford's metamorphosis from trucker with a high-school eduction to impassioned child advocate. He helped win quick passage in Florida of the nation's first Jessica's Law, which imposed tougher penalties on child molesters and required many of those released from prison to wear tracking devices for the rest of their lives.

Lunsford moved on, persuading legislators in more than 40 states to pass their own Jessica's Laws. There were fundraising bike rallies, appearances with Oprah and Bill O'Reilly, talk of book and movie deals. Florida Gov. Charlie Crist called Luns­ford "a great man" and donated $63,812 from his inaugural to the foundation.

"It was rock star status," says Cheryl Sanders, a cousin of Luns­ford who served as foundation treasurer.

"He liked that lifestyle. He'd never seen so much money in his life."

In the three years of the foundation's existence, Lunsford drew salaries totalling $118,800 and was reimbursed for travel costs, either by the foundation or by organizations that invited him to speak. Sanders wondered about some of the expenses charged to a foundation credit card — $1,435 for furniture from Kane's, $73 for drinks at Outback after Couey was sentenced to death (the restaurant "comped" the rest of the meal, she says) and gas for travel not related to the foundation.

Sanders says Lunsford also demanded reimbursement for nearly $1,000 in clothing.

"I said, 'Mark, the IRS is going to come on you; you can't do that,' '' she recalls.

"He said, 'F--- the IRS, I'm Mark Lunsford.' That's the day I was finished," says Sanders, who says she resigned as treasurer in October 2007.

Lunsford says he doesn't recall the incident, but denies using foundation money for personal expenses. He says he fired Sanders and paid a Jacksonville firm to "straighten out" what he says was her poor record-keeping.

"I don't know about book-keeping, that's why I hired people," he says.

IRS agents went to Lunsford's house last year, shortly after the dispute over his plans to sue the Sheriff's Office: "They looked over a bunch of stuff," he says, "and asked me to send copies of stuff.'

He says hasn't heard from the agency since it acknowledged receipt of the material. The agency would not comment on whether it is investigating.

Paid to promote

In 2006, Lunsford had a brief agreement with a New York company, AdZone Research, to promote its Online Predator Profiling Service for monitoring Internet chat rooms.

In a filing with the Securities and Exchange Commission, AdZone said it would give the foundation $2,500 a month, 50,000 shares of stock and 1 percent of gross proceeds from the sale of the profiling service.

Lunsford plugged the service on MSNBC and says AdZone made one $2,500 donation. But the deal fell apart after the SEC questioned AdZone's claims to shareholders; the company appears to be out of business.

Lunsford says he rebuffed "plenty" of other for-profit companies before meeting Asher, a board member of the National Center for Missing and Exploited Children.

As a pilot in the '80s, Asher acknowledged flying several cocaine-smuggling flights, but he was never prosecuted. He went on to develop two databases, AutoTrak and Accurint, that provide addresses and other information, making them invaluable tools for police and others that need to track people quickly.

Asher made his databases available to the missing children's center at no charge. He reportedly received $260 million when he sold his company to LexisNexis in 2004 and started Technology Investors.

In a lawsuit last year, LexisNexis claimed Asher was violating a noncompete agreement by developing "revolutionary" tracking technology that he intended to eventually sell. Asher countersued, alleging LexisNexis wanted to keep its monopoly on database searching. Both cases were settled in April.

Asher did not respond to calls seeking comment. Lunsford, who rode in Asher's Mercedes during a media tour of company headquarters in December, says he sees nothing wrong with their arrangement. (It surfaced in a paternity case filed by a Homosassa woman who gave birth to Lunsford's son Roger Davis in 2007.)

Asher and his company "make it possible for me to go to other states, to be able to fly up to D.C. They gave me insurance and a salary and said, 'Fight the fight, Mark, and don't stop.' "

Where did money go?

After dissolving the foundation, Lunsford gave the Citrus County Child Advocacy Center a $17,200 motorcycle trailer that had been donated by a Sarasota woman.

The foundation's other assets included a tour bus once used by actor Sylvester Stallone. Donated in 2006, its value was never determined for tax purposes and the bus was never listed on IRS forms the foundation was required to file.

Lunsford says he sold the bus and banked the money, which he says will be given to charity. However, he says he doesn't remember who bought the bus or what was paid.

Nor does he remember the specifics of some of the foundation's expenditures, including $12,461 in 2006 for "entertainment," $23,700 in 2007 for "machinery and equipment" and $17,887 last year for "office supplies."

"That's all part of the reason for getting out of (the foundation). I just threw up my hands and said, 'Screw it.' "

Lunsford is one of several parents of murdered children who have started charities, only to see them struggle to survive as new tragedies hit the headlines.

Contributions to Florida's Jimmy Ryce Center, which has donated 300 bloodhounds to police agencies since 1996, dropped to $11,000 last year. The late Claudine Ryce took a small salary to run the center, but she and husband Don shunned offers from for-profit companies.

"You just really have to be careful because an organization can end up with a mess and it reflects on the child that the organization was named after," Ryce says.

Marc Klaas, whose daughter Polly was murdered in California in 1993, says he has never been paid by a for-profit company. But he doesn't criticize Lunsford's decision.

"Mark really did a lot of work in his organization by himself and never really had a huge support system. So if Hank Asher is Mark's support system, I could almost understand why he would accept that support and not ask a lot of questions. I think the legacy of his daughter is pretty strong because of the work he's done."

Pity Party

My older son is working on his blog about differences he’s observing between eastern and western Germany, 20 years after the fall of the Berlin Wall. Meanwhile, my professor husband is updating his blog about sweeping changes taking place in the media industry.

Me? I’m indulging in a public pity party.

Recently I had a conversation with my friend Elizabeth, a much younger mom, who is juggling a toddler, a new baby and a full-time job, albeit one with a modicum of flexibility. She’s handling it all with grace and aplomb (and no those aren’t her kids’ names).

Talking to her made me think of Gail Sheehy’s road map to adult life “Passages,” which I haven’t read and Nora Ephron’s paen to sags and bags “I Feel Bad About My Neck,” which I have read.

As the date of my 25x2 birthday approaches, I find myself reflecting (wallowing is more like it) in self-introspection.

I loathe self-introspection. Ask my dear friend Susan.

But I’m not going gently into that next stage or phase or whatever term you prefer.

I spent my thirties having babies and my forties losing (and gaining some back) the baby weight. In addition to working fulltime, writing and doing the whole route of church and school volunteerism (sometimes only a sentence fragment will do!).

As a new decade roars toward me, I stand on the precipice of change.

I love big sweeping change. Ask my husband. Get-used-to-small-things change like new glasses or even new shoes, not so much.

This passage has snuck up on me. I’m no longer the young mom juggling a dozen sticky-fingered balls in the air. Instead I’m an older mom who’s watching her children grow into these amazing near-adult-like creatures.

Maybe I’ll skip the pity party after all and start shopping for a whole lot of birthday candles.

Do you recognize anyone in this Pic If so e-mail me-Wally

The pictures below, were taken at the Hiawatha Ladies Luncheon at Jim's Cafe on 19 October 2009, by Don Reaveley & Tom Neilson. Thanks for sharing them guys. Wally

Ken & Carma Allred

Merlin & Geri Blackburn

Donnie Baldwin and Jenn Blake

Jerri & John Barnett

Debbie and Renee Wilde & Ken Allred

Loretta and David Larsen

Don & Myrna Wallace

Virginia Jensen,Elaine Jones,Karen & Burt Guymon

Burton Guymon and Bob Wilde

Norma & Paul Mecham

Tom and Clone Neilson

Wally & Donnie Baldwin

Fannie Johnson obit

Sarah Catterall

Gordon Creek Trestle

NEWS ALERT: Big Change to Norwegian Passport Applications

According to an official alert, December 1st will mark a big change in how Norwegian passport applications are being handled. Beginning on that date, it will no longer be possible to apply for a new passport through Honorary Consulates, including the one in Minneapolis.

That being the case, anyone who has a passport that expires in the next couple of years is being encouraged to
contact their nearest Consulate for passport renewal before December 1. Thereby avoiding the inconvenience of a trip to one of the few remaining consulates in Washington, Houston, New York or San Fransisco.

A full explanation of the change can be found here at the website.

Norwegian Time Machine: 1924 Telemark Rye Bread

Since the last recipe was a hearty Lapskaus recipe, I thought it might be nice to include a traditional accompaniment: Telemark Rye Bread. Once again, this is the 1924 version of the recipe. For a modern version, check out the link at the bottom of the post.

And if you do give this one a try, please let me know how it turns out. Leave a comment or e-mail me--I'd love to hear if this recipe has held up for the past 85 years.

8-quart kettleful of potatoes
Graham Rye Flour (sifted)
White flour (sifted)
1 cake compressed yeast or its equivalent in any other good yeast

In the evening boil potatoes very well. Salt more than ordinary. Drain. Put through a potato ricer and mash thoroughly. While hot, work in with a potato masher as much graham-rye and white flour (half of each) as you can. Set aside to cool. When lukewarm, knead using the same proportion of graham-rye and white flour—half of each—as before. Make dough very stiff. When nearly through add the cakeof yeast dissolved in a little water. Let stand over night but not in too warm a place as the large proportion of potatoes causes it to sour very easily. In the morning form into small round loaves. Brushthe tops with a mixture of egg yolk and a little cream. Dent the top of each loaf with the point of the little finger and put immediately in the oven and bake slowly for one and one-half to two hours. Caraway seeds and a little grated primost may be added to the potatoes when mashing if desired.

IMPORTANT—be sure to mash the potatoes well. Don’t let the mixture be too warm when adding the yeast. Do not keep in too warm a place over night. Make dough very stiff as it always softens. Much depends upon carefully following instructions otherwise the bread will not be a success. The dough is sticky and may be hard to handle, requiring patience, but this will be more than rewarded by the finished product.

Now, for a more modern version of this recipe, I found this one, which should be fairly similar, with the exception of the molasses. Anyone up for trying both recipes and reporting back on how they turned out?

All Systems Go

 Recently a friend and I were talking about ‘systems’ to manage kids’ paperwork, shoes, toys, etc. My friend, A,  is seven younger than I am, and her children are in the early elementary school years – otherwise known as the ‘plethora of paper’ years. Artwork, homework (yes, even in kindergarten), and forms stuffed into backpacks arrive each day with alarming regularity. 

 Sadly, I have never met a piece of paper I didn’t want to have a long-term relationship with.

 A and I swapped stories. Her dining room hutch is the repository for her children’s artwork. I offered how I have always favored a ‘shoe basket’ to keep footwear ‘confined.’

 Our conversation reminded me of another friend from more than 20 years ago.  H was the first to have children among our group and the first to  have ‘systems.’  She juggled kids, teaching parttime and a particularly stressful adoption process. Her lists of what household chores needed to be done what day and her typed grocery list enthralled me.

 I love organization and loathe clutter, but the former does not come naturally in my surroundings and the latter does. In addition, I married a man who is extraordinarily organized in his thinking BUT…  Let’s just leave it at that.

 My husband, however, does all the cooking and parenting has always been equally divided and when not, he’s the one who does more than me. I stopped being able to help both our sons with math homework about second grade.

 My mother raised four children with considerably less household help from my father, and I once accused her of making it look too easy. It wasn’t easy at all. She just was and is incredibly organized. Even when we were little, she  was always writing to earn a few extra dollars to supplement my father’s school administrator salary. 

So a few years ago my husband and I began talking about his seeking a job at a smaller university – maybe moving back ‘west’ to be closer to family and big sky country.  A job opened at a school of 6,500 students in his ‘dream town’ of Kearney, Nebraska. The university we both worked at was pushing 30,000 students. My husband applied, interviewed and accepted the new position.

 To sell our house, we called the realtor who had sold it to us nearly a decade before. She and I had taught Sunday School together, two of her children had babysat our younger son and she’s a good friend.

 When she and  her fellow realtors did their ‘walk through’ our house,  the consensus was my husband and I needed to ‘tidy’ up our home office more.  Actually, we needed a bulldozer to remove the papers, etc from the space.

 I blew up…but just to my husband. If we’d had time to clean out that room we wouldn’t be moving. It was a dubious monument to how busy and cluttered, and  not just physically, our lives had become over the years.

 We were ready for a lifestyle change, and, while not without challenges that come from uprooting after 15 years in one spot, change has been good.

 How do you deal with clutter?


Norwegian Time Machine: 1924 Recipe for Lapskaus

It's the time of year when we are all thinking about food. With Thanksgiving right around the corner it's hard not to, right? As the weather gets colder and the days get shorter, I turn more and more to comfort foods when planning meals at home. I love good hot meals, heavy stews and thick, fragrant sauces. So, today I give you a recipe from 1924 for one of my favorite Norwegian foods, Lapskaus. I first came across this delicacy 8 or 9 years ago when I was visiting the Vegas Viking 6-152 lodge. They made an absolutely wonderful lapskaus with potatoes, and large chunks of meat in a sauce that was beyond belief. I'll never forget that when I asked for the recipe I was told they didn't really use one beyond the various type of ingredients. Too bad for me, right?

Well, in any case, when made correctly it can be the finest, yet most simple meal to enjoy on a cold November night. So, with that, I give you the 1924 recipe and a link to a more current recipe as the one below may be hard to replicate (can you even get "salt meat" anymore?).

1 soup plate of boiled salt meat
1 soup plate of fresh raw meat
1/2 lb pork
1 qt potatoes
1 small onion
1/2 tsp pepper

Cut the fresh meat, pork and potatoes into small cubes. Place over the fire in water. Add finely chopped onion, pepper and salt to taste. Boil under cover for about one and one-half hours. Add the salt meat after the fresh meat has boiled for half an hour. Serve.

Switching Gears

When I was young, I wanted to be:

  1. A writer
  2. Mom to 10 children
  3. A musical comedy star
  4. The First Lady (girls couldn't even wear pants til 6th grade in the small Michigan town I lived in, yes, Michigan...freezing cold...we had to wear 'stretch pants' to school then take them off until recess time)
  5. Mrs. Donny Osmond
  6. Mrs. David Cassidy
  7. Mrs...well you get the idea....
  8. An environmentalist (I  had no idea that's what it was called...I just wrote letters protesting the use of colored dyes in toilet paper and tissues and lettered on wooden medallions 'Save the Seals')
  9. Thin
  10. Happy

Are you what you want to be?

Norwegian Time Machine Recipes: Lefse No 1

To the mothers of Norwegian descent in America:

Who with courage and fortitude almost incomprehensible came to this country in advance of civilization

Who have been the centers about which our happy homes have been reared

Who never stinted in toil of the hands of effort of the mind that those about them might be happy

Who by their love, loyalty, interest, enthusiasm, cheerfulness, radiant optimism, and hopefulness

And not least by their observance of customs and occasions and the serving of good things to eat

Did their part in building and maintaining a morale so necessary in the work of transforming the wild forests and prairies of this great country into golden harvest fields, comfortable homes, and thriving cities

This humble volume is respectfully dedicated

The year was 1924 when these words were written and the passage comes from the introduction of a small, green-canvas-hard-cover, frayed on the edges and definitely well-loved cook book of popular Norwegian recipes called (logically) COOK BOOK of POPULAR NORWEGIAN RECIPES.

I found it a while back when I was doing some cleaning and going through the space under my stairs and after reading the above passage I got to thinking that this cook book probably had a number of recipes from our parents’/grandparents’ generations and thus maybe a wider audience. I think we all have at least one or two favorite family recipes that always seem to taste better than modern variants, right? I think of my grandma Almira’s cooking, using recipes that her folks brought over from the old country and how modern recipes never seem to match them.

So, in hopes of helping a few folks out there reconnect with their heritage and to reminisce about times gone by, I’ll be posting a number of these recipes throughout November and December. Now, before we get onto the recipes, here’s a couple items to give this book some historical perspective: Vladamir Lenin had just passed away and Marlon Brando was born; Also Calvin Coolidge was the president of the 48 United States of America and had just given the first ever presidential address from the Whitehouse over the radio.

So, with that, enjoy today’s Time Machine Recipe:

Lefse No 1

Potatoes, as many as desired

Peel potatoes and cook till well done. Mash fine and add a little salt. When cold, add a little cream and flour enough to mold. Sprinkle the molding board well with flour. Take a large spoonful of dough at a time and roll out thin. Bake on top of a moderately warm stove until a very light brown. Turn with a long pointed stick (made for the purpose) and brown lightly on the other side. Fold and place in cloths to keep soft.

June Cleaver I ain’t

Once I asked my older son, Erik, if he wished he had a conventional mom. Nope, he said, he liked me.

In many ways I adapted a traditional parenting style, from trotting off to the pumpkin patch years ago with his kindergarten class to chaperoning a 7th grade field trip to NYC.

Okay, maybe that wasn’t exactly conventional, but I’d already done the aforementioned autumn trip, the ‘farm’ (famous for baby animals and torrential downpours) and the international festival at the university student union.

So the week before Thanksgiving six years ago, I boarded a bus along with several other hale and hearty (or foolhardy) parents and a few grandparents -- Big Apple bound.

Let’s just say some people embrace the role of chaperone more ‘heartily’ than others. This is how my group ended up with Max, who became one of Erik’s best friends.

Erik’s friends are an adventurous lot (their parents a courageous, supportive cadre). Currently two are doing ‘gap’ years in Slovakia and Chile. The spring of Erik’s sophomore year in high school, he and several of his friends participated in a trip to Guatemala. That summer we drove then 16-year-old Erik to DC, the first leg of his first trip to Germany.

Life is divided into different kinds of people. Some have curly hair, some have straight hair. Some are wanderers, like Erik and his dad. I swear the ancestral blood of Erik the Red flows like lava through the veins of my husband (technically he has strong Danish roots, but a viking is a viking). When we lived in West Virginia, dh once rode his motorcycle to Ohio…via Buffalo, NY.

Erik is no different. When he was little, we lived in Flagstaff, Arizona. I belonged to a faculty wives’ playgroup. We’d get together, and the children would play and the moms would drink tea…and my toddler would be tryin’ to head for the Mexican border.

Others, like my mom and me, are ‘castle builders.’ She’s traveled extensively over the years but is firmly rooted to the notion of home. I loathe the act of travel (unlike the gleeful men in this family, younger son included) but do enjoy seeing things. I just am awfully fond of home, wherever that may be.

Monday marked the 20th anniversary of the fall of the Berlin Wall. In spring of 2008, my husband, younger son and I flew to Germany to visit Erik for spring break (tad chillier than Ft. Lauderdale). We walked those streets, visited the cluttered testament that is the Checkpoint Charlie museum and stood next to the Brandenburg Gate.

Easter Sunday we took the train to Amsterdam and visited the Anne Frank house. Erik had gotten us tickets on the Internet so we could bypass the long lines waiting in the falling snow.

A videotaped interview with Otto Frank played as the queue filed through the last of the cramped twisty quarters. His words still resonate. He spoke of his daughter being a ‘typical’ teenager. I marveled that I never knew the 'house' where the Franks and others hid was actually quarters above a jam warehouse. It wasn’t important to Anne so she didn’t feel the need to mention it. I tried to imagine what life must have been like, especially for the children, never being able to go outside or make noise during the day for fear of exposure. Otto Frank spoke of what an ordinary teenager she was, and that’s what made her so extraordinary.

Anne Frank was somebody’s daughter. She could be cantankerous and fight with her mother and sister and dream of kissing a boy. She didn’t get to grow up. She didn’t get to see the world.

I am thankful every day my children can and do.

Mary Austin and Betty LeFlore

I do not know who they are. If you do let me know.

G. Baldwin and L. Reaveley

Toni Rae Thompson, 52, passed away Sunday November 01, 2009 in Glendale, CA due to complications related to pneumonia.Family and friends honored Toni with a Celebration of Life gathering in Simi Valley, CA on Wednesday November 4, 2009.She was born June 26, 1957, in Price, Utah to George and Irene Stifos and grew up in Bell, CA. She obtained her Diploma in 1975 from Bell High School. She attended Moorpark Junior College in pursuit of her Associates degree. She loved spending time with family and friends and reading her bible.Toni is survived by her two sisters, Georgi Wellington of Littleton, CO and Teri Brown of Simi Valley, CA; four children, Jonathon O'Connor, Jennifer O'Connor, Kevin Thompson all of Simi Valley, CA, and Sherri Chenoweth of Pacific Grove, CA, and three grandchildren Dylan Jensen, Charlotte Chenoweth and Connor Chenoweth.
Thanks,Sherri (O'Connor) Chenoweth

Robert Stultz obituary

So I don't forget...

Between chasing the kids and making half-hearted attempts to clean up around them, I've been reading a new book today. The book is a collection of short stories (I'm drawn to short story collections lately, in case you hadn't noticed) and is extremely well-written. The stories, though, are all about failed relationships-- divorce, death, loveless marriages, dysfunctional children... all very real, but kind of depressing. This afternoon, as I started yet another short story of a woman who wanted-- needed-- to get out of a bad situation, I started feeling really depressed. Do any of us have any hope at all? I wondered, and feared for myself and for my children, who haven't experienced any real loss in their lives yet. This hopeless feeling engulfed me when I went to meet Chris for a little date.

While I sat with my husband in a quiet place, another couple came in and started talking to us. They were celebrating their 59th wedding anniversary. Fifty-nine years. Isn't that amazing?

Even more amazing, touching, and ultimately quieting to my soul, was the sweet way the husband escorted his wife, the way their eyes glimmered when they told us how they had woken up this morning, looked at each other and said, "well, it's been a nice 59 years."

There are a lot of terrible things in this world, and my children will probably have their precious hearts broken once or twice. But there is also enough love to keep a couple together long enough that the hard times seem like a far-distant memory, and there is plenty of hope.

Jack Aoyagi obit notice

Holding on

I was going to blog about the ‘birthday season,’ which starts today in our families. Then came the news about Fort Hood.

Could I keep my media savvy younger teen son in the dark about this? Why was I even thinking that way? Protecting our children from knowledge about the evils in the world doesn’t protect them. And yet, even I, the mother so adept at letting go, sometimes want to cling so fiercely the physical ache is palpable.

On September 11th, 2001, my older son and his fifth grade classmates sat and watched as the airplanes crashed into the World Trade Center twin towers, the Pentagon and a field in southwest Pennsylvania. Some parents questioned whether their children should have been allowed to watch these events unfold. My husband and I, who met as journalism students in our very early 20s, agreed with the teacher’s decision. But that night we asked our son Erik, who is currently studying abroad in what used to be East Germany, his thoughts.

He told us, “We begged the teacher to keep the TV on. We had to know.”

Not knowing doesn’t prevent horrible things from happening. We cannot protect our children from all the evils in the world, no matter how badly we want to. Sometimes we’re immune even to protecting them in our own houses if something treacherous, like cancer or debilitating disease, strikes.

But we can inform, enlighten and educate them and love them…to pieces.

All the Hallows...

Oh, the Halloween festivities! We had such a great time this year-- no wonder it is Chris's, and now Gordon's, holiday. We had a very fun and candy-filled week last week, starting with "Boo at the Zoo". We met my sister, Ann-Michelle, there with her kids-- cousins always make every event that much more fun.

Boo at the Zoo can be summed up this way: a visit to the zoo in the freezing cold to show off your costume and get a bunch of tootsie rolls. Okay, so the candy was sub-par, but I would definitely consider our zoo trip a success. Unlike our trips in the summer, when most of the animals are just laying around in the heat, nearly every exhibit we visited was full of very active animals. Gordon was especially impressed and frequently remarked how "awesome" all of the animals were. I loved his enthusiasm, especially considering that it was for something other than candy!

Our little troupe of zoo-goers (and yes, Thomas does that pose in every picture-- apparently that is what the "real" Luigi also does...)

In addition to candy stations, the zoo also had a little play area set up in the petting zoo. Gotta love hay!

On Friday, my first task was preparing for, then supervising Tom's class Halloween party. At the beginning of the year, I performed a stay-at-home-mom duty and showed up for a PTO volunteer tea... and somehow, I became the room mother. Super. I was pretty stressed about the whole thing until Chris reminded me that I was planning a party for a bunch of third graders and that they'd be happy if I just brought treats. He was right-- they had a blast decorating cookies, playing Halloween Bingo, and just enjoying an hour without schoolwork. I had fun, too, and now I even have some ideas for our Christmas party in December.

Gordon came along-- there is something about being in school that makes brothers sudden best friends.

On Saturday, we all headed to Salt Lake City to meet Chris's parents at a fabulous little restaurant downtown. Marilyn posted a review of the Basil Leaf Cafe on her blog-- and it really is that good! I had a delicious steak sandwich, but I think the winner was Marilyn's adobo chicken. Yum. Go there. Tell them we sent you.

After a tasty lunch, we went back to the brown house to relax, watch college football, and prep for trick-or-treating.

I think this was a pretty awesome year for costumes. First of all, I only bought some black make-up for Tom's face and a long-sleeved green shirt. I don't particularly mind spending money on Halloween costumes, but it just worked out this year that I didn't have to, and that came at a very nice time.

Love this little joker!

Gordon's costume was the best-- he wore this incredible dinosaur costume that Marilyn made for Andy 25-some-odd years ago. It fit Gordon perfectly and he made the most adorable dino! I did carry his long tail everywhere, but it was kind of nice to have a little leash!

Thomas, as mentioned, decided to revisit last year's theme as Luigi. His idea, really. We still had the hat and overalls, which now fit instead of being too big, and he was as happy as can be. I wonder if he'll be a Mario Brothers character next year? Bowser?

My little Neilbit is now the third Hansen child to wear the fabulous Tigger costume, and he looks just as cute and snuggly as his brothers did. The thing I love about this costume is that it's like wearing a full-length fur coat-- it's so warm and cozy. Unfortunately, most of the pictures I tried to take of this little squirmer look like this...

We went trick-or-treating in the neighborhood Chris grew up in, which made him really nostalgic. It made me want to live in a similar neighborhood and stay there so our kids can grow up with other kids and create those same kind of memories.

Later that night, we returned with an impressive candy stash and three happy little boys. Apparently a piece of Swedish Fish is all it takes to get a smile out of Neil!

Mother’s Occupation: Freelance Writer

In about twelve hours from now, I will be standing in my college professor husband’s feature writing classroom to discuss freelance writing. In another lifetime, I taught reporting with a decided features emphasis. Along with my writing partner/mother, I have co-authored 28 novels aimed at women with number 29 due at the first of the year.

Despite my ‘resume’ and doing tons of research and talking to my mother, who sold her first story to Highlights for Children in 1965, I have no clear idea of what wisdom I’m going to impart to these bright shiny faces.

My husband said he simply wants me to talk about how to find a niche and market articles, using the same principles I have always applied to writing and selling novels.

I still got zip.

When I was in elementary school, students had to fill out index cards at the start of each new year stating the occupation of each parent. I can vividly recall sitting in a second grade classroom in Three Rivers, Michigan and printing in block letters FREELANCE WRITER instead of ‘housewife’ following Mother’s Occupation:

My mother, Barbara Andrews, attended the University of Michigan in the 1950s. She realized journalism was not really her forte so she went home to Kalamazoo College. There she could ‘dabble’ in her interests such as writing and theater. She met my father in a play. They fell in love, got married and she decided not to attend law school in Indiana. Instead she taught junior high and eventually along came me, then Joan, Steve and Mark.

My father, a school personnel director, always wanted my mom to go back to teaching. However, daycare was non-existent in those days, she hated teaching and she’d have to drive to another district since nepotism policies prevented him from hiring her.

So she became a FREELANCE WRITER, turning out material for Sunday School magazines, crossword puzzles, true confessions, antiques publications.  Then one day my Aunt Marge, who owned a flea market near the shores of Lake Michigan, gave my mom a big bag of used Harlequin Romances. My mother studied those stories and went on to write numerous romances under her own name. When I was pregnant with my first son, he of the wandering nature, she suggested we team up. I’m plot, she’s character.

This month marks the 16th anniversary of the publication of our first co-written book. On the day we sold that partial manuscript, we got a rejection letter back on another proposal.

Kinda puts things in perspective.

In the morning, I’ll be able to pull stuff together and go in and tell my husband’s students that if they want to be FREELANCE WRITERS, more power to ‘em.

And then I’ll tell ‘em how.

Not that I have all the answers by any means… in fact I’ve been soliciting help from my writer friends…but it is the family business.

Obit Notice Randy Wayne Bell


Happy Halloween!! We had a wonderful one-- I'll post all about it tomorrow! For now, let me just say that I'm thankful for these cute little pumpkins and the cute boys who carved them! :)

Hiawatha Breakfast 2 Nov 2009

There were 12 of us at the breakfast this morning. Of course since it is that time of year there were great deer hunting stories from years gone by. Then the deer hunting stories finally shifted to fishing tales and there were a lot of them. It is a miracle that any deer or fish survived for the younger generation?? Then naturally the golfers had some great tales to tell. We all had a good time.
Dean Petrulas, Wally Baldwin, Tom Nielson, Don Reaveley, Paul Mecham, Darrell Beranson, Jim Bearnson, Archie McCarrie, Ken Allred, Bob Wilde, Glen Davis, Mike Manousakis.

Plain and Simple

We had lots of trick or treaters on Halloween, our second here on the ‘prairie.’ Perhaps it was the gorgeous sunny weather that brought out all the firemen, fairy princesses and other costumed cherubs. Sitting and waiting for the doorbell to ring, I managed to read an entire book.

War and Peace it was not.

Instead it was a slim tome titled “Plain and Simple,” next month’s selection for the book club I belong to. It’s a lovely companion piece to the one the group is reading this month, “The Midwife's Tale.” If you haven’t read this Gretchen Moran Laskas book set against an Appalachian background at the beginning of the last century, run, don’t walk, to get it.

Though very different, both books share a common thread of women searching for their true purpose in life. Both are about women striving to find the true meaning of why they were put on this earth…where they’ve been and where they’re headed.

A person’s connection to God also finds a foothold in these stories.

After a lifetime spent steeped in the Anglican/Martin Luther-ism traditions, I’ve “officially” become a Methodist (along with my family). The senior pastor’s forte is preaching without ever scolding, reminding people to carry the Lord’s purpose for them beyond the Sunday services. Yesterday Pastor Gary asked us to silently reflect on where God was going to take us this week.

The woodshed is the first thing that popped into my mind.

My path to living a good Christian life sometimes traverses a slippery slope. Some areas I’d give myself passing grades, others not so much. I may disclose what I weigh, but I won’t divulge my spiritual shortcomings!

When I shared this with Pastor Rebecca, the vibrant associate pastor, she asked if I’d read “The Shack.” If you could bottle her excitement and enthusiasm, no one would ever feel weary. I told her no, but I plan to now after her recommendation.

This is the place where I should say I plan also to take some time to reflect where I’m going and what my purpose is along the way. That’s not me, though. I believe in action, not introspection.

So I’m going to read some more books, eat some leftover candy and try to stay out of the woodshed.