Happy Birthday, Nancy Drew

Intrepid girl detective Nancy Drew is 80 today, a fact I learned from the Facebook status update of one of my former journalism students when she linked to this USA Today article. (Thanks, Melissa Hostutler!)

Immediately I followed suit, linking to the article and wishing ‘Nancy’ a happy birthday too. Soon other friends of mine were sharing their reminisces of the books that gave all of us countless hours of joy when we were young.

Several prominent women, including Justice Sandra Day O’Connor, Secretary of State Hillary Clinton, and former First Lady Laura Bush have listed Nancy Drew as an influence.

Nancy Drew was a huge influence on my decision to become a journalist (I’m too cowardly to snoop around scary attics!) and a writer in general. Ironically, as big a mystery fan as I am…I don’t have a mystery writer’s ‘voice.’ And my mother/writing partner (my other big influence!) and I don’t have a collective mystery voice together.

But we share a love for stories with mystery and mayhem.

Nancy and her pals Bess and George were always on the trail of bad guys (or gals…?), zipping around in her speedy roadster. Good-natured Ned was secondary, and we readers know poor Mrs. Gruen could never rein Nancy in.

Years later, as a mother, I think Nancy would never have been allowed to get into all the ‘scrapes’ she did if her mother was alive. No figuring out “The Clue of the Velvet Mask” or “The Secret in the Old Attic” or “The Mystery at Lilac Inn.”

As a child, nothing made me happier than to get to stay home sick from school, tucked into my top bunk in the room I shared with my sister, a pile of Nancy Drew mysteries by my side.

When I was a child organized sports didn’t exist for girls (I woulda been a halfway decent soccer player…at ten), and it wasn’t until mid-year of sixth grade that the fairer sex was allowed to wear pants to school in the small Michigan town I lived in.

Happy Birthday, Nancy Drew. You’ve come a long way, and so have we.

Another brain fart, courtesy of Stitches 77

Here is another brain fart by the head idiot over at AZU, Stitches 77. Above, Stitches states Mary does not believe anyone should be on a public registry "except for people who criticize her views of course." And she posts a link to MY anti-vigilante petition. See link below:


It boldly states the anti-vigilante bill was created by me and posted at http://www.oncefallen.com/, NOT by Mary Duval. Nor does the petition state the database of individuals participating on sites like Absolute Zero United be on a PUBLICLY ACCESSIBLE registry. However, places like AZU should be closely monitored. After reading many of the comments well documented here at the anti-AZU site, it is easy to see why. So show YOUR support by signing this all-important petition!

Speaking of Mary Duval, if you want the truth about what she's saying, and not the AZU interpretation, the listen to her show, American's Reality Check Radio. http://www.talkshoe.com/tc/29521 . Go listen for yourself, and see even more examples of how AZU gets it wrong.
Today we have a short post from Viking magazine editor, Amy B about the 13th Annual Ibsen Festival. If you have unique ways that Norwegian culture is celebrated in your area, share them with Viking magazine by e-mailing vikingeditor@mspcustomcontent.com.

This past weekend marked the Commonweal Theater’s 13th Annual Ibsen Festival in Lanesboro, Minn—a “weekend celebrating Scandinavian theater, visual art, music and dance.” This year’s festival centered around Ibsen’s lesser-known play “John Gabriel Borkman.” The story of a banker who steals from his customers, the play is a timely examination of greed, lust and power. (It’s funny how well Ibsen’s work holds up, isn’t it?)

Next spring, the Commonweal will stage a production of Ibsen’s “Enemy of the People” and will take its production on the road throughout the Midwest. Sounds like a great lodge outing to me!

April and me

As I sit writing this on a lovely Sunday afternoon on the prairie (which two springs in a row has tried to suffocate me with allergies that trigger asthma), my husband is winging his way home from a conference in Reno, Nevada via Denver.

He’s been attending this particular conference of social scientists, mass communicators, et al for nigh onto 20 years.

It wasn’t until we moved east, however, that the conference ‘curse’ hit.

This year the curse has lain fairly dormant, though the hot water heater is acting funky and my husband nearly got bumped from his flight with a possibility of not flying in until tomorrow morning.

Nine years ago my husband came home from the April conference, also in Reno that year, sicker than a dog. Soon after he was diagnosed with adult-onset diabetes.

Subsequent springs brought a bout of raw sewage on the back patio of our old house, the death of my dear friend Mary Rodd Furbee (sister of my darling friend Susan Case), and more health scares for my spouse.

I called my husband in tears that horrible April of 2004 when 49-year-old Mary, our work colleague and friend, died. He’d rented a motorcycle and was out riding in the snow in Utah, where the meetings were held that year. He flew home early, sick again. Very sick.

He had hepatitis, and the doctor ordered tests for Hepatitis A because of concerns about his traveling. All of us in the family were tested: my mom, my sons, and me.

All negative.

Eventually, hepatitis A to Z (if such a thing exists) were ruled out. We made numerous trips to the amazing infectious disease specialist. I exaggerate, but he was tested for hepatitis you only get from crocodiles in the Nile.

Meanwhile, he kept getting sicker and sicker, dropping weight, his diabetes getting worse. Throughout it all he never let up from his demanding job.

I thought he was going to die.

He wasn’t. It turns out he had pharmacological-induced hepatitis, caused by the change in cholesterol medicine that our insurance dictated.

His pancreas did fail around the same time… and he ‘morphed’ from a Type 2 diabetic to a hybrid Type 1. The hepatitis may or may not have contributed to this.

I know there’s no curse… just the everyday realities of living. The good, the bad, and the annoying.

But I’m gonna be awfully happy to see him walk through that door… like he has so many times before.

"Mello" Pappas Pazell obit notice


Okay. Okay! Blogging at last!

I've debated about this for the past while and decided that I'm going to go ahead and combine all of my stuff-- life, digital scrapping, cooking, reading-- onto this one blog. I figure that it's pretty reasonable to be able to keep up with one blog, so hopefully consolidation is a good thing in this case. Life has been good. Busy, of course, and crazy, but good.

Spring is almost here in Idaho (although it did try to snow yesterday, nothing stuck, so ha!) and I'm so very ready to get outside. Tom fished his bike out of the storage shed and has been riding back and forth along the little gravel road beside my parents' yard, the dog racing not too far behind. Gordon likes to play in the front yard with the rocks (and yes, we've gone over the rules: you cannot throw rocks at people, animals, or cars), and the dirt, and the bugs... you know, boy stuff. Neil is obsessed with balls ("bah!") and got so excited over this one at Target that I couldn't resist.

So very cute! So, there's my life update for the moment. Tomorrow I'll post about some of my

The Write Stuff

This morning my husband, mom and I went to 8:15 church, heard a wonderful sermon on prayer by Pastor Rebecca, and came home. Pretty typical Sunday morning, though sometimes dh and I hit Walmart after church because it’s less crowded then.

We deviated from the norm a bit and took a walk before our usual waffle brunch (husband cooks). When we got back, my mom was paging through the annual ‘What People Earn’ issue of Parade Magazine.

“Stephenie Meyer earned $50 million last year,” my mom informed me, adding didn’t I have any bestseller young adult ideas in my arsenal….

According to past interviews with Meyer, she dreamed the idea for her uber successful “Twilight” novel.

After re-watching the movie “Speed” last night, I dreamed I was locked in a room with a group of people. The room was slowly filling with poisonous gas, and we all had to breathe through nose plugs.

I think it’s been done. And if not, I don’t wanna write it.

At about age ten, I realized a career as a musical comedy star on Broadway required talents I lacked. So I decided to follow in the footsteps of Jean Kerr, Shirley Jackson and my mother.

Though my freelance income is closer to that of the switchboard operator from Erie, Pennsylvania (whose salary is also listed in the magazine) than to Meyer’s, it was a good decision.

My mom has had more than 50 books published, and our 29th together comes out this summer.

I sing in the shower, stumble my way through zumba class, and sit down every day at the computer…grateful, grateful, grateful.

Hiawatha "Ladies" Luncheon 1 March 2010

Hiawatha "Ladies" Luncheon 1 March 2010

Hiawatha "Ladies" Luncheon 1 March 2010

Hiawatha "Ladies" Luncheon 1 March 2010

Hiawatha "Ladies" Luncheon 1 March 2010

Hiawatha "Ladies" Luncheon 1 March 2010

Hiawatha "Ladies" Luncheon 1 March 2010

Hiawatha "Ladies" Luncheon 1 March 2010

April 9: Never Forget

Today is an important day in the history of Norway, as it marks the 70th anniversary of an event that would have a major impact on Norway’s national identity as a country that believed in freedom and independence above all else.

On April 9, 1940 Nazi Germany launched Operation Weserübung, the full invasion of Norway. By the end of the day, citizens of Norway would see German warships in the fjords leading to Oslo and hear the voice of Vidkun Quisling making the first-ever radio-effected coup d'etat. In memorial coverage of the invasion, Aftenposten recently wrote that, “Norway was woefully unprepared for the attack by the forces of Adolf Hitler. Norway had been neutral during World War I but reports of its horrors gave rise to widespread pacifism in Norway that extended through the 1930s. By the time Hitler’s aggression was finally recognized, it was too late to build up a military defense.”

It was a dark day for Norwegians to be sure.

But today, 70 years later, the event is memorialized in places like Oscarborg fortress and elsewhere throughout Norway. Many Norwegians are participating in some form of ceremony today, in remembrance of the events that kicked off Norway’s now famous resistance movement which led to the eventual reclaiming of their homeland. Additionally, Norway’s state archives, the Riksarkivet marked the anniversary by releasing thousands of pages of war documents, which reveal new details about the resistance effort, the deportation of Norwegian Jews and plans by Vidkun Quisling to set up a Norwegian Aryan colony in the former Soviet Union.

Events like this should never be forgotten, if for no other reason than to prevent them from happening again. That said, I’d like everyone reading this today to join Norwegians around the world in taking a moment to pause in reflection of the horrors of what happened in 1940, and during the war years that followed.

Sons of Norway members in New York in 1940, drawing up papers for a formal protest of Germany's invasion of Norway.

If Norway circa World War II, or its resistance movement are of interest to you, I highly recommend you check out the October 2008 issue of Viking magazine, or click here to read stories from the resistance that we posted on the blog last year. There's also some great articles over at newsinenglish.no on the remembrance and the release of war documents this year.

A Smorgasbord of Nordic Cinema

The Norwegian blockbuster, “Max Manus,” was highlighted in February’s issue of Viking magazine. If you live in or around the Twin Cities, now is your chance to see the WWII thriller, which sold more than 700,000 tickets in Norway. Not bad for a country of less than 5 million movie-goers!

The screening of “Max Manus” will kick off the 28th annual Minneapolis-St. Paul International Film Festival, which runs April 15-30 at St. Anthony Main Theater in Minneapolis. The film will be introduced by Norwegian resistance hero Gunnnar Sønsteby, who, at the age of 92, remains the most highly decorated citizen in Norwegian history.

This year’s film festival includes six films from Norway, plus nearly a dozen other Nordic films. Whether or not you live in the Twin Cities area, if you love the cinema, you’ll want to check out this year’s festival entries and add some to your must-see list.

Online trolls aka cowards hiding behind a keyboard

YouTube video showing the prevalence of cyber-bullying


Almost Heaven

Even though we lived in West Virginia for fifteen years, we aren’t from West Virginia. And, even though we moved to that mountain state from Arizona, we weren’t from the southwest either. My husband and I are Midwesterners, born and bred. Geographically, I’m not sure how the upper Great Lakes state of Michigan qualifies as the middle west, but it’s an attitude not a latitude.

After all those hilly years, the flatlands of the prairie still seem strange. Nebraska and her people feel, if not like home, at least familiar.

Our older son, who at age two-and-a-half was climbing 200 steps up to see Anasazi ruins just outside Flagstaff, couldn’t wait to see the world when he set off as a foreign exchange student to Germany at age sixteen.

Later, though the conversation details are fuzzy, I’m sure he told me he’d learned the lesson that you don’t really appreciate what home is until you leave it.

To me much of life can be summed up by lessons Dorothy learned in The Wizard of Oz. My sons never shared my devotion to that movie, watching it year after year as I did. I think it’s a girl thing, but I wouldn’t trade my boys for all the pink in the world.

These sons of mine grew up ‘back east.’ Someday I will ask them where they consider themselves ‘from.’

This week a tragic mine explosion rocked the state of West Virginia. The death toll is horrifying. In the last year, the company was fined a huge amount for safety violations.

Please pray for the miners and their families. We all have a little piece of West Virginia in our hearts this week, whether we’re ‘from’ there or not.

Rob Taylor master of hypocrisy

In light of Rob Taylor's most recent comments, I thought I'd bring something up. Rob Taylor is a hypocrite. You can't expect anything less from a bona fide conspiracy nutjob like him, but he's even worse than your average nutjob. Recently I had brought up the fact that many pagan groups tolerate pedophilia, and he claimed I "knew nothing about paganism." (By the way Robbie, I know more about it than you do, apparently). But anyways, on his PACA profile page, he says just the opposite:

In addition to being caught in an obvious contradiction, Robbie knows how to spot "vulnerable ones." Sounds a little creepy to me. And he was rebuked by another pagan, but Robbie is right, many Pagan groups teach free love and no limits on sexual behaviors. For once Robbie and I see eye to eye! Thanks for admitting what I've said all along!

Lois (Wall) Jensen obituary

Fiddling Builds Bridges

In the April issue of Viking, Sarah Nagell credits her study of Hardanger fiddle as the cupid's arrow that began her love affair with Norwegian folk music. Over the past 30 years, St. Olaf music professor Andrea Een has taught Hardanger fiddle to about 50 students at the college, exposing many to a new musical genre and inspiring several to continue studying, playing, and performing the instrument throughout their adult lives.

To see and hear what Een and her students have been up to recently, check out “Bridge of Peace: Swedes and Norwegians Fiddle in Harmony,” a joint concert between The Lars Skjervheim Spelemannslag of St. Olaf College, a group that Een leads; the Twin Cities Hardingfelelag, some of whom are Een’s former students; and the fiddling group from the American Swedish Institute. You can find the archived concert—along with the concert program—on the college’s website. Enjoy!

Photo: David Gonnerman