Shiitake Awards 2010 AZU Edition

Well it is official! Clay Keys edged out Stitches 77 as the least favorite AZU poster of 2010 and has earned a special AZU version of the 2010 Shiitake Awards! I wonder how Absolute Zero United feels about having a Registered Sex Offender as the unofficial leader of their group.

AZU is a hotbed of hypocrisy, and Clay Keys's presence there is proof of that. Then again, as I've stated at this blog for nearly three years now, AZU is not about "exposing pedophiles" like they claim, it is all about trolling and cyber-bullying, which is something Clay does well. After all, it wasn't that long ago Clay was using Jessica Lunsford's face as an avatar to get under AZU's skin.

The only question now is if Clay will keep the title another year, or if some other AZU schmuck will win next year. Only time will tell.

Bit by the Travel Bug?

Have you seen January's travel issue of Viking? I'm afraid the whole Viking staff was seriously infected by the travel bug while we were working on it. Among this month's features, you'll find "From Sea to Sky," an inspiring travelogue by Carter Walker describing a day trip her she took with her family through central Norway.

If you've also been bitten by the travel bug, you'll enjoy this amazing gallery of Norway photos on the National Geographic website. While you're there, you'll find helpful background information about the country, some interesting travel-related features and an interactive map--perfect for planning your next Norwegian adventure. Enjoy!

Amy Boxrud is editor of Viking magazine. She lives with her family in Northfield, Minn., where she’s a member of Nordmarka 1-585.

Photo courtesy of Flickr user Suomi Star

You say you want a resolution….

Last fall I started blogging to jumpstart my creativity and to work through issues of aging, etc. Fifty loomed like the Sword of Damocles, and I was on the verge of fulfilling my lifelong dream of writing fulltime.

Terrifying. Absolutely terrifying.

What a journey. That I would actually use the term ‘journey’ shows what a long, strange trip it’s been. This excursion soon derailed. The first month of the new year brought highs (birth of my newest niece, Reese) and lows (unexpected death of my beloved Aunt Judy, my mom’s kid sister).

Suddenly I was one of those writers who found excuses not to write. Years ago my mom/writing partner and I penned one of our favorite romances ever in the midst of the breakup of her 40-year marriage. If we were under deadline in a tsunami, the book would get done. That’s just how we roll.

But I wasn’t rolling at the beginning of the year, I was thudding. The deadline work got done, but nothing new or creative blossomed.

The rocky road of 2010 continued. Memories of the good still comfort, the bad doesn’t bear repeating. This December brought a mini meltdown from me over my college-age son moving into an apartment five minutes away. This is the son who’s been overseas twice…the first time at age 16 as a foreign exchange student.

Holding on and breaking down?

And then I turned 51 the day after Christmas. The promise of a new year and new beginnings creaked to life.

My dear friend and prolific romance writer Holly Jacobs doesn’t make resolutions, she says, instead she picks a word to define the upcoming year.

Last year at this time I didn’t make formal resolutions, but I met some goals and fell sadly short on others. This time I took a lesson from Holly and picked a phrase to navigate me into the new year.

Tabula rasa. Blank slate.

No matter what happened this year, 2011 heralds new beginnings. My newest niece is walking, my late aunt’s granddaughter is beautiful and loved, my older son continues to heed the call of his Viking blood, and my younger son gives me unmitigated joy.

And I get to wear my pajamas to work every day.

Happy New Year.

Eskendereya's half-sister graduates at second asking on Tampa turf

John Duca/Tom Cooley

Favored Wear Red, Eskendereya's two-year-old half-sister by first-crop sire Henny Hughes, rallied in the stretch of a one-mile maiden special weight turf test at Tampa Bay Downs today to prevail over nine rivals in her second start for conditioner Bill Mott.

The Kentucky-bred bay filly is the third winner from Seattle Slew's daughter, Aldebaran Light, who, in addition to Eskendereya, has also produced the graded stakes-winning Balmont (by Nureyev's son, Stravinsky), who captured the Shadwell Stud Middle Park Stakes-G1 and three other races in England.

Notably, each of Aldebaran Light's winners to-date is by a Northern Dancer-line stallion.  As such, they are all inbred to the influential foundation mare, Almahmoud, who is the second dam of Northern Dancer and the fifth dam of Aldebaran Light.

Wear Red's sire, Henny Hughes, is by Storm Cat's high-class son, Hennessy, whose last two-year-olds raced this year.  Henny Hughes himself was a top sprinter who captured the Grade I Vosburgh and King's Bishop but never won a race beyond seven furlongs.  To-date, he has sired two minor stakes-placed horses but has yet to get his first stakes winner.

Wear Red, who races in the colors of her breeder, Sanford R. Robertson, was offered at last year's Keeneland September sale before Eskendereya had made his first start, but was a buyback at $160,000.  In contrast, her half-sister by Giant's Causeway's son, First Samurai, sold for $525,000 at this year's Keeneland September auction, and was the top-priced yearling for her sire in 2010.


Great Grøt for a God Jul

It’s Christmas Eve! Do you know what you’ll be feeding your nisse tonight? In the December issue of Viking, Carter Walker writes, “At Christmas time, dutiful farmers always made sure to leave offerings, including porridge, as thanks to the nisser for their magical help around the barn.” And whether or not you have a nisse living in your barn, garden shed or garage, you will certainly want to have some porridge on hand tonight when the julenisse visits your house.

My family tested this traditional recipe for risengrynsgrøt, or rice porridge, last night and it was a hit! It’s easy to make and delicious topped with a little sugar and cinnamon.

You can read more about Norwegian Christmas traditions in the December issue of Viking.

From the staff of Viking, we wish you a God Jul!

Amy Boxrud is editor of Viking magazine. She lives with her family in Northfield, Minn., where she’s a member of Nordmarka 1-585.

Photo courtesy of Flickr user apoxapox.

Getting into the spirit of Christmas!

In anticipation of all the festivities throughout the weekend, I give you two great videos to help get you in the spirit.

First is a video of Sissel Kjyrkebø singing "Hark the Herald Angels Sing" with the Mormon Tabernacle Choir.

Next is a video of Rick Steves' Christmas in Europe series, highlighting Christmas in Norway. Specifically in Drobak, Norway. Enjoy!

2010 Julekonsert on PBS

The annual julekonsert, is a real Norwegian Christmas tradition. One which has been broadcast throughout Norway from a church in Hamar. I've seen video of it before and it truly is an amazingly beautiful juletide tradition.

Now, I've just heard that a number of PBS stations throughout the United States may be broadcasting the 2010 Julekonsert! Normally I would recommend spending the holidays enjoying the company of family and friends, rather than zoning out to another Charlie Brown Christmas Special, however this broadcast is so wonderful I'll break my rule this once. If your PBS station is showing the concert, definitely take the hour or so from your day and enjoy the luxurious sights and sounds of this awesome tradition.

Here's a preview with an intro by Princess Martha Louise and Harald Zwart.

Comma to the Top looks like he could be a good one

Benoit Photo/Hollywood Park
Though the start of Saturday's Cash Call Futurity--Hollywood Park's last Grade I race of the year--was held up for 30 minutes while favored Comma to the Top had a shoe replaced, the two-year-old gelding came out running as if nothing was amiss.  And when Corey Nakatani pushed the button, he effortlessly accelerated in the stretch of the mile and a sixteenth contest and beat everyone else to the wire, holding back even the relentless closing charge of the talented J. P.'s Gusto.  He won like a good horse does, and now his sights are on next spring's Run for the Roses.

Indeed, Comma to the Top's victory in the Cash Call Futurity was only the latest in what is now a five-race winning skein.  He's now won half of his 10 starts, including the Grade III Generous Stakes on the Hollywood turf, and earned $551,600.  Not a bad return on the $22,000 price he brought at auction earlier this year.

Comma to the Top is by far the most successful performer for his modestly priced sire, Bwana Charlie, who stands for $2500 in Ocala.  The bay gelding is a member of Bwana Charlie's second crop, and is the first graded stakes winner for this son of the tried and true Indian Charlie, who rocketed to prominence again this year because of the eye-catching exploits of his Uncle Mo, the all-but-crowned Two-Year-Old Champion Colt of 2010.  His talented daughter, Indian Blessing, was Champion Two-Year-Old Filly in 2007.

A cursory glance at Comma to the Top's pedigree wouldn't have pegged him as one who would become one of the best of his generation, and he was largely dismissed by the commercial marketplace, fetching a bid of onloy $5000 from astute pinhooker Clyde Rice, who plucked him out of the OBS October yearling sale.  Rice's Indian Prairie Ranch subsequently resold him for $22,000 to trainer Peter Miller at this year's OBS April Two-Year-Old-in-Training Sale.  Miller ran Comma to the Top in two maiden claimers; he won his first race for a $50,000 tag at Del Mar in July.

Comma to the Top is out of the Stormy Atlantic mare, Maggies Storm, who is a half-sister to the hard-knocking Yes He's a Pistol, a stakes-winning won of Yes It's True who has so far won 15 races in 71 starts and compiled earnings of $336,868.  It's a family that seems to produce runners who are genuine and sound, and perhaps just a notch below the highest calibre.

So what's the explanation for Comma to the Top's rise to the ranks of elite runners?  It might be in the fact that he's got no less than four distant crosses of the great Almahmoud, who John P. Sparkman has called, "the single most influential broodmare of the 20th century's second half."  And rightfully so.  Almahmoud is the ancestress of Bwana Charlie's maternal grandsire, the influential Halo (out of Cosmah), as well as of Northern Dancer (out of Natalma), who appears in Comma to the Top's pedigree both through Stormy Atlantic and in Bwana Charlie's fourth and fifth generation.

This pattern of inbreeding to Almahmoud by nicking the Northern Dancer and Halo lines has been a tried and true method of producing high-class athletes.  Among its most famous examples is two-time Champion Filly and Mare, Ashado (by Halo's son, Saint Ballado, out of Goulash, by Northern Dancer's son, Mari's Book).  And this year, we saw a similar pedigree pattern repeated in Eskendereya (Giant's Causeway -- Aldebaran Light, by Seattle Slew), whose brilliance was cut short before it really had a chance to shine. 

Whether Comma to the Top will be in the same league remains to be seen, but it's clear that he's moving in the right direction.

Lutefisk Capital of America? You Decide.

Here's a great video about a Sons of Norway member (and champion lutefisk eater) in Madison, MN. Enjoy the lutefisk!

Rob Taylor's latest insane ranting

Rob Taylor has apparently been adding something to that cup that's warping his mind. His latest insane rant has come in the form of a couple of direct emails. He threw a hissy fit because I complained to a website owner over an article where Taylor still insists on referring to me as a child rapist and pedophile. The problem is I was never convicted of rape, nor am I clinically diagnosed with pedophilia. That is what happens when you have elementary school dropouts writing insane rants on private blogs like Red-Alerts. Apparently freedom to Robbie boy means freedom to slander:

What I found odd was Rob Taylor is spewing venom about Clay Keys. Did he lose the memo that Clay Keys is now a bona fide menber of AZU? You're fine and dandy with Clay Keys playing cheerleader on AZU these days. The proof is in the pudding, or rather, the website:

Rob Taylor has either a serious case of denial or some really bad eyesight. However, for all the crap he said about Clay Keys in a private email but he's awfully mum about it out in public. It sounds a like like hypocrisy to me! Taylor is crying because I'm costing him work? Also bullshit. I didn't know harassment and slander was a full time job! You'd think of Robbie wanted to tell T-Sand to "fuck off," he'd do it himself.

UPDATE: The News Real Blog finally removed Taylor's trashy article. It certainly wasn't because of David Swindle. I went a little higher up on the corporate totem pole to find someone with a little common sense. If Robbie would keep my name out of his mouth, there wouldn't be a problem.


SSDD-- Same Shit, Different Design

First, the bad news-- Apparently some former members of Pee-J has repackaged the highly inaccurate Wikisposure information under the new name "Evil Unveiled."

The good news-- it gives those who missed out on suing Pee-J another opportunity to expose these frauds once and for all.

Despite Perverted-Justice's best efforts to deny this fact, Wikisposure was taken down because the info contained in the site was so slanderous and cast such a false light on the victims of Wikisposure made them criminally and civilly liable. Von Erck has been in and out of court over lawsuits, barely escaping a federal lawsuit which was even featured on ABC 20/20. It will be interesting to see if Pee-J can still be held liable for this new website.

On the plus side, the repackaged site has brought back T-Sand's old Wikisposure page:

UPDATE-- It didn't take long for Evil Unveiled to go back down as a result of "non-payment or abuse of account." Bye bye PJ wannabes!

Gifts for the Young (and Young at Heart)

Not quite done with your holiday shopping? For a heritage-filled gift for the young people in your life, consider a “campership” to Norwegian language camp. Every Sons of Norway district is home to at least one language camp (including District 8 in Norway, home to camp Little America.)

And remember … camp isn’t just for the young. It’s an experience the whole family can enjoy together. Districts 1, 2 and 6 (any maybe others) offer family camping experiences. Check out your district website to find the opportunities and scholarships available near you.

If you live in the Midwest, consider the Norwegian Family Fun Weekend at Skogfjorden, Jan. 14-17. Northern Minnesota in January might sound like a frigid destination, but Skogfjorden is a wonderful, koselig place in the winter, especially if cross-country skiing or hiking is something you enjoy.

For more heritage-themed gift ideas, check out our holiday gift guide in the November issue of Viking!

Amy Boxrud is editor of Viking magazine. She lives with her family in Northfield, Minn., where she’s a member of Nordmarka 1-585.

Lutfisk on the Radio

In keeping with this weeks tasty, though totally unintentional, food theme, let's talk lutefisk. A curious food, to be sure; rarely will you find a culinary dish that is so widely, and vocally, debated by supporters and critics alike. For example, Jeffrey Stengarten once compared it to a weapon of mass destruction, while many others spend great amounts of time searching for and attending as many lutefisk dinners in their area as possible.

If you follow my Twitter feed (@SonsofNorway)then you probably saw the tweet earlier this week about KCRW, a public radio station in California, doing a piece on Sons of Norway and the making of lutefisk. During its "Good Food" segment, contributor Eddie Lynn visited Norrona lodge 6-050 in Van Nuys, California. While there, he interviewed lodge members, including VP Gerald Rowe, about lutesfisk and the tradition of lutefisk dinners.

To listen to the entire story, click here and fast-forward to the 15:20 mark. For me, the highlight of the story was when the interviewer called lutefisk "a poor man's lobster." Sounds to me like there's another lutefisk convert waiting in the wings!

My Favorite Krumkake Recipe

Something interesting happened to me yesterday. A colleague asked me what I like most about this time of year, and I must admit it was a tough question to answer. Not because I'm some sort of grinch, exactly the opposite, actually. There are so many things I love about this time of year that I'm hard pressed to narrow it down to any single thing.

If I had to narrow it down, though, I'd have to say it's the food. Beyond the fact that this time of year is famous for the variety, the flavor and sheer volume of food, it's also notorious as a time of reflection. Maybe it's because December offers a great vantage point from which we can survey the year gone by; remembering the things that brought us joy, finding contentment in our successes and humor in our failings and considering the road not taken. More likely though, it's probably because it's been proven that food (or more accurately the smell of food) is one of the strongest triggers in recalling memories. I'm sure we all, at one point or another, have come to relate a certain smell with a memory of good times gone by.

For me, it's the smell of cookies baking. Specifically the smell of krumkake being made on a griddle. That particular smell takes me back to my childhood, spent with great-aunts and uncles who were one-generation-off-the-boat Norwegian Americans living in Northern Minnesota. It makes me think of their kitchens filled to the brim with people; some of them baking, some watching, some tasting, but all of them enjoying each others' company. And the noise, oh the sound of them all talking and laughing! Great memories to be sure.

So, because food is so important to the holiday season, I thought I'd share my favorite krumkake recipe with everyone! This is a tried and true recipe, that my wife and I love. In face we just made it over the weekend and can attest to its wonderful flavor. I hope you enjoy it as much as I have and that it can be a part of your own cherished memories.

Ingredients (makes approximately 50 krumkake)
  • 4 eggs
  • 1 1/2 cups all-purpose flour
  • 1 cup sugar
  • 1/2 cup (approx. 1 stick) unsalted sweet cream butter, melted and cooled
  • 2 tablespoons corn starch
  • 1/2 teaspoon vanilla extract
  • 1/2 teaspoon ground cardamom

In a mixer, combine eggs and sugar and slowly beat together. Next, pour the melted butter or margarine into your mixer along with the vanilla extract and ground cardamom.

Sift flour and corn starch then add to egg mixture. Mix together until dough has a thick pancake batter-like, or somewhat doughy, consistency.

Once your maker is up to full heat, it’s time place the dough on the griddle. For expedience it’s a good idea to use two spoons (one to scoop batter and the other to scrape the batter onto your krumkake maker. Remember to place krumkake dough a bit above the center of your griddle pattern, so there is ample room for the batter to move forward as you close the lid.

Leave the batter in the maker with the lid closed for 35 seconds.

Once done, remove with a thin spatula and roll or lay flat to cool. If you are going to roll them into their traditional cone shape, you will need to do so immediately as they cool and harden quickly. 

This recipe definitely has been described as very "cardamom-y" in that the cardamom flavor definitely comes through. If you are looking for a krumkake that's a bit sweeter you can either serve this recipe with whipped cream and preserves (which I wholeheartedly recommend), or you can reduce the amount of cardamom and increase the amount of sugar used. 

Certainties in life: Tomorrow the sun will rise and we shall make Gløgg!

We’ve all heard the saying that “only two things in life are certain: death and taxes.” Now, I don’t know about you but I find that to be a very bleak perspective. I'm guessing good ol' Ben Franklin came up with that little saying because he never heard of Gløgg. If he had, then he'd probably have demanded that this holiday staple be served at all of his Christmas and New Year's parties!

So, since it 'tis the season, I bring you something that will brighten up the day and help spread joy among all:  the annual posting of the Gløgg recipe!    

I’ve been monitoring a marked increase in searches for a Gløgg recipe, so it’s time once again to post a link and make it easier to find. Just a reminder, this is a 40+ year old recipe and even though it dates back to the days of LBJ it still holds up as good as ever.

To serve 20-25

2 quarts dry red wine (about 2 standard 750 mL bottles)
2 quarts muscatel (or muscato)
1 pint sweet vermouth
2 tablespoons Angostura bitters
2 cups raisins
Peelings of 1 orange
12 whole cardamoms, bruised in a mortar with a pestle or by covering with a towel and crushing with a rolling pin
10 whole cloves
1 piece (about 2 inches) of fresh ginger
1 stick cinnamon
1 ½ cups akevitt (preferably Linie)
1 ½ cups sugar
2 cups whole almonds, blanched and peeled

 Adapted from Recipes: The Cooking of Scandinavia. Time-Life Books. New York, 1968

Before you start cooking/drinking this holiday elixir, though, make sure you read the original blog post with commentary from Cultural Advisor, Colin Thonsen. It’ll make the preparation and cooking process go a lot smoother.

Enjoy the Gløgg!

Rosemaling the winter away

If you've been following the news lately, then you know we Minnesotans have had a heck of a winter so far. Let's run down the checklist, Shall we?
  • So much snow that it caved in a professional sports stadium? Check.
  • High temps in the single digits and overnight lows in the negative doubles? Check.
  • Getting less than 7 hours of sunlight per day? Check.
If the winter so far is any indication, I think it's fairly certain that most of us in the upper Midwest will be spending a LOT of time indoors over the next couple of months.

Unfortunately, for many of us, cabin fever sets in all too easily, which can make the coldest months of the year some of the longest and most excruciating of all. So, that leaves us with the question of what to do to fill the time until spring comes?

How about rosemaling?

I've just gotten word that Sons of Norway and Vesterheim are collaborating on an new type of rosemaling class. It's going to follow the first level of the Sons of Norway Rosemaling Cultural Skills Program, but will be taught in a group setting by Vesterheim Gold Medall Winner, Shirley Evenstad! If you aren't familiar with her work, check out one of your recent Viking magazines and look for the Sons of Norway Christmas ornament--Shirley is the talented artist behind this year't Hallingdal Rose design! She's an amazing artist who has studied with several master teachers at Vesterheim and in Norway.

This four-part class is going to be held every Saturday, from January 22nd until February 12, 2011 at Church of the Good Shepherd on 48th and France Avenue in Minneapolis, MN. Aspiring rosemalers will learn the basic strokes, simple flower and scroll forms, and complete a small 5-6 inch design done on a backgrounded plate or paper. Cost the class is $85 for Sons of Norway or Vesterheim members, plus an additional $40-$50 for supplies.

I think this sounds like a really fun way to while away the hours this winter! If you do as well, then all you need to do is register contact Vesterheim Museum at (563) 382-9681 or by e-mail at

Dead Pedophiles Society starring Jacey

AZU's latest offering is the latest rehash of bad leftovers; in this case, the "bad leftovers" is AZU getting off on suicide. If thoughts always leads to actions as AZU is claiming RSOs do, then AZU needs a serious mental evaluation.

Scandinavian Chic

Looking for a heritage-inspired gift for your favorite fashionista? If you haven’t noticed, Nordic-inspired knits are bigger than ever.

Travel + Leisure magazine recently featured a lovely assortment of woolly wares in their October issue. Seem strangely familiar? Yep, they are to me too. These are the type of staple items—many of them hand-knits or hand-me-downs—that have gotten me through a lifetime of Minnesota winters.

CNBC’s Consumer Nation website featured a Scandinavian-style sweater among their trendiest holiday gifts for 2010. “Nordic chic—I think this trend is only going to grow bigger,” explains fashion trend consultant Catherine Moellering in the site’s gift guide.

Feeling inspired? You’ll find a traditional Norwegian mitten pattern in the September issue of Viking. If you’re not a knitter, you’re still in luck. Scandinavian retailers like Ingebretsen’s offer a great selection of hats, mittens and sweaters online. Bargain hunters might want to check out eBay or Google Shopping for serious deals on new and vintage knitwear. Even Target is picking up on the trend with Nordic knit slippers.

I’m glad to know that—at least this winter—my collection of well-loved Norwegian sweaters, hats and mittens are in style. But I won’t be packing them up when the trend is over … I’ll just be ready when it comes around again!

Amy Boxrud is editor of Viking magazine. She lives with her family in Northfield, Minn., where she’s a member of Nordmarka 1-585.

Photo courtesy of Flickr user aslakr.

AZU's silly boycotts again

AZU and their silly boycotts. The problem with the double boycotts of Amazon and Disney/ ABC's 20/20 TV show is their line of reasoning.


AZU has been boycotting them for a while but they were hoping to cash in over the recent news report of a so-called pedophile book on the internet. aside from the fact the story had a lot of holes in it, and the fact Amazon actually pulled the e-book after complaints were filed, AZU has kept this silly boycott idea at the top of their website. There's one little problem with the news story that prompted the latest controversy. Amazon has a feature that allows anyone to write and publish a book. In fact, I have written my own e-Book, available on Amazon. Within 72 hours, your e-Book will be available for the world to see... and buy. No one reads a book in 72 hours, much less the hundreds of thousands of e-Books Amazon has available in it's Kindle store. It is no different in function than Google's Blogspot, which hosts both AZU's blog and this anti-AZU blog. Amazon essentially offers a service that allows people to publish electronically for free (Amazon gets a cut of all book sales, of course). It is silly to expect to play censor to everyone's whims. Hell, if I had my way, I'd have ever copy of Anna Salter's crappy book burned but I doubt a boycott would achieve anything.


First off, the original beef was with John Stossel, who now works with FOX. The original beef was because John Stossel aired a show in which former PJ/AZU troll Barbara "Petra Luna" Ochoa made a complete drunken ass of herself on TV. They created a blog to attack Disney, which owns ABC, in retaliation. To justify their attacks, they post any arrests of Disney workers for any sex crimes, like THIS ONE, a worker who allegedly molested a girl while wearing a Tigger costume. There is just one little detail they missed. THE MAN WAS ACQUITTED ON ALL CHARGES!

Absolute Zero United never let things like THE TRUTH get in the way of their slanderous campaigns. They will not be missed.

Happy Birthday, Leigh

I’m a whiner. I admit it. Not about the big stuff but the middlin’ stuff like shoes that pinch and birthdays that end in zero.

So I spent most of 2009 whinin’ and complainin’ about turning 50, which I did last December 26th. I shoulda just kept my trap shut since I had the best birthday ever thanks to my wonderful friend, Leigh Limerick Rosenecker, formerly of North Carolina, currently residing in Morgantown, West Virginia.

As I wrote last year in this space Leigh, “mom extraordinaire, ace cake decorator and one-day Jeopardy champ, set up a Facebook group to secretly gather 50th birthday greetings for me. She printed the messages out, cut them into strips, punched holes and stuck multicolored birthday candles into them before mailing them off to my husband.”

Once I stopped crying, I had simply the best birthday ever. New friends gathered to help me celebrate as my cake with 50 candles blazed, the greetings from family and old friends more warming than the flames.

Tonight when the clock strikes midnight Leigh hits one of those ‘ends in zero’ birthdays. And I want to wish this extraordinary friend an extraordinarily happy birthday.

We met one summer nearly a decade ago in room three of Martin Hall, home to the school of journalism at West Virginia University, in a reporting class I was teaching. She was an ‘adult student,’ along with our still-friend Steven. Her presence left one classmate ‘star struck’ because he’d grown up listening to her father, Doug Limerick, a longtime radio newsman /sometime replacement host for Paul Harvey.

Her presence immediately enriched my life. Some people tell stories; Leigh is the story. When she started talking in her rich voice ripe with traces of her North Carolina-ness, I never wanted her to stop. Whether it was about making biscuits on an old cast-iron stove or covering a story for her then employer about antique firearms, I wanted to hear more.

Leigh’s heart is as big as her talents, which include writing, baking, being smart (‘Nice girl but about as sharp as a sack of wet mice,’ is the self-effacing Foghorn Leghorn quote she embraces & uh, Jeopardy big bucks winner!) and mothering. She has two adorable towheads, Colin and Charlie.

Because it’s your birthday, Leigh, I won’t make any comments about Alton Brown-like hairstyles! Leigh is not a fan of Mr. Brown and should probably be the next Food Network star, though she shuns the spotlight.

This woman is stunning and funny and warm and sincere and ribald and clever and the best friend, the kind you can just pick up with after months of only conversing via a social media site.

If you were the 21st century equivalent of the little match girl, Leigh would take you in, warm you up, introduce you to her goldfish, and feed you cookies.

And if you were a whiney, cranky woman on the verge of a nervous breakdown over a date on your birth certificate, she would gather up words, your most cherished thing (besides your own children) and shower you with them.

Thank you again, my dear friend. And Happy Happy Birthday!

P.S. Your real present will be in the mail…

2010 Everyday Zeroes Nominees

2010 has been a slow year, but there are three nominees for the "Everyday Zeroes" vigilante category at the Annual Shiitake Awards website. You can access the site by clicking on the link:

Since this is a blog about vigilantes, and since one of them has been posted here already, I'm adding the category here. Go and vote for your favorite!

Jasen D. Bruce, Florida: Marine reservist turned pharmacist and wannabe model, Bruce attacked a Greek Orthodox priest who stopped and asked him for directions. Bruce, who beat the priest with a tire iron, claimed the priest was a "robber, terrorist, and molester." Can't we ship him to Iraq or something? By the way, he's from Florida, what does that tell you?


Barbara Farris, Florida: Farris has everything we expect in this category-- notoriety, stupidity, and the fact she lives in Florida. She was arrested in Alabama for Menacing; Farris claims the charges were dropped. She never learned her lesson-- she is facing more charges of harassment and impersonating a police officer.


David Griffon, California: This man assaulted and robbed a sex offender and attempted to rob another registrant before being taken down by the police. He faces multiple charges, including assault, trespassing, vandalism, burglary, and assault with a deadly weapon. He used the Megan's Law website to choose his victims.


I'm sure there will be no shortage of award nominees next year!

Change is gonna do you good…not!

According to recent news reports, the social media network Facebook is trying to replace LinkedIn as a professional connection service.

Okay, did you or did you not find that paragraph borrrring?

That first graph exemplifies what is happening to Facebook, a wonderful amalgamation of a ‘globalvillagecoffeeklatch- sixdegreesofkevinbacon’ experience.

As a former journalist I have nothing against the sacred five w’s and an h, but I don’t want the first thing I see on my friends’ ‘profile’ pages to be where they went to school, who they’re married to, and what their occupation is.


Instead, give me a ‘personal’ barometer about how they’re feeling, the ‘h’ being the most neglected of the journalistic canon.

Yes, it’s just trading one kind of egomaniacal labeling for another.

But it’s that connectedness of the non-professional kind that makes social networking ‘social.’

I am not an advocate against change, having gone to three high schools and two colleges and having lived in five, count ‘em, five states.

Normally I embrace big changes, though I must admit smaller ones like a new pair of shoes or spectacles throw me.

Being a child of change is the very reason I adore Facebook. Or did. On any given day Facebook ‘newsfeed’ tells me how one of my very best friends from elementary school days in a frigid Great Lakes state is faring during a cold spell in her adult home in the south or how special former students of mind are doing in the ‘real world’ of marriage, parenthood, and work. Mark Zuckerberg’s brainchild (his movie pretend girlfriend was right; he is a jerk) allows a connectedness and interaction that transcends geographic and historical boundaries.

Now Facebook wants the first thing I see about my friends on their homepage to be where they went to school. I need my media scholar husband to explain the particulars to me, and I’m sure the ‘newsfeed’ will still feed me pertinent news, but in the end, I don’t want resumes.

I want the first thing I know about the boy with the curly hair and wool sweater whom I never kissed but probably should have 30 years ago, is that he’s having a good day with his son.

Professionally that knowledge is useless, but personally…it’s priceless.

George & Helen Manousakis & children

A Royal Respite

This time of year, everyone is ready for a change of pace. Apparently that’s true for Norway’s royals as well.

Crown Prince Haakon and Crown Princess Mette-Marit began a two-month vacation with their children at the end of November.

“We want to be together as a family,” the Crown Prince told the Norwegian Broadcasting Corporation. “We want to show our children a bit of the world, that there are many different cultures and many ways of living.”

The family isn’t disclosing where they will be traveling and they’ve requested to take a holiday from the press as well. They chose to travel now because their royal duties were relatively light in December and January, according to an article on the website News and Views from Norway.

To read more about the Norwegian monarchy, check out the December issue of Viking. You can also follow the Royal Couple on Twitter, although I wouldn’t expect many Tweets from them until the family returns home at the end of January.

Amy Boxrud is editor of Viking magazine. She lives with her family in Northfield, Minn., where she’s a member of Nordmarka 1-585.

Photo: Sølve Sundsbø / Det kongelige hoff

Welcome New Cultural Coordinator, Marit Barkve!

Sons of Norway’s Fraternal Department is happy to welcome our newest staff member, Marit Barkve. Marit comes to us with a wealth of Norwegian knowledge and will be working closely with our members as our new cultural coordinator. But, before we learn more about what Marit will be doing, lets learn more about her. So here goes!

Where are you from originally?

I grew up in Shoreview, Minnesota.

Where did you work before joining Sons of Norway?
I worked with two non-profit organizations, one based out of Washington state called Northwest Immigrant Rights Project, the other was Refugee Council USA out of Washington D.C.

What is your educational background?
I have a Bachelor of Arts degree in Norwegian Language and Global Studies as well as a minor in Political Science from Pacific Lutheran University in Tacoma, Washington. I also had the opportunity to study abroad at Hedmark University College or (Høgskolen i Hedmark) in Hamar.

So, I have to ask…Are you Norwegian?
Yes! Both of my parents have Norwegian ancestry. My father’s side of the family emigrated from a town in Norway called Jørpeland, just east of Stavanger, where my Norwegian “slekt” (family) resides today. I’m actually in contact with my fantastic relatives in Norway – I was fortunate enough to celebrate jul with them a few years back.

As the newest member of the Fraternal team, what are you most looking forward to in working at Sons of Norway?

I am thrilled to be a part of the Nordic community at Sons of Norway. I’ve always had a passion for my heritage and Norwegian culture and it is great to be able to work with it on a daily basis. I’ve been very warmly welcomed at headquarters and am really looking forward to learning more about Sons of Norway as an organization.

As Cultural Coordinator, what types of things will you help members with?
Primarily, I will be organizing and maintaining the media lending library, however I will also be working on the Sports Medal Program, doing some event planning and assisting with any basic Norwegian language or culture questions.

Now that you will be overseeing the Media Lending Library…Do you have any favorite Norwegian films or musical artists?
I enjoy Scandinavian films in general but if I had to pick a favorite it would be a Norwegian film called “Folk flest bor i Kina.” Unfortunately, the film isn’t available in the U.S. yet.

Any hobbies?

Running. Swimming. Biking. I really enjoy being active and being outdoors. My favorite activity is downhill skiing. When I lived in Washington I went skiing on a regular basis. My newest venture is relearning how to cross-country ski.

Do you have any hidden talents that will be handy at Sons of Norway?

Usually when I get asked about any hidden talents I can fall back on the fact that I can speak fluent Norwegian, although at Sons of Norway that talent certainly won’t be hidden.

Have you ever had any experience with Norwegian food? Lefse or Lutefisk? If so, what did you think of it?
I grew up in a Norwegian family and lived in Norway for a year so I have had a lot of exposure to Norwegian cuisine—I’ve pretty much tried it all! I haven’t yet learned how to make lefsedespite it being a holiday tradition in my family—but I am looking forward to learning to make it later this week at headquarters. There aren’t many Norwegian foods that I dislike except for lutefisk – but don’t tell my grandmother, as she will not tolerate lutefisk badmouthing or disloyalty.

When I lived in Hamar I worked in a cafe that had a variety of types of food that were both traditional and untraditional. There was a local elderly customer who came in regularly who always ordered the same traditional Norwegian meals, reinforcing the stereotype that Norwegians like their food mild or bland. One day we were able to convince the customer to try lasagna instead…he couldn’t believe how exotic it was! It was funny, as an American, to think of lasagna as being exotic.

Are there any things at Headquarters that you’ve learned or experienced that have surprised you?
I’ve been really impressed with how active and passionate the lodges are! There really is a lot of activity, which has been really exciting for me.

Any closing thoughts or things you want the members to know about you that we haven’t talked about?

I’m really excited to be here and am looking forward to collaborating with the staff and members to learn and try new things.

We are all very excited to welcome Marit to the team and look forward to working with her. So if you wish to extend your own words of welcome or if you want to pick up a great title from the lending library, just leave a comment on the blog or email Marit at