Today's word lesson: hyperbole

hy·per·bo·le   [hahy-pur-buh-lee]
noun Rhetoric .
obvious and intentional exaggeration.
an extravagant statement or figure of speech not intended to be taken literally, as “to wait an eternity.”

Today's showcase is hyperbole. Hyperbole is an exaggerated statement. You see a lot of that on the AZU website or during those rare times the trolls venture from their little nests. See the following statement from Stitches 77, the queen of cognitive distortions:

AZU intentionally looks for the numbers that look the largest and run with it, despite having no references, only exaggerations. That is why armchair vigilantes cannot understand the complexity of statistics. Stats are college level courses. AZU consists of bored housewives with no credentials and no education. Sadly, so are many other so-called child victim advocates.

WHO claims 60 MILLION survivors? Besides AZU, just a handful of other misguided groups. Thankfully most people understand that as bullshit. When was AZU ever quoted as a legitimate reference? Answer: NEVER.

Ole Brude's Lifeboat

If you read Jeff Sauve's Titanic feature in the April issue of Viking, then you've already heard about Norwegian sea captain Ole Brude and his unusual egg-shaped lifeboats. Since the article was published, I've enjoyed hearing from readers on this topic and learning more about Brude.

Brude believed his steel, egg-shaped vessels—modeled after his boat he called Uræd, or fearless—were an improvement over the wooden lifeboats of the day. To prove its seaworthiness, Brude and three other Norwegians crossed the Atlantic in the Uræd in 1904. Despite the crew's successful journey and Brude's efforts to sell his "unsinkable" lifeboats to steamship lines, only 23 of his boats were produced. However, his design did become a forerunner for today's enclosed lifeboats, found on ships throughout the world.

Next time you're in Ålesund, be sure to stop in at the Aalesunds Museum, where you can see the Uræd on display. The museum has also published a book about Brude's incredible five-month journeyUræd: The Egg that crossed the Atlantic, by Ole M. Ellefsen.

UPDATE: The Aalesund Museum is offering the English version of Uræd: The Egg That Crossed the Atlantic to Sons of Norway members for $20. Contact

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 Aalesund's Museum.

Williamsburg at Dusk

Just popping in with a few photos. My favorite time to go down to Colonial Williamsburg with the girls is at dusk. I love watching them flit about and seeing all the lanterns glow. Oh how I love this time of year! (I took these photos before we left for New Hampshire but am a bit behind on posting.)


We are on our way back to Williamsburg today and once I get settled in I have about 1200 photos to go through so I should have lots of things to share in the next couple of weeks! We had yucky cold, overcast weather pretty much our whole week in New Hampshire and although we worked on lots of projects I didn't take any photos until Saturday. Like I mentioned though, I did take about 1200 in about 24 hours. Haha! Unfortunately, seeing how I didn't take any until right before we left I haven't had time to go through them. Here's one shot though from Lola's party. This was a little vignette off to the side and the little cupcake on the tree swing was my favorite part of the party! =)

I was inspired by Tradewind Tiara's tree swing that I saw on Pinterest. I can't wait to show you all more pictures as soon as I get settled in. 

Have a fabulous Monday!

Eight Minutes with Artist/Curator Jeredt Runions

The signs of spring vary depending on where you live, but one sign of spring here in the Northland is the flowering of music and art in the month of May. Beginning with the Homegrown Music Festival and ending with the Battle of the Jug Bands at Amazing Grace, with Dylan Fest cranking out history in between, this really is a special time and place. The Homegrown Music Festival has been growing for 14 years to where it now includes 175 bands, and I know still more local musicians not involved so it could grow even more.

The idea later emerged to include the visual arts as part of this creative experience. Three years ago this was discussed and it came to pass. In 2012 there is more art than last year and who knows how far it will go. Jeredt Runions has been part of the impetus behind the Homegrown Arts wing of this all-encompassing display of local talent.

EN: What is the Homegrown Art Festival and what is its relationship to the Homegrown Music Festival? 
Jeredt Runions: The art portion of Homegrown this year has been a work-in-progress for three years now. I’ve been putting on group shows during homegrown for many years because I felt that music and art up here in the Twin Ports should be presented together or at least inspire one another. Finally, the homegrown crew decided to include it officially this year. I’ve been involved with the music scene for a long time now so it is natural for me to think this way, I guess. After three years and showing people I’m serious when I say I’m putting on a group show full of awesome talented artists. 

EN: How did you first become interested in art and especially painting?
JR: Art is what I live off of I think. I was raised with art everywhere, a crafty mother and a wild-thinking step dad.  My good friend Gary Reed, my friends and family I considered inspirational during my tender years of growing up. I picked up a paint brush literally to save myself from a crazy path I was heading down in life with drugs. I personally think it was amazing what art did for me to vent and express what I was going through then and now.  Painting just came so naturally for me at that time, and I took to the styles of Graffiti and this cartoonish aspect that I really loved.  

EN: Do you have any live painting gigs lined up? How does live painting differ from painting in your studio space?
JR: I have some live painting gigs lined up for the summer. I will be at Harmony Park for the Bella Festival at the end of May and then some in Iowa in June. Live painting is a fun way to practice your confidence and quickness in composition. It just brings me back to the days of when I used to run around the city and countryside creating quick street art.  I have also noticed my timed sketches in school have improved greatly because of my past with live painting.  The studio art is just really great to sit back and take your time. I like not having anyone shout  to put something stupid in the work like a heart or their girlfriend’s name. 

EN: You also curate shows. How did you get into that facet of things?
JR: I feel that curating shows is part of my public duty so to speak. I’ve had so many people help me out in the long run of my career, but I never forget the people and galleries that couldn’t give a crap.  I feel that I can make a difference in doing this little thing. For the longest time I never saw any group shows being put on. It was sad; I had to change that message that the gallery scene wasn’t doing here. I never received any help from the galleries that should have stepped up in those days. I was a young kid pushing boundaries in a town full of seagull and lighthouse art, but knew there were more artists like me than the ones that were down in Canal Park being displayed to the tourists.  Time and patience show that a scene can build if you establish a network of like-minded people and continue to push limits. Now we have galleries that are helping to create a dream I and others have had here in the Twin Ports. Galleries and people  such as Ochre Ghost, Prove, Phantom Galleries Superior,  Anne Dugan from the DAI, Andy P. from Goin’ Postal, writers and critics such as you and Ann Klefstad. 

EN: When did you begin incorporating collage and mixed media into your work and what is it you find interesting about this form of expression.
JR: I have always mixed collage in with my work but have really enjoyed it now that I’m in UWS. This school is a collage incubator. I really enjoy the quick pleasure of collaging. It is just like my abstract backgrounds I use. I find it very rewarding when you have some time in the day to make a piece of art. This is my quick fix for the break in the day. 

EN: What are the dates and places where Homegrown Art can be seen? Do you have a list of artists whose work will be in these various places?
JR: There will be a show at the DAI that Anne put on which will be showing on Sunday the first day of Homegrown. It starts at 5 p.m.

The shows I curated this year for Homegrown Art are: "Rent Money" at the Zeitgeist Arts Building Atrium, "Local Walk" at the Duluth Photography Institute, "Soup Town" at the Red Mug, "Abstract Obscure" at the Ochre Ghost and Beaners, and "Saturday Morning Cartoons" at the PROVE. 

Resisting Organization and Cultivating a Neatness Habit

I used to resist organizational systems as I didn't always see their purpose and thought they were stupid processes being used for no good reason, dictated by people who were control freaks who had too much time on their hands.  

I later came to realize that not wanting to put things away in a proper place had its root in laziness. I always wanted to get on to the next fun thing and not take the time to finish putting away everything that I had just finished using. Even as an adult sometimes I'd not unpack my suitcase from a trip for a month!

I used to think that not putting something away in a specific place was saving me time. However, the chaos that results when trying to find items that you need at a certain point in time is stressful and anxiety-producing and can also cause problems for other people (such as those in your family).

In order to avoid the stress (which no one likes to experience), it is worth the effort to realize your situation, create a useful organizational structure that works for you. Then you must force yourself to use the system. If you have a negative attitude about it at first, and refuse to comply to try it you may not realize how much time and energy it actually saves and that it spares you stress in the long run. Just give it a try!

Being organized is not about control or trying to make work for someone else. It is about being deliberate and it is about being responsible and respectful of the things you own and respectful of the people you interact with.

Taking the time to put things away where they belong, and having a place where everything belongs, pays off in the long run.

The quality of life is so much better when people get along well and when the things we do in our daily lives go smoothly. Kicking the laziness habit and learning to be responsible and organized with our material possessions can only be a good thing.

For Christians, taking care of our material possessions is about being a good steward of the gifts that God has bestowed upon us.

Working at having an organized home is something that I've been working on seriously for about five years. It has been a long journey. In the end I realized it is all up to me, the desire has to come from within. However as a mother I am teaching my sons, or at least I'm trying to teach my sons these things so they don't have to suffer through it until they are homeowners themselves. We make mistakes and we see the negative ramifications of our errors. We are reminded that to do a thing correctly has benefits and to be lazy or sloppy creates problems and stress. It's a process, there is a learning curve when working with preteens and teens. We're moving forward in the right direction, I think.

    Chapter 14
    Christensen History

    My grandmother was Minnie Christine Christensen. She was born September 14, 1882 in Sjaelland, Denmark and died February 25, 1962 in Council Bluffs, Iowa. She married Peter Julius Hansen (Apr 12, 1881-Jun 27, 1968) February 11, 1905. Minnie was the daughter of Martin A Christensen (March 1861-Aug 10, 1938) and Christina M Sorensen (Feb 1859-1940). Both were born in Denmark and died in Council Bluffs Iowa.

    Martin A. Christensen was born March 1861 in Denmark and died 10 August 1938 in Council Bluffs, Iowa. In 1882, he married Christina Maria Sorensen in Fredericksborg, Denmark. She was born February 1859 in Denmark and died 1940 in Council Bluffs, Iowa. They had three children in Denmark before coming to the United States: Minnie Christine (my grandmother), born 14 September; Arthur, born October 1884; and Christian, born March 1887. According to the 1900 US census, Martin arrived in the United States in 1889 and he was naturalized. His wife Christina Marie, daughter Minnie, and sons Arthur and Christian arrived in 1890, According to the 1910 census, Martin arrived in 1890, so he may have gone back to Denmark to bring back his wife and three children. Their next four children were all born in Council Bluffs:  Frederick, born 14 September 1890; Sina, born May 1893; Emma, born January 1895; and Nora M., born 26 May 1897. In 1929. Martin lived at 1912 South 9th with his wife and family. Martin worked as a mechanic and  installed gas lights in the house. His obituary from the Council bluffs Nonpareil:

     “Funeral services were August 10, 1938 at Cutler Funeral Home. Rev Fred C.M. Hansen officiated. Music was by Mrs Emil Moen. Pallbearers were Don J Hansen, Sr, Everett Hansen, Fritz Hansen, Jack Christensen and Jack O’Hara.” Martin died just five days after my birth, and I was only two years old when Christina died. I remember Mom talking about them, but don’t remember any of the details.

    The story passed down was that the marriage of Pete and Minnie was “arranged” through (not by) the Danish Brotherhood. They were married in St John’s English Church in 1905 as reported in the Monday Feb 13, 1905 Council Bluffs Nonpareil:

      “Married Saturday - Mr. Peter J. Hansen and Miss Minnie Christensen, Both of Council Bluffs, were married Saturday evening at the parsonage by Rev. G. W. Snyder, of St. John’s English Lutheran Church. Mr. And Mrs. Hansen will occupy their new home at 810 Avenue A.”  The Thursday Feb 10, 1955 Nonpareil reported their golden wedding anniversary party: “ Mr. And Mrs. Peter J. Hansen, 127 Frank St. Observed Thursday. The couple will celebrate their Golden Wedding anniversary Friday. They remembered that icy, cold day on which their wedding took place 50 years ago in Council Bluffs. An open house will be held in their honor by their three sons, from 5 to 7 P. M. At the Hansen home. The three sons are Everett, Donald and Frederick, all of Council Bluffs. Mr. And Mrs. Hansen were born in Denmark. He is 74 and she is 72. They both came to the United States in the 1880's. Hansen is presently employed as chief engineer at Mercy Hospital where he has worked for the last 20 years. Before that he had worked for the Stephan Brothers Plumbing and Heating Co. For 30 years. Coming to Council Bluffs around 1900, they met through a local Danish group and were married on Feb. 11, 1905.”

Supposedly, Minnie had been in love with Dick Stevenson. Later in life, after her sons had grown up, she ran off with Dick to the Ogden hotel. Her sons came and brought her back home. My mother told me the story of Minnie and Dick Stevenson, but I don’t remember when it happened. I do know that in 1925, Dick was married to Bessie, and they were listed together in the City Directories until 1935, when his wife’s listing changed to Cora. Dick was living at the Ogden when he died 18 October 1943 of heart trouble. Dick Stevenson was the brother of Rolla Lee Stevenson, who married Mom’s mother, Rose Parker Johnston, after her divorce from Grandpa Howard. That would make Dick the step-uncle of my Mom.

    I remember my grandparents, Pete and Minnie, very well, having spent a lot of time at their house across from Mercy hospital. Pete always seemed happy. He was a great teaser and enjoyed smoking his pipe. Minnie cooked some big family meals at holidays. In April of 1952, there was a big flood from the Missouri river. The west end of town, where we were living, was evacuated. My younger brother Fred and I went to live with Pete and Minnie at their house across the street from Mercy Hospital, where he worked. I remember he took us to work with him. It was a great adventure for us.

    I also remember spending many times with Minnie’s youngest sister, Nora, who married Art Larsen. Nora was born May 26, 1897 in Council Bluffs and died March 17, 1979 in Council Bluffs. Arthur Ernest Larsen was born December 28, 1893 in Council Bluffs and died November 5, 1963 in Council Bluffs. They were married October 21, 1923 and lived in Lake Manawa, Iowa. Arts parents were born in Denmark (1930 census). Art was a carpenter. Nora's mother lived with them in 1930. There were no children and they had been married about 10 years in 1930. Lake Manawa is located just south of Council Bluffs and Highway 92 in Lewis Township. In my day, we would drive south on 7th Street from the church to visit Uncle Art and Aunt Nora. Don, Fred and I would sit on the back porch (closed in) and play card games or talk with Art, while Nora fixed some kind of goodies. As I recall, their house was very near the main road entrance to the north end of the lake.

    Art was the son of Theodore Larsen (1864-1933) and Anna Pedersen (1868-1947). Both were born in Denmark and died in Council Bluffs. From his obituary in the council Bluffs Nonpareil:

     “Arthur E Larsen, 69, Manawa, died Tuesday at an Omaha hospital after a short illness. Born in Council Bluffs, a retired carpenter, WWI veteran, member St John Lutheran Church, American Legion Post 2, Carpenter's Union 364 AF&AM. Survivors wife Nora M, 2 sisters Mrs Wayne (Lucy)Snyder of Manawa and Mrs Robert (Frances) McPherson of St Petersburg Florida, and brother Robert T Larsen of San Diego California.”

    I don’t remember any of the other Christensen children, but some of them probably attended the holiday dinners at the Hansen house.

Earl C. Seaton

Earl C. Seaton, 88, of Spiro, OK passed away Saturday, April 28, 2012 in Spiro. Earl was born October 7, 1923 in Lavaca, AR to O.H. & Elvia (Wise) Seaton. He was a veteran of the US Army. Earl was a mechanic, working at Turman-Pierce for years. He was a farmer & rancher. Earl was a wonderful father & grandfather.

Survivors include his wife of 65 years, Betty of the home; daughters & son in law, Sharan & Michael Greer of Wister, OK, Debbie Seaton of Panama, OK; sons & daughters in law, Larry & Jackie Seaton of Glenrose, TX, Keith & Imogene Seaton of Howe, OK; 6 grandchildren and ‘almost’ 14 great grandchildren; other relatives & loved ones; many beloved friends.

Services will be 2 pm, Wednesday, May 2, 2012 at Evans Chapel of Memories, Poteau, OK with Rev. Jim Cook officiating. Interment will follow in Oakland Cemetery, Poteau. Pallbearers will be Chris Greer, Kevin Seaton, Mark Pearson, Brian Seaton, Keith Mings, Chris Lindenau. Honorary pallbearers will be Trace Brooks, Michelle Mings, Dana Pearson.

Theater Review: Rubber Chicken Theater Presents Picasso at the Lapin Agile

Friday evening I went to see a local production of Steve Martin's Picasso at the Lapin Agile directer by Greg J. Anderson. The play is hilarious and the production company did an excellent job of conveying the nuanced wit of Steve Martin. When the stars came out at the end, you got it.

The setting for this play is a bar in Paris called the Lapin Agile. For the non-French speakers here, Lapin means rabbit. And "agile" (pronounced ah-jheel) means agile. Or nimble. It's the nimble rabbit, and home-away-from-home for the womanizing young Picasso, as famous for his women as for his work.

People who write for Hollywood or for the theater understand that script writing is about creating great moments and great lines. It's a a mark of Steve Martin's giftedness that he has been able to produce so much rich material over the course of a lifetime. I would compare him to Oscar Wilde on this score. Had Wilde been born in the twentieth century he would no doubt have been at home in Hollywood after getting his start on Saturday Night Live.

Live theater is such a high risk venture. No matter what you're feeling or going through you have to be on. There are no second, third and fourth takes if you don't get it right the first time. The show proceeds, unedited. And in this show the pace is fast, with lots of dialogue for all the main characters. If anyone forgot their lines you couldn't tell. There were no prompters and apparently no need.

Returning to the set, it's simple and comprehensible as a bar. There are a couple small tables, one stage right and the other stage left, and a few bar stools in front of the centrally located bar itself. Behind the bar is a painting of sheep in a pasture, which at various times becomes the focus of conversation. How the various characters respond to the picture is revealing.

The first to arrive are Freddy (Quentin Roth) and Gaston (Nick Elias) who do what bar settings must do. They banter as bartender and bartendee. Next to appear is an odd looking fellow in a suit who says he's here to meet a woman. He takes a seat and begins scribbling notes in a book. The banter goes on until finally he's asked his name. When he says he's Einstein, the bartender gets angry and says that Einstein is supposed to appear fourth in the play and not third. He leads Einstein into the audience, grabs a program from someone's hand and points out the cast "in order of appearance." Einstein leaves, apologizing for his error. Steve Martin's fingerprints are all over the place in this script.

Amanda Sjodahl as the waitress Germaine enters next and this trio of regulars at the Lapin Agile discuss themes that will set up the later arrival of Picasso himself. Einstein (Jonathan Manchester) returns and awaits the lady he is to meet at some other club in the Moulin Rouge. The bar staff are confused, but Einstein notes that "she thinks like me." It is soon learned that the book he is writing is called The Special Theory of Relativity. And indeed she does eventually arrive before it's all over.

Suzanne (Laura Grieme) arrives fifth, another one of Picasso's amore's (victims) smitten by the art world's most beloved narcissist. Her story continues the setup. She has one of his drawings. But when Sagot (Tony Barrett) the art collector arrives and sees it, he notes that it would be worth more if she could get him to sign it and offers to buy it. Barrett played the role well.

The discussion is re-directed to the painting of a pasture with sheep and it gets compared to one of Picasso's drawings. The pasture scene has a simple explanation (except for that of the complex Einstein) whereas the Picasso drawing has "a million, a billion, a trillion opinions, yet the drawing remains the same." Can this be a summing up of the great divide between elitist art and popular art for the masses?

Finally Picasso arrives, the star we've all be waiting for, played wonderfully by Pat Carrol exuding confidence and charm. Except when it comes to Suzanne who is there to worship him, and he can't remember who she is. "You're a womanizing bastard fraud," she exclaims. His retort: "If you're trying to praise me that's a poor choice of words."

Once Picasso's on the set Carrol turns him into a real presence. But so is Einstein. But who could have anticipated these bright lights having to compete with yet two more unexpected characters. The first is Schmendiman, played with hilarious aplomb by Stephen Bock. Picture a cross between Steve Martin and Will Farrell. You laugh just because. Schmendiman is an entrepreneur businessman. When Einstein, Picasso and the entourage are talking about what the twentieth century will be like, Schmendiman chimes in that he knows what the building materials will be like. He's just developed a new product for building walls made from uranium, cat's claws and asbestos.

Well, you get the idea.

Finally there is yet another star, this one from the future. But I'm not going to spoil it for you. He just brings another dimension to an already multi-dimensional story. It's a little like the foam that spills over when you pour too much beer too quickly into a frosted mug. Except in this play they were all relishing the wine.

Some lines that I especially liked in the play included these...
"Ideas are like children. You have to watch them carefully or they might go wrong."
"A mirror is like the mind. If you don't use it, it won't reflect."

Kudos to director Greg J. Anderson for assembling this cast, for doing what it takes to bring to life one of Steve Martin's treasures here in the Twin Ports. 


Camping Gear Organization Tip for Boy Scouts

It has taken me years to figure out a working system so I thought I'd share this with you. I don't know why it took me so long to figure this out.  I can't tell you how many tantrums and flip-outs my kids have had on camping day over the packing. Even when they pack ahead of time we had problems.

Maybe this will save you some stress.

Camping Gear Organization

1. Buy your Boy Scout everything they need. Give them their own one of the thing. Do not share items as a family, it is nothing but trouble. Do not make siblings share. Have each boy be responsible for taking care of their own gear. They will feel they own it if they actually do own it.

2. Buy a foot locker at Wal Mart in the automotive section. The black one is sturdy and best. It has a hole for a padlock (others do not). They cost $20. There are flimsier ones on the market that are (surprisingly) more expensive. Do not buy ones with wheels, those break and you can't drag them over dirt and rocks anyway. You need the ugly black sturdy one because other Scouts may step on it and use it as a ladder of sorts to get to the top bunk at camp. Repeat: do not buy the flimsy models.

3. At home your Scout's gear should be stowed in their foot locker.

4. Make it a habit to unpack from a camping trip immediately. All gear goes directly into the foot locker. Exception: airing out sleeping bags, those go in later.

5. Consider buying an inexpensive day pack that can get wrecked at camp. Designate that day pack for camping and keep it full of things like sunscreen and insect spray. Put those sprays and lotions into ziplock bags. Keep that day pack inside the foot locker.

6. Buy a large duffle bag that will hold all the camping gear, the sleeping pad, sleeping bag, and pillow, and everything else other than the day pack. When packing for a camping trip put it all in one duffle bag and then have the Scout carry their day pack with them in the car to travel to the camping trip.

7. Anything the Scout may need while in transit goes in the day pack. That includes: full bottle of water, bagged dinner, snack, book to read, pack of cards, and anything else they may use in the car while on the ride.

Prior to starting this system we used the empty footlockers for general camping supplies, some of which were seldom used. We had problems with the most common things used at each campout being mixed with rarely used things, then sorting through all of that to find what we needed. Also the kids fought over whose headlamp that was, so forth and so on.

Other Tips

Take an inventory of your camping gear in the late winter or early spring. Replace anything you need in the early spring, because some stores consider camping a seasonal activity and replenish their supplies in the early spring. As summer goes on, inventory runs out, and you may have trouble finding items.

Buy your Scouts the inexpensive stuff. They can lose headlamps, so buy the $5 one not the $20 one, for example. Boy Scouts need servicable stuff. Preteens and teens are not always the most careful, and it's inevitable that things will be lost or broken. My sons have even had items broken by other Scouts. So even if you think your son is really responsible with items, know that someone else may be the one to break or lose an item.

Floyd Russell Clinton

Floyd Russell Clinton, 65, of Rock Island, OK passed away Friday, April 27, 2012 in Fort Smith, AR. Floyd was born April 3, 1947 in Stilwell, OK to Charlie Sherman & Mary Lou (Green) Clinton. He was a veteran of the US Army. He was a mechanic. Floyd was preceded in death by his father; mother, Mary Irwin; and grandson, Greyson Hunt.

Survivors include his daughters, Kim Allen, Kelly Hunt, Ellisa Hollinger, Angela Clinton all of Poteau, OK, Crystal Decker of Van Buren, AR, Shawna Lamb of Alma, AR; several grandchildren; brother, Willie Clinton of Hodgen, OK; sisters, Leta Sharp of Midland, AR, Leona Stiger of Panama, OK; numerous nieces, nephews, other relatives & loved ones; many beloved friends.

Services will be 2 pm, Tuesday, May 1, 2012 graveside at Ellis Chapel Cemetery, Wister, OK with Rev. Jim Cook officiating. Interment will follow.

The family will be at the funeral home on Monday evening from 5-7 pm to visit with relatives & friends.

Uprooted: A Story of Estonia (Part V)


* * *
During the months Karl was in hiding, his country began to change. Banks were closed, churches were locked up, and important people were arrested. Statues of Lenin and pictures of Stalin and Lenin were erected in pubic buildings. Flags with the Hammer and Sickle were prominently hung in pubic places.

One night the following spring, Ralph's cousin Uno came to their home and said that Karl wanted to see him. Late that night Ralph and Uno rode the train out to where Karl had been hiding in a crawl space beneath his uncle's house. Karl had decided to give himself up and wanted to say goodbye before he went away. After that night Ralph never saw his brother again.

* * *

They called him Kand, which means Root. 

Estonia is one of several small countries located in what is known as the Baltic Region of Eastern Europe. Like its neighbors, Lithuania and Latvia, the Estonian peoples have suffered much at the hands of larger empires which overran their lands at various periods of history. 

In the very earliest part of the 19th century, the land was owned by Russia, but the Germans were their landlords. The half million Estonians were serfs who were treated cruelly by their foreign masters. 

Up until this time people had no last names. One day everyone was given a name. The German overseers decided it would be easier to identify people this way. 

Out in the fields German commanders would call an assembly and give names to the people. Sometimes the Commander would stand up on a wagon. Looking at each one in the crowd he would say, "This one will be called Brook" because he saw a brook. Another he called Farmer because he was a farmer. He gave whatever name came to his mind. There was one man who had a hard heart toward these cruel oppressors and when the commander looked at him he said, "I know you," and the German called him Kand, which is the immovable root of a tree stump. He knew the man was very stubborn. 

It was this same Kand who later led a famous uprising against the German oppressors. 176 men were forced to run the gauntlet and were put to death. Their deaths helped mobilize the people so that serfdom was abolished in 1819. 

This was Ralph Kand's great great great grandfather. 


Wildcrafting Link

Here is a chapter from one of Linda Diane Feldt's books about wildcrafting.

Wildcrafting: Each venture outside is a chance to connect with and learn more about plants

I enjoy her writing and I totally agree. Disclosure: See the link near the top of my blog's sidebar.

Rubbermaid 2-in-1 Recycler Review and Giveaway

Do you have trouble finding a convenient way to store your recyclables until trash day? Or are you looking for a way to separate your recyclables while staying organized? In the past, some of our recyclables would end up on our kitchen counter. We would also have a pile of boxes in another spot of our kitchen, and then I had a separate small trash bin for our paper garbage. It was hard to keep our kitchen neat and organized using our old system.

Since I needed to find a way to keep my kitchen clean and organized, I was excited to review the Rubbermaid 2-in-1-Recycler, which can either be used to store your trash and recyclables, or else to help you separate your recyclables. I love the idea of a two-unit container to help me stay organized. The bottom bin tilts out, holds an 8 gallon trash bag, and has LinerLock bag management so that your bag stays put. I also like that the top and bottom bins both have handles to help you transport your trash or recyclables. The 2-in-1-Recycler makes it easier to keep my kitchen clean. We use the bottom to store all of our kitchen recyclables, while using the top bin to store our junk mail and small boxes. 

Interested in buying the 2-in-1-Recycler to help keep your kitchen organized? You can find it at or at a Meijer store.

Win it: Rubbermaid has offered to giveaway a 2-in-1 Recycler to one lucky reader.

Mandatory Entry: Visit and leave me a comment below letting me know another product from their website that you like.

Extra Entries:
1) Become a follower of my blog through google connect (this counts if you are already a follower too.)
2) "Like" Dealightfully Frugal on facebook and leave your username.
3) "Like" Rubbermaid on facebook and leave your username.
4) Follow me on Twitter and leave your username.
5) Follow Rubbermaid on Twitter and leave your username.

Please make sure to leave a separate comment for each entry, as well as your email in one of the comments.

This giveaway will end May 11, 2012 at 11:59 pm(EST). Giveaway is open to residents of US and Canada. The winner will be chosen using and will be notified by email. The winner will then have 48 hours to respond or a new winner will be chosen.

Disclosure: I received the Rubbermaid 2-in-1-Recycler to review. No other compensation was received. All opinions are my own and are my honest opinion of the product.

Vacation Recovery-- Part Two

As mentioned, we stayed at Disneyland really late.  We rode every ride on our list (some twice), and did everything we wanted to do, and even though everyone was complaining about tired feet and ankles, we all left happy. The boys were asleep in the car before we even hit the freeway.

Luckily, we didn't have any time constraints for Wednesday, so we all slept in late.  When we were finally ready to take in another day, we headed just across the way from our hotel to a great little place called Stacks Pancake House.  The prices were great and the food was delicious, so we actually ended up going to Stacks again on Friday before heading home.  Yum!

After breakfast, we went to Salt Creek Beach and spent a lovely afternoon playing in the surf and sand. 

The beach made us feel like we needed to eat fish and chips, so we found a great little place at Dana Point Harbor that served them hot and fresh.  Delicious!

While Chris and the boys swam at the hotel pool, Neil and I napped, then we all relaxed and the boys played with their souvenirs.  For dinner, we drove down to San Clemente to a tasty New York style pizza place.  It was a really nice, relaxing day.

On Thursday, we headed South to Carlsbad and LegoLand!  None of us had been to LegoLand before, so this was a completely new adventure.  LegoLand is absolutely perfect for kids 3-11-- younger and they are too small to ride the rides, and older and they probably want something a little bigger.  Luckily, those are the exact ages of my kids, so they had a blast. 

Of course, we were all completely impressed by the Lego everything-- especially the mini Star Wars displays and the MiniLand, USA.  I was surprised that the boys wanted to spend more time checking out all of the Lego buildings than actually riding the rides. 

On Friday, we just had time to eat at Stacks, then head back to LA to catch our flight.  Even though it was a quick vacation, we had an incredible time and made some great family memories!

Vacation Recovery-- Part One

I love vacations!  We've been back from lovely Southern California for nearly a week and I am still missing feeling that California sun on my shoulders, spending quality and quantity time with the boys and Chris, and ignoring my diet.  Ah.  Well, real life is good, too, it's just not a vacation.

We really did have so much fun.  We decided to fly directly from Idaho Falls to LAX on Allegiant for an insanely good deal, which was really exciting for the boys.  Both Thomas and Gordon have flown before, but neither remember it, and Neil had never been on an airplane, so the flight was one of the highlights of the trip.  We did learn on the way there that Thomas, like Chris, gets airsick, and on the way back, we learned that kid's Dramamine is the cure.

We spent our first day flying, getting a car, checking into our hotel in Dana Point, then exploring the local tide pools.  We love the ocean.

Our next day, Tuesday, was spent at the Happiest Place on Earth (TM)-- Disneyland.  We arrived early and stayed late, and had a truly wonderful time.  I've been to Disneyland a few times and I have to say, April is one of the best months to go.  It is after the standard Spring Breaks, so the crowds were really manageable, and the weather was absolutely perfect.  80's and breezy.  You can't beat that.

The food was okay.  I mention this because I had been dreaming of this fabulous blog post I was going to do about the supposed "World's Best Corndogs", available at a little red wagon on Disney's Main Street.  I'm not a corn dog connoisseur or anything, but they were the food I craved when I was pregnant with Neil (Tom=chocolate milk, Gordon=Big and Tasty hamburgers from McDonald's--ew, I know), so I've had a few.  I was REALLY looking forward to trying this particular corn dog and sadly, I was disappointed.  Luckily, the food situation was remedied on Wednesday in Dana Point, but I'll get to that after the pictures.

I think this picture of Gordon trying to pull the sword from the stone is so hilarious. I love the veins in his neck-- he is really trying!

We took this picture with Mickey after getting wet on Splash Mountain, so excuse the hair/clothes/general ugliness.  But at least we're with Mickey!

Coming tomorrow-- our day at the beach, LegoLand, and a wrap up.

London Reid Giveaway


I am excited to offer another giveaway today in honor of Mother's Day!
Today we are giving away a $75 gift certificate to London Reid
And all of our readers are getting a 30% discount! YAY!

There are a lot of beautiful items over at London Reid, but my favorite is the necklace below:

And here are some other lovely pieces:

So, how can you win this $75 gift card?
All you have to do is leave a comment on this post!

You don't have to have a blog to enter, either. If you aren't a blogger, just enter a comment and then where it says "comment as" scroll down near the bottom and click on anonymous. However, if you do that, make sure to leave your e-mail address so we can confirm that you are the winner. If we draw the name of someone who doesn't leave any identifying information we will simply draw a new name. Make sure to check back here on the blog to collect your prize!

You can comment each day if you would like to up your chances!

For an extra entry simply visit London Reid
 and come back here and tell us your favorite item! 

You can also "Like" London Reid on Facebook 
or follow London Reid's blog or on Twitter and come back here and comment for each of those that you did for more extra entries!
And from now until Wednesday, May 2nd they are offering a fabulous deal for our readers!
Just use the code DL30 for 30% off your order!
This giveaway runs through Sunday evening.
Have a wonderful weekend!

Kinkade, Elvis and American Conservatism

"Making money is art and working is art and good business is the best art." ~Andy Warhol.

The recent passing of Thomas Kinkade brought to the surface a number of questions that in another context might make for a good discussion. Is a person a good artist because he has technical facility? Is a person a good artist because she is good at selling her work? Is the price people will pay for a piece a measure of its worth? What is the relationship between the artist's work and the way the artist lived?

According to the website Celebrity Networth, Thomas Kinkade was worth 70 million dollars while he was alive. His estate will no doubt increase in value since it is customary for artists' work to have great value after they die. He made this small fortune through a combination of talent, mass-production and American enterprise.

There are not a lot of artists who have become a household name. Picasso and Dali are two who crossed over into popular culture. Though not of their ilk in importance, Kinkade did succeed in creating a name for himself as a "Painter of Light" and something more. His Christian-themed art was beloved by the masses because, he says, God was guiding his brush and his life the last 20 years.* In a New York Times article he was quoted as boasting that he is a successful American artist because his works are in 1 of every 20 homes in America. 

I'm having a difficult time articulating what I want to say here. Maybe that there is something weird about the way liberals and conservatives line up behind people for reasons that have nothing to do with the art itself. For example, Last Temptation of Christ was a dumb film, but liberal critics praised it to the hilt. Martin Scorcese is a friend, but it didn't work as a film and to give it four stars was silly. Christian conservatives for the same reason (because of Thomas Kinkade's marketing) say his art is great when it is simply technical facility and sweet themes. And he was a Christian.

But the guy was not who he says he was. According to reports he was an alcoholic, a bully and was living with a younger woman instead of his wife of thirty years. According to this story in an LA Times blog the woman says he died happy. The Kincade estate would prefer his image be less tarnished so that his paintings maintain their value. (One of his originals flew up in price by over $200,000 after he died last month.)

I've hardly scratched the surface here as regard what I am internally wrestling with. In my mind are images of Elvis wrapping himself in an American flag, and of Elvis portraits painted on black velvet. And an Elvis mansion. And... somehow this is all wrapped in our fascination with the surface of things and what they stand for instead of thinking more deeply about what is really going on.

I'll be returning to this subject soon because it ties into another theme that I have had on my mind, the National Endowment for the Arts. I used to be agin' it and now I'm for it, more than ever.

Have a good weekend, friends.

*Kim Christenson, L.A. Times, Dark Portrait of a "Painter of Light" (Mar. 5, 2006)

A Trip to Natural Bridge Wildlife Ranch

In March 2012 my eleven year old son and I went to the Natural Bridge Wildlife Ranch near San Antonio Texas. We'd headed to the city to bring my older son to The Alamo FIRST Robotics tournament (because he is not a public school student the school district does not allow him to ride on the bus due to liability insurance policies so I had to drive him the three and a half hours one way myself). We decided to just get a hotel and stay there while he competed.

We were so busy leading up to the trip that I'd not planned what we'd do with our time. Standing at the display of tourist brochures at the hotel the night of our arrival, I asked my younger son what he wanted to do with me while his brother had practice rounds for the competition.

I realized we'd never been on one of those drive through the ranch and pretend you are on an African safari experiences with him. He loves animals. When I mentioned it and showed him the brochure he jumped at the chance. At that moment all the tween "I'm cool" and "I'm grown just up like a teenager" facade faded away and there was the spark of joy dancing in his eyes that I haven't seen for a while. So it was decided! (I did negotiate in that afterwards we'd stop at the fine art museum.)

It was 68 degrees and overcast and occasionally sprinkling rain. That is much better weather for this kind of trip (or a zoo trip) than hotter or sunnier days when animals tend to look for shade or hunker down to keep cool. We bought some bags of feed and fed the animals. We saw almost every animal they have, very few were hiding in spots we could not see. It was a quiet Thursday during the school day so the place was nearly deserted. Amazingly we took about an hour to go through this ride. A good thing about this place is they let you do the route over and over if you so desire. They also had some other exotic creatures in displays near the gift shop and cafe.

The best part about the trip was the fun we had. We laughed a lot and even screamed. When some of the animals tried to enter the minivan we were laughing and howling at the same time as we mentally tried to will the automatic window closers to move faster. I really enjoyed this time alone with my younger son and especially liked seeing his "old self" the "little boy" in him. He had not laughed that much with me in a long time. (He is very peer-centered now and laughs and has a grand time with his age-mates though.)

Here are some photos I took of the trip.

I really enjoyed this time alone with my younger son.