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Archive for the ‘General’ Category

Time to Catch Up

An idiom is a phrase or expression that has a non-literal meaning. Some, like “to catch up” can have more than one meaning.

This week I have found myself catching up in various ways:

  1. Of friends or relatives, to update one another on life events. We just returned from a 2-day trip to Wyoming to visit with relatives. There, over lunch, we were able to catch up with one another’s news. We looked in on my 91-year-old mother-in-law and heard accounts of recent travels made by siblings. We exchanged health information.
  2. To make an effort to become current with something after having fallen behind. Back at home now, I need to catch up on all the chores that languished while I was away. After unpacking, I must tend to neglected e-mail and household tasks.
  3. To be involved in something. Once I have completed the other catching up activities, I can once again be caught up in my favorite work—genealogy.

All this catching up is tiring, and I will be happy once I am again caught up with everything. It’s good to be home.

 

2022 Arrives

Another year has arrived. What will it bring?

I look forward to another year of rewarding research, involvement in lineage societies, and the upcoming Palatines to America conference in Denver.

What is on your genealogy agenda?

Happy New Year!

Julfest Time

At this time of year, Norwegians enjoy a Julfest to celebrate the solstice and the festival of Christmas.

Some parts of the U. S. hold large events with Nordic Markets and bonfires. They serve traditional Norwegian treats such as lefse, pickled herring, pea soup, and cookies, lots and lots of cookies.

Our local Sons of Norway lodge held a Julfest this month. We focused on the cookies for our party. Everyone brought some to exchange.

A few people brought more modern recipes, but several of the traditional cookies appeared as well:

  1. Krumkake—a waffle cookie made on a two-sided iron griddle,
  2. Sandbakkelse—sand tarts made in tins of different shapes
  3. Pepperkakker—spiced cookies
  4. Spritz cookies—a simple cookie dough pressed through a decorative disk
  5. Fattigmann—dough twisted into a fancy shape and deep fried
  6. Serinakaker—Norwegian butter cookies
  7. Rosettes—deep fried lacy treats made with a special rosette iron

After the Julfest, my husband/tech advisor and I took home a heaping plate of all sorts of cookies. We have been enjoying them all week.

 

Veteran’s Day Ahead

This week we honor all the veterans of our armed forces. Coming from a family where many members have served, I like to take note of the day.

It will be a special one for me this time. In August, my application to become a member of the Daughters of the American Revolution (DAR) was approved. I was eligible by virtue of descent from a veteran of the Revolutionary War.

My ancestor was Gershom Hall (1760-1844), a Patriot from Massachusetts. He enlisted at Barnstable County on 1 Sep 1780. He then served as a Private under Captain Nathaniel Freeman in Lt. Col. Enoch Hallett’s regiment where he served 2 mos., 4 days, including 4 days (75 miles) travel home. The unit was stationed in Rhode Island to reinforce the Continental Army. Gershom Hall was discharged 31 Oct 1780.

As we honor him and others on Veteran’s Day this week, we have an additional reason to remember our former servicemen. In Colorado we will commemorate the centennial of the Tomb of the Unknown Soldier.

The DAR chapter in Aurora, CO will host a Veteran’s Day event at the Colorado Freedom Memorial. The ceremony will include the welcome of honored guests, a history of the Tomb of the Unknown Soldier, a wreath laying, and the National Salute.

Join us at 10:30.

 

 

Re-living My Childhood

Last week my husband/tech advisor and I took a vacation to the Black Hills of South Dakota. We stayed in a cabin in Custer State Park. I had not been to that region in a couple of decades.

The area just north of there used to be familiar territory for me because my grandparents lived in Rapid City. My parents were married there, and I was baptized there. My family spent a week or two there most summers.

We would take in all the local sites during those visits—Mt. Rushmore, Storybook Island, Reptile Gardens, Dinosaur Park, Canyon Lake, and Keystone. I took my first and only helicopter ride when I was a young teenager.

On this trip we stayed in the Custer area, not Rapid City. We drove all around the park and saw bison, wild turkeys and donkeys, deer, vultures, and a coyote. One day we hiked around Sylvan Lake. Another day we looked at the stockade on French Creek near where gold was discovered in 1874.

Visiting the Black Hills again brought back many good memories of childhood vacations. My family is all gone from that area now, so I do not get there often. I am glad I had the chance to visit that beautiful area again this year.

The Side-lined Genealogist

This family historian was laid low by Covid-19 this week. No, not the virus. The vaccine.

I received my second dose of the Moderna shot on Monday. Within 12 hours, I had fever, headache, and fatigue.

The next day I slept most of the time and had no appetite.

The following day, I got out of bed but still had little energy. I ate sparingly and began to feel better as the day went on.

By the third day I seemed more like myself. I felt grateful to have experienced only vaccine side effects rather than the full-blown virus.

Covid-19 has taken so much from us over the past year. Perhaps the symptoms I experienced were a minimal price to pay for protection.

Today, I am back at the genealogy desk.

Remembering Ben

My family faces a sad day today. We must say good-bye too soon to a beloved family member.

My nephew, Ben Carrier, passed away two weeks ago. His memorial service is today.

His family lives many states away from my own. During this time of the coronavirus, I cannot travel there to lend my support to my sister and her family.

Instead, I will attend my first-ever Zoom funeral service this afternoon.

We feel many things today. Regret that we cannot be there in person. Sadness that we have this empty space in our family where a smiling young man used to be. Empathy for my sister who has lost her only son.

Yet this is not the only death we have suffered in this year of death. My husband/tech advisor has lost a step-father and two aunts.

But somehow this seems different.

His loved ones were all in their 90’s and had lived long, productive lives. My nephew was just twenty-eight.

The memorial service this afternoon will be a sad one, indeed.

I Enjoy a Completed Task.

Finished! In our home office, the new carpet lies on the floor, the new baseboards hug the walls. My husband had a two-week vacation scheduled in May due to the coronavirus, so we took on a home improvement project. But the minor remodeling was not all we did.

Our office was cluttered, really cluttered. Because we had to move all the furniture out anyway to install a new floor, we took the opportunity to clear out some of the things we were storing in there. Some items we moved elsewhere, and others we discarded:

  • We cleaned off the worktable. Because what good is a worktable if you cannot use its surface for work?
  • We emptied file drawers. I discarded or consolidated files pertaining to former jobs and deceased family members.
  • We removed a shelving unit we no longer need. This freed up some floor space, making the office seem roomier.
  • We weeded a couple of bookshelves. I do not need two thesauruses or two road atlases at my fingertips.

Today I can begin working in my newly refreshed office. It feels like time and money well spent.

 

Thanksgivings Past and Present

Yesterday we gathered with our children and grandchildren for yet another wonderful Thanksgiving meal. We hosted it at our house.

We were lazy this year and did not make everything from scratch. Instead, we ordered some of our food from local vendors.

We were not alone in this. We found a semi-truck full of pies parked beside our local Village Inn when we arrived there. A queue of people waited to pick up their orders. A similar line greeted us at our butcher shop when we pulled up to claim our pre-roasted turkey, dressing, and gravy.

Thanksgiving meal preparation was not always so easy. Unless we could get an invitation to spend the holiday elsewhere, we used to cook all day. Our traditional meal included turkey (would it thaw in time for the big day?!), stuffing, cranberry sauce, two kinds of potatoes, rolls, green bean casserole, deviled eggs, pickles, and olives. We pulled out our silver, crystal, and best china.

Our mothers before us also dutifully bought and prepared similar Thanksgiving meals, year after year. The women worked in the kitchen all day while the males lounged in front of the television. How I resented that!

For how long have people spent hours making elaborate meals on this day? Did my grandmothers do all this cooking on Thanksgiving Day back in the 30’s and 40’s?

I am pretty sure my dad’s mom did not. The family had little money, and besides, Grandma was no cook. She once told me that after her boys left home, she just ate a can of chicken noodle soup on Thanksgiving.

My mom’s family made more effort to prepare a Thanksgiving meal. Mom reminisced about sitting through Thanksgiving dinners with all the trimmings, meals she disliked. She lived next door to her grandparents from Finland, so those Thanksgiving dinners had a Finnish twist. Mom did not want to eat the mashed rutabagas that appeared on the table every year. If she could get away with it, she would eat only the bread and pickles.

Still, when she had a household of her own, she regularly prepared a traditional dinner. When I grew up, I found myself doing the same. I never liked Thanksgiving much because it required so much work.

This year was different. Preparing just a couple of dishes and leaving most of the cooking to others allowed me plenty of time to enjoy the day. Normally, I like to follow traditional ways of celebrating holidays, but I liked our take-out Thanksgiving dinner this year.

Perhaps we have a new tradition.

Ethnic Holiday Celebrations

The Christmas season approaches, and it provides me with an opportunity to get in touch with the holiday traditions of my ancestors. We have three fun events coming up in December:

  1. Pikkujoulu. The Finns hold this “little party” in anticipation of Christmas. Holiday foods, including glögi or mulled wine, make their seasonal debut here. The Finlandia Foundation of Colorado will hold this event at the Sons of Norway lodge in Lakewood, CO on the traditional first Saturday of December. The evening will include socializing, shopping for Christmas gifts at the Sons of Norway boutique, and a potluck supper. Joulupukki, the Finnish Santa, will appear to distribute gifts to the children. In a tradition I recall from my own childhood, Joulupukki does not enter homes through the chimney after everyone is asleep. Instead, he politely rings the doorbell while everyone is still awake and then asks if there are any well-behaved children in the home before distributing his gifts. Unfortunately, I will miss Pikkujoulu this year because it conflicts with my husband/tech advisor’s office party.
  2. Bach Christmas Oratorio. The great German Lutheran composer’s works include the multi-part Weihnachts-Oratorium, BWV 248. He created it in 1734 for performance in church during the Christmas season. My Bethany Lutheran Church choir performed Part I (the birth of Jesus) last year, and this year on December 9 we will do Part II (the annunciation to the shepherds). We have been practicing for weeks and will sing it in German.
  3. Lutefisk dinner. Our Sons of Norway lodge will host this annual Norwegian dinner in mid-December. The menu includes lutefisk, Scandinavian meatballs, pickled beets, lefse, and riskrem. Lutefisk, of course, is the much-reviled codfish soaked in lye. Lefse resembles a tortilla, but it is made from mashed potatoes and served with butter, cinnamon, and sugar. Riskrem, or rice cream topped with raspberry or strawberry sauce, is a Christmas dessert. If the lefse and riskrem do not provide enough sweets for the guests, we also will serve baskets of assorted homemade cookies. I am on the hook to provide four dozen of these. Although this is a Norwegian event, I plan to sneak in some made from a Finnish recipe for Hannatädinkakut (aunt Hannah’s cookies) made from potato starch. Let the Christmas baking begin!