Archive for December 2012

Christmas Exodus

Posted: Saturday, December 29, 2012 at 11:00 am
By: Doug Lund
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 A couple more runs to the airport to send our two warm weather offspring back to their coat-free comfortable climates and that will be it. Christmas is a wrap for another year.

The "Kids" James & Brenda up front; Suzan, Christy and Patty L to R back row.

The "Kids" James & Brenda up front; Suzan, Christy and Patty L to R back row.

All in all, I’d say it was a good one. Our two youngest grandchildren, Zoey and Ella, seemed delighted with the bags of goodies under the tree.  I don’t know about your house, but at ours, the tedious job of actually wrapping Christmas presents gave way to putting them in brightly colored bags (sacks?) a long time ago. I suppose that disappoints some traditionalists but I’ve yet to hear anybody around here complain.

Zoey and Ella dig into their Christmas bags

Zoey and Ella dig into their Christmas bags

Linda and I both feel like we’ve put on plenty of holiday poundage even though I don’t believe I ate more than usual..it’s just that most of the things I consumed have been laden with copious amounts of butter, sugar and animal fats. Right on cue, we’ve both put into motion those annual lies about dieting in the new year..and by god, we mean it this time. But first, I have to finish off the lefse that John Mogen baked and brought over here the other day. I’ve said it before and say it again, his is the best I’ve ever tasted and, it looks like lefse is supposed to look; resembling my dear old great aunt Christie’s mole-covered face. Those of you who are new to the special craft of lefse-making..first of all, good on ya for at least trying to carry on this Scandinavian tradition, but you must realize that those big brown spots which appear during the griddling process are not flaws to be frowned upon and rejected..nay..they are badges of baked perfection by which all great looking and  tasting lefse should be judged. For within those scabby dark circles of burned flour lies the flavor goodness that makes this delicacy so delightful. There are also lots of leftover cookies and candy and Chex mix stuffed into Christmas cans around here but they are nowhere near the temptation to me as the lefse.

John Mogen's perfect lefse

John Mogen's perfect lefse

Christmas Eve is always a grand time at our house especially since it was our turn to have Suzan, Joe and Zoey here from Lincoln for our annual ham supper. We have to share them with Zoey’s other grandparents every other Christmas Eve so that meant all the kids and grandkids were in attendance. Although we had some snow, the weather didn’t affect anybody’s travel plans but it was partially to blame for a trip to the emergency room Thursday morning. Joe, my last remaining son in law, is a seasoned actor who is currently drama director at a high school in Lincoln. For years whenever he’s had a performance; either as a performer or director, we’d wish him good luck as is traditional in theater circles, by saying “ Break a Leg.”  I have no idea where that came from..(hold on I’ll check google.) Hmmm..origin obscure but apparently reflects a theatrical superstition in which wishing a performer good luck means bad luck.

Anyway, my performing son in law took the saying a bit too literally the other night and, after an evening of frivolity, proceeded to step out of the passenger side of the van; fell to the ground and broke his leg. It’s a fracture to the smaller bone of his lower leg which does not require a cast but rather a brace and crutches and a whole lot of extra careful trodding around his wife for the next six weeks.

Well, we’re back from the airport and Linda is about to rip into the decorations removing all signs of the season until next December. That means it’s time for me to skeedaddle; not that I’m unwilling to help but she’d rather I didn’t hear the cussing.

Christmas 2012

Posted: Sunday, December 23, 2012 at 10:42 pm
By: Doug Lund
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Well, we snuck by the end of the world projections on Friday. I must confess, I was sure the Mayan calendar was a bunch of hooey..but kept counting the hours until Saturday officially arrived all around the world. Come on..I’ll bet I’m not the only one.

Anyway, it didn’t take long for the cartoonists to mock the whole thing..here are a few of my favorites.

myan cartoon calendar

myan muppets

myan cartoon

This is really a lazy short blog today..but we’ve got a house full of family to spend time and food and laughs and presents with as Linda and I hope is the case at your home too. A special thanks to all those of you who keep reading these meanderings. I plan to keep ‘em coming until someone says stop. God’s blessings.

christmas card

Suffer The Little Children

Posted: Monday, December 17, 2012 at 2:12 pm
By: Doug Lund
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Try as I may, there’s no pretending that last Friday in Connecticut didn’t happen. It did.

Now, as photographs of these precious little ones, who were slaughtered without mercy, appear on the internet, I just can’t look at them. Like many of you, I see my own children and grandchildren in their innocent faces and I weep.  

“Now I lay me down to sleep, I pray the Lord my soul to keep.”

 I suspect that prayer, or one similar, was said by many of the victims on Thursday night as they were tucked into their beds. So, where was God the next morning to at least provide a warning or a guardian angel to protect them from this attention-seeking mad man armed to the teeth on a mission to snuff out their young lives?

As I imagine the image of those frightened six and seven year olds; executed as they huddled together in a corner of  their classroom, I’m not in the mood to hear about the mysterious ways in which God works or, in seeking comfort, we must offer up more prayers to that same God who seems to have turned a deaf ear to the innocent pleas of those children from the night before. Which prayers get through and which ones find brick walls? How dare I ask the question?

I’m pretty sure I’m not the only Christian whose faith has been shaken to the core by this atrocity and whose reaction has been more of anger than of pious submission and unquestioning obedience; historically a dangerous precedent.  

My maker provided me with a brain; how can he not want me to use it even if it is filled with questions about such things as why children, who’ve yet to experience a full life like mine, have theirs snatched away in a hail of gunfire..or a famine..or genocide or disease? 

I’ve already had one friend on Facebook express disappointment in my attitude. He reminds me that  anger never solves anything but prayer does. I wanted to write back and point out a few obvious exceptions but chose not to. The days, weeks and months ahead are already shaping up to be overwhelmed with fighting between friends who happen to have different opinions about things like gun control and proper parenting.

A few weeks ago, Mallorie Hansmann, Lay Evangelical Leader and music director at Springdale Lutheran Church, asked if I’d narrate this year’s Christmas Cantata featuring music from our adult choir. I said, sure. The title of the presentation was “All Is Well.” Then came Friday when it became crystal clear that all was “not well” and I came close to calling Mallorie to say my heart wasn’t in it and to get somebody else. But, of course, Linda..whose faith never wavers..wasn’t about to let me beg off so I said a quick prayer asking for some sort of revelation to ease my anxiety..then stood up there in front of the congregation so they could get a good look at the hypocrite I am and whom Jesus warned of throughout the gospels, “Beware of practicing your piety before men in order to be seen by them; for then you will have no reward from your Father who is in heaven.”

On the very first page of the narration leading into the choir’s second song, these words jumped out at me as I read them: “For since death came through a human being, the resurrection of the dead has also come through a human being; for as all die in “ADAM” so all will be made alive in Christ.

Then I read the account of the Virgin Mary who willingly accepted Gabriel’s call that she bear God’s son..knowing full well that, in spite of his innocence, she would one day have to see her first born son,  Jesus, tortured and nailed to a cross in payment for the world’s sin.

As the choir took a break, a young lady from our congregation with an angelic voice, Mickey McGrann, sang two songs about Mary and the birth of our savior.

The anger I’d been feeling gradually was replaced by a lump in my throat so large I feared being unable to continue the task at hand.

But finish we did and applause for the music and effort by all the participants was genuine and sustained. As I returned to my place out of view during the offertory I heard another sweet young female voice and looked around the corner into the sanctuary to see 8 or 9 year old Sydney Hage playing perfect chords with her little hands on a guitar nearly as big as she was and beautifully singing “Away in a Manger.”

I was glad for the handkerchief I’d remembered to stuff in my jacket and noticed others looking in their pockets and purses for theirs. It was as if God was using this little angel to let us all know that we are not forsaken and He understands our sorrow.

I still ache to know answers to so many spiritual questions..especially why children must suffer and die,  but am also eternally grateful for those two talented young girls whose music helped  steady my own faltering faith in a little country church last Sunday morning.

Holiday Cheers

Posted: Monday, December 10, 2012 at 2:39 pm
By: Doug Lund
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bloody maryIt’s just one minute after high noon on a Monday and I’m already on my second Bloody Mary. Now before you look up AA in the phone book (It’s toward the front) to forward me the number..or start planning for a Lund intervention..chill. 

I’m retired, it’s below zero outside, and I don’t plan on leaving our cozy little house today unless I run out of tomato juice. Besides, a BM just appealed to me this morning. Wait a sec, that doesn’t sound right. I’m talking about a Bloody Mary..not the other BM. Although, at my age, I find that either is pretty good any time the urge presents itself.

For years, whenever Linda and I were in Watertown, we’d make it a point to stop in to see Jack the bartender at the Zoom Zoom Room who made the best BM’s we’d ever tasted. Eventually, I was able to talk him into giving me his recipe which is pretty basic (vodka, tomato juice, Worcestershire sauce, Tabasco, lemon juice, celery salt and three gianormous olives on a plastic skewer)  but the proper proportions are critical to achieving the flavor we always enjoyed..at least for the first couple..then it doesn’t matter if you leave out everything but the vodka.

 Steve Hemmingsen stopped over for a visit on Saturday.  We didn’t drink BM’s..preferring, instead, to throw back a couple “diet” Cokes..which, if you were to see either of us in person, would clearly expose us for the hypocrites we are. I mean, if we were serious about cutting calories, we should be passing on those second helpings of pasta primavera or roast beef platters smothered in brown gravy. Anyway, we both laughed about our enormity and then lied on how how we definitely planned on doing something about it before we tip over in our soup.

Always good to see Steve, though, and he tells me he’s writing again. Well, it’s more like a daily e-mail dealing mostly with people and events in and around his new hometown of Hendricks, Minnesota. Of course, Steve isn’t afraid to offer up comments and personal opinions as part of his reports which the locals have long since come to expect, appreciate and occasionally blush over since they’re often included in the town gossip which he’s more than willing to pass along. Anyway, to read Steve’s daily offerings, just send him a note that you’d like to be included on his e-mail list. Here’s his address: anchor1@itctel.com

 Let’s see, what else?  Hang on..need to freshen my beverage. (note: out of lemon juice)

 Since we’re going to have a house full of family again this year, Linda is in full Christmas preparation mode and following through on projects we’ve been talking about for years; namely turning our basically un-used front room into a full fledged dining room. Daughter, Patty was more than happy to take the couch and love seat from the front room. They were like new since nobody had planted a butt on the cushions in years. Now, we’ve moved my parents’ dining table, chairs, buffet and the tall clock, that my dad built, in there.

table lunds 029

We had my brother, cousin and their wives over for a soup supper the other night and the décor met with everybody’s approval; bringing back fond memories of dining experiences at 525 Marvin Avenue, Volga, South Dakota.

We’ve also found a perfect spot for the Library table that came from Linda’s childhood home in Alcester. The only problem was there were no chairs to go with it. So, we spent Friday afternoon on a quest of antique and furniture stores looking for a set of 4 matching chairs that would fill the bill which we found at I-29 antique and collectables store just a quarter mile west of the Tea exit.

 We were surprised at all the cars in the parking lot not realizing that I-29 Antiques is well known and been in business for about 30 years. It’s filled to the rafters with all kinds of neat stuff..including just what we wanted and at a ridiculously low price ($75).

We have some oak veneer damage to repair and will be recovering the mauve chair seats but love the match.

We have some oak veneer damage to repair and will be recovering the mauve chair seats but love the match.

I was so motivated that when we got home I strung up both strands of LED Christmas lights to their assigned positions on little nails strategically located around the front deck. I was pleasantly surprised to find that all the lights  lit up. I love LED. They’re not as bright as the other kind but they don’t burn out so fast either.

Hmmm, I can’t help but notice a personal parallel here; when I get lit up during the holidays, I tend to not be as bright either.

That’s it; time to put on a pot of coffee.

 Irish Coffee??

Nah..better not.

A-wop-bop-a-loo-mop-a-wop-bam-boom!

Posted: Wednesday, December 5, 2012 at 12:52 pm
By: Doug Lund
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 “Good Golly Miss Molly,” Little Richard is now 80.

little richard I thought that was a pretty clever line until I Googled Little Richard, in order to confiscate a recent picture of the rock and roll legend, only to find that lots of other writers had beaten me to it.

That’s the thing about the internet; you quickly learn that you’re not as smart..or clever..or at least not as original..as you thought you were. Anyway, I love Little Richard..well, you know, I really loved his musical talents..not his bazaar appearances and lifestyle choices which seemed to change every few years.

Little richard youngLittle Richard (Richard Penniman) and Pat Boone helped me, and millions of other Caucasian kids in the 50’s, clearly understand the difference between black and white..soul and..well, Lawrence Welkism. WhenPat Boone released his version of Little Richard’s Tutti Frutti, it was clearly a move by the record producers to “protect kids” from exposure to that evil N word music. It sort of worked in that Pat Boone’s version scored higher on the charts than Little Richard’s Tutti Frutti but we all knew which one we wanted to hear and, as Little Richard said, “The white kids would have Pat Boone upon the dresser and me in the drawer ‘cause they liked my version better, but the families didn’t want me because of the image that I was projecting.”

little richard pat booneDon’t get me wrong, I liked Pat Boone tunes too; Love Letters in the Sand, April Love, even Speedy Gonzales. I also had a pair of his trademark white buck shoes but the only soul he ever had on stage was when he sang for a Billy Graham Crusade altar call.

 

 

 

But I digress.

Linda and I finally made it to see Lincoln the other evening. There is no doubt, Daniel Day Lewis IS Abraham Lincoln. It was a marvel to witness.

Daniel Day Lewis as Lincoln

Daniel Day Lewis as Lincoln

Sally Field is totally convincing as Mary Todd. But, dare I say..after over two hours listening to men in dark rooms talking,  arguing and yelling..I started looking at my wrist watch.  One of my biggest complaints about going to the theater these days (you know you’re old when you say “these days”) is the apparent requirement to demonstrate the full fury of the movie house’s surround sound audio system even if there are only a dozen people in the audience. “Let’s see if we can’t loosen their fillings..heh, heh”  That was certainly not a concern during Lincoln. I was actually longing for a few hair raising explosions. The film takes place during the  Civil War after all and I guess I fully expected Steven Spielberg, one of the greatest action directors to ever hold a megaphone, to include a realistic battle scene or two.  Other than a quick shot of hand to hand combat in the opening credits and old Abe riding his horse through a body-ridden battlefield..what you get is wonderfully acted gab fests. Sure, the topic (passage by the house of representatives of the 13th amendment ending slavery) was a major milestone in our history, I just didn’t realize that was the singular message of the movie.

I’m fascinated by the Civil War and would have loved to see Daniel Day Lewis’ jaw dropping portrayal of our 16th president in a role that encompassed Lincoln’s entire time in the White House..not just that last couple of months. It would have been amazing to see Spielberg’s directing skills applied to recreating the realities and horrors of Civil War battles as he did in Saving Private Ryan and, with equal sensitivity, show how Lincoln somehow managed to deal with it all; the hundreds of thousands of casualties, the death of his young son, an emotional wreck of a wife, incompetent generals and, yes, the determination to free the slaves and above all  preserve the union.

That might make for an even longer movie but I’ll bet I wouldn’t be fighting back a yawn halfway through.