Reissner's Meats and Grocery has been on the main street of Hastings, Minnesota, since 1908. Today Dick Reissner represents the third generation of the Reissner family butchers and storekeepers. When you open the old door to walk inside and see Dick at the counter in his well-used butcher apron and white handlebar mustache, you feel as if you have stepped back in time.
The Polish and Swedish potato sausage are made by Dick with the old family recipes. Same with the wine sauce for the pickled herring.
It's the only place around for us Scandinavians to get the Christmas lutefisk. The lutefisk is not the same as years ago, Dick admits. It's improved -- it doesn't smell up the whole store when he brings it out to package up for a customer!
We came for Grandma Ruth's lefse, a sort of Norwegian potato tortilla. It is the very best lefse short of my grandma's, thin and dry. And an absolute must to have at Christmas time, at least in my family.
This lefse is made with real potatoes, not the reconstituted dry potatoes in a box, and it is rolled out by ladies, not machines. You can tell the difference. Most people eat it with melted butter and cinnamon and sugar rolled up inside, but it is delicious with just butter as well.
So, yesterday was Boxing Day, which mostly no one pays attention to in the US.
( I know the tradition of lining up the servants (thanks to wonderful British imports such as Upstairs, Downstairs) and passing on the gifts that weren't quite up to par (or so "last year"), but what happens in Britain on Boxing Day in 2014 when mostly no one has a fleet of servants anymore? Don't look for an answer here; I have no idea!)
But this is what very early Christmas morning looks like in a family with four small boys.
Do you think they're excited?
So much noise and fun.
Most of my company left for home in the afternoon yesterday. I was tired of cooking and talked out, so Mom and I decided to try out the newly-renovated movie theater nearby and its reclining armchairs and saw the new version of "Annie".
On the way home we picked up Chinese take-out in little boxes and went home for a long winter's nap.
Our version of Boxing Day.
This holiday season exhibit at the Minneapolis Museum of Russian Art is called "Winter Holiday Traditions in 20th Century Russia." One of the world’s largest collections, it was offered to the small museum by Kim Balaschak, who found the ornaments mostly at flea markets when she visited Russia over several years.
I have few photos because it wasn't clear whether they were allowed or not. I asked upstairs and the answer was no, but people were taking photos downstairs, so I took a few.
Instead of sparkling glass balls we are used to seeing on a Christmas tree, onaments of cotton, cardboard, and glass depicted Young Pioneers, Soviet leaders, the space program, Arctic explorers, airplanes, Russian fairy tales, Father Frost.
Seven hundred items were on display this year and different ones will follow for the next couple years. The last two photos are of reproductions in the gift shop.
With no effort
Not even a single tiny thought
On my part.
My mind could never conjure up such an idea
much less execute this way
I'm not even required to invite it.
It just comes, a gift.
Celebrating the winter solstice today, but not with my usual tradition of skiing and a bonfire. It's raining!
Christmas starts here tonight as the first of the far-away family arrives at the airport. My little guys have been very busy getting ready.
Mason found the flour and thought he would get started with some Christmas cookies.
Oops! Oh, well. We'll just mix them up right here.
"Don't worry, Nana. I'll clean that right up.
I hope Santa is watching now!"
While the Big Boys are making ornaments to hang in their room . . .
. . . Mason thought the bathroom could use a bit of cleaning. He's probably right. Four boys -- well, you know!
Aiden decorated the hall mirror upstairs with some window clings . . .
. . . while Mason used his favorite art medium to work on the family room.
"I'd better check and see if he is coming!"
I do hope your Christmas preparations are coming along as well, and you are being extra good.
Cuz you know, Santa is watching!
I like to learn something new. I can't show you my new knitting skills until after Christmas, but I can show you this one.
I wouldn't bother with it for everyday socks, but I do love my wool socks and they are expensive. So I found a Youtube video and gave it a go.
Turns out, it's fun!
I seem to wear out the heels first. Didn't have any navy blue sock yarn (combo wool with nylon threads for strength) so I used what I had. Variegated blue.
It's okay. It will be inside my shoe and no one is going to see it anyway.
That's my grandma's darning egg at the top. That and a long needle are all you need to do the job.
To start, stitch in and out, back and forth, to create a warp for weaving, anchoring the wool on the sturdy parts of the sock that surround the hole. Very pleasant job if you put on an audio book to listen to while you work.
Next, stitch over and under each warp thread to create the weft, again anchoring the new wool on strong parts of the sock at each end of the row.
That's it! That's all there is to it, and you have saved yourself $18 for a new pair of wool socks.
When I was growing up my mom and dad never missed a tv show called All in the Family. It really tickled my dad's funny bone, and my dad had a great laugh. Anyway, the patriarch, Archie Bunker, was somewhat of a bigot and quite set in his ways. It was a running joke that Archie always sat in the same chair and tolerated no one else sitting in "his" chair. Of course, every week someone would almost sit in Archie's chair by mistake and my dad would hoot with laughter along with the rest of the audience.
My mom had a favorite living room chair where she always sat, an old upholstered rocker that had been recovered many times to match the current couch. Once my little sister jumped joyfully in her lap and the whole chair went over backwards. No one else really wanted to sit in it because it didn't feel comfortable to anyone but Mom, and truthfully, we were a little afraid of its propensity to tip over backwards. Of course, the old rocker became known on our family as "Archie's chair."
Yesterday I was complaining to a friend that my back hurt from all the knitting I was doing. She suggested that I rest my elbows on the arms of a chair while I was working. I said I can't do that because my chair doesn't have arms. She laughed and pointed out that I have three other chairs available that DO have arms, why didn't I move? Because I always sit here, I said.
You can see where this is going. I've become Archie Bunker. I've become my mother.
I think one of the things I will put on my New Years Resolution List is to check out the view from the other chairs in my house now and then.
My Norwegian grandma had a saying for every occasion.
Laugh before breakfast, cry before supper.
If your palm itches, you will be getting some money.
If your nose itches, you'll be getting company.
Your nose and your feet continue to grow all your life.
Sadly, I think the last one is true!
The sun was rising as I came up the hill through the pine and birch woods.
A haze covered the meadow as the sun rose in the sky.
The hay has been harvested, baled, the bales stored away, and the Earth rests.
A small stand of corn is left in its summer rows for wildlife cover and food.
In the meadow at the top of the hill a string of a dozen bluebird houses dots the horizon.
I like to think that the bluebird family that called this home is now eating insects in Mexico or Costa Rica.
I wonder how many miles these boots and I have walked together over the last 10 years.
Next time I'm doing errands, I will drop them off at a charity shop.
There's still a lot of life left in them for a hiker with smaller feet, and I hope they continue to travel to other far-away places without me.
Just like the bluebirds I enjoyed here in this meadow last summer.