What is remembered lives

What is remembered lives

Help me always to remember

What is remembered lives

Let me see their shining faces

What is remembered lives

Let me hear their loving voices

What is remembered lives

Let me hear their laughter

What is remembered lives

Let me catch their unique scent on the wind

What is remembered lives

Let me see their shadow pass by

What is remembered lives

Let me hear their footsteps

What is remembered lives

Let me feel their touch

What is remembered lives

Let them always be in my heart

What is remembered lives

Let them always be in my memory

What is remembered lives

Let me know that someday I will join their shades

What is remembered lives

What is remembered lives

What is remembered lives

Kat 2015


How does your family eat and what do they eat?

My sister and I were discussing our family traditions and in particular, the foods mom fed us on a regular basis and that we tend to fix for ourselves because that’s what we learned to make and eat. It’s just beginning to sink in how Scots/Scandinavian we still are when it comes to food.

I think breakfast is the most apparent. If you give us a choice, it will be a pastry, and milk and maybe some meat and some cheese. If it isn’t a pastry, its waffles or pancakes which are more like crepes than pancakes. I remember the first I was confronted with thick pancakes and being unsure of what they were. I do draw the line at pickled herring or herring in white sauce as breakfast food.

And pancakes and French toast tend to be served with butter and powdered sugar not syrup. Dad had to have syrup and it had to be maple, mom would switch to boysenberry syrup since Ikea hadn’t invaded yet to add lingonberries to our diet.

The Scandinavians are the largest consumers of dairy per capita in the world, Finland and Sweden are numbers one and two. The Dutch are number three. I just laughed when the doctor suggested I was allergic to milk and he did admit he had never seen a Swede that was. We have evolved to tolerate it and the only way you lose it is by losing the bacteria to digest it. If you start drinking it again and establish the flora you are back in the game.

You also get a lot of fish and potatoes, meatballs in white sauce and pea soup. Mom had to learn to cook for dad since he was raised on a farm in the Midwest and she would just have shitfits sometimes over the things he would cook for himself like fried mash potatoes in bacon grease. When he was sick we could always tell because he would start making Navy bean soup and as a child I could never figure out why it wasn’t blue, it was Navy bean wasn’t it? He also was always eating things my mother would consider spoiled like green on cheese, he would cut the green off and keep eating.

Dad wanted red meat and potatoes and as few vegetables except beans as he could get away with. Mom occasionally would like to experiment. The night she first made tacos for dad was interesting to say the least. Mom knew tacos, she was born in LA in 1922, her parents were the immigrants. Dad was not certain until he ate them what she was trying to feed him. He liked them so they became a regular dinner item.

We always ate dinner as a family and before my mom went back to work when my sister was old enough to go to school all day, breakfast too. We were allowed to read at the table sometimes but you had to explain why you thought the book was good enough to do that and dad had to not be wanting to read the paper.

Swedes are big on coffee and the Scots are more likely to have tea. Mom served coffee for she and dad, hers was black, his with lots of milk, truthfully more milk than coffee. When I spent the summer with my maternal grandparents, Grandma and I had tea and Grandpa had coffee. Grandma would make it in really concentrated distilled batches once a week and then would use it to make his coffee in the morning.

Grandpa wanted his Danish in the morning, his herring and coffee and toast. Grandma would make oatmeal or Cream of wheat or some hot cereal for herself and I got the sugar cereal I wasn’t allowed to eat at home until there my sister came along. Grandpa had a sweet tooth and would buy sweetened cereals and save the toys. That was his excuse he was saving the toys for the grandkids. He could not be persuaded to homemade Muesli or other cow grazing cereals.

I have no idea why we were allowed sweetened cereal until Alison came along except that if mom was working finally when I was in high school she could shove that at us and then she could get ready for work. We only got if they could afford it and there was a toy my brother and I couldn’t live without. I still would rather have a pastry for breakfast, thank heavens, for Sunday trips after church to Martino’s bakery for bread and a week’s worth of breakfast pastries and tea cakes.

I still go over to Gelsons on Saturday or Sunday mornings because they have fresh Danish right out of the oven and if I can get there early enough I can snag a lemon one before they run out. If I have a vice it’s fresh lemon Danish and milk.

So sometimes when American allegedly Norse worshipping pagans start claiming to know how Scandinavians eat other than mead, most are eating weird shit that probably had no resemblance to what the Norse really ate.  I want to see them eat lutefisk. Hah! The minute my great-grandma Hilde/Halde died at 92 the Sjobergs eliminated it from all family holiday menus. That shit is nasty and I like most fish.

Most American pagans don’t think of cultural appropriation in terms of European cultures but I think it can be if you don’t know the culture and the history of the reason behind the ways of doing things. Sometimes it’s like the house wife who always cut the end off the roast because her mother did and she finally asks her mother why she did it and her mother tells her that she didn’t have a pan big enough so she had to take the end off.

I have to admit I was very comfortable eating in the UK except for haggis because they were cooking like mom. They used butter instead of mayo for instance. Just try getting a sandwich here with butter instead of mayo. The fish was amazing and I think plaice is the best fish on the planet.

Until recently most families ate the same way their families always did. If your mother made it, your grandmothers probably had too and on back. Now our eating patterns are all disturbed with fast food, instant meals in microwaves and you don’t eat with your family and you don’t talk to your elders and learn the stories or how and why they think a certain way. We talked about what we had learned in school, what we were reading, what the country was doing, current events, family history, I learned to pun at the dinner table. I learned when I disagreed sometimes I didn’t know when to shut up if dad was in one of his moods and sometimes I did it anyway but we were really talking to each other and not at each other. If your don’t eat as a family, how do you even know who your family members are?

We are a product and a continuation of all the family members who came before us, and the only way we learn who they were is by talking to the people in the family.

I have memories of so many holiday dinners. I remember the last Christmas dinner with my great – grandmother. When she had brought the family to America from Sweden her requirement was that they learn English. They had landed in Duluth and they joined the local Presbyterian church because it was the only church that held services in English and not some Scandinavian language. The minute they all learned English she moved them to LA sometime between 1900 and 1910 according to census data. But Grandpa said it was because she was not going to live some place colder than Sweden. The problem with only speaking English was when she was in her 90s she would revert to Swedish occasionally and I can still remember sitting at the table with my Uncle Don and him saying to her when she had asked for the jam and the jelly. “Say jam and jelly, Grandma.” And she dutifully said, “Jam and jelly, now pass me the yam and the yelly”. Even at 5 this struck me as being hilarious.

Our family’s favourite Samhain cookie

Owl Cookies
2 1/2 cups all-purpose flour
2 teaspoons baking powder
1/4 teaspoon baking soda
1/2 teaspoon salt
3/4 cup butter ( 1 1/2 sticks), room temperature
1 cup light brown sugar, firmly packed
1 egg
1 teaspoon vanilla extract
1 1/2 ounces unsweetened chocolate, melted and cooled
chocolate chips, about 3 to 4 dozen (or use other candies for eyes)
cashews, about 3 to 4 dozen
Sift together the flour, baking powder, baking soda, and salt.
In a mixing bowl, cream butter and sugar; beat in egg and vanilla, beating until smooth and creamy.

Gradually blend in dry ingredients. Remove about 2/3 of the cookie dough to a floured surface. To the remaining dough, add the cooled melted chocolate, blending well.
Roll out half of the vanilla dough to a 10- x 4 1/2-inch rectangle. Shape half of the chocolate dough into a roll 10 inches long; place on the vanilla dough portion. Wrap the vanilla dough around chocolate dough; wrap in foil. Repeat with remaining vanilla and chocolate dough; chill rolls for about 2 to 3 hours.

Cut rolls of dough into slices about 1/4-inch thick. Place two slices together on a greased cookie sheet; pinch upper edge of each cookie to make ear tufts and place a chocolate chip in the center of each chocolate dough eye section. Place a cashew at the bottom connection of the two cookies to make the beak. Repeat with remaining cookies.

Bake owl cookies at 350° 8 to 12 minutes, until lightly browned. Remove from baking sheet and let cool on racks. Store between layers of waxed paper or foil in tightly covered containers.

More reunion thoughts

One thing that made the weekend wonderful was there was no drama. Every one I have been to before this there were too many drunks and too many kids whose parents let them run amuck. By some miracle there were no drunks, people may have been drinking but it was civilized adult drinking in their cabins. Not falling down barfing drunk and endangering themselves and other people and the camps certification if nothing else.

I’m sorry but I hate being around stupid sloppy drunks. Drinking like that solves no problems and creates hurt and dislike when the governers come off and their mouths start running. This weekend I had more fun indepth intellectual or just plain fun talks with so many people and none of it was obscured by the demon rum. Maybe I’m an old fuddy duddy but no one looks good drunk and no one has intellectual thoughtful discussions on a myriad of random topics if they are blitzed. Drunks aren’t funny, and sucking down booze kills brain cells. Been there, done that in college and have never felt the need to since even during the worst of times. If I’m going to self medicate it’s with chocolate and ice cream.

Wonder of wonder, all the kids were great. It was fun to see how some had grown and to welcome the new additions and we had some really cute new little angels. Some were old enough to have discussions with. When the kids cornered a bat, and were terrifying the poor thing. I got to do my Naturalist thing and rescue it and teach them a little about them. I love bats. Bats can eat up to 1000 mosquitoes an hour. Gotta love the little flying mice for that if nothing else. Some of our cabins have wooden shutters that lift up and then are braced with a board to hold them open and this little guy and gone under one for safety and because the kids had made a wall around him he couldn’t ping his way to freedom. He was only about 2 inches long. The kids thought he was a baby but he was full grown. Myotis are about the same size of the local wild deer mice.

Once I lifted the shutter, which the kids couldn’t believe I would just walk up and do. We had a little chat about our friend. I made them back up about 6 feet and the minute I did, the little guy started flying back and forth until he could ping his way to the end of the building and then he was gone.  My good deed for the day.

The night before we had had a desert tarantula as a guest at campfire. I’d never seen one up there before. He wasn’t full grown, he wasn’t quite as long as my hand and they get much bigger than that and I think must have just shed his exoskeleton because his body was pretty narrow for a tarantula but some people reacted to it with the usual screams. I hope I was a calming influence, spiders are cool. I’d rather see a spider than most clowns. And we used have this stupid clown mass every summer that I did my best to miss. Snakes and spiders no problem, scary clowns No!

I never got my photo of a damn woodpecker, Curse you, Woody Woodpecker! Four years I’ve  been hunting the bugger.

Reunions are special places

This weekend’s reunion was wonderful. Reunions are the closest you can get to a time machine for camp. The only problem is that you no longer climb like a mountain goat with no thought about how you are going to hurt when you are done. We all look different from our past selves. Most of us are heavier, we all are grayer but are hearts are pretty much the same.

Some camps were filled with sunshine, grace and love, some weren’t but Teresita is one that was. I have to admit that I felt like I was a fish out of water there but they have shown in spades that they didn’t feel that way about me and that is a gift.

They aren’t all Catholics now, we have gone are separate journeys. I was a budding Pagan then but now some are Buddhists, some are still Catholic, some are atheist and some are agnostic and some have moved to other forms of Christianity but we all respect each other.

I was amazed Sunday morning how many showed up for my Chapel before breakfast, last year there were 8 adults, this year most came and they brought their kids.  That was very special. Miss Kat is the crazy Druid and they let her have Chapel on Sunday of all days. It felt really good especially since I had a brain storm the night before and threw out what I was going to do and wrote a service on magic and my definition of magic because for me magic = nature and being up in the mountains and in the trees is my church so we listened to the wind in the pines and the oaks and we watched and listened to my nemesis the acorn woodpecker. We saw all the colours of green and we saw the magic in each other’s laugh and smile. That is my definition of magic.

And this is the prayer I wrote:

I ask for power to make good decisions this day and every day

I ask for wisdom to see the magic in the world

I see magic in the wind

I see magic in the sun’s rays

I see magic in the greens of the trees

I hear magic in a friend’s voice

I hear magic in a bird’s song

I hear magic in music

I know the magic of loving friends and family

I know the magic of learning new things

I know the magic of peace, the magic of hope, the magic of love

Let me take these things with me through this day

And home with me this night

May we know we are blessed and that we carry blessing

To those we meet

May we be blessed.

And we ended with sending the blessings of the weekend into the wind in bubbles.