Thursday, December 31, 2009

Happy New Year!

Who can tell the difference between a picture of a sunrise and that of a sunset?

 I cannot. In GriggsDakota the sky is big and the horizon wide. 

I will readily admit that I have enjoyed many more sunsets than sunrises. 

Watching a sunrise, especially in the summer has always felt like a triumph to me. I can awaken with the chickens, but I have never done it on a regular basis.

 There are landmarks in photographs of the sun that determine in my mind which is early, which is late. The sunshine is so similar to my eyes, always magical in its coming and going. 
As a child of the plains, I know both the sun's power and its limitations.
 The light of the world, but not the Eternal Light of the World. Unable to fully conquer darkness or cold, it simply comes and goes. 
Yet, it is we who do the traveling like flies in a car, buzzing around, unaware of our bigger journey. 
The sun has just begun its trip back to us in the North. It has left us cold and frozen, but time has not frozen.
Time keeps moving. We too, as passengers of the earth continue to travel into the future. 
Happy New Year! With love from GriggsDakota

Blog Content copyright 2009 JK Huso Lukens

Monday, December 28, 2009

A Snowstorm for Christmas

There was a Christmas snowstorm in GriggsDakota which stopped traffic of all kinds in the entire state. We were fortunate to gather our family before it set in and spent the stormy days enjoying a festive time together.
Now that Christmas is over and the storm has passed, there are ice crystals in the air under blue skies.
The wind has stopped, the world is fresh and white, but very cold.
Sundogs were visible this morning. These mock suns, also called parhelia, are reflections that appear on each side of the sun. It is the sun's rays reflecting off the ice crystals in the atmosphere that cause this partial rainbow in our beautiful sky. We know this often indicates very cold weather in GriggsDakota. The forecast predicts we will dip below zero fahrenheit tonight, but we don't mind.
We'll dream a little more of Christmas
And the bounty 2009 provided in GriggsDakota.
Then we will take down the decorations
And get some much needed rest. 

Blog Content Copyright JK Huso Lukens

Thursday, December 24, 2009

Merry Christmas!

Now it came about in those days that a decree went out from Caesar Augustus, that a census be taken of all the inhabited earth.
This was the first census taken while Quirinius was governor of Syria.
And all were proceeding to register for the census, everyone to his own city.
And Joseph also went up from Galilee, from the city of Nazareth, to Judea, to the city of David, which is called Bethlehem, because he was of the house and family of David; in order to register, along with Mary, who was engaged to him and was with child.
And it came about that while they were there, the days were completed for her to give birth.
And she gave birth to her first-born son; and she wrapped Him in cloths, and laid Him in a manger, because there was no room for them in the inn.
And in the same region there were some shepherds staying out in the fields, and keeping watch over their flock by night. 
And an angel of the Lord suddenly stood before them, and the glory of the Lord shone around them; and they were terribly frightened.
And the angel said to them, "Do not be afraid; for behold, I bring you good news of a great joy which shall be for all the people; for today in the city of David there has been born for you a Savior, who is Christ the Lord.
And this will be a sign for you:  you will find a baby wrapped in cloths, and lying in a manger."
And suddenly there appeared with the angel a multitude of the heavenly host praising God, and saying, 
"Glory to God in the Highest, And on Earth peace among men with whom He is pleased."
And it came about that when the angels had gone away from them into heaven, the shepherds began saying to one another, "Let us go straight to Bethlehem then, and see this thing that has happened which the Lord has made known to us."
And they came in haste and found their way to Mary and Joseph, and the baby as He lay in the manger.
And when they had seen this, they made known the statement which had been told them about this Child.
And all who heard it wondered at the things which were told them by the shepherds.
But Mary treasured up all these things, pondering them in her heart.
And the shepherds went back, glorifying, and praising God for all that they had heard and seen, just as had been told them.
Luke 2 : 1 - 20
Merry Christmas from Farmer Fred and the gang at Griggs Dakota.

Blog content Copyright 2009 JK Huso Lukens

Monday, December 21, 2009

The GriggsDakota Christmas Tree

Shortly after Thanksgiving, farmer Fred took a trip to a nearby city where he spied a lot full of Christmas trees next to one of his favorite stores. It didn't take him long to determine:  1. The trees were fresh cut in Minnesota  the previous week.   2. Each variety of tree was one price no matter how big the tree was.  3. Which variety was the cheapest.  4. His favorite variety of Christmas tree is a Scotch Pine. 
 Many folks have started to use artificial trees, but according to an article I read recently, all those trees eventually get tossed in the landfill where they will take hundreds of years to decompose. We've always preferred a real tree, anyway, so I was glad to read that. The frozen tree waited all bundled up for just the right moment. It was then brought inside where the string that held it together was removed.
 With lights and some ornaments it is a sure sign that Christmas is just a few days away. 
The tree is decorated and smells like Christmas.
Darkness bring bubbling, glowing Christmas magic to GriggsDakota.
And there is magic outdoors, too. This twinkling beauty is southeast of the old farmhouse. It is tucked away during daylight in the woods by the lake. During the darkness, which is over 15 hours per day this time of year, it is visible from the road and my kitchen window. 

Blog Content Copyright 2009 JK Huso Lukens

Saturday, December 19, 2009

Happy Birthday, Mom! MD Poetry

Today is my Mom's birthday.
She is the baby pictured with her sister. 

In 1993 I was asked to write a poem for a Mother-Daughter Banquet at our church. It was a big congregation and quite an honor to be asked to be on that program. My friends had learned that my heart could sing in an iambic pentameter of sorts when I was the Mistress of Ceremonies at the birthday party for our pastor's wife.
 We dressed up in clothes and hats of a bygone era.
Every line I spoke that day as Mistress was written in rhyme. So later, I was challenged to write a poem for our mother-daughter banquet and didn't dare refuse. 

I was raised in GriggsDakota, with a kind and patient mother. It was from that perspective I wrote the following poem all those years ago. Of course, I dedicated it to Mom and invited her to attend the banquet with me and my daughters. The introduction that evening was  the same one I have written here. And Mom, I hope we laugh as hard today as we did that night in 1993.
 Happy Birthday!

"Mom, for all the times I've embarrassed you in the past, I just want you to know...I am about to do it again."

Thoughts on the MD Relationship

"On Mothers and Daughters they've asked me to speak,
And I have been thinking for nearly a week
Of what I could say that would catch your attention
And what parts of this topic I should now mention.

My mother's a mother, her mother is, too.
And I am a mother, and so, most of you.
And we are all daughters of mothers of course,
So really, all women could be a source

Of info and topics for this evenings rhyme.
But to interview all would take too much time.
You know how it is for a mother these days,
We're so pressed for time, life goes by in a haze.

But, as I considered this particular task
I decided to simply pull off the mask
And give my impressions, though silly or straight,
For daughters and mothers and grandmas turned great.

So, back in my memory I started to travel
To find recollections and let stories unravel.
Of mother-relationships, generation to next.
Before long, I began writing this text.

When I was a little girl, long before teens, 
My mother did house work in her blue jeans.
" Mom, while you're cleaning the house, I'd like to see
You wearing a dress, like the Moms on TV!"

My mom is a pleaser:  The next day I was greeted
By Mom in a dress, with a skirt, long and pleated.
I pretended that I was the star of a show,
With Mom looking gorgeous, till what do you know? 

The floor need washing and as she cleaned up the trail
The skirt of her dress wound up in the pail.
She wrung out the skirt, the end of my dream.
I never discussed it for fear she would scream.

Being a teen girl is sometimes a pain,
With hormones and heartaches and monthly weight gain
When I was that age any little anecdote
Could put me on a real panic note.

Teen troubles kept me going round in a tizzy!
Hair, clothes, important stuff, kept me so busy!
But Mom was there, stable and strong,
She just calmly urged, pushed, or pulled me along.

When you are little, you never guess,
The love in Mom's heart, she can't always express.
But teen years convinced me about mother-love.
Of strength and endurance sent from above.

Then I grew up, how quickly time passes! 
Soon I was taking parenting classes. 
Natural childbirth now was the rage,
My daughter arrived and we turned the page.

I now was the mother of a daughter so small,
It all started over, and as I recall
Us together and wondering where time had gone.
It flies by so quickly, life doesn't last long.

I'm looking forward to Grandma-hood, someday.
I'll bake cookies, make doll clothes and take time to play.
When you are a mother you must be a constable, 
But, Grandma has fun without being responsible 

For all of the practical matters of life
That complicate mother-daughter days and add strife.
Her patience is longer, her duty list, short.
She never has anything bad to report.

Now, my final thoughts and contemplation
To share with you, this congregation:
You must remember, part of a mother's charm
Is that if her daughter has need of it, Mom cuts off her arm!

As a result, the relationship's built
On compassion and love, and a lifetime of guilt!
But as you get older, perspective to gain,
You realize, for mother, this isn't a pain.

It's simply a joy God puts in our heart,
So, from Mother's love, we never need part.
Listen girls, even if Mom continues to bug you,
You can be your own person and still let her hug you!"

copyright: J K Huso Lukens All rights reserved. 

Blog content copyright 2009

Thursday, December 17, 2009

A New Song, Same Old Tune

Sung to the tune of "Christmas is Coming and the Goose is Getting Fat" with apologies to the English, and every one who loves this beautiful melody.
Christmas is coming and I am getting fat,
But I'll eat another cookie, cuz I can deal with that!
If I drink a little eggnog, I'll never feel blue,
Munch Candy Bars,
A Bowl of Nuts,
A Popcorn Ball or Two!
It's time for making merry, and food is everywhere,
I'll wait till January, before I start to care.
With parties in the evening, and feasting every day.

I've thrown away the scale, so jolly I will stay!

Things are cookin' in GriggsDakota!

Monday, December 14, 2009


A Holiday Party was held recently for the Madmen Admen (and women) that included a familiar pair from GriggsDakota. Time to fabulize for the evening. My spell check does not like the word fabulize, but I love it. Fabulize seems to be the most appropriate word to describe the preparation. The word "fabulize" has been popularized by Lisa Simpson of "The Simpsons" television show and means to become fabulous. The invitees were to come dressed as if they were working in an Advertising Agency during the nineteen sixties.
Above:  With an extra set of eye lashes and hair fully fabulized in a sixties ratted upsweep, Katie works to fabulize her makeup. 
Above:  Farmer Fred spent an hour fabulizing before the party. Just in case the evening turned into a yawn, it is important for him to be well rested!
Above:  Fully fabulized and ready to go. Katie chose a pink silk suit with a detachable fur accent for the evening of fun. His glen plaid suit and nap were enough to fabulize Farmer Fred for the party, which was never a yawn. 

Blog Content Copyright J K Huso Lukens

Thursday, December 10, 2009

Lutefisk Season!

And it is almost lutefisk season. Some of you are probably not familiar with this delicacy. It is cod fish treated with lye, dried, shipped to America from Norway, where it is then soaked in water. When reconstituted, it becomes a rather slimy, smelly, holiday treat. It is served boiled, steamed, or baked. It is best topped with melted butter, which is the traditional way to serve it. You can serve it under a cream sauce if you are short of butter. I like it with a little salt and a lot of pepper, but that is probably an American addition. In our area it is in the grocery store from Thanksgiving through the New Year, and then again in May. Although I have never been to Norway, I understand that her citizens no longer actually eat lutefisk. Nor do they eat much lefse or flatbread. That was poor man's food and when the poor folks left for America, the Norwegians became more affluent. The Norse people progressed with electricity and refrigeration. But here in America we cling to our poor family traditions.
The very mention of lutefisk causes many people to wrinkle their noses. It is quite aromatic, especially during cooking. But as my mother does, as my grandmothers did, and as my great-grandmothers did, I cook lutefisk once in a while. We serve it every Christmas Eve. Our menu has remained virtually unchanged for over 100 years. The reason makes an interesting story.

Lutefisk reminds me of what my Great-grandmother, Kirsti Engen, did for me. Of my great grandparents, she was the only one still alive when I was born. She, perhaps, gets more credit than she deserves if all were equal, but then, long life has its own rewards. Her husband left her in Norway with two small children when he emmigrated to America. The families there were in dire need and starvation seemed a certainty for many during those times. However, there was  one exciting possibility. The New World of America still had land and opportunities for all. A couple of years later he sent the money for her tickets. She packed up a wooden trunk of possessions and a small wooden box of food for her children. She feared that the fare on the boat would upset their tummies. The trip was especially dangerous for toddlers and her plan was to keep their food as close to normal as possible. She went alone with her children to meet her husband in Dakota. She traveled first by boat and then by train. There was no extra money for her husband, Einar, to travel to meet her when the boat anchored. They got off the train in St. Paul, not quite knowing what to expect. He was waiting.

Less than a year after her arrival, my grandmother was born in their sod house. Soon, a wooden frame house was built. They worked dawn to dark every day in order to stay alive. Four months before her youngest child was born, her husband died. She named the boy Einar and proceeded with their plan. She managed to keep her family on that farm by working hard as a farmer and a midwife collecting whatever fee the family could spare. Her one luxury seems to have been trips to the photographer with her children. I have often wondered if those photographs were paid for with money sent by her family in Norway, but I will never know.
 I remember celebrating her 100th birthday in the old frame farm house. This photo was taken in the 1940's after years of relative prosperity in America and many additions. The inside remained humble, with no carpeting, very basic furnishings, and no indoor plumbing. There was a dip in the  yard where the sod house had stood. 
All seven of her children celebrated with her on that day. We buried her the next year on my eleventh birthday. Because I was her namesake, it seemed a fitting end. I keep her wedding ring, a simple, well worn, gold band in my jewelry box. I received it as a gift from her spinster daughter Ada. She is wearing the white necklace on the photo. My grandmother is on the left behind the cake.

Back to lutefisk.
Great Grandma ate lutefisk, lefse, flatbread, and many other simple foods. They reminded her of the home in Norway that she left and never saw again. She came here hoping for a better life and lived that life with loyalty, courage, and faith. The aroma and ritual of preparing these recipes made her feel closer to home, especially on Christmas Eve, when all Norwegians are celebrating.
I don't know if her life was better for the sacrifices she made, but I know mine is. I am inspired by the loyalty she showed her husband. I am amazed by the courage she mustered raising seven children alone on the prairie in a country so strange that she barely spoke the language. I admire her constant, unwavering faith. In our family we were taught to thank God we are Americans. We keep our Norwegian traditions not because of where they come from, but because of those who taught us to enjoy them. These poor traditions bring the generations closer, and I cherish them each Christmas Eve.

Blog Content Copyright Jane Huso Lukens 2009

Wednesday, December 9, 2009

New Doors

Above: Sometime after harvest and before the full blast of winter, there is often an opportunity to do a project. Two new garage doors were on the improvements list in GriggsDakota. Our Friends at Pinke Lumber in Wishek delivered new insulated garage doors which will complete the garage insulating project we began in January.
Above: We are lucky to have Bill, an excellent carpenter, and Robbie a cheerful assistant to install the doors.
Above: They have laid out all the pieces and tools to finish the job.
Above: No need for a ladder if Robbie is your helper.
Above: Soon the progress is visible.
Above: Farmer Fred enjoys the beautiful background of the new garage doors as he works on his ornery truck.

Blog Content Copyright Jane Huso Lukens 2009