The hazards of rain, sleet, snow and sinking temperatures.
A few days ago the upper Midwest was hit with an incredible mess of rain, snow, sleet and sinking temperatures. Parking lots, sidewalks and driveways turned into lakes and streams that quickly froze over into a rink that Olympic hockey teams could have played on and speed skaters could have raced around. The pond at the bottom of my driveway froze over and has icebergs that could sink the Titanic.
Today the sun came out. The frozen paths in our yards softened. I thought it would be a good idea to chip away at the ice. And I did. Chop, chop, chop…..chop, chop, chop. Take shovel, scrape, lift, toss. Repeat.
And then it happened. The shovel, with its batch of ice, flew off of the end of the handle. Up and over the snow bank and into the road it went. I guffawed.
The remains of the day.
Obsessed! That’s the only word I can use in what seems to be my eternal search for a certain Norwegian ancestor. She can’t be found! Beyond the scribbled note on a scrap of paper with the marriage date of her and my great-grandfather, which also includes the names of their parents, there is no other information that shows she existed prior to 1884. None! (Ingen!)
I’ve turned over rocks. I’ve flipped over leaves. I’ve dug into the dirt and only found the withered roots of the tree. It’s as if the Norske trolls have taken and hidden her in the hills of Western Wisconsin.
Trolls. Drawn by Laura Seielstad. 2013
If she only had a rare last name: a name taken from the farm where the family had lived, like her husband did. But did her family do that? No. They had to use the “son” after her father’s, father’s name. What? Her maiden name was Anderson. Which means somewhere back in time someone’s first name was Anders (aka: her grandfather).
Anderson, it’s a simple enough name; so simple that there are tens of thousands of the buggers running around Western Wisconsin as I write. Back in the 1800s there were only “thousands” of them. Here’s the rub, her dad’s name was Hans: Hans Anderson. (No, he’s not the writer of fairy tales. That was Hans Christian Andersen. He’s Danish, not Norwegian.)
Try typing Hans Anderson into ancestry.com or familysearch.org and see where it gets you. Even after narrowing it down with Hans’ wife’s name, and the area they supposedly lived in between 1865 to 1880, I still come up with nearly 640 names to dig through. And I dug! But did I find a connection? Did I find the daughter? No. Those rotten Norske Trolls!
I’ve not given up. The trolls will not defeat me. They will give up my great-grandmother in the end. I must simply sniff them out. I must find that single document that links me to a Norwegian Parish. Once that precious item is found names will spread like wildfire as the Norse in Norway are excellent record keepers, unlike the emigrant offspring who changed their names as the wind changes direction.
On the way to work today I was stuck behind a Toyota. As I gazed upon the insignia on the back end of the car it occurred to me that Toyota’s logo is similar to the Bat Signal…albeit a crisper, cleaner graphic. Compare and decide for yourself. Does this mean that the bat mobile is a Toyota?
Late last year I had the urge to buy a ukulele. I don’t know why, but I did. As a frugal…okay….cheap person, I fought the urge until one day last month when I found a music store in a nearby town that actually sold ukuleles. It was amazing! This place had 20-25 ukes hanging on the wall. I held and strummed nearly every one of them. This is the one that sang to me.
I am now an excellent player of “Drunken Sailor”. Sure, it’s only two chords, but I can play it dammit, and that’s all that counts. The song takes me back to a particular Thanksgiving weekend spent in Philadelphia with friends that involved a party on a Canadian battleship. Details not to be shared. 😉
Last week I bought an I-pod. Taken in by a sale, bright lights, and apps galore I boldly entered an electronic store, picked out the color I-pod of choice, and laid down the money.
At home I excitedly opened the small package then struggled to find the on/off button. There are no instruction books included when you buy it. There are little sheets of paper telling you where to go on-line and download the manual (100+ pages) but who takes the time to read it? 20 minutes later I had the gizmo up and was trying to figure out how to make it do what I wanted. It was a struggle. The bright lights and small icons made my eyes hurt. My patience reached its limit. Siri, at one point, pissed me off so much I told her that she had to be turned off. In her arrogant, digital voice, she replied “Is that so?” Who knew a digital voice could have such attitude.
Over the weekend as I continued to play with the I-pod I wondered why I needed this “toy”, this distraction from better pursuits? In the end I decided that I didn’t. Life is more than a little box filled with music and games. Yes, it’s a camera, a map, and so much more but to me it’s not worth having. I rolled the cord up and tucked it back into the box. I slipped the “instructions” in too. Then I placed the I-pod back into its container and closed the top. This morning, through snow and slick roads, I returned the I-pod to the store. No I-pod for me, thank you. I prefer to see what’s around me.
The attempt to make my own sauerkraut resulted in complete and utter failure.
Oh, I suppose I could have scooped out the moldy bits and let the cabbage keep on fermenting but I have to admit, the smell that permeated the house was getting to me. And, would it have been safe to let it mold on and then attempt to eat it? I don’t think so.
So it’s back to purchasing sauerkraut at the store from people who actually know what they’re doing.
Thank you Frank’s for doing what others can not (or will not).
Yesterday I decided to make sauerkraut from the huge cabbage that was in my CSA box a week ago.
The recipes online are incredibly easy. Cut or shred the cabbage, put in a crock, and toss in some salt. Put a plate on top of the cabbage. Fill water in a quart jar and place on top of the plate. Ferment for 1-4 weeks.
What do I expect? A very smelly house. Just cutting the cabbage sends out that cabbage smell.
Will it be edible? Only time will tell.
So far, the cabbage that filled the crock to the rim has shrunk down to half its former height. I am eager to see what happens in the coming weeks.