Wednesday, March 15, 2017

Cleaning Out Closets

The thing about cleaning out one's closet only occasionally is that you find stuff you've forgotten about!

Cool stuff-like jewelry from your mother and mother-in-law that you stuffed in the closet thinking you would get it out your for granddaughter to play dress up with, long before you even had a granddaughter!

But now suddenly, the jewelry seems to be cool again and maybe you should wear it yourself!  Big beads are back and costume jewelry is "in"!

And you find your high school ring and put it on.  But you never wear rings because you have hands are like your Dad's.  Big! And rings don't look good on your hands.  But your childhood piano teacher thought your hands were could stretch over an octave!!  Sigh

You discover some silver jewelry designed and made by your youngest sister when she was in high school.  A bit rustic, but now she has her own business.   Designing and creating her own line of custom silver jewelry.  And you have found a few of her original pieces!

In the middle of a tangled mess of fine gold chains, you discover your daughters locket with her initial engraved on the oval and you put it in a box and send it to Atlanta.

Then you come across a basket and realize that in the middle of your child bearing years, you were very crafty.  You crocheted afghans, knitted, did needlepoint and cross stitched and sewed quilts and costumes.

You discover that you have at least a MILLION buttons, and you consolidate them in one huge glass jar and keep the white ones in their separate container.  Now what kind of craft could you do that would be both creative and useful?  Or will they sit on the shelf another 10 years?

And just because you were raised during the depression....(which you were not, but kids believe you when you say that because some people don't know that the depression was over in 1948), you still have towels that your mom saved!  "You can always use an old towel to wipe down the car that you wash every Saturday!"  A Saturday morning routine that we have never engaged in but, oh well!!!  Can I throw old thin towels out and not be wasteful?  Maybe I can move them to a different location to be more accessible when we do get to wash our vehicles! 

Do I dare confess about the stacks of sheets that live in the hall closet.  And 6  different size bedspreads!   Rejects from the Inn but just perfectly fine for the family.  But wait!!!  Why do you have a fitted king sheet?  You've never had a king size bed in all the 45 years of marriage.  Sigh

So now that everything is out and visualized and accounted for and sitting in a spare room, you have to figure out how to get it all back.  Plus the assorted medical supplies and the vacuum!

Strange as it may seem-it's a small closet.

Friday, March 10, 2017

Not Only "Good Night"

The Nordbergs love books!  Young and old.

But my favorite memory of a child's book was Good Night Moon.

Every night, sitting in the big rocker with three kids piled on his lap, Rob would read our copy of Goodnight Moon.  Ethan would be in his crib, but eventually the trio would be rotated so the oldest would be lying on their bed.

"In the great green room...."  We used to have it memorized, and probably could resurrect it with a little prompting!

It's frayed now and loosing it's binding.  I notice that our hard cover edition is slightly smaller than the current edition and the page at the end is ripped, but it has remained on the bedroom bookshelf for almost 40 years now.

We noticed in the NYTimes Weekend Arts section that a previous unpublished book by Margaret Wise Brown is soon to be released.

 "Good Day, Good Night" is being brought out in October.  It's not meant to be a sequel.

 I was surprised to find out that "Goodnight Moon" did not sell well during Brown's lifetime.  It was written in 1944 and published in 1947.  But,currently there have been 32 million copies sold in various different formats.

Margaret died suddenly at the age of 42.   But she had published 60 books in her lifetime.

I'm excited to see this next book about embracing the daytime too.  But there seemed to be a little cautionary caveat,

"Good Day, Good Night" has a lovely and simple story that is bound to appeal to small children, even if it doesn't match the seamless rhythm and honey-smooth story progression of "Goodnight Moon".  Maybe nothing can."

Monday, February 20, 2017

February Gardening

We spoke of gardens today at lunch.

And February gardening in the North Country means CATALOGS!! 

So I came home ready to dig into the 28-30 seed and plants catalogs that had begun to arrive earlier in the month.

My winter borders are really lovely, covered with snow and sometimes ice. Creating sculptures and skeletons and tremendous shadows in the sunlight.  The little crabapples have clung to their branches and the juniper bushes get clipped regularly for indoor winter arrangements.  Knowledge from the past assures me that the 20 varieties of hostas, and the showy peonies, are just waiting for the disappearance of snow and the softening of the soil.

But the vegetable garden sits empty. Waiting for the fresh compost that's been cooking all winter, and the edge of the rototiller, on holiday in the barn.

There are new varieties of heirloom tomatoes that I'm going to try, And the organic beans and peppers and cucumbers I ordered each year are available.  How many different varieties of eggplant will my family tolerate, and how many raised beds can I dedicate to the Viking Reds, Yukon Golds and Swedish Peanut Fingerlings? Where am I'm going to plant the Kale and do I really want to grow carrots again?

In the middle of February I'm encouraged that I'm receiving more catalogs with options to order heirloom varieties and certified organic seeds. A change from just the biggest of everything is the best.

So "visions of sugarplums" don't dance in my head,  but packages of seeds, and bulbs, the smell of freshly tilled soil, the sprouting rows of garlic and onions, that were planted last fall,  and trowels and spades, float through my daydreams this midwinter day.

Saturday, February 18, 2017

The Lost Art of Letter Writing

I'm cleaning out closets and drawers.

Jump start on spring cleaning, I guess.  And I came across two letters from my Grandmother dated 1963.

The first was dated June 13, 1963; Dear Ruth, Ev and the girls.

The second dated July 10, 1963; My dear family!

She and her sister, Doris had set sail from NYC across the Atlantic to their homeland of Norway.

I remember "seeing them off" with my parents, visiting their berth, saying goodbye, wishing them bon voyage, and waving frantically from the pier,  not being able to identify those two among all the people lined up by the ship rail as it slowly slipped from view.\

The first was a newsy note about arriving in Norway, "Well, here I am, once again back in Norway- everything seems so strange for me-So different from home, but it seems good to see it again"  She briefly tells about calm seas, no one sick, and not missing a meal, with the current thought about "gaining 5 pounds"!!  She tells about the big celebrations with their families in different parts of the country and hiking up mountains still covered with snow and ice and descending to valleys all "green and covered with flowers- some contrast", and visiting a village all bombed out during the war but rebuilt.  And then she ended with hopes that everyone was well and assumptions that my sisters and I were looking forward to summer vacation.

My mother must have written her back because the second letter was the appreciation of receiving a letter from the States and knowing some of what was going on with all of us back home.  There was more information about her visits with their brothers, parties, concerns that my mom must have had about small pox shots (which they received aboard ship), and the tired feeling one gets with this "life of traveling" but not to worry, they were getting "used to it"!

The letters were not long but she managed to give a newsy, interesting report of her trip back "home".  And an awareness of her family in the States, and their activities.  She made me remember that my Dad was still going to college for advanced degrees in 1963,  I was a freshman in high school, he was doing graduated work at Brown.  I admire his focus and dedication.  And he was interested in purchasing a baby grand...he did "gigs" in high school and after his WWII service, to supplement his income.   My grandmother was interested in "helping"with the purchase of the piano.  One that is still in the family, occasionally played at the Inn.

Communicating through long hand on stationary seems to be a lost art these days.  Phone calls, tweets, and text messages are great....but they're gone and they're short.  Please Nordberg children don't stop calling!  I love hearing your voice and catching up on your lives now that we live so far from each other.

But the sweetness of seeing my grandmothers handwriting, the yellowed stationary, and the memories  which were, at the time,  just rehearsals of everyday life, were revisited  fifty four years later in a small rural upstate community, far from Norway or Mount Kisco, New York.

I'm sticking them back in the dresser drawer for my grand daughter to find twenty years from now.

But first I have to tell her the "stories of her great great grandmother from Norway" and then write letters of my own.

Thursday, November 17, 2016


How do  you pack for a funeral and a celebration?

I'm filled with tears, knowing that a man who has been so inspirational in our lives, is moving on.
On to his real home but leaving us!

He's 90.  And he's ready.  But we're not.

I'm not.

I haven't learned everything yet.
Just one more visit, one more memory, one more Bible study, one more time around their table.

But time is a funny thing and life is fragile and we can't keep it forever.

He's the most content man I know.  And his wife loves him beyond measure.

They are 90.  And he is homeward bound.

They have showed me, in their everyday lives, what extra ordinary means.

What living in grace and acceptance, and family and community means.
What living with honor, and giving, and sharing looks like.

In ordinary life.

University life, military life, working NYC life, church life,  retirement life.

I hope I get to tell you one more time that I love you.
And you are so important to my life, my family's life.
 And that you have lived up to the gospel you taught and loved.
 And you taught many through your whole life,
not with words so much,
but with your life.
Bravery, honor, courage of convictions, love, and acceptance
And peace
and our Savior
and thanksgiving for the life that was given him
and the people that surrounded him
and the Savior that gave himself for him
and the hope that enabled him
and the direction he focused on