Posted tagged ‘Ancestors’

WELCOMING ME HOME

February 23, 2015

If you lived where I do,  you’d know what a welcome sight this is!

SAMSUNGThis is the front wall of my garage, and I park my car up against that woodpile.

(A huge, grateful thanks to Son for all his work!   I know it was hard work, but it looks almost like a work of art.)

A few weeks ago I wrote that our Weatherman wasn’t being too generous with his “Fahrenheits” –  we were experiencing a severe cold spell of single digit temperatures.  Well, two or three “cold spells” later,  our Weatherman is now subtracting Fahrenheits from us.     That is, I woke up this morning to   -12 F —  not wind chill,  just the temperature.     Twelve.  Degrees.  Below.  Zero.

I know we’re not the only ones in America with the extreme cold, and we live here in the Far North – no complaints from me.

And it’s the season of Lent;  does one dare to complain about a  lack of creature comfort?

I’ve been dealing with some personal challenges,  mostly involving identity theft.  With Hubbie gone now,  I don’t have his steady optimism to strengthen me.    I don’t have his manly confidence to absorb into the place inside me that tells me things might be, ultimately, okay.     But I’m learning how to deal with this, and with some pressure off, I can focus on the season.

So, I came home from my class this afternoon, opened the garage door, and saw that welcoming sight:  all that firewood waiting for me.  A little optimism for the evening hours.     Supper;  Lenten devotions;   social duties;  Lenten reading.     I am a “product”  of Gustav Vasa.    King Gustav I Vasa.     His actions long ago molded the world I was born into.   On that basis, I chose my Lenten reading for this year.

Not too long a  post tonight.    Just wanted to check in and say:  No matter how bad, how complicated, how uncomfortable your life can become,  it will lessen,  it might pass,  you will cope,  with the strength of your loved ones around you —  and be upheld by the God who made you — although I think you have to call out to Him first.

He that dwelleth in the aid of the most High, shall abide under the protection of the God of Jacob

He shall say to the Lord: Thou art my protector, and my refuge: my God, in him will I trust.

. . .he hath given his angels charge over thee; to keep thee in all thy ways.

He shall cry to me, and I will hear him: I am with him in tribulation, I will deliver him, and I will glorify him.

I wasn’t smart enough to think of those verses from the Psalms by myself,   but  I was reminded of them on Sunday.      The short prayers given for the First Sunday in Lent came from the Psalms and seemed to talk directly to the prayers I had been sending up.      Sending up frantically, I might add.   Here is one of the short prayers for this Sunday:

The Lord will overshadow thee with His shoulders, and under His wings thou shalt trust: His truth shall compass thee with a shield.

I can’t have Hubbie’s arms around me,  I know God’s arms are stronger,   but “under His wings”  is where I had been needing to be these past weeks.   I was very affected by that little prayer.   How could I be needing and asking . . .  and then the response is forced into my attention right during the Holy Sacrifice of the Mass!

And that brings me back to King Gustav — a man of legends;  a man of great violence and cruelty;  a charismatic young man;   a man who is the “father” of modern,  independent Sweden       —  Oh, here he is:

Gustav Vasa

—  A man who manipulated the world around him to increase his power and to increase Sweden’s economic influence in Europe;  a man who “saved”  Sweden.

A man who took away the Faith from my ancestors,   not by a stroke of his pen,  but by his sword — many swords.

Which brings me back to my Lenten reading, which I promise to present in my next posting, even though it’s not about this king and even though it’s a very manly book, and I’m very much not.

 

Firewood Art:

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GETTING THE JOB DONE – THE VIKING WAY!

September 6, 2014

axe silh

 

Son can have his blue chain saw (yesterday’s post)   — but I found my own weapon today!

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Well,   that’s a garden tool.   At least it was in my hands.

Sometimes Life gives you overwhelming challenges, daunting tasks that you’re not sure you even have the resources to get through.     Sometimes it’s physical challenges, when you know the task at hand requires possibly more than you can give it.

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This was my mission today,  the aftermath of our tree felling.   The brush is actually taller than it looks in the picture.   And bigger.   And a lot more than it appears.   I had no idea what to do with it,  where to put it,  or how to begin,  but I knew I had to do something, because I live in a neighborhood, and people would . . .   not like this idea for new landscaping.

Son had begun sorting out the pieces of the tree he had taken down, so that gave me an idea how to proceed.

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Then I remembered the Blue Axe that I had bought when I was out West this summer.   For the next four or five hours I cut and chopped and sliced and hacked and cracked the bark and splattered the sap all over….

And my imagination took me back to Viking days when every Viking had his own special battleaxe: carried it with him wherever he went, slept with it, ate with it… sliced, hacked, cracked and splattered things with it.

I enjoyed using my axe.  At the end of the day, I was hot and tired,  every joint in my body had been jolted, when one hand got tired I used the other so both hands have blisters,  but I’ve got all my fingers and toes tonight,  so I think I got pretty good with that axe.

My mind was busy too,  but I’m not going to draw any lessons from this day’s work for you.  I’m usually rather “bookish”  —   five hours is more commonly spent with a really good difficult book in front of me, learning many things  — but today  I learned by stretching myself, physically,  and practicing something new.

blue axe

I got in touch with another part of me and learned some other kinds of things.   Something else in my blood.

 

 

 

 

CULINARY ROAD TRIP – WITH FASTING

August 9, 2014

Well,  my road trip eventually included a Sunday.    And based on my experience in the Far Far North that day,  this will be a beautiful but sad posting.

It starts with  a parking lot!

SAMSUNGI “had to”  park  alongside beautiful Lake Superior.    It was a bit of gray day just then, so the Lake seems less blue than my car, but usually it’s the other way around.   (I’ll show you that in the next posting!)     So, this Sunday started with a parking lot, but it continued with the nearby cathedral.

I love cathedrals!

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I love the size and the beauty and the art work and all the soul-enriching things that I’m not wealthy enough to surround myself with.    This cathedral is made for everyone to enjoy in all its immense-ness.

SAMSUNG This is the home of the very brave and hard-working, holy man we know as Bishop Baraga.    He walked all over this territory in the Far Far North,  bringing the knowledge of Christ to the Native tribes who lived up here.    Many were receptive to the Faith and freely entered the Church.    I personally know some of their descendants today.   Those that have kept themselves inside the Church have become well-educated, self-sufficient, decent citizens, who love their families and work for their communities, both in their professions and in their personal time.

Other  descendants of these first Catholics have left the Faith.   Many are wards of the State… we support them with our tax dollars.    I wish they knew who Bishop Baraga was.

There is a sign on the side of the cathedral building, telling us a little about the good bishop.

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And there is a statue of him on another side.

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It’s tempting to just walk by,  thoughtlessly.

Around the back of the cathedral I noticed a little chapel dedicated to Bishop Baraga:

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It was peaceful back there.  Restful.   It was Sunday,  a time to slow down a little.  I peeked inside the glass windows, then put my camera up to the glass:

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Accidently left my flash on,   but you can see a nice stained glass window telling a little of his story, and there, by the other stained glass window,  is the place where his body has been respectfully laid.    There are kneeling benches in front,  in case you’d like to linger, and think, and thank. . .  .

I didn’t enter into the cathedral by those big front doors.  I chose the modern entrance.

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Garden.  Nicely done.

When I finally got inside,  my thoughts came to a stop.    SAMSUNGIt was dark inside, but very beautiful.

It was time to experience the presence of God.     And pray a little.    Me and God.

And it was time to wait.    I felt pretty happy.   This is what I came for.     To commune with God.    To receive the Son of God into myself as Jesus said to do it.      That was the reason for the fasting.    You don’t mix something important and holy with. . . .ham and eggs.     You know?    So you fast for a  while.   Until a bit afterwards.   “Man does not live by bread alone,”  Jesus said.   It’s a  “culinary road trip,”  but food is not always so important.

Other people were there.    We all waited in the beautiful church.   The beautiful dark church.

The lights never came on for us.    The clock went past the time that we were here for.     I said this was a beautiful but sad posting.    Ten minutes.  Twenty minutes.   A  half hour.   Oh, we were quiet and patient.   We read our Readings for the day, we read our missals, we prayed…. and some of us began to make a “spiritual communion” — it’s what you do when you can’t have the real physical communion.

Eventually, the people began leaving.

It was like we were fasting not only from physical food,  but from our spiritual food.

Some were sad and quiet, some were annoyed,  but none of us were really surprised.    We were going to worship in the way people worshiped here at the time of Bishop Baraga.  The same way our grandparents worshiped.  And their grandparents.  All the way back in time, the same way of worshiping,  all the way back to the first century after Christ.   But these beautiful cathedrals have been taken over now by people who worship another way.    They sometimes make room for what they used to be,  but sometimes . . .  things happen.    They’re not too particular.    They’ve abandoned what was.

SAMSUNGI looked up at a statue of St. Joseph, reminding us of his loving care for the child Jesus;  reminding us of all the good qualities he had that made him a good choice to be Foster Father of the child Messiah.   Patron saint of families.   Help of families.  Protector.   Provider.   Father.    What would he think of the Child he loved and cared for being abandoned today?

Then I saw the Mother:

SAMSUNG“Blessed is the fruit of your womb!”  her cousin cried out.  “And blessed are you among all women!”        And Mary understood:    “Behold, all generations shall call me blessed.”   And I understand a little too.  I understand that she was made especially to carry the Incarnate Son of God.   A privilege, a joy, a piercing sorrow.     How sorrowful would she be today to see her Son abandoned by a different sort of generation.

It was not a “lost” day,  though.

A little boy came up to me, next to his parents.     He was about six years old.   He looked like he was trying to be mad.      He said to me, “We drove all morning to get here and then there is nothing!   I wanted to see Jesus!”    I looked at his parents.    They said it was a 3 1/2 hour drive to get there that morning.   (Yes,  there are great distances between places in the Far Far North.)

I told the little boy that it was okay.   “Jesus knows you came here and you tried.”        The little boy brightened up and said, “Oh yeah!   He can see me!”    He went away,  happily, to watch his mom take photos of the interior of the cathedral.

Sad, indeed.   Disappointing.    But all was not “lost.”    We hadn’t fasted for nothing.

 

HIDEOUS SCREAMING IN THE NIGHT

April 26, 2014

To paraphrase the movie title “How The West Was Won” –  I hope to show you a little bit of how our whole country “was won.”

SAMSUNGAs you probably know, by reading yesterday’s “Rush”  posting,  I’m on the move again.   I tried not to take too many photos while I drive  –  but I just keep wanting to “capture the moment” driving up and down these long mountain hills in the beautiful Smokies.

But not too long ago, right in this very spot,  there was another kind of traveling done:

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This is part of the way we “won”  America.   Hard and dangerous travel.  Uncomfortable.  No motels and truck stops along the way.  No anyone.    Nothing certain.

Those grand and picturesque hills in the Smokies and in the all-important Gap called Cumberland became the home of tiny settlements, a few houses together, or one all alone in the valleys. . .

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I visited one this week.  Real houses built more than a hundred years ago.  I remembered something I had read a long time ago, about people who made these homes and it gave me a closer idea of what they all faced.    It took courage to “win” our nation.

One time, in the dead of night,  a man and wife woke up to the sounds of hideous screaming coming from a distance.  The wife was frightened.  She said it sounds like it was coming from the direction of that new young couple who just moved in over in the next valley.

After several minutes the husband assured his wife that it was just a panther, screaming out in the forest.

The next day these two set out for the home of that new young couple,   who had just finished building their little house a few days before.  They were expecting their first baby, and the older couple wanted to reassure them that the “hideous screaming” they heard last night was just a panther –  common,  but it won’t usually hurt anyone.

The young husband was very skilled and had built a finely crafted house:

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But what they found inside still gives me chills when I remember this story.   The young couple had chosen the location of their home so that the hearth was built over solid rocks that poked through the ground.  A smart idea.   But what they hadn’t known was that the rocks contained a very large, very healthy nest of poisonous snakes, and by using their new hearth and heating up the rocks hundreds and hundreds of snake eggs had hatched and the new young snakes had crawled out, up into their new home.  The young couple had awakened in time to realize they were being overwhelmed by snakes – everywhere!  All over them.

And that hideous panther screaming was really the young wife screaming out her dying horror.

Courage.  In the face of deadly uncertainty.    And still we built this country.   The men (who survived)  had plenty of hard work  to do.   Tin smithing and black-smithing:

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And the women worked constantly too, producing useful but beautiful items.

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Hard, hard, daily work built our country.

When I walked into this gift shop, I thought: Oh, factory-made baskets to give us the idea of what women used to do.  They’re each so perfectly made that I doubt if the baskets that were really used were like this.

The lady at the counter was so friendly – I couldn’t understand much of her words for the thick accent “she” had ( not me!) –  but we got along well and discussed the different kinds of handiwork we do: crocheting, sewing, knitting….  And then she told me to look at those baskets.   She had made every one of them!    (I’m still apologizing for the look of incredulity on my face!)

Ever wonder how a broom is made?

SAMSUNGWell, the little village had a cabin where they made brooms.  And still do!

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They make these little bundles of. . .  straw, I think.   And then they stitch the bundles together.   Somehow.     And then they attach a pole . . .   I really don’t know how they make brooms!      I think I could make one little bundle.    I guess I could make a whisk broom.   I’d be the laughing stock of the village housewives.

We see  on television, in movies, in music, in the news=entertainment programs a kind of American that is coasting on the hard work of those who came before us; we see Americans who are  giddy,  grouchy, complaining, divisive, entitled,  getting away with an easy life,   and everything worked out for them (us.)

But this week I was invited to spend some time with the people who built up our country and made it what it is.

SAMSUNGEven serious “preppers”  don’t know half of what these people did.    We should be self-reliant and independent,  right?    If the power goes out,  I can do just fine with candles.    But I wouldn’t even be able to make a candle – from scratch!!

Hats off to all the Americans who came before us!    You are truly the giants of our past.

(Travel:   Highly recommended.    It will make you feel very small.)

 

 

 

I. ON EDGE – LOOKING OUT OVER THE EDGE

January 26, 2014

horse up

Aaaaaargh!   I know it’s Sunday…a day of peace and rest and time spent with our Creator.   Then why am I so On Edge?

Sarek 70  I have my reasons.      And I’m sure the Ambassador would say again:  “The cause is sufficient.”

 

First,   Son is  M.I.A –  as in missing.    Again.      After spending several days across the country beyond the reach of  cell phones, he is now overdue….(by a Mom’s schedule.)

He does not do Return Homes  very well.

I checked his final Arriving airport –  all planes are “on time” except the ones from his Layover city.   Those four are canceled.   I go to the site of his Layover city.   There are only three flights canceled:   the three from his Departure city.   On two long lists,  only seven flights in this country are Canceled –  Son’s !!

I’m on edge.

Which reminds me of other things that put me On Edge:

horses

It’s going to be all downhill for a while.   These are big things which I will experience,  but I can’t affect the course of the “experience.”

Here are a few:

World Finances:     The men who are managing Hubbie’s Trust tell me to expect a 5% “correction”  soon.  Other places tell me 5% – 20%.  That is a serious downturn for all of us to experience.

It just might expose for us the worldwide financial collapse that many see is already happening….  We are ill-prepared for shortages and rises in prices. . . .

Upcoming Media Events of Possible Unpleasant Outcome: 

1.  The Olympics at Sochi;

2.   The Superbowl in New Jersey;  and

3.   The State of the Union speech ordeal, outlining how great socialist principles would be for this country.   (Socialism 101:   The government has a plan for you.)

My ancestors from Finland passed down to us the realities of socialism.

The Overall World Dominance of Socialism  (known to some as The Errors of Russia)     Do you see the dominance?    There is a call for a socialist revolution – in America!     Here, at this link, for instance.

FLAG  AmerComm

The new socialist high school  “social studies”  textbook being used in several places now is getting quoted by people who ought to know better, and by young people who don’t.     See Howard  Zinn,  here, for instance.

There is a Marxist-trained person elected to sit in the “Chief-Seat” in the Vatican – and oft quoted.    (His order and their New Theology was once condemned by the very Vatican that he now heads.)   Enough said.

There is a Marxist-trained person placed in the “Chief-Seat”  in my country.    (The media proclaims he is not a Marxist, but then freely proclaims the Marxists who were his most crucial mentors,)   Enough said.

There are plagues and pestilences building up,  just waiting to go global,  just at a time when medical care in this country is being curtailed.

There are “earth worries” of increasing earthquakes, severe weather outbreaks,  newly discovered asteroid threats, food shortages, and the ongoing noticeable poisoning of the planet by the Fukushima accident.

I’ve sometimes read that when the End Times are upon us,   and when this world system is brought to an end, under judgment,  the circumstances will be very terrible.   And just at this time, when Good seems to be defeated, a special kind of saint will be created…that is,  men and women with special graces for the strength needed to give help and light to  as many as possible.    These will be saints stronger than have ever been needed before.   Saints able to stand up for the true Christ who saves.

The view from the edge:

So, since I can look over the Edge at all kinds of world events that seem to be reaching some disastrous climax, and after  becoming aware that I as an individual cannot affect the course of these events, nor their outcomes,  then I can at least hope for and work for and ask for the special graces that God is so willing to give – to those who ask.

(I still want Son here, to talk to him about this.)   Talking about these things freely and openly takes the “edge” off.

UPON PURCHASING A NEW BLENDER

January 17, 2014

Life in modern America:

com[uter user  It starts with research.

Noooooo.   It starts with pureed asparagus flying all over your kitchen cabinets,   across the countertop,  into drawers,  and under the refrigerator.

And then you bewilder yourself with all the research.   I need to spend Hubbie’s money well and responsibly,  so I parked myself in front of my keyboard and checked out all the blenders that are currently being offered – brands, sources, prices, styles, features,  functions, capacities. . .   and I narrowed it down to three possibilities, three brands, two price ranges, and one nice store that periodically sends me 20% off coupons for “anything” I might choose to buy.

When all the good omens arranged themselves favorably:    light snow, well-salted  roads,  moderating temperatures, time, energy,  and the entrails of a Mongolian lizard  all favorably aligned,   I went out to make my purchase.

. . .. Only to discover that the store offered many more varieties of blenders:     The Bullet blender,  nice convenient features for people who want to drink their smoothies “on the go” — me.     Smaller;  larger;    lots of accessories;   and even a blender that doubles as a soup cooker!!!   I could imagine myself feeding vegetables  and  adding broth,   pushing a button and then the heating elements create soup   —  all in one neat place, all in 30 minutes!

But …. no.     The very helpful young man – who seemed to make my blender-buying his special project that day –  explained some downsides of this blender/soup maker.    I saw his point — although I still think it’s a clever idea.

After fifteen long minutes,  I chose a blender, one that I had already had on my short list.   It had metal parts, a metal gear encased in plastic, which won’t wear out after a year or two, easy-to-clean buttons:  SAMSUNG

The cords came with their usual overly-cautious warnings.   Even the plug was cleverly locked down  –  to protect me from . . .  something ??

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And now the new blender sits happily next to my fairly new juicer.

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There should be no reason for me now to eat anything but raw fruits and vegetables.

HAH!

V hunt  Until I remember what flows in my blood —

 

V kettle

— and how I love to take my food like this:

 

 

Well, God meant us to be  omnivores . . . with moderation in everything.   I think my new appliances will get along well with my ancestors.

ETHNICITY

June 29, 2013

Whoever you are,  you have an “ethnicity.”   That is,  you have an ethnic background – and one you should be proud of!   I have two,  Swedish and Finnish,  and this is an international celebration of the Finnish side –   the great and wonderfully fun FinnFest 2013!

Copper mines notwithstanding,  as in the last posting,  our main reason for going to the Far Far Far North was to attend this year’s FinnFest.

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It’s not always held in this country,    so we decided we’d better take advantage of this year’s near-location.   That’s the Great Lakes in the photo, and that white star is where we had to go.

 

2  lovely town

Here is an aerial view from one of our brochures showing the beautiful (and very hilly! )  little cities of Houghton and Hancock, home of Michigan Tech University –  home to scholars and architects and engineers that do their work all over the world.     And home to many Finnish immigrants, who worked like second-class citizens in the mines and the forests,  saved their money to buy their own homes, and learning English so they could pass the citizenship test.   Their children and grandchildren and great-grandchildren place a very high value on education.   In this generation,  many Finns are now professionals of all kinds.

Remember:  it was the Finns who gave us Nokia — and all that followed!

Down on ground level . . .

3   finn dress everywhere. . . traditional Finnish dress was everywhere.  These dancers were in red and yellow,  but there were many shades of blue and green as well –  and most weren’t dancing!

Signs were bilingual,  Finn and English, because there were many people from Finland.    Son and I got the local newspaper that first day from our hotel:

SAMSUNGMy Grandma taught me how to count in Finn, a few Finnish words, and some Finnish songs,  but I couldn’t make my way through the first page of that newspaper.   The Finnish language is almost one of a kind, difficult to learn and impossible (!)  to spell.   Its roots are Ugaritic, shared only by some Estonian and by ancient Hungarian.   That’s it.   You either know it or you don’t.    It’s quite musical.   One rule of pronunciation is that every word is accented on the first syllable, but the words are many syllables long.

We were given a lovely “Program.”   123 pages.

5   program cover

It looked familiar.   Both of my children looked like that:  white hair,   bright blue eyes, pink cheeks.   Me too.   Later we all darken a bit, but Finnish children are quite remarkable looking.

The Program gave us the schedules for each day.   We had arrived right in the middle of the lecture program.  For the price of the day’s admission we could attend any of the lectures we wanted to.

6  serious lecturesThe lectures were very good,  serious and informative matters in Finnish history, Finnish health issues,   Finnish literature,  all kinds of Finnish issues, including their newly developed methods of education which has placed them at the TOP of the world’s educational achievement.   (You could Google  “Finland’s educational system” to see how they did that.)     Son and I heard different lectures but we agreed that any one of them would be worth the price of the day’s admission!

The Finns have in  the past endured Viking rulers,  Swedish rulers,  Russian rulers,  Soviet rulers,  and only very, very recently did they become an independent country of their own.     They are socialist now, but I have a feeling they will overcome that too.

Ethnic identity.   Ethnic pride.   Ethnic strength.

There was a Tori,  a giant Finnish marketplace,  displaying and offering all this Finnish ethnicity.   We spent a lot of time there!   And not a little money.    Hundreds of vendors,  I think.

7  Tori

There  was a parade at the end of the day – a good old-fashioned local parade with a mixture of small city pride (fire engines and local politicians and school marching bands)  and Finnish pride (saunas,  folk dancing…and a Finnish “politician,”  their current Secretary of State!)

8   Parade start

It began at 7:00,  just when Son and I finally found a place to eat.   We had just sat down in the restaurant when the parade began to go by – so we took turns jumping up from our table and running outside to take pictures!    (Of course, we all thought we missed the best ones when it was our turn inside.)

I met a lovely lady from Finland at the restaurant.   She was about my age and looked…somewhat like me.   While we waited for our table we talked and talked and talked….we wished we could be seated at nearby tables so we could continue,  but it was not to be.   Just a good memory now.

9   bonfire

It was Midsummer that night,  so thousands of people went out to the shore of Lake Superior to light the bonfire and…do whatever people do to celebrate Midsummer.     Pagan holidays are with us still!

Son and I missed the bonfire because we had to head further north for the copper mines, the historic fort, a search for an old campsite….through dark and eerie isolated fog-filled roads…..deeper into the northern forest.

WISCONSIN – CONTRASTING WORLDS

July 28, 2011

Well, I’ve made it all the way to Wisconsin now.   I’m actually writing from the center of the O in the word Wisconsin on the map,  so to speak.    I’m apparently playing peek-a-boo with my GPS and cell phone towers, so I can’t  send the photos I took today to The Spruce Tunnel.

However, I can give you something to think about….(photos to follow).   I’ve seen such contrasts of world views here.   It’s not surprising, really.    I suppose every state in our country could illustrate the same kind of thing, and admittedly the reason I came to Wisconsin was to see the location of a religious event that occurred in 1859, so I set myself up to see this “contrast of worlds.”

The “event” involved a well-liked young immigrant lady of the 18th century who was walking to a grist mill in  this area of Wisconsin when she saw a Lady standing between two trees.   Knowing immediately this was something strange and out of the ordinary, she consulted her priest to find out what to do.  Eventually, carefully, cautiously, she learned that the Lady asked of her to “gather the children” of the immigrants and teach them their Faith, because America is a land of heresies and the children who don’t know the content of their faith can easily be led astray.

Here’s the way it’s sometimes said today:  “If a man doesn’t believe in God,  he doesn’t believe in nothing;   he’ll believe in anything!”

Sr. Adele Joseph Brise did take up the mission requested of her, and the children were taught, and the Faith existed, strong and healthy, for many generations here in the area.

That’s the good part.    But after enjoying an afternoon in the area where all this happened,  I couldn’t help being jarred by the contrast with what was actually right in front of my eyes, all over, on the streets and roads and in the stores and restaurants, and especially on the  television.    Of course I’m looking at surface appearances, the general picture, the world as a whole.

But I just wonder how the people I’m seeing would regard such things as a heavenly mission and a serious vocation;  piety and devotion;  respect and obedience;  modesty and humility for both young ladies and young men; self-sacrifice and service;   attention to the details of one’s faith, handed down through the centuries, norather than  a spirituality which allows one to pick and choose from a cafeteria of comfortable ideas…..

I could go on…..but how strange the words in the above paragraph seem to our world;   and how well the previous world would have understood them.

How rapidly the fundamental things which produced and upheld Western civilization were laid aside and now we don’t produce and we cannot uphold a civilized world.

 

A GENTLE PARABLE

February 13, 2010

The Master returns home to his Castle.  Though it’s seen dimly through the mist, his memories are clear.

As is his wont, he will (soon) ride into the court, dismount, and entrust his stallion to the stable hands.    Then he can remove his helmet and breast shield, his mail, his spurs and gauntlets and give them to his boy;  but he will not relinquish his sword for the long walk to his Castle, up the great stairs, and in through the oaken doors that shield what is his from that which is outside.

Within those doors he knows he will find family and servants to welcome him home.  He knows their gladness is true because his presence means safety.    He will find affection from his wife, fidelity in the eyes of his servants, and his young sons will greet him with their own merry selfish hearts.

But before these beloved occurrences, his eyes will seek out a bright silvery cage in the outer hall, which holds a token of all that is good and precious in the world.   In the silver cage is a bird of soft, colored beauty,  and he will be pleased to see that the bird is well and safe and happy.   And at the sight of his Master the bird will sing out its own sweet song, delighting his Master’s heart.

For this, and for all that, the Master is glad.

(It was truly a rough morning today;  but these gentle lessons from St. Francis de Sales transformed this painting that hangs on my wall.  Now I remember why I keep it near me.)

    

INDEPENDENT AMERICANS

August 24, 2009

To my Viking Ancestors:   1,200 years ago there were probably women who looked like me and my daugher;  men who looked like my husband and son.  Swede-Finns.   What are we  doing in the United States of America at the beginning of the Third Millennium After Christ Our Savior?

Here’s one-fourth of the explanation:

Vierila Store cropped

The man in the center is Fred V., my great-grandfather.  He owns the meat market they are standing in, in 1929.    His daughter who submitted that photo to the newspaper many decades ago writes in the caption that she remembers her father wearing that white coat, carrying in heavy sides of beef, and getting to work on them, carving them up in familiy-sized pieces for his customers.    Then the pieces were wrapped in the white paper hanging from the ceiling and tied up with strings.  They also  sold enormous sausages, fresh bread, and biscuits. 

Who was this man?   An ordinary Finnish man who traveled to America about 120 years ago,with his twin brother, some friends, and the knowledge of a young woman also from Finland, whom he was to marry.   By the time of this photo, Fred and Ulriika had seven children, but Ulriika had died a few years earlier, leaving her many young children behind.

The mother spoke no English.  The children spoke no English until their first days of Kindergarten.   There were no government programs to help an immigrant start a business, no medical health insurance programs, no credit cards….It was “sink or swim.”     They had no one to rely upon for success, but they knew that in America hard work might be rewarded, and a man could keep the wages he earned for his own family.

I can’t even begin to imagine the long days of working hard – every day but Sunday.   I wish I could ask them about their lives.     I am inclined to think very well of them and try to imitate their better qualities.    

These “better qualities” in my mind are courage, fortitude, strength of character, self-disicipline,  high moral standards, independence, self-reliance, and attention to duty.   That last one, duty, is simply doing what needs to be done because it needs to be done.  

Map Finland Kemijarivi

I’ve used this map before.  This time I put a blue K on it where some of our family still lives.   Just above the Arctic Circle, Lapland, near the Swedish-Finnish border.    It can be a rugged, harsh place to live, producing grim and no-nonsense people.   Each of those “qualities”  I listed above also have a dour, darker  side too, but I think the modern world has tempered that a bit. 

Most of all, I think the Faith I chose requires me to temper the harsher side with true Charity – for God first;  and then when that’s all in order, with His Charity in me, to relate to others with compassion, understanding, and kindness.    I’ve got to add – with curiosity and openness too!

So that’s how I “got here.”   People of good character came over to combine their hard work with American freedom — a very small but typical success story of our country’s past.

WELCOMING THE DEVILS

July 20, 2009

  I write for my ancestors today;  or the great-great-grandparents of my ancestors.

Saamiland

I have no photos of them, of course, but I suspect some of the men in my family look a lot like them.   Well over six feet tall.   Light-colored hair.   Deep blue eyes.   Lots of muscles in their arms and shoulders.    I look at my grown son and sometimes think: “Popeye!”     ( Good thing he doesn’t know that.)    Although he is a kind and caring medical professional, I saw a strange, glowing happiness in his eyes recently, with a sledgehammer in his hands, pounding down an old wall.    I’ve seen him pretty happy with a chainsaw too.   He looks at things directly and honestly.   I think he would have made a good warrior.  

Well, I have a feeling these ancestors of mine were pretty direct and straightforward in their actions.  Keenly aware of duty and danger.  Loyal to the family (clan) and courageous.    And religious. I don’t think they expected a long life here anyway.   Death comes frequently for babies and young children, for the injured and the sick, for the fishermen at sea, and for the warriors.

Thor

Does it sound like I’m praising them?   I’m merely admiring their strength and their good qualities.    This picture is not a Viking warrior.    This is their god.    Thor.    Thor is a bit lesser than the One True God-Most-High, but a god anyway.    A barbarian god.

The first written record we have of the Vikings is from about the last decade of the 8th century.  Christian men of England saw them approaching in their longboats.  The Christian men thought they were similar to themselves and must have come a long way to do some trading with them.   They “welcomed” them and “dialogued” with them and tried to understand what they were saying.  

There were few survivors.

Viking Attack

I want to bring my “Serious Series”  to a close this week.   It  is my observation that there is another kind of invasion going on in this country.    A certain international faction is invading with a ferocious barbarity – not with warfare, but with a series of relentless steps that have us surrounded, weakened, and soon to be defeated.  

I would like to shout out to my countrymen that the barbarians are here!   Defend yourselves!   Defend your familes!  Defend your country!      But it will not happen.   My country is in no mood to defend itself.

Just not in the mood.

SWEDEN – PARTIALLY

July 2, 2009

Those deer have sure been a distraction in my last two posts!   I intend, now, to go forward with my Serious Series of how an international enemy faction takes over a nation.   This faction has to (1) silence their enemy, and then once they are voiceless, (2) define the enemy in such a way as to make them seem unattractive, out of date, and obstructive.   Before I go on to the 3rd step, criminalizing the enemy group, I thought I’d look around for any evidence of what’s happening, here and now.

I found so much evidence, that I need only present to you:   ALL the media!    Or so it seems.

In order to slow down the progression of my latest hobby, that of collecting bookcases (oh, yes, not just books, I need whole new bookcases),  I sometimes often go to the library and read their books.  (Let them worry about storage.)    Here is one that just jumped off the shelf at me.   Since my Swedish ancestors are ever my audience, I thought it would be fun to visit the Old Country and see what’s left.

SwedenBook

Not much, it turns out.   Not much of the historic Swedes.  I guess this was a contemporary nature/travel book.   That’s okay.   It’s pretty up there.   Mountains, lakes, forests, coastlines, snow…and reindeer.   But they made a pretense of including Sweden’s history.   There are 364 pages in this book;  pages 21-29 are given over to the 1,500 years after Christ.

Looking down on a reindeer herd in snow

Looking down on a reindeer herd in snow

Actually, the Rus Vikings and their descendants spread out from the Swedish peninsula into western Russia, governing and trading from Kiev.

Map Kievan Rus yellowedDuring these centuries Christianity was introduced into Sweden (with strong opposition from the Norse gods!) and for 500 years the Swedes were loyal to the Church.   The country grew and became strong and spread widely.  (Follow the yellow)

But times were changing.    Soon nationalism, capitalism, parliament-ism, and Protestantism brought about a series of costly and bloody civil wars and warring alliances.  Although they were “players” in Europe, their nation and their influence contracted drastically.    This period of time begins with what this book called “the Age of Freedom”  when Sweden was ruled by “enlightened” monarchs.  (p. 39)     uh…    (Notice:   “apart” from the Church, they become “enlightened” and “free.”)

This downward trend continues today.   If you read Swedish newspapers, the articles and commentaries ask such questions as, “What is a Swede?”

Today the Swedes are known as “nice” people.   Bland-nice.  Silenced-voice nice.   The favorite sport of their growing Arab minority is to board a public bus and rob all the Swedish passengers.     When asked by foreign reporters why they keep doing this because Sweden has been so “nice” to them, these young thugs reply:  “Because the Swedish people are nice – and they let us!   Besides, this is our country now.l”

Yes, nice people are easily silenced.    And people who have lost their religion forget that they are people too, with worth and dignity and personal rights.   So I have shown my Swedish ancestors what has happened to the modern world.    As evidenced in this book, the entire Catholic experience of Sweden was made nearly invisible;  and the   effects of Chrsitianity were entirely ignored.    Nothing to think about here…”Move along…nothing to see here.”

CATCHING THE WILD BOAR

June 23, 2009

Life is fun; life is serious.   We Americans like  life to be fun — and stay that way.      We want it so badly that we are not looking at the seriousness coming.

Because of the seriousness of what’s forming around us, soon to strike, I will only write in analogies;  obliquely;   “a word to the wise….”

We have fun and ease and the things we need are practically handed to us, with little effort on our part.   Keep that in mind.      What if things weren’t handed to us and we had to work for them…and keep vigilant so that important things are not taken away from us?

Boar Brush 100

Here is a silly little example:   If you want one of these, what would you do?   

But if you couldn’t just “go to the store” and buy one, what would you do?

What did early Americans do?     

What did my ancestors do, serious and self-sufficient,  centuries ago?

 

Boar dead 250Well, if you really wanted one of those and you had to rely on yourself and your friends to help you get one, first you’d have to start out and find one of these!     

That’s a boar.    And once you’ve got him dead, you can use his bristles to make an excellent hairbrush.     (And if you and your friends are wise, every single part of him would provide food and  soap and other supplies for everyone for a very long time.)

As I said, a hairbrush is just a silly little thing that we might want.   But let it be a substitute for some very important things that we should want in life.      A serious question:    Do we still know how to go about and both obtain and retain some of these more important things?

How should we get the job done?    How do we get the boar dead?  

Well, let’s start with how do we get a boar near enough to us to even begin?   Here’s the plan;   it works well;    and our enemies know it too.

Boar in the wild 190 FL

Here’s the big guy, running around,  free.      Free.     We need to get him where we want him.      We must be subtle and tricky.     We must offer him friendship, a smiling face,   and “hope” !!!       Let’s “change” things for him.

The first thing we do (wisdom of the past)  is to put up a short length of fencing, and place food in front of it.   Whatever it is he likes.   Like us, he will want more of it.     When he is used to getting it from us, near the little fence, we will then attach a second fence, at right angles to it.    

Now we have created a “corner” in which to place the food.    But the boar wants things to be easy for himself, so he comes and feeds…..and trusts.

And then we attach a third length of fence and make a three-sided area and place his favorite food inside  the area.    Might look a little suspicious to him.     He might think something is strange.    But the caution in his mind is put aside because….life is easy, life is good, and his food is handed out to him, and it seems like the three-sided fence was almost always there like that…..or whatever.   

And, of course, we know how easy it will be for us when he is busy enjoying his food and we swiftly put up that fourth side.

As I said,  “A word to the wise…..is sufficient.”

PASTIES – YOURS AND MINE

June 3, 2009

Hilda Larson SharpenedDear Hilda, Daughter of Vikings, Great-Grandmother of me,

How am I doing?   I reference you as I go about my daily life.    You are the reason I like to say the word Fortitude, not just Courage.   Being  the strong mother of the farm, way up north, took strength and fortitude such as you had but I’m merely practicing.

I have assigned myself different duties than you had.   My guide is the ancient “ora et labora”  and I have to study and learn more than you felt compelled to do — but my world knows far less than your world knew —  and it is urgent because their softness and ignorance is destroying them.

But maybe some of our duties are the same.    You had a huge black iron stove that burned wood but it could bake, roast, simmer, keep warm, ferment yogurt and make the yeast rise – all at the same time!

I have a small fancy, easy stove, but I like to think we have produced similar things on our stoves.

Pasties Stove

I also have a smaller table.   Don’t laugh….this is all I made…but it was enough for guests.   

A kitchen – like a heart – must always be open.

SWEDISH PINES AND PRAYERS

May 29, 2009

A thought to my Viking ancestors for whom this blog is written:

Scots Pine Sweden

A thousand years ago my ancestors could have seen this scene, a path leading into a stand of pines, anywhere in northern Sweden eastward through Finland and into western Russia.

There is something so clean and refreshing about a pine forest.

A thousand years ago my ancestors would have said those same Latin words that I put in my last post.    From Sweden to Russia, they would have known those same prayers, appropriate for a Friday.      Miserere nobis.

There is a connection among people who have the same Faith, the same prayers, the same practices.    (“One faith, one Lord, one baptism.”)

If any of my ancestors are looking down on this world I live in, they see clearly what happens when we sever our connections with the past.   Each new century can try to reinvent the wheel, but what they come up with won’t be a wheel.  It will be a device that merely reflects the desires of their own mind. 

I don’t think a car can run very well on four devices that resemble a wheel.

RENEWAL IN THE PINES

April 3, 2009

spruce-tunnel-business-cardThis is a reluctant good-bye to the snow in the Spruce Tunnel.  I will have to let my enthusiasm for winter fade for a while and maybe admit that I’ll have to wait a few months before I can once again experience the serene and silent  pathways.

Next time in the tunnel it will feel a bit busier; a bit noisier;  a bit more populated with all the little critters, and maybe lots of two-legged ones enjoying “summer in the park.”

But it will still be The Spruce Tunnel.   It will invite me in to be still and  pay attention to the created world and what it has to teach me.   And even though Nature cycles up to its more active stage, the Tunnel will still direct my thoughts inward and then  upward and the created world will connect me to the Creator.    With  this connection, I will continue to listen and observe and maybe sort things out and eventually be open to an encounter with Wisdom, eternal and ever present.

This blog is an accounting to my ancestors who lived in the pine forests of the far north.  pines-in-a-line-4502A thousand years ago they had the Faith, and here I am returning to that same Faith.   I’d  like to ask them, “How am I doing?”    I love to be among the pine trees too.  They make me feel  safe and secure and open to lessons that come my way.   

 

Next photos from the Spruce Tunnel will be…without the snow.    Life goes on.

JOSEPH, NOBLE PRINCE

March 19, 2009

dream_of_st_joseph

To my Viking ancestors, whom I promised I would address in this blog,  what did it feel like to turn from a life of fierce independence and loyalty to your chieftan who in turn was submissive to no king,  to a life of submission to Jesus, King of Kings,  Who-Alone gives true freedom and dignity to each human person, equally?

Did the example of St. Joseph help you make that transition?

In accepting the role of Prince of the Home in Nazareth, Joseph chooses a life of obedience to the will of God. 

With a little supernatural help (see Rembrandt, above) , St. Joseph chooses to be responsible for the welfare and protection of the Holy Family, of which he becomes a part.  In obedience and submission and in humility and purity of heart, he becomes Prince of this Holy Family, loving, guarding, guiding.

There is an old saying that “a man’s home is his castle.”      That makes him “king.”   That is too much to ask of  every man.

I think a better model for a Christian home would be St. Joseph, true prince in his home,  but humble and submissive before his King.

We need to re-discover the lessons his life has for us.    All of us – obedient, humble, and noble.     Then maybe we too can make the transition to a true Christian Culture.

FEARFUL CONFORMITY

March 1, 2009

 sword_of_the_rus

March Reminder to Myself:

In the second posting on this blog I explained who I was writing to, and that was first and foremost to my ancestors who converted to the Faith, who had the Faith taken away from them, and who may have, along the way, faithfully prayed that some of their children would return to the Faith.  

I would like to be worthy of some of those ancestors of mine, the Rus of the Swedish peninsula in the 9th through the 11th centuries, and their descendants, the Swedes, Finns, and eastern Russians of the 11th through the 16th centuries.   

Although more commonly known as Vikings (an English word denoting an action;  the action of hacking and pillaging their way across more “civilized” lands) they did much more than create bloody mayhem on the local people.    Yes, there were daily prayers “…And save us from the fury of the Norsemen…but”   )   I’ve shown in the photo the hilt of a  sword made by the southern Swedes in the early, early Middle Ages.  * 

This is not a “hacking sword” — it is a usable sword, if need be,  but it is also a work of art used in ceremonies and showing a high level of craftsmanship.

In researching these people I have discovered an alarming and dismaying difference between their many centuries and the one I am living in now.  

Look at the Viking in the right-hand column.   Look at this sword.   I think about the culture who produced such examples.    A little more firm and certain and substantial.    A little more realistic about individuality and the worth of each individual.   A little more strong-willed.

They didn’t produce a “collective” society in which people conformed to the  approved viewpoint of  the dominant media.      They didn’t submit themselves to the logic of group-think.   They didn’t self-censor their own words just in case their thoughts might trigger an expression of offended feeings.    And they didn’t willingly allow themselves to be spied on everywhere they go.   Spies were caught and “dealt with” — not submitted to.

A good historical case can be made that  the origin of our “equality before the Law” and the rights of individuals to speak up and to pursue their own private lives came from these tribes and clans of northern Europe, where by necessity, the contribution of every man was recognized and needed for survival.   Even the king was not an absolute dictator, telling everyone how to think and act.

I’d like to show my ancestors that we have some fortitude and determination in us.   I’d like to show them that we can maintain the civilization that they began.   I’d like to show them that the Faith is returning in some places, and that with it, we can rebuild what we have let slip away.     

It can be a  bleak life post-1984 — for the “fearful.”

*(Barbarian Europe, ed. Philip Dixon, 1976, out of print)