Showing posts from March, 2010

I Want To Be A Church Basement Lady

Last year I went to a celebration of Norwegian Constitution Day in the little town of Hendricks MN. It’s a far cry from the grandiose 17 th of May parades in Brooklyn. Nonetheless, anytime I can sing the national anthem of Norway and celebrate being Norwegian, I’m up for it. The program in Hendricks included a skit featuring the “Church Basement Ladies.” These ladies, had decided to open a restaurant to help people through rough economic times. Their culinary feature would be “hot dish,” also known in other parts of the country as casserole. They had some interesting variations of Campbell soup inspired dishes. They of course would have macaroni and cheese one day. Another day that would have the “hot dish” with the tater tots. Every day the desert would be some sort of “Jell-O.” Or as they said “Yell-O.” This is a Norwegian community after all. Some creative person had put together a wonderful play. I am not Lutheran, and I didn’t grow up in the upper Midwest. I did understand th

Home Stretch

I got a call yesterday from the funeral home that handled the arrangements for my mother. A pleasant woman called to tell me that the date of my mother’s date was now on the headstone. Having purchased this headstone in 1982, for 18 years it has been waiting for this date. The many times I have visited my father’s grave I have also stared at my mother’s would be grave. I have looked at that headstone and wondered what date will appear. Now there is a date. Now it is final. It is official. On February 25, 2010, almost one month ago, Elsie Mae Bumbaugh Johannesen Martin joined with my father all those who worship around the throne of God. Many years ago while still a teenager I had a pastor who is buried not far from my parents at Memorial Cemetery in Columbia MO. I stopped at his grave when we buried my mother. I think I will stop there often as I visit both of my parents. Brother Parker, my pastor, preached a sermon series that I still remember. He preached from Hebrews 12:1 The

I've a Story to Tell

Yesterday I was wondering a lot about whether I should keep telling my story in this blog or beyond. I got a really nice comment from someone that meant a lot. I didn’t really expect a lot of comments. I was just trying to be honest about how I felt. It was a legitimate question. I have this amazing memory. I don’t take it for granted. I realize that memory is a powerful gift. Like all powerful things, it can be a mixture of blessing and curse.  There are many times I wish I didn’t have such a good memory. Often I wish I could hit some button and clean the hard drive of my brain or at least defrag. Memories that are painful don’t leave a person with a good memory either. My memory causes me to remember names of people from my long past. Every so often a name will pop into my head. Now in the days of google, I can google them and see what I find.  I was trolling memories last night. From previous such activities on Facebook, I had found the children of the Sunday School teacher I ha

Should I Hit the Publish Button?

This morning my status on Facebook reads, “ Wondering if I should blog this a.m.? ” I’ve been asking this question of myself a lot lately. When I was writing the eight part series One Hundred Fourteen Days that begins here and the blogging as my mother slipped from this life to the next (beginning here ), I felt compelled to write.   Never sure if it was for my own mental health or for the benefit of the reader, every day I would effortless express my thoughts on paper. The blog I wrote after my Ash Wednesday experience was so appreciated by the church I visited that they have asked permission to reproduce it and distribute it. Thrilled, of course I said yes. First, they were going to put it in their newsletter but decided it should stand alone so as not to get lost when the newsletters are gone. If you didn’t read it already, go here for the original version. A former employee came into my office once and said that she struggled with the demon of external validation. I said I do

Can You Sing Kum-Ba-Yah Alone?

I’ve been reading a lot about the church lately. It is part of my theology class reading. Moreover, my blogging friends seem to be talking about it a lot.  Over the years, I’ve belonged to 2 churches in Brooklyn during my childhood, 3 churches in Columbia MO, during a short year and a half in Fayetteville NC, I went to about 3-4 churches (not a good experience), 1 church during the 16 years I lived in CT (now that was a great experience), 4 churches in TN (one of which I pastored) and 0 churches in South Dakota.   (There are none in SD because I’ve always just been a visitor when I do go to church there.)  That’s a total of at least 14 churches I’ve belong to on some level. That’s a lot of church! I’ve lamented with the best of them about the state of the church. It’s pretty sad. I’ve been critical of friends who aren’t solidly involved in a church. Yet, for the last two years, as I have refused to settle down in SD, I’ve been just like them. Where I once was critical, I now under

Storehouses of Snow

I know more of you read this blog than read Storehouses but I thought you should check it out today. It was pretty good. Follow this link and enjoy Three Skevts of Coffee I am traveling. In Tampa after a very stressful annoying trip on Delta Airlines today. I'll be back soon though.

You're Weird!

When someone tells you that you are weird, it usually isn’t meant as something nice. It means you are out of the norm. It means you just don’t do things like other people do. It is far from a compliment. Sometimes I wonder when people get that look on their face when they talk to me, if they think I’m weird. Yesterday I went for another interview for a doctoral program. I wonder what drives me. I’m really too old for this. Then I think of all the people whose contributions to life didn’t start until they were in their seniors years. I've already contributed in many ways. I had a great career. I have a wonderful family. Yet, I think I still have more to contribute. I'm not done. I knew someone else who was not done, the former Town Clerk in Cromwell CT. I first met him when I also worked for the Town of Cromwell. A distinguished widower with striking white hair he had been Town Clerk forever. People would try to run against him. The Republicans would convince his assistant t

Humming for Change

If you've read this blog very much you have probably figured out that I know a lot of hymns and gospel songs. I am finally old enough to “get it” about these songs of faith. I’ve commented before how my brain pulls one out of the recesses of my memory. Yesterday it was The Church’s One Foundation . This morning it started with He Leadeth Me while still in the shower. Then it quickly turned to the peppier In My Heart Their Rings a Melody . I can remember trying to track the words in the hymnal with my index finger when I first started to read. I remember wondering what the byonder was when we would sing that the roll would be called up byonder .  I don’t know if it was the mix of the Norwegian accent I heard or something else,  but I heard it byonder . Of course, it wasn't when, it was  Ven the roll . To this day, while I sing without the accent, my heart hears the strong Norwegian accent when it hears the hymns. We had a choir in our Norwegian church. The first choir direc

Time to Iron

I spent some time ironing this morning. I used to keep a basket of ironing. It was something I learned from my mother. My mother had no “profession” but would earn money by taking care of other people’s children and doing ironing. I tried the ironing back when I was still a high school dropout. As I recall, the rate of pay was “per piece.” It was pennies apiece but if you had a lot of ironing to do for someone, you could earn a few dollars. As a child, my mother would sprinkle the clothes she would iron. I suppose she didn’t have a steam iron. Maybe they weren’t available or maybe they were too expensive. She would take the sprinkled clothes and roll them into a tube awaiting the iron. Her tableclothes always seemed to require the most attention. Usually made from cotton even the breeze as they hung on the clothesline didn’t remove the thousands of deep wrinkles. It was only after the heat of the iron that they emerged smooth enough to grace her table. My ex-husband was in the Army.

Tip Toe Through the TULIP

I was very insecure in my faith for a long time. I’ve mentioned that I could get an award for the most trips to the altar for salvation. Here was this little church girl who was so riddled with insecurities that she was sure she was perpetually “lost.”   Several years ago, I worked in a church office in Tennessee. My official title was secretary. Like secretaries everywhere, the term didn’t fit the job description. In my case, I also filled the pulpit when the pastor was gone, including many Sunday mornings. I answered deep questions on the phone, like the day someone had committed suicide in the community and someone was worried about their soul. I prayed with people, counseled people. When a female came in for counseling, if they didn’t already have a relationship with the pastor, I counseled them. I was a lot more than a “secretary.” One of the true secretarial duties was to record data. I recorded in the official notebook baby dedications, baptisms, and deaths. I designed some

I Blog

I have a house that is sorely in need of cleaning. I was reading about preparation for Passover last night. I would not make a good observant Jew. I don’t think I could clean my house that thoroughly. In the area of cleaning, I am not Norwegian.  I also have weeks of school work to catch up on in order to get through this semester. I believe this will be the semester where the GPA takes a nosedive. I just can’t focus. I didn’t sleep well last night at all. I woke up more tired than when I went to bed. Even when I sleep well, I still don’t feel rested. I feel I could sleep for days. I wish I could sleep for days. I also wish I could quit school. Nevertheless, here I sit writing blogs. Recently I’ve thought I would have been better not to even start this blogging business. It hasn’t been since my Junior High School blue diary that locked, that I have written this much. Then I tried to keep my thoughts secret. That was why it had a lock. Then I lost the key so I had to cut the strap hol

No Compromise

We went to Minneapolis Friday night and came back yesterday. Up here in the Dakotas they say they go to  The Cities . I don't know much about  The Cities . Honestly, as much as I like cities in general, I didn't see much in my brief visits that I like. I love IKEA but didn't get to stop yesterday. I like the Mall of America; it's nice to say you've been there. If I had lots of money I'd jump at a chance to spend it at IKEA and maybe the Mall. I went into one of the grand hotels. The opulent meeting rooms had familiar names like The Norway Room, The Fjord, The New Sweden (where was the old one?). I thought wouldn't my dad love this. I wondered how long it would take to get to Lake Wobegon. At Culvers it seemed we were sitting next to a resident of Lake Wobegon, he looked so Norwegian. I felt at home in an odd way,  Ekte Norsk . I wanted to find some good Norwegian Meatballs with a side of Lingonberries. In an odd way, my Norwegian roots were converging

Time to Grow Up

Every few hours last night, I awakened with a start. My mother was on my mind. Nothing bad, nothing good, nothing sad, nothing glad, she was just in the forefront of my thoughts.  My brain rarely stops so usually if I wake up in the middle of the night I have a hard time falling back asleep. My brain is always ready to go. I think it is part of the letting go process. I am beginning to come out of whatever surreal state I’ve been in for the last two weeks. Yesterday it was two weeks since she signaled the end had come. I noticed it first when we returned to the apartment. I am prone to caffeine headaches. I had one that day for the first time in weeks. Like those first tingles when your mouth awakens from the dentist’s Novocain, my emotions and body was awakening. It’s odd this numbness I feel.  While it makes decisions difficult, it has been a soothing anesthesia.  I think I am ready to wake up.  When you are numbed for a medical or dental procedure, you may have some significant pa