Friday, December 22, 2006

Farewell to Marian

An accident took the life of Marian (Niska) Halberg yesterday morning when her car hit a tree on Risto Road, east of Battle Ground. The road was icy and Marian was rushing to pick up a friend who needed a ride to the airport. (Go here for the obituary and messages in the Columbian.)

I never met Marion but I am told she was a lively, intelligent, generous woman who was very active in her community. A former OALCer, she leaves not only her large family but an enormous circle of friends.

Readers, if you knew Marian, please take a moment to comment below. I know some of her family read this blog.

All Is Well

Death is nothing at all,
I have only slipped into the next room
I am I and you are you
Whatever we were to each other, that we are still.
Call me by my old familiar name,
Speak to me in the easy way which you always used
Put no difference in your tone,
Wear no forced air of solemnity or sorrow
Laugh as we always laughed at the little jokes we enjoyed together.
Play, smile, think of me, pray for me.
Let my name be ever the household world that it always was,
Let it be spoken without effect, without the trace of shadow on it.
Life means all that it ever meant.
It it the same as it ever was, there is unbroken continuity.
Why should I be out of mind because I am out of sight?
I am waiting for you, for an interval, somewhere very near,
Just around the corner.
All is well.

By Henry Scott Holland (1847-1918)

Thursday, December 07, 2006

Merry Christmas, Everyone!

From "CVOW" --

It's been quite a year, with a lot of interesting twists and turns. As life always is, there have been the moments that made us glad and those that dismayed. The topics on this blog have certainly run the gamut and let us discuss and argue and fuss and laugh -- and at the end of the day know that it was time well spent, even if we didn't convince everyone of our own positions. In the spirit of being thankful at this time of year, I'd like to extend my thanks to Free for providing this forum and I'd like to thank all of you who have participated so enthusiastically, regardless of the subject, and I'd like to thank all of you for putting up with my grumpiness!

It seemed that since we've sort of been going hammer and tongs lately, it might be nice to have a topic here that is uncontroversial, but rather is centered around our traditions and memories of Christmas. I find that as I grow older, the memories I have of Christmas are the good ones -- the things that made us laugh the first time they happened and made us laugh again each year as the tales were retold, usually with just a bit of embellishment in each telling.

I spent a good chunk of my life (more than half, but that percentage is all too rapidly approaching a tipping point...) on a ranch in North Dakota. Surprisingly, we didn't have a lot of immediate family in the community, as we had a small family. I had only one uncle and his wife and one first cousin that lived nearby, so there was always room at the dinner table! I did have an aunt that lived in Detroit who to the best I can recall came to ND to visit us each Christmas. She was my Christmas "täti", that always arrived on the train in Jamestown, ND around midnight on the NP Empire Builder. That was always great excitement to get to go meet her, and snuggle up next to her and her biggest darn mink coat I've ever seen! (She was a BIG woman and it took a lot of mink to make that coat -- and boy, was it warm! Christmas dinner was usually at our house as I recall, but Christmas Eve was at my uncle's. After opening a few gifts, we'd all bundle up and go the United Church of Christ Congregational for the children's Christmas play (which my cousin was always in). Amazingly, by the time we got back to their house close to midnight, Santa had ALWAYS been there for my cousin, but for some reason it took him until the next morning to make it the 8 miles out to the ranch.

Farming and ranching in ND had its downside. We had milk cows until I was a teenager, and consequently, I never did get to go to Christmas meetings in either Minneapolis or Detroit. Those darned cows had to get taken care of, and it was really hard to get anyone to do those kinds of chores. I think my Mother may have gone a time or two, and my sisters as well, but my Dad and I always had the herd!

As I think of it, I cannot ever remember going to church on Christmas! Perhaps it was because many people did go to the meetings and the ones who were left elected not to warm the church, or perhaps my memory is faulty. That is a curiousity that did not occur to me until now... Hmmm, now I will have to ask my sisters about that. It was a pretty small congregation.

We always had a little tree that stood on the parlor table. I recall it was always sort of a tussle with my Dad who thought the tree was beautiful just as it was, and we children wanting to cover it with so many ornaments and tinsel (don't forget the tinsel!) that it would be almost unrecognizable. When my Mother passed away, I asked for the old "bubble lights" -- a string of 12 that always went on the tree. Darned if they didn't still work when I plugged them in, and they have to be 50 to 60 years old. The price was still on the box -- $1.40, which was awful spendy at that time, I'm sure! I still put them on, even though the bulbs don't all bubble very well...

Christmas dinner was always a lot of fun, and we knew that at some point during the day my uncle would again tell about my sister getting a pair of panties for Christmas as a little girl and running all over yelling "My pantses, my pantses." For some reason that just irritated the heck out of my sister -- even well into adulthood -- which made it even funnier to the rest of us!

I remember going "into town" as we referred to it, a couple of weeks before Christmas, and waiting anxiously at the Legion Hall for Santa to arrive -- in the town fire truck -- and hand out bags of candy and peanuts to every single child. We all stood patiently -- well, maybe not so patiently -- in line, to go up to Santa, sit on his lap and tell him our dreams, and get our bag! As we got a little bigger, we did spend some time speculating which of the local farmers Santa really was! The things you can do when you live in a place where you know every living soul inside of a twenty mile radius -- and no, I am not exaggerating.

After I got married and we had kids, we put up a creche. (We are Catholic, after all!) I remember having to hide Baby Jesus (in the organ if I recall correctly) until Christmas morning, and then watch to see which of the kids found him first. I have to admit we usually didn't keep the wise men away until Epiphany or Loppiainen.

So that's a few of my favorite memories. What are yours? What traditions did you have? How did you celebrate your faith at Christmas (I guess we didn't do so well there...)?

Dear friends, may the transcending peace of Jesus, the Christ and King be with all of you throughout the Christmas season and the New Year. Hauskaa Joulua ja Onnelista Uutta Vuota!

Happy Finnish Independence Day

MTH wrote: Happy Finnish Independence Day. I wouldn't mind it if we got back to discussions of whiskey merchants and whoremongers!

Ok. Hope this helps.

FAMOUS LAST WORDS OF FINNS:

"Naah, we don't need no electrician here."

"In principal you shouldn't smoke so near the ammunition"

"Lets study the safety instructions later"

"The side effects of lot of alcohol are hugely exaggerated"

"Damn life vest - I'm not wearing it"

"Look! Whats that bear cub doing alone in the forest?"

"Sure quick to drill the ice when it's this thin."

Wednesday, December 06, 2006

American Orthodoxy




Tell me you don't find this funny.

Saturday, December 02, 2006

Remember the Teens

Here is a recent post for you to chew upon. Let us know your thoughts.
Anonymous wrote:
My child recently became so upset over the war after a playground discussion, that he wrote to George W. and told him to stop the war.
He is eight. He is saddened by the killings and people dying. How sad that he has to be even thinking that there is a war, but he has a decent home and a parents who can provide for him. Thank God for that!

I work with teens in a rural community. It is hard to believe, but we have homeless kids. They come from families with little money. When we try to get help for these kids, social services will tell us their money woes and claim that this is a court issue. It's a court issue because the kid has run away. The court will says they have no money and they don't. We have had students crying for mental health services, begging on the phone. Guess what happens? Mental health will evaluate these students on the phone and say "sorry-you are not ill enough." This procedure of screening the youth over the phone was developed to screen out the medicade clients. So, what happens to these kids? They go untreated, self medicate, fight with their families, some cut themselves, some die in car accidents, some are having babies, and continue this horrible cycle.

When 9/11 happened, I looked around our little school and thought, the children of poverty will be hurt the most by this event. Are they as hurt as the children in Iraq or Afganistan, NO!

But, we elected GW and he is funding a war that is killing people. The lack of funding that used to help our most vunerable population is disappearing.

This Christmas look around your towns. The teens who look the toughest and are wearing their jeans half way down their butt, and their hoods are up over their heads are hurting. Reach out in any way you can. Offer them food. If you buy gifts and give toys for tots,

Please remember the teenagers.

God's Peace to all of you.