Tuesday, December 31, 2013

Happy New Year

Another year is almost in the books. It's been a good year for us and it's always good to celebrate that and to hope for as good a year next year. I and the North Country Woman wish all my readers a very happy and prosperous 2014.

This photo from our 2013 trip to Florida was taken just south of St Petersburg on the way back to Santini's place from playing some tennis with my old tennis coach, Paul Bouchard.

We're going to celebrate the new year with the Moohoos, watching a movie or two and having some eats. I think we'll be able to stay up until midnight to welcome the new baby new year.

Monday, December 30, 2013

White elephant photos

We had the annual white elephant/pizza party on Saturday here. I didn't take any photos, an oversight that usually doesn't happen, but I'll report that we had eleven for Papa Murphy's and Papa John's pizza, Peggy's salad, cold wine and beer, and an apple pie furnished by Andy and Tula. We opened the white elephant gifts, ate and drank and generally had a good time. Mark brought a packet of old photos that he inherited from his mom, many of which I hadn't seen. I decided to post a few that I had questions about or that I liked.

This picture from about 1945 is Dad with Tommy and Jimmy. Jimmy is almost impossible to make out, but he's sitting next to his older brother on the tractor on Dick's ranch. There is some writing on the back of the photo in Lillie's hand, "Jim doesn't show on this, and the other one I took of the three of you didn't turn out to be any good. I think Tommy snapped the thing afterwards - it was the last exposure on the film."

The old chap is pictured sitting in the living room in Coleraine reading a book. Probably a book of chess openings or perhaps problems. I think sometime in the mid 50's, but that's just a guess.

This photo was taken in the late 50's or early sixties, but I'm not sure where it was taken. Does anyone know? Tommy must have taken the photo since he's the most obvious missing member.

This is a photo of TT from about 1964, but that's also a guess. I don't have many photos from that time. It's a pretty young Tousan before Tousan-hood. The top of the young chap's head is chopped off, but it's not a bad shot otherwise.  It was probably taken at Dad's place in Minneapolis.

The picture below is half of a photo of the old guy that Mark said he carried in his wallet for quite a number of years. Taken in about 1970?

Only one more frigid, frigid day in this very cold December. It's currently -18º F. in Grand Rapids, plus 1º F. here.  I'm hoping for an early January thaw. Perhaps a pipe dream.

Saturday, December 21, 2013


On your 100th birthday someone should remember who you were and how you lived. Today, December 21st is Lillie Anderson Miller's 100th birthday and I almost missed it, thinking that it was the 22nd. I don't know how my memory could be so fallible.  GOINFS.

1914 - With her mother and father, Richard and Hansine Anderson.

1931 - her high school graduation picture.

1947 - with her children - Gene, Sylvia, Jim, Tom

Lillie was born December 21, 1913, of immigrant parents on a newly established farm on Yellow River in Burnett county in northern Wisconsin. She learned Norwegian and Swedish from her parents at home. Her father, Richard W. Anderson, was born in Grantsburg, the seventh child of parents who came from Sweden in 1870. His native language was Swedish. Lillie's mother was Hansine Hansen, who was born in Magisås, Norway, north of the Arctic Circle, and came to Wisconsin in September, 1903, when she was eight. Richard and Hansine met in Wisconsin and married June 19, 1913, when he was 35 and she was 18, half his age. They had six children over about sixteen years. Lillie was the oldest.
      She was bright, adaptive, and funny. When she started school in Union township she spoke no English. Many of her classmates probably had the same handicap. They learned English together and took it home to their younger siblings and their parents and grandparents.
     Lillie knew her maternal grandparents well. They lived a mile or so to the east along Burnett county road U. They had settled on land next to Buffalo Lake and adjoining Yellow River. It was much flatter land than they had left behind in Norway, and the growing season, so far from the Arctic, was much more conducive to farming. But the land was swampy and the soil sandy with pockets of clay and thus not as rich as some of the other immigrants found in southern Minnesota, not so far away. Farming was hard.
     Nils Olai Hansen, Lillie's grandfather, had been a tenant farmer and a fisherman in Norway, with enough wanderlust that with his wife Jacobina's encouragement and consent had brought them and their three children across the Atlantic Ocean to America. When Nils was ready to come to America, neither of them had been afraid of the long journey over sea. Perhaps they had underestimated the length of the journey, but they endured and soon were settled in a colony of other emigrated Norwegians.
     Lillie was an American. She was born on the farm by the Yellow River, far from Norway and far from the bustling American cities. She learned self reliance and trust of the land to provide if she would but work hard.
     The flock of chickens provided eggs and fresh meat for their diet, and they grew grain and picked berries. They kept cows and pigs. The cows supplied milk and cheese and the pigs contributed protein to their diets. They canned and dried their food for the long winters, and supplemented their diets with wild deer and fish from the river. Wild rice grew in the river and they harvested it in the fall when it was plentiful. There were blueberries and gooseberries from the forest and apples in the orchard. There was enough.
     Hansine was called Sina by her husband and the relatives in the area. She was just nineteen when Lillie was born, so they grew to be friends and partners as the other children were born and grew. Leona and Marvin were born in the next three years and they kept Sina busy feeding and caring for them. Lillie was a third hand for Sina as she grew. They kept a large garden, with potatoes, beans, carrots, and raspberries among others. In the summers they'd pick blueberries that often grew in profusion in the neighboring woods. They made luscious blueberry pies and canned many quarts for the cold winter days.
     Sina possessed a mystic streak in her nature. She could "feel" the future sometimes. There would be Sundays when she'd sense that extra company would be coming. She'd be so sure that she'd kill an extra chicken for the large dinners that they would have Sunday afternoon. Killing an extra chicken was a risk, but she was nearly always right.
     Louise was born in 1919, then Dorothy in 1926 and Marian in 1929. Hansine's brother, Jacob, and his wife Augustina lived close by, and they, too, had a large family, so there were always cousins around to play with. Their two oldest children were a son, Nels Jørgen, born in 1923, and th eir daughter Berit, born in 1925.
     Lillie went to high school in town in Webster. Leona and Marvin were there at the same time. Leona was two years behind her in school. Lillie did well in high school, graduated in 1931. Under her picture in the 1931 Sylvacola (the year book) it said, "Not only good, but good for something." She was athletic enough to play kitten ball and volley ball, acted in a class play, and had a good sense of humor. The senior class prophecy was written by Betty Miller, her future sister-in-law, and predicted, “Lillie was in Hollywood, as a comedian, and was rated very high.” The Senior class will says, “Lillie Anderson leaves her spryness and agility to Ruth Manual.”
     After high school she went to Grantsburg Normal School for a year to become a teacher. After gaining the teacher certificate in 1932 she returned to Webster but was unable to get a job in the school. It was the Depression and jobs were few. Her connections were not good enough to get her a job at the school. She worked in the resorts in the area and lived at home. There was at least one boy friend, Hank Rasmusson, son of a butcher. From the back of an old picture, in her handwriting, "Taken a few minutes before Hank left for Carry's on Easter Sunday 1935. The last he took of me. He was married Oct. 26, '35. As far as I know I wish her luck. She'll need it."
     In 1940, she married Thomas Eugene Miller, who was the older brother of one of her Webster high school classmates, Betty Miller. He was driving a truck for the logging companies around Hovland, Minnesota. They were married at the Trinity Lutheran Church in Duluth, April 23, 1940, with Louise Anderson and John Jones Miller as their attendants. They went off to live in a modest house in Grand Marais. They lived there four years. They had their first children - May 30, 1941, Tommy and October 14, 1942, Jim. They were born in Frederic, Wisconsin. This was World War II and Tom was drawn into the conflict. He went off to the Aleutian Islands to help build air fields and Lillie went home to live near her family. Sylvia was born in Frederic on July 25, 1944, when he was away, and Gene shortly after the war ended, October 11, 1946, in Grantsburg. During the war, the school district asked her to come teach in the school, but her family responsibilities were too great and she declined. A family story says that she turned down the job partly because she didn't want to use family influence to gain employment in the school.
     After the war, Tom came back and got a job in the lumber yard, and the family lived in Webster in the Caroll building a block or so from work. While they lived there, the lumber yard burned to the ground in a dramatic night-time blaze. The family was roused and kept outside in the car because of the perceived tinder box quality of the Caroll building.
     She developed breast cancer in 1949 and had a mastectomy and other treatment. She and the family moved to Coleraine, Minnesota, in the fall of 1950 where Tom had a job as manager of the Canisteo Lumber Company. They lived at 108 Hartley Avenue in Coleraine's Second Addition, a half block from the skating rink, tennis court combination, and not far from Trout Lake. Tom coached the boys' Cub Scout baseball team and Lillie kept the home running smoothly. Coleraine was an iron mining town, with a rich mixture of nationalities of miners living there and in the sister town of Bovey.
     I remember her sense of humor. We were listening to the radio broadcast of a University of Minnesota football game one Saturday. She made me laugh hysterically while she poked fun at the announcer talking about the tailback running around his own end. She was picturing the scene that was described by the sportscaster in her own literal way, and making me dissolve in laughter.
     The cancer returned in 1954 and eventually spread to her liver. In the summer of 1954, Tom and Jim lived with Lillie's brother, Marvin, and Sylvia and Gene spent the summer with Lillie's parents at Yellow River, while Lillie underwent treatment in Minneapolis. That summer, her dad, Richard Anderson died (July 25, 1954). Lillie lived through the cold winter and she died March 1, 1955 in Coleraine of the disease. She had funeral services in Coleraine and at the Yellow Lake Lutheran Church. They sang "The Old Rugged Cross" at her funeral and she was buried in the Webster, Wisconsin, Cemetery on a cold, gray, blustery day. Her son, Gene, remembered the minister's comment, "Gentlemen, don't remove your hats." A cold day indeed. She was 41.
     A story by Aunt Louise that brought tears to her eyes, forty years after it happened. It was the morning of mom's funeral in 1955. Gene was staying with Louise and, being a young kid just experiencing the largest trauma in his life, wet the bed. Louise had only a little time to try to clean up so she opened the bed and put newspaper beneath the sheet with the intention of letting the sheets dry and to finish the cleanup after the funeral. When she came back after the funeral and interment, the bed was dry and made. No one could have been there. Louise thinks that it was Lillie, taking care of Gene.
     Her obituary from The Itasca Iron News, Coleraine, Minnesota, Thursday, March 3, 1955: “Community Saddened by Death of Young Mother.
     Mrs. Lillie Miller died at her home at 10:15 P. M. March 1, 1955 at the age of 41, after a lingering illness. She was born at Yellow Lake, Wisconsin, on December 21, 1913, to Mr. and Mrs. Richard Anderson.
     Mrs. Miller attended rural school in Yellow Lake, graduated from Webster High School in 1931 and from Grantsburg Normal School in 1932. On April 23, 1940, she was united in marriage to Thomas Miller at the Trinity Lutheran church in Duluth. To this union were born four children, Thomas Richard, 13; James Marvin, 12; Sylvia Louise, 10; Eugene William, 8.
     In the early years of their marriage the Millers resided for four years on the North Shore at Grand Marais, moving then to Webster, Wis. Four years ago they came to Coleraine to make their home where Mr. Miller is manager of the Canisteo Lumber Company.
     Mrs. Miller was preceded in death by her father in July. She is survived by her husband, Thomas, and four children; her mother, Mrs. Richard Anderson of Danbury, Wisconsin; four sisters, Mrs. Albert Hoffman, Muskegon, Mich.; Mrs. John Gomulak, Markville, Minn; Mrs. John McCune, Danbury, Wis; and Marian Anderson of Danbury; one brother, Marvin Anderson of New Richmond, Wis.
     Funeral services will be held at Peterson's Chapel at 10 A. M. Friday morning with Rev. Grover officiating. Mrs. Harold Nordstrom will sing The Lord's Prayer accompanied on the organ by Mrs. E. H. Winberg. The body will be shipped to Yellow Lake, Wisconsin, where funeral services will be held at the Yellow Lake Lutheran Church Saturday at 2 P. M. with Reverend Thelander officiating. Mrs. Ira Jeffries will sing The Old Rugged Cross, Faith of Our Fathers, and Just As I Am Without One Plea, accompanied by Mrs. Ray Pardun at the organ. Interment will be at the Webster cemetery.”

But we finish with her family renowned cake recipe. It has been the blueprint for numerous birthday cakes. Try it. You’ll like it.

Lillie's Red Devil's Food Cake
cream 1/2 cup butter
add 2 cup sugar
 " 2 eggs - beat in well
 " 1/2 cup sour milk
 " 2 cup flour (measured before sifting)
Mix to paste: 2 heaping Tablespoons cocoa
 1/2 cup hot water - add to batter
Add 1/2 cup hot water (making 1 cup in all) in which 1 teaspoon soda is added. 1 t. vanilla.
Batter is thin, but that is as it should be. (Cook 40 minutes at 350º)

Winter solstice - a gray day

It's the winter solstice today. The days now begin to lengthen and hope begins to return - hope that the warm sun will return and make everything green again. We had eight hours and 46 minutes of possible sunlight today. Actual views of Old Sol were zero. The sun was not seen here today.

So after a set and a fraction of tennis this morning and a quick lunch, I went to see if the solstice day would reveal any beauty, or at least something of interest. PP was off to a celebration of the solstice at Hiawatha Park in Minneapolis, UH was busy elsewhere and NCW is freezing in the north country yet. I also needed to do a bit of Christmas shopping and I also wanted a few minutes to have a sit down. I found these colorful red berries near Hamline where I went to walk a while outside. I think they are high bush cranberries, but I'm not the plant expert in this family.

The alley behind the homestead has been plowed, but the snow continues to build up and the pavement beneath won't be seen for a few more months. The grayness of the day is hard to hide.

I found this view of Hamline's Old Main on a day when the campus was nearly deserted. Classes are apparently over until after the holidays and the students have left for home.

So I went off to shop, into the crowded stores with my fellow citizens. From the looks of it, the economy is on an up tick.

Friday, December 13, 2013

Christmas tree

The tree is up and decorated. There is still some time to finish Christmas decorations and shopping. I'm ahead of schedule. Here NCW and PP pose in front of the 2013 version of the Christmas tree. It's the same tree, the same lights and the same decorations as last year. Just moved to different spots on the tree.

It seems very likely that Christmas will be white. Snowy and white. And possibly cold.

Tuesday, December 10, 2013

Puny plan

My plan to stop the onslaught of snow and cold was to buy a new snow shovel. Surely that would make it stop snowing at least. Pictured below is my brand new, $18 snow shovel. It may be a puny plan, but it's what I've got.

This evening I was recruited to be a substitute curler on the Flaherty Rink. They curl at the Frogtown Ice Center on Minnehaha and Western. I found my broom, my gloves and my curling shoes and went to the rink at about 5:30. Surprisingly I still remembered a few of the skills necessary to play the game, and since I was subbing for the skipper, the other team members suggested that I skip. So I did. It was fun and we won 8-3.

In other news, NCW went back to Pengilly and reports that her pipes were frozen when she got home. Luckily her hair dryer had enough power to rectify the situation and things are essentially back to normal. The prediction for temperature in Pengilly tonight is twenty below. I wonder if this is how the last ice age began.

Monday, December 9, 2013

It was almost too cold to walk outside today. But the sky was blue and quite pretty in a desolate sort of way. NCW was willing to walk a little, even with her surgically repaired and healing ankle. Plus I wanted a photo of what Minnesota looks at zero degrees. That was the reading on the car thermometer when we stopped on the east side of Como Lake to walk and take a few photos. We walked a little bit after this, but realized the error of our ways and went off to a mall for mall walking, lunch and a round of Christmas shopping. The wind was adding its own charm to the afternoon and we didn't like the feel of it. Later on (now) the temperature rose to a full degree above zero, but it's pretty hard to be very happy about that. But, as I said before, the sky was pretty in a desolate sort of way.

This is the lake at Como Park when the temperature is 0º F. and after a round of powdery snow.    Usually there are people walking or running around the lake, but today the walkers were very few and very, very far between.

Incidentally, on the way to the park on Lexington Avenue, we spotted, not one, but two hardy guys biking along the icy auto lanes. One guy was not particularly well dressed for the day, because as we passed we could see that his shirt in the back had pulled up enough to expose skin. That could mean a nasty bit of frostbite.

And the sky was pretty in a desolate sort of way.

Friday, December 6, 2013

Too Cold

It was too cold for much of anything today. It's amazing how fast the seasons change around here. I needed a colorful photo for today, something seasonal and something to brighten my day. I'm going with this poinsettia from the Como Conservatory last year. It's red and speckled and full of the spirit of the season that I'm trying get to.

I didn't spend much time outside, except from the car to Fred Wells Tennis Center and then back to the car. It was above zero then, by a tad, but it has sunk back to negative territory and is expected to be perhaps -15º F. by morning. So I'm hanging around inside listening to the heating system creak.

Thursday, December 5, 2013

A cold day

It is a cold day. As often happens after a big snow,  a big chill arrived to make the shoveling and plowing more challenging. Not to mention the challenge to a lot of folks exercise program. But wait until tomorrow. It'll be colder. I took a walk around the immediate neighborhood to see what might be interesting and to acclimate myself to winter in Minnesota. Less than a block from home I encountered a work of folk art that couldn't have been created today. It was put together when the snow still had some stickiness - yesterday.

That's what I've got today.

The sun was shining and the sky blue.

Wednesday, December 4, 2013

Big snowstorm

The current snowstorm is pretty big here, but northern Minnesota is getting it much worse. NCW has had pretty much constant snow fall since she left here on Sunday. She's not that far from the North Shore of Lake Superior where the predictors are saying there will be three feet (.914 meters) of snow on the ground before the Snow Queen stops distributing her bounty. That's a lot of latent beauty.

After slip sliding to tennis and back, I went out into the front yard to record the continuing snow falling on the street. We had the opportunity to shovel thrice, but I was only involved twice, because PP cleaned the sidewalks while I was bashing forehands. It promises to be a pretty day tomorrow when the clouds go east and the sun beams through. Fresh snow is nice looking. I think that winter is here. The local news channels go on and on as though it has never happened before, but it has. And we got through it and I actually got some fine photos the last time it was winter here.

This photo more or less demonstrates the amount of snow we received today. They've been saying about four inches in this part of the metropolitan area.

All the shoveling on a day like this called for a pot of soup. I made this pot this morning from all the remaining Thanksgiving veggies and some donated from various sources. It turned out pretty good, but since I have no recipe for it, it will not make the cooking blog. It's different every time.

Three weeks to Christmas.

Tuesday, December 3, 2013

Darker than yesterday

It's days like this that foster Florida dreamin'. It was a barely above freezing, drippy sort of day. And it's going to snow overnight according to the weather prognosticators and then wind chill temps set in. December. But I actually feel pretty lucky. NCW is back in Pengilly and it's been snowing pretty constantly for the last two days and there will be another 9-10 inches before it quits. That gets it way too close to 20 inches of white loveliness.

I prefer to think about and appreciate this sunrise photo from Florida in 2007.

I guess winter is here, ready or not.

Monday, December 2, 2013

It didn't snow until mid afternoon

Some habits are hard to break. It was a cloudy morning, but warm enough to walk. I looked at the on-line radar and saw a line of blue coming from the west as usual. I realized that soon the snowless ice surfaces in this part of Minnesota would become snow covered and would remain that way until spring - probably. The sun appeared for a couple of minutes before vanishing again, but I was encouraged enough to suggest a walk around a St Paul Lake. So PP and I went to Como and took a turn around the 1.6 mile circumference, half mile diameter (C = π*d; hence d = 1.6/π; d = .509 miles) of the body of water. The surface was ice all the way across and thick enough to walk on, although we ventured a scant ten feet onto the lake. There were visible sins of previous ice fishing off shore, so the ice is probably thick enough for lighter weight people to venture out. I think I commented on the relative lack of hikers today, especially as compared to July. But, hey, it's a December Monday and a cloudy, chilly day doesn't bring out the fair weather crowd.

Here's a photo from the peninsula that juts out into the lake. Ice all the way to the other shore.

The Prairie Princess was standing on frozen, and snowless, Lake Como.  She's dressed for the Minnesota weather.

As we drove home the flurries began, but we stopped at Trader Joe's for some oatmeal and smoked salmon, then came home. It is now snowing like gangbusters.

Sunday, December 1, 2013

December begins darkly

It's December, and I'm going an extra day on the BEDFAMM thing. It's getting to be a habit. And I had some time. NCW went to Pengilly to see her physical therapist and stuff, PP went to a movie with Wireless, and Unkie Herb had a meeting in Woodbury to attend. The Vikings looked like they might get beat again so I took my handheld camera (the one without the "white balance" option) and went to see how the falls on Minnehaha Creek were doing, and I thought a walk along the creek might be a good idea to finish digesting all that pizza from last night.

It was overcast, but still pretty warm for December, in the thirties. The falls have continued to fall, but the ice fringes that develop in cold weather have formed and the falls has taken on its winter look. This is view from the top level of the creek .

A slightly later, slightly closer view of the falls. A couple of things to notice. There is a person behind the falls, in a place that is forbidden, although I've been there myself in my younger, wilder days. The other cuteness here involves the couple in the lower left corner who are taking a selfie with the icy falls in the background. As is sometimes the case, I didn't know they were there until I looked at the photo on my computer.

Minnehaha Creek below the falls on the way to the Mississippi reflects the season. The ice hasn't won yet, but in a few weeks it may be possible to walk down the creek on the ice.  I walked all the way to Bridge #4 before turning around for home.

Incidentally, the Vikings did win the game, beating "da Bears" in overtime.