Thursday, September 17, 2020

Morning Kitchen

 It's Friday, time for a little poetry. The poem below is all about sound. And coffee.  Do they go together? Of course!  

Favorite mug waits for that first cup of coffee

Morning Kitchen

Slippers shuffle on the hard surface
Like brooms whisking away the last wisps of sleep

Water whooshes on and off
Last drips plink, plink, plink in the sink

Coffee beans shudder into the hopper

Water splashed, lid stumbles into place
Firm SNAP of switch

Gurgle gurgle hiss... gurgle gurgle hiss... gurgle...
Drip, drip, drip

Slippers shuffle in anticipation
At last, the splish splash of coffee

Sip... hot, hot, hot! Wheeze into steaming mug
Chair creaks...I slurp... gulp...Aaaaaahhhh!

Slippers tap, tap, tapping
Coaxing rhythm into my day

© Karen Eastlund

It's Poetry Friday, so join the fun! Matt Forest Esenwine is hosting today at his blog, Radio, Rhythm & Rhyme. I'll look for you there!

Thursday, September 10, 2020

Finding Direction

 Welcome to the Spiritual Journey Thursday group. I'm hosting this month and I've chosen the theme of "Finding Direction" for this month's sharing. That said, writers in this group are welcome to post on any matter of spiritual life. I look forward to reading them. 

I recently saw a lovely hour-long Nature program about weasels. Someone in Great Britain has made his property into a weasel haven, complete with hidden tunnels, cameras, and various nooks and crannies for weasels to hide or raise a family. This Brit is fascinated with weasels! One of the enduring images from the program was of an orphaned least weasel. This creature's eyes were still closed, and it was indeed tiny in the hands of the Brit. The baby weasel was constantly wiggling, throwing it's head first this way and that, mouth open. The rooting behavior. Any nursing mother would recognize it instantly. The creature is hungry and is doing everything it can to find it.

Sometimes, in these last few months in particular, I have felt like that little weasel. Blind. Unsure where to go to get what I needed. Many of my usual places... church, library, etc., were not available. My usual activities were not considered safe. I was doing what I could, but at times it felt like I was throwing myself blindly one way and then another. 

I wish I could offer easy answers, but I can't. My process for finding direction is messy and wastes energy. I admit that I often try to find my own way instead of asking God for direction. Many verses encourage us to turn to God, but the one I have in front of me, recently and beautifully colored by one of my granddaughters, is Exodus 14:14.

The Lord will fight for you, 

you need only be still. - Exodus 14:14

Now... if I could just learn to be still... turned toward God... ears open.

My church had been approached by a developer regarding sale of some of our property. We deliberated and several church leaders encouraged us to take the deal, but the congregation expressed concerns. Instead, we put the idea on hold. Within months the local Habitat for Humanity organization approached us, offering to upgrade the house on our property and use it as their office. It was the best possible outcome. Had we not waited quietly, listening as best we could, we would have missed this opportunity. I believe God was fighting for us, leading us in the best direction.

My prayer today is that you and I and indeed the country and the whole world find a way to listen and be still...turned toward a way of peace and health, hope and love.

One day, when I least expected it, a little blessing came along to encourage me. I found these on my front step... I share them in the hope that you also will be blessed.

Please share your links in the comments below and I will round them up as best I can during the day.

My car self destructed a few weeks ago. My husband has been sharing his truck with me, and we have been hunting for a replacement. I should be picking up my new (slightly used) car just about the time you will be reading this.  Hooray!

Stop by Linda Mitchell's today as she honors the last days of a loved one.

Find Ramona as she shines a light into her prayers and pathway.

Visit Margaret for a poem of alchemy and direction.

Ruth's post tells us about her (sometimes scary) journey. 

Click this link to read Fran Haley's beautiful poem about an autumn journey.

Carol Varsalona posts here about a frustrating and overwhelming day.

Friday, September 4, 2020

Blue Homage

I am delighted to be taking some online poetry lessons with Georgia Heard. Her first prompt was to begin a poem with "Give me back..." My draft is below.  I would be happy for your constructive input.

Only once in my life have I seen water look as it did the night described, and I didn't get a photo of it. Frankly, I haven't seen any images as stunning as what I describe in my poem. The photo below approaches it in color and horizontal orientation so I decided to share it. I hope it works for you.

water waves and light

photo by Dean Hebert

Blue Homage


Give me back those few seconds

Just at dusk

In our battered old canoe

My hand dipping into the cool water

The paddle rough in my palm

You in the stern

Setting the rhythm


The very last beam of daylight

Hovered over the dark water

Sprinkling it with needles of

Brilliant neon blue

Millions of ripples

Like saints before an altar

Glimmering fervently 


A stunning sight

A fleeting homage to the day

A splendor I cannot forget


If only you had seen it… 


© Karen Eastlund

Poetry Friday is hosted by Carol Varsalona today. Please click in at Beyond Literacy Link and follow the links for many wonderful poetic offerings.

Also, I think you'll enjoy my recent post, the first in series of family stories about my Grandpa Otto's Cafe.

Tuesday, September 1, 2020

Velkommen til Otto Evenson's Cafe

 Meet my paternal grandparents, Otto Evenson & Henrietta Quinnell Evenson, both of Norwegian descent. Henrietta's parents emigrated from Norway to Iowa, and Henrietta was born in Iowa City in 1881.

Otto, his brothers, and their wives.  Otto and Henrietta are the couple in the middle.

Otto was born in 1870 on a farm near Toten, Norway. Several of his brothers had already come to the U.S., so at age 15 he left his home country, arriving in the U.S. in 1885. At first Otto tried farming or working in sawmills, but five years after he married Henrietta he started a restaurant in Spring Grove.

Otto married Henrietta in 1898

Spring Grove, Minnesota, was the first Norwegian settlement in Minnesota, located in the beautiful southeast corner of the state. Otto's establishment moved between several buildings over his 40+ years in business, the photo below pictures an early one. That's Otto in a bowler hat on the left. 

Below is a later picture, probably in a different building. You can see Henrietta in her apron, and Otto beside her. They sold candy and tobacco and other small items in the front, had a soda fountain in the middle, and tables farther back. Otto sold so much Wrigley's gum that he won two chairs and a cocoa set. 

The restaurant was open all day every day from 1904 until 1945. It became a home away from home, not just to Otto and family, but to many in the community.  Townsfolk would come in for a cup of coffee and a piece of pie, notice a loose button on a coat or shirt, and ask for a needle and thread to sew the button. And sometimes, having been supplied with needle and thread, the person might even complain that the needle was the wrong size for the task at hand.

Here's a blurb from Spring Grove: Minnesota's First Norwegian Settlement by Chad Muller:

My grandpa liked to be generous. During the depression, Otto wanted to serve a good meal for a little as possible. He offered a blue plate special of roast beef, potatoes and gravy, peas, and a scoop of ice cream for dessert. The charge was 5¢... over the years it went up to 25¢. 
Otto also had a sense of humor. When my dad, Emil, was a student at Luther College, in Decorah, IA, he would bring friends back to dinner at the restaurant. Otto would get out all the hats he could find (I assume both men's and women's) and put them on one after another, improvising a persona with each one and causing much hilarity.  The teachers in town often ate at Otto's, and he once got them laughing so hard that a teacher had to step outside and catch her breath before coming back to finish her meal. 
One of my brothers, being a small child at the time, was fascinated by a cigar lighter in the restaurant. If you bought a cigar, you could light it and smoke it right there! 
He remembers the Midland Jump Spark Cigar Lighter. The spark would be fascinating. 
I can't say the same for the cigar smoke.

My older siblings remember eating at the restaurant. It seems that grandparents were known for spoiling even then. Pies and ice creams were shared liberally, and jack knives were given to the boys, perhaps even before the boys were old enough for them.  

Grandpa was proud of his restaurant and the hospitality shown there. He and his family worked hard to provide good meals in a clean and inviting atmosphere. As his family grew up they all helped in the restaurant. Even when his own children got jobs of their own, he would call them at their jobs to say that he needed them at the restaurant. I don't know how that turned out, but I do know that these photos make me wish I could have seen it myself. 

I'll share more stories about Otto, Henrietta and the restaurant in days to come. Please stop back for more...