Friday, August 27, 2021

It clings, I cringe

It's Poetry Friday! Come join the fun. Today's gathering is hosted by Elizabeth Norton at Unexpected Intersections. Elizabeth is sharing an eight line rhyming poem in the style of Jane Yolen. Elizabeth wrote about a marmot!  I love it! Have you ever seen one?  I almost sat on one once, while on vacation in the Rockies.  Good grief... I'll have to find that photo!

My poem is also about an animal. Maybe I'll have to try the eight line rhyming form to see if this poem works better that way, because... I can't seem to finish it.  I've tried three or four "last" stanzas, so far I don't like any of them. Anyway, here's the back story:

Our son's dog, Thor, visits from time to time. He's beautiful, and he behaves quite well... unless he is anxious. The thing is, many things make him anxious... strangers, other dogs, children on swings, and being away from home. And...I must admit that I am more comfortable babysitting my grandchildren than dog sitting. I try, but the connection is vague. So... when a visit is over, I find myself writing poems like this:


More than 
dog breath
More than 
More than 
At my 
The thing 
makes me 
the most
is clingy 
dog hair

Though gone 
three weeks
his hair 
playing little
on the stair, 
on rugs, 
in air...

draft - Karen Eastlund

Thor a few years ago... he is a handsome fellow!

Anyway... that's as far as I got... this is definitely a draft.  If you want a challenge, see if you can finish it for me!

Thanks for reading, and thanks again to Elizabeth for hosting. 

Best wishes, Karen

Monday, August 23, 2021

Grandma Pierce's Diary, October 1928

 Oct 1, Mon.

Cloudy all forenoon & sprinkled a little at times but cleared up before night. We did a big washing & Anita took me to Burr Oak on an errand for Leslie at the Bank. Elmer was cutting corn for Will Erickson & Will brought him home after supper. Lloyd Baker was here picking up corn but went about 3 o-clock. Howard brought the tractor & plow over and we took him home.

Oct 2, Tues.

Very nice day & warm. Anita took Elmer up to Will Erickson's and we got ready about 9-15 & started for Decorah. We had to take a few sacks of grain to the mill & Anita took her dress to Allie. We got to Decorah at 10-30 and went to the Bank and paid the interest and $60 on principal altogether $118.79. We ate at Grants Cafe & after we got through shopping we went down to see Lillie & then drove over to Ethels but she was over town & the neighbors were having a surprise on her so we didn't go in. We got two baskets of grapes at 30cts per basket and a big watermelon for 25cts. Luella and Roger were here a few minutes.

My Grandma, Grace Pierce

Oct 3, Wed.

Another warm day. We took Marilyn down to Violets and weighed her. She was 6 months old last Sat. and weighs 17 1/4 lbs. I made grape jam & Anita picked up potatoes in forenoon & helped pick a load of corn in afternoon. They went down to Merles & got apples. First I took my geraniums up today. Luelle was over after my suit case & Anita's coat. After supper we wrapped apples. Lucille Pierce is very sick & they took her to the hospital at Cresco.

Oct 4, Thurs.

Nice in morning but began to sprinkle in afternoon and rained a hard shower in evening. Howard came & plowed all day, only at noon he and Elmer went up to Guys to listen to the World Series ball game. Elmer took me to Ella Thayers to L.A. (Ladies Aid) & I came back with Jim & Eda. Raymonds went to Davenport today & LuVerne stays here nights. Lucille Pierce had her hand lanced and they took a lot of pus from it & she is getting along fine every other way. Charley Murdock was out looking over the telephone line but didn't do anything to it.

Oct 5, Fri.

A beautiful day. Lyle stopped here for me to go over to Raymonds with him to wash the separator but I wasn't dressed yet so Anita & I went over about 10-30 & I washed separator & took the eggs in & watered the hens. Howard was here again today. Elmer went up to Guys again at noon and then to Will Ericksons after seed corn.

Oct 6, Sat.

A lovely day. Anita cleaned all forenoon. I washed & made a cake. Howard was here cutting corn. LuVerne & Elmer took a grist to B.O. & picked up corn. Just after noon we went over to Luelle's & washed separator. Anita helped pick corn up for a while. Mr. & Mrs. Steger were here to buy a cow. In eve Elmer & Anita wrapped apples while I picked & dressed a chicken & did embroidery work on a bed spread. Lucille had a baby boy born at Cresco hospital at 5-30 and they lanced her other arm too.

Oct 7, Sun.

A beautiful day. We got up quite early. I made two pies & Anita baked a cake & mopped the kitchen. I went over to Raymonds & washed separator at 9 o'clock. Glen called & wanted me to come down & help while Mrs. E. is away & I told him I would go tomorrow noon. Ethel wants me to come there to help the middle or last of the week. Elsie, Merle & Deane were here all day. I went to church with Jim & Eda & heard the new minister Mr. Soule. Mr. & Mrs. Will Ashley came to Merles & then came here in afternoon.

Oct 8, Mon.

Cloudy nearly all forenoon and sprinkled a little but cleared up after noon. We did our washing and I made a pie. Howard was here to dinner & Elmer took me to B.O. at noon & Glen came there after me. Luella & Raymond got home just as we left so I didn't have a chance to talk with her. In eve Glen took Mrs. Narveson home & Florence & Mrs. N. went up town in afternoon. The baby was very good.

Oct 9, Tues.

A lovely day. I washed & dressed the baby & did the ironing. Glen is working at Calmar today so took his dinner. He got home about 6-30. I intended to go over to see Nada this evening but the baby was a little fussy so I didn't go.

Oct 10, Wed.

A very warm day, too warm for comfort. Glen over before six and we had all the work done early. Luella, Roger & Raymond were here a little while in forenoon. Anita called & said we had a letter from Doris and Marion's arm was swollen from kidney trouble. Glen came home about 5-30 with a finger that was hurt. He had Dr. Horton at Calmar dress it.

Oct 11, Thurs.

Very warm again. We got up very late this morning, all I did was wash the baby and wash dishes & some clothes for the baby. Anita & Elmer came about 2 & he went to the ball game & took the car up town to have the glass put in the back. Glen took us up town & we got a few things and came home & Elmer started home with Raymond & they passed us & Elmer got in with us. We had oyster soup for supper, $1.00 a qt. 
Ella Reed got a letter from Glen & he was at St. Louis.

Oct 12, Fri.

Rainy in morning & stopped for a while. We washed a few clothes & Anita helped Elmer pick a load of corn. After noon Anita & Elmer went to B.O. & she tried her dress on at Allies & then she & Luella went to club at Lottie Prices. It just poured before they got back to B.O. & Anita drove the car without chains. LuVerne went home after school.

Oct 13, Sat.

Cloudy all day. I washed some of the babys clothes. Anita had to help pick a load of corn before Elmer went to Canton with a grist. He sold 16 hogs for $9.25 (per hundredweight?). They brought $340. After dinner Anita & I went to Canton & she got her hair cut. Elmer came up with the truck that took the hogs. I got a felt hat at Edna Pierces gave $3.50 for it. Anita helped pick another load of corn after they got home from Canton. LuVerne stayed here while his folks went to Malters to a dance.

Oct 14, Sun.

Cloudy again. We had to do our Saturday work this morning. I ironed & made a pie, & Anita cleaned the house & dusted. And mopped. We went to church with Jim & Eda & after dinner we went over to Stevies a couple of hours.

Oct 15, Mon.

Nice in morning but clouded over & sprinkled hard about noon. We got our washing out before 9 as our boiler leaked & we couldn't boil them. They were nearly dry when it started to rain but got quite damp. After dinner we went over to Luella's when Elmer took a grist to B.O. & to a sale at Phil Seelyes but there wasn't any sale after he got there, so came home early. We ironed after we got home.

Oct 16, Tues.

Rained terribly hard in morning & most of the time until noon. Elmer went to B.O. before 9 & went to a sale at Ern Reed's, he bought a cow and gave $1 for it. Harold Reed brought it over in eve. Glen called up and wanted me to come down tomorrow and stay until Fri. or Sat.

Oct 17, Wed.

Rainy again. I got a letter from Doris & Hazel. Elmer went to Canton in morning. At noon he took me to B.O. & I came to Decorah with Frank Nash, it rained hard about 3 o'clock. So Glen came home from work about 4. The baby was very good all night.

Oct 18, Thurs.  Decorah

Very cloudy & misty in morning & rained toward night. Glen didn't go to work as it was too wet. I made a pumpkin pie and worked on bedspread nearly all day. Mrs. Lofte brought the washing home in eve. Mrs. Elvin Ellis & Evelyn was here in afternoon.

Oct 19, Fri.   Decorah

Not quite so bad today but cloudy. Glen went to work. I made a pie & ironed & washed the babys clothes. Harry Erickson & Emma Blegen were here in the afternoon. The baby was quite restless all night.

Oct 20, Sat. 

The sun shone at last. Glen went a little after five. I got up then and worked on bed spread until Florence got up. I went up town in forenoon. Florence baked two cakes & mopped the whole house. About 1-30 the folks got home from their trip & after they had lunch, Norman & Florence brought me home. We picked and dressed two chickens & I made fried cakes. Elmer went to Burr Oak in eve. Olga McCabe called a little before nine  said they would be here tomorrow. Raymonds went to a show in Decorah.
Elmer sold 17 hogs for $315.

Oct. 21, Sun.

Cloudy most of the day. I picked & dressed another chicken & made three pies & cabbage salad & pineapple salad & Spanish rice & Steve & Olga & kids came early. Luella came when Raymond went to Gene Olsons after a colt. Elmer went with him. Cecil & Agnes Wicks & children came about twelve. After dinner Steves went to Terry McCabes for a while & stopped here again when they came back. Everyone went home early & I am tired tonight.

Oct. 22, Mon.

A lovely day. We washed the colored clothes & baby clothes and I cleaned the big room upstairs. In afternoon I ironed & Anita helped Elmer stack corn stalks. Mr. Brokken was here & talked so long Elmer didn't go to Burr Oak. He went to Canton in eve to see Orlin Rasmussen about shredding. Quite cold tonight.

Oct 23, Tues.

Another day as beautiful as yesterday. We washed the rest of the clothes & I cleaned the closet upstairs. Elmer went to Ella Reeds sale & bought 9 sows for $20.25 a piece & bought the separator. In eve he went to Canton and Anita & baby went too. I am very tired and lame tonight.

Oct 24, Wed.

A lovely day. I made a pumpkin pie & mopped in forenoon & after dinner Anita & I went to Decorah. We went to see Lillie & then went over to Myrtles. Ethel & Marjorie were there helping paper. The car bucked all the way home & hopped along on three cylinders. Elmer went to Burr Oak in eve. I paid the Interest $312.50 on the loan.

Oct 25, Thurs.

We got up very early and had breakfast before six and after we were through the men with the shredder came & we had to get their breakfast. Anita went over after Luella in forenoon & took her home about 3. She discovered that Marilyn had a tooth. They shredded until 6-30 and believe me I was tired before I got the dishes done. I paid my (?yeoman?) dues for three months $9.65. Elmer went over to Ella Reeds & took the incubator down to Merles. He bought it at the sale. 
Florell Potter died this morning. 

Oct 26, Fri.

Nice in morning but soon clouded over. Elmer went to Louie's to shred. Anita & I went to Allies & got Anita's dress in morning. In afternoon I cleaned one room & finished cleaning the rag room. Anita & Luella went to club at Ella Reeds. Anita couldn't get the car started so Luella drove. I got the doll that I sent for for Margarette. There was a school play at B.O. tonight but we didn't go.

Marion, Margarette & Marilyn with their dolls... some years later

Oct 27, Sat.

Cloudy and foggy in the morning but cleared up and was nice but much colder. Elmer went to Cecil Wicks to shred. I finished cleaning upstairs. I cleaned Anita's & Elmers rooms. Howard was here plowing. We took him home in eve. Elmer went to Burr Oak in eve.

Oct 28, Sun.

Quite nice but cold. I went to church with Jim & Eda and went down to Merle's from church with Anita & Elmer. We had a big dinner. Stevies, Ashleys & Peckhams from Cresco were there & Jess & Zoa & George & Myra & Fern & Howard & Beverly.

Oct 29, Mon.

Froze very hard this morning. We did a big washing. Howard was here plowing. Elmer was shredding at Cecils. Marilyn was sick, her bowels were so loose & it just scalded her. We took her down to Violets to weigh her. She is 7 months & weighs 18 3/4. Violet gave us some medicine that she had for her babies & it helped but she was quite bad between 7 & 8 in eve.

Oct 30, Tues.

Frozen harder than yesterday, but was warmer in afternoon. Marilyn was better today, but wasn't entirely well. Elmer was at Mileys shredding. I made a pink outing dress for Marilyn. Anita washed for baby & got the cabbage in cellar. Anita had all the cows milked when Elmer got home, for this is the night of the Joan of Arc Club oyster supper. I went over with Jim & Eda. Anita & Elmer came home early for the baby was restless.

Oct 31, Wed.

Much warmer & cloudy. Elmer was shredding at Rheuwinkle's. Howard was here plowing. I cleaned the cellar & in afternoon we went down to school house to a Halloween program. Elmer went to Burr Oak in eve. It snowed toward morning, our first snow this fall.

Friday, August 13, 2021

Splintered Vision


It's a week of hard reality for me. My oldest brother, 92, has been admitted to hospice. 

I feel such sadness while facing the end of a relationship I've known all my years. I feel distracted and forget common steps in my routine. I'm #9 in a family of 10, and my younger brother and I have talked about the likelihood of watching our siblings go, one by one. There are six of us now, and as Emil approaches the end of his days, and I lament that soon we will be five. It doesn't get easier.

We call him "Brother" in our home. After two girls, when Emil came along it must have seemed a natural nickname. I think he was about to get married before someone said to me, "You know... his named isn't actually Brother. It's Emil." Seriously... I remember being shocked! "What??? We all call him Brother!" I was too young to question the name "Brother." Seems funny now... and sweet. 

Emil had taken to calling me recently. We talked about poetry, among other things, and he would give me advice about my writing. One time I read him a poem that I liked... it fell flat... it was hard for him to "get it" over the phone. He listened and then asked, "Is that it?"  Haha. Yeah... that was it. "Well, let me read you a poem I like." So I listened, and he read me one of my own poems. (See it here.) What a sweetie.

When I saw this close-up of a dragonfly's wing with such beauty, transparency, and complex shapes, it spoke to me of sadness, beauty, mystery and hope, and it led to this ekphrastic poem:


splinters my vision
I look
but can't see, and
what I do see
is out of focus

the veil...
luminous panes
of organic shapes
pangs of beauty
in utter confusion

Where are you?
I can't find you
in this maze
despite this soft light
these colors seeping through

Still... I sense 

How I will miss you...

I can only go on

grateful for shared time
reliving laughter
seeking the light beyond.

© Karen Eastlund

Thanks for visiting today. Come along with the rest of the Poetry Friday gang to the gathering at Christie's Wondering and Wondering. You'll find some wonderful thoughts on poetry there.

Tuesday, August 10, 2021

Part III of Otto's Restaurant: Uff Da!

 Those of you who have not heard this phrase are no doubt wondering what "uff da" means.  So... here's my definition...
Uff Da:  a Norwegian interjection   pronunciation: (oof-duh)   
Uff da denotes disappointment, irritation, exhaustion, dismay, anger, disgust, etc.
Examples:  It's 20° below zero. Uff da! 
                   I burned the lefse... uff da!
                   Mud on the kitchen floor. Uff da!!!

Cold work sledding a huge log past Evenson's restaurant... uff da!

Otto and Henrietta in the restaurant

Over the 40 years that Otto ran a restaurant, there were, of course, some uff da moments. How could it be avoided? Here are a few uff da stories:

Grandpa loved sports, especially baseball.  He supported the town baseball team, and signed my dad up as the batboy. He attended Luther College games if he could, and he listened on the radio to hear big league games. One day while listening on the radio, intent on the game, he was also pealing onions in the restaurant. I can imagine him now, dabbing his blue eyes on a white handkerchief while he worked, his mind totally focused on the game. Maybe the onions were meant to flavor the soup or gravy,  who knows? In any event, Otto lost track of what he was doing and put them into the coffee urn. Yes, it was full of coffee. Uff da!!! Probably the onions were salvaged, but I bet the coffee had to go.

Otto is the team sponsor, my dad Emil is the batboy

Creamers from Otto's restaurant... and a HUGE tip!

Do you remember the old time pressure cookers? They saved a lot of cooking time, so Otto and Henrietta got one for the restaurant kitchen. The gauge at the top showed the amount of pressure inside, and you had to pay close attention to it or there was big T-R-O-U-B-L-E. One day, apparently someone tried to open it too soon, and steaming hot chicken parts went flying all over the place. Uff da! Luckily, no one was hurt. But apparently some chicken bones were permanently embedded in the fancy tin ceiling. This story deserves two uff das!

The restaurant was open 7 days a week. I'm reminded of a Garrison Keillor saying "My people are not paradise people." No kidding! It must have been exhausting. So one day, Grandma Henrietta got up and opened the restaurant alone to make breakfast for the road crew. Maybe this happened about the time the Rovrud guys were putting blacktop on the roads. The road crew was important to the community, and the crew members needed their breakfast before a hard day of work. So Henrietta made and served breakfast to the crew and they went on their way. Later, Otto joined her at the restaurant and was shocked to see that the back of her dress was hitched up in her girdle. Now, Grandma had a good sense of humor, but still... I imagine she was mortified. They had always run a respectable business. And strangely enough, no one in the road crew had said a thing! Was it possible they didn't notice? Were they embarrassed? Respectful? Or was Grandma getting older and they felt sorry for her? Any way you look at it... uff da!!!  

Otto, Henrietta, my uncle Burnell and cousin Bill

Main Street in Spring Grove, unpaved, and Otto's Cafe 

The last story in this theme is a little colorful, a little hilarious. Consider yourself warned.  

Grandpa Otto was known to be generous, He would share food with those who were down and out. But... one day a woman came in demanding that he give her free food. Something about her brought out his bullheadedness... he didn't like her and he didn't like her rudeness. She continued to demand food. Otto told her that this was America, and we expected people to pay for food here. He refused her demands. She got angry, he held his stance. Before she left the restaurant, she unbuttoned her blouse, took out a breast and squirted milk at him. She was quite a distance from him, but she managed to spray him anyway! Otto was accosted with breast milk in his own restaurant! 

And that story, my friends, deserves an uff da! Or maybe more than one? I'm curious. How many would you give it?

Tusen takk for reading today. May these stories bring a smile.

Thursday, August 5, 2021


We all know this truth: respect must be earned. It cannot be forced. 

Respect is not a trust we give easily and consistently unless we see qualities that are strong, pure, faithful, and serving. -- from Forerunner Commentary

I worked with a woman who deserved my respect. She worked hard, spoke the truth, held people accountable, and helped others when most would have walked away. I knew I could count on her. She had my respect. 

My respect looks mainly to God and is reiterated each time I say the Lord's Prayer: Hallowed be Thy name. I try to keep God at the center. 

This familiar verse speaks to me about respecting others:

My recipe for showing respect to others has four ingredients, but don't trick yourself into thinking it is an easy recipe. None of these ingredients is as simple as it sounds. Showing respect is a lifelong learning and challenge.

Empty your ego

Listen well

Practice patience

Let love guide you

Thanks to Linda Mitchell for hosting our Spiritual Journey group today. Find her and links to others in our group here.