Monthly Archives: August 2017

A Swedish Meal and a Swedish Smorgasbord by Mary Martensen

Until today, I’d never heard of Mary Martensen. Apparently she was a dietitian who wrote cookbooks and cooking columns for newspapers. She also was head of the home economics department at the Chicago American whose duties included conducting lessons for large audiences.

The document below must have been given out at one of the lessons. Lesson 10, Week of June 5, 1934. I wonder if one of my ancestors took this lesson or if it was something that Mom found somewhere. I can’t imagine either of my grandmothers traveling to Chicago to take this lesson, although I know my Grandma Patrick went to the Chicago World’s fair in 1933 or 1934 and Mary Martensen wrote a book called “A Century of Progress” cookbook that was published in 1934. It is possible that my Grandma Patrick picked up the typewritten lesson at an exposition at the fair.

I only wish that I had this document when I hosted my bookgroup for “A Man Called Ove.” I would have used some of the recipes.

 

Recommendations from the Milk Foundation — circa 1960

Thinking has changed regarding what we should eat each day. Note this was recommendations of the the Milk Foundation in the middle of the last century. Internet searches on ‘”milk foundation” Chicago recommendation’ returns over 2000 results, but most reference the new Milk Foundation (Milk as in Harvey Milk) or Milk Makeup. One Mother Jones‘ article recommends that adults drink much less milk than the poster below suggests.

Vintage birthday card

Found this at the Elgin house. Uncle Verne and Aunt Norma (my dad’s sister) gave it to my Grandpa Patrick.

Echt Email

I once owned a charm bracelet. I think my Aunt Ginny gave it to me. It was silver and had a few charms. The only charm I remember is a Christmas tree, but I probably had 4 or 5 charms on it. It was lost when my jewelry box was stolen when we lived in Pittsburgh.

I must have worn it in front of Jeremy, because he sent me a charm from Germany. I still have it — mostly because of the note on the back.

This has been sitting around for years, waiting to be blogged about. Well, here you go…

I don’t speak or read German but Professor Google tells me that Echt Email can mean either “Authentic e-mail” or “Authentic enamel.” Since I got this in the 1970s, I will assume it means the latter.

Two bottles of “Evening in Paris”

When I was very young, my folks didn’t go out all that often, but when they did I knew it by the smell. Mom would put on either Topaz or Evening in Paris fragrances.

While Mom’s bottle of Topaz is long-gone, I have two empty, but still fragrant, bottles of Evening in Paris.

Occasionally I open one of the bottles and take a sniff. I can still feel that weird, I don’t want you to leave, emotion I had when my parents would go out for the night.

The truth about the girl in the photo

Unknown girl

My folks inherited my Grandma Patrick’s china cabinet and throughout the years objects came and went from the cabinet. I found a box full of things that I remembered having been in the china cabinet over the years.

Some of the things were old photos. One photo in an ornate oval frame was in the china cabinet for the past several years. The photo was of a young girl holding dried flowers and wearing a lace cap over ringlets. I don’t know if I ever asked Mom who it was, but I assumed it was either her mother or Dad’s mother when they were very young.

When I brought it back to Bethesda I began to get suspicious because it looked like neither of my grandmothers’ other childhood photos. I took the photo out of the frame and was not terribly surprised to see that it was not printed on photo paper, but plain, shiny paper — the kind that comes with frames.

I don’t know how long that photo with the stock photo of the long-ago young girl sat in Mom’s china cabinet, but it did give me a laugh.

Guilt, grief, grandpa and golf balls

Me, the following summer.

I spent much of the summer before I turned 16 with Grandpa and Grandma Green in their lake house in Chetek, Wisconsin just as I had done previous years. I spent my days reading and writing letters to my friends.

Sometimes I helped Grandma with things around the house and sometimes I spent time with Grandpa.

Grandpa Green had a few hobbies — reading, playing solitaire, drinking beer in bars and golf. One day he asked me if I would like to learn to play golf. I don’t remember if I was actually interested in playing golf, but I was interested in spending time with him, so I said I would like to learn. He took me to Chetek’s golf course and I acted as his caddie while he played golf with his buddies. I remember mostly being bored and hot and the golf bag was heavy.

When I told my mom about it, she said that the reason I was in Chetek in the first place was to spend time with Grandma when Grandpa was golfing. While that was news to me, I had no problem telling Grandpa that I didn’t want to go golfing with him when next he asked. I could tell he was disappointed, but I didn’t want to tell him that my mom said I should spend time with Grandma instead. I told him I did want to learn, but just not that day.

Before I left for home that summer, he gave me three golf balls and some golf tees. Maybe he thought I might try to golf in Elgin? I am not sure, but I thanked him and put them in a bag and took them home.

That November Grandpa developed a blood clot in his right leg and had to have it amputated. Besides being afraid for my Grandpa — someone I loved as much as I loved my own parents — I felt guilty because I’d declined to go golfing with him after the one time. I knew he would never set foot on a golf course again despite people telling me that when he got his prosthetic leg he’d golf again if he wanted to.

The next summer he developed another blood clot and had more of his leg amputated, but he suffered a heart attack during the amputation and died a few days later, on July 9, 1973. He was 63.

When my mom, who was at the Mayo Clinic with my grandparents, called to tell my dad about his death, I listened to Dad’s end of the call through the door to my attic bedroom. I sat on the steps, sobbing while holding the bag of golf balls and golf tees that Grandpa had given me. I cried out of grief, but also guilt because I told him I didn’t want to go golfing with him the previous summer.

I still have the golf balls and golf tees. I keep thinking I should just get rid of them, but I cannot do that.

 

An ear-full of waxwings…

…or a museum if you prefer.

Cedar waxwings

Many years ago (eons in Internet age) I searched for an Internet name that suited me. Because I was into birding, I focused on avian handles. I tried “chickadee” but it was already taken in the places I wanted to join. I considered “painted bunting,” a bird I longed to see in person, but the name seemed a little suggestive. I finally settled on cedar waxwing because it was probably my favorite bird at the time, one I’d only seen a precious few times and one whose looks always made me smile. Cedar waxwings look like they are wearing cat-eye sunglasses.

Luckily for me no one else used the name “cedarwaxwing” or “Cedar waxwing” or even “waxwing” on any of the social media sites I was interested in joining. This continued for years, although I don’t think I was able to score a cedarwaxwing account at gmail. I did register a waxwing account there though and it has been my general email account since September 2004.

Over the years I have received a fair number of misdirected emails from people or companies that I had nothing to do with. Not of the SPAM variety, but genuine mistakes.

I have gotten emails from travel agencies with other people’s itineraries. I have gotten emails from personal trainers with complete workout instructions attached. I got an email thanking me for nominating a cyclist for an award.

I usually respond to the email and explain that they have the wrong email address. I rarely hear back. But recently I have had pleasant conversations with strangers concerning the mistake.

Elizabeth, for instance has sent me (thinking I am Kim and Jess) Easter, valentine, fourth of July and general catch-up emails. I responded each time, explaining I was not Kim and Jess. I never heard back until this year when I replied to the entire group, explaining that I was becoming concerned that Kim and Jess were not getting all the well-wishes. I immediately received an email from Elizabeth’s sister explaining that Elizabeth was not all that worldly when it came to emails. She promised to talk to Elizabeth and figure out Kim and Jess’ real email address. Elizabeth replied later, apologizing, but also saying she’d been using my email address for Kim and Jess for 10 years. That was Valentine’s day. I got another Easter email and just left it. Poor Kim and Jess.

In late February I received a confirmation of an order made by Kenneth of Swansea, Wales, UK for some light bulbs. Because there was no way to contact Kenneth by email since he used mine, I wrote him a letter and mailed it to him. I promptly forgot about it and was surprised, and touched that Kenneth sent me an email explaining the situation a couple of weeks ago:

Hi Dona,

Please accept my sincere apologies for the mix up when I used the wrong email address. You were very kind in taking the trouble to write to me.

Unfortunately, I mislaid your letter which had only now come to light.

I am a very keen birdwatcher, who, sadly has never seen a Waxwing. The bird has fascinated me since childhood so it seemed opportune to use it as an email address. You had beaten me to it with Google, so I added a “my…”. However, I recently bought a domain where I can use Wax.wing. I must have mixed things up when creating both the order and the separate history site. Sincere apologies again for causing you this trouble.

I hope you have managed to see Waxwings!

Regards

Paul

(In Wales, it is common to give your child two names, but use the middle one, hence I’m not known as Kenneth)

I replied that I’d forgotten that I sent him the note and that I had, indeed, seen cedar waxwings. I also sent him a photo of a cedar waxwing that stopped in my yard.

The day after I received Paul (aka Kenneth)’s email and while I was waiting to board a plane for Seattle, I received an email from “Jerry’s Rogue Jets, Oregon’s one and only mail boat tour, delivering Fun Since 1895!” I was confused since we were headed to Oregon as soon as we picked up our rental car and thought that perhaps Clare had booked a mail boat tour (whatever that is). I checked the invoice and saw that it was another case of someone using the wrong email address. This time it was a woman named Amy. Luckily her telephone number was also on the invoice so I called it and left a message. She replied with a text message about an hour later, just as I was boarding the plane.

Hi- thank you for the heads up on the invoice. Corrected. Sorry for the trouble. You are the original waxwing! I’m #26.

Some people would not bother setting people straight about email address mistakes, but I think it is the right thing to do. Not that you have to go overboard, but just because waiting for an email can be a pain. The replies I have received have always been pleasant and the people have always been thankful and I have had, albeit brief, conversations with these people with whom we share a love of one genus of bird.

I am sure I will continue to receive misdirected emails and I am sure I will continue to reply.