2017 was no exception. Our neighborhood lost a couple really great souls in December, one of which was my former history teacher. Mr. Olsen exemplified Maya Angelou’s quote, “At the end of the day people won’t remember what you said or did, they will remember how you made them feel.” Erik was the only teacher in my entire public school experience who left me feeling like an equal human being. He leveled with kids, even using his first name when signing our yearbooks. Later, in my adult life I learned that Danes tend to introduce themselves with their first name, but whether this was tradition or trademark didn’t matter. What matters is that this incredible man touched so many lives because of the way he made people feel. I am grateful to have known Erik Olsen, and feel incredibly blessed that his family and our family have crossed paths in more ways that anyone ever could have imagined. May he rest in peace, and may his impressions continue to spread kindness.
As is typical with New Year’s Day, our family discussed resolutions. Mallory announced that she was making an achievement list instead of a resolution list. When I asked her if it shouldn’t be labeled a ‘Goal List’ instead she advocated that it should not because goals are setting wants and desires, whereas achievements are establishing what is done. She informed me that she would accomplish these things so she was calling them achievements. It’s hard to argue with 13 year old logic sometimes. Her list includes some really creative items such as taking a photograph of the same thing every day for an entire year to see how it changes.
I wasn’t going to make any resolutions, but I decided that if my daughter was going to commit to work on projects then I could too. I was determined to do more of what I enjoy in 2018: writing, photography, genealogy, and spending more time in the barn, garden, and kitchen.
To honor a legacy left by one of our elders I chose to channel my great grandma and make homemade biscuits with chicken gravy for dinner. It’s a hot, stick-to-your-ribs kind of meal… the perfect remedy for the sub-zero temperatures which have plagued us for the better part of a week. I love to bake but don’t do it nearly enough, and so as is typical when I do bake I managed to set off the smoke detectors. They started going through their ear piercing seizures of alarms which sent our elderly German Shepherd Dog into a tizzy, frantic to herd her family outside to safety. Little did she understand that -15*F was not conducive to spending oodles of time out of doors. We determined that this is also the temperature at which our house windows are frozen shut. With no way to air the house out other than the ceiling fans, and the dog whistling through her nose the entire time, we ate chicken gravy and biscuits.
Oddly enough the smoke must have been caused from the grease which splattered the inside of the oven from roasting the chicken the previous night, because the biscuits were nearly perfect; flaky layers, just like Grammie Ah Ah used to make. She sure could bake: pies, bread, parker house rolls, and biscuits; all committed to memory with not so much as a shred of a recipe card to pass down to younger generations. I still hold vivid in my brain an image of her in the kitchen with her apron on. Being a farm wife in the kitchen with an apron on is traditional in a long line of strong women in my family. Thankfully I do have photos of her in that apron to pass on to my great grandchildren someday so that her spirit can continue to touch her descendants, even if farming and baking isn’t their cup of tea. Secretly I hope those passions flow through their genes though.
Sometimes it’s really therapeutic to pause for part of a day and pay homage to memories. Reflection is imperative for personal development. We are wishing you all an opportunity for contemplation and growth in 2018.