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Old Cow Belle: Folk Lore

I've been reading a Nora Roberts novel, "Tears of The Moon." The setting is Ireland, "a land of poets and legends and dreamers and rebels."

I love all things Irish! I am fascinated by the leprechauns, fairies and the merriment usually portrayed in Irish stories. Quite a contrast from the staid old Norwegian lore. It has been humorously said that Norwegians eat only "white things," like white rice pudding, white bread, white "romme grot," white potatoes, white lutefish, even white jello if they could get it. Everything and everyone is said to be "somber." Dark. (I can say that, being Norwegian myself).

Another thing Greg and I used to laugh about. It isn't really true, though. We're not all somber and dark. We also have our "little people," the Norwegian "Nisse," an elf, and the cute but ugly little "trolls." And in the olden days, (even today) the Norwegians can "party" with the best of them, quite merrily to the tune of an old time "fiddler," accompanied by some liquid "spirits."

Stories from my mother, told by her mother, are interesting too, and daring. While living in Norway, Mom and her sisters would play right near a fjord close to their hillside home. She told of how, when they were young, they would step onto the huge round piers in the water, placed there for boat tie-up, and step from one to another. Amazing that they didn't fall into the fjord and drown. They had to have had a guardian angel. (I bet they made sure Mother and Father weren't looking).

Back then, setting gel hadn't been invented, and my Grandma Steen would hike up the mountain foothills behind their house and gather wild juniper berries. Then she would boil them in water to make kind of a "creme rinse" for her three daughters, to make their hair shine.

That reminds me of when I was a little girl, and Mom used to boil flax seed to make a setting gel for my hair. She would use a strip of cloth about two feet long, wind a length of hair on one half of it, then wind the other end of the cloth back up over the hair and tie it in a knot. It resulted in the "long curls" that were popular for little girls in those days.

Now, whenever I drive over the bridge going into Red Wing, and I smell that mill odor at the bottom of the bridge, it reminds me of Mom and her flax seed setting gel. I wonder what they do in that mill that smells like flax seed?

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It's true that laughter is the best medicine; and recently I had a good dose of it. I had the privilege of lunching with three young women at Subway in Spring Valley: Rosie Conroy, Donna Huppert and Ruby Nelson (and Tony dropped in and out, adding to the hilarity). What a fun group! It amazes me that they are willing to spend time with an old senior citizen like me! The time went so fast, I think we laughed through almost three hours.

We even had our picture taken with Tony's big black cow (I think it's a cow? Maybe a bull? I really didn't notice.) Subway food is always good, and the spacious dining area affords room and time to sit there and visit a while. Listening to the friendly banter between the "Huppert" siblings reminded me of our own children when they get together. I believe that a sense of humor is essential to life; ranks right up there behind our faith in God.

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I am listening to a CD (on a CD player given to me by a generous person) featuring the voice of Colleen Raye and the words and melody of Rosie Conroy. It is so beautiful, I am moved to tears. One is based on the famous "Footprints," beautiful words, beautiful melody, beautiful singing! Another is "In God We Trust," words and melody by Rosie, singing by Colleen, with her recording crew. That song could have been written especially for me, because it speaks to my heart, or to anyone who has lost someone dear, and kind of "longs" for the day "we'll meet again." You should hear them!

Rosie and Colleen, you are two earth angels, being used by God.

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Congratulations to Amelia and Kai Shutte and Sebastian out there in Arizona, with the new little baby boy born Saturday, Aug. 4. Also to Grandma Julie and Grandpa Bruce, and me Great Grandma Cow!

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