Tamara's Journeys

Journeys as great as the destinations.

Sunday in South Dakota: Lille Norge Fest

November 19th, 2017

Whether you’re a local, new in town, or just passing through, you’ll be sure to find something to pique your interest at this weekend’s Lille Norge Fest in Rapid City.

My high school years were spent in Jamestown, North Dakota where many of the locals were Norwegian. After arriving in Rapid City, it didn’t take long to realize that the Dakotas share that heritage and there’s a lot more to being Norwegian than just Ole jokes and Lutefisk.

This weekend the Sons of Norway hosted their annual Lille Norge Fest at the Borgland Lodge. Crowds of people wearing Norwegian sweaters and bunads (traditional Norwegian outfits) were savoring fresh lefse, krumkake, and rosettes. For a region rich with Norwegian ancestry, this annual festival is the unofficial kickoff to the holiday season, featuring Nordic cuisine, cultural entertainment, dancing and handcrafted gifts.

The Rapid City Lille Norge Fest was founded in 1973 to promote and preserve Norwegian culture in America. It was an enjoyable way to spend a few hours getting into the holiday spirit with Norwegian flair and Lefse. (They ran out of Lutefisk before I went through the line. Maybe next weekend)

 

Whatever you do this week – do it with flair.

Friday Funnies

November 17th, 2017

This weekend I will be attending the Lille Norge Fest. It’s a celebration of Norwegian Lutherans, Lefse and Lutefisk. In case you are unfamiliar with this Norwegian delicacy, let these give you an inkling. Poor lutefisk, that quavering smelly dollop of codfish-flavored Jell-O and today the butt of so many jokes.

Ole and Lena were sitting on the porch and smelled an awful smell. “There must be a skunk under the porch!” exclaimed Lena. “Well,” said Ole, “just throw some lutefisk down there. It’ll be gone in no time.” Lena considers this and says, “Ooo, well, I don’t mind the skunk that much.”

Ole, Sven and Lars die in a tragic Lutefisk dinner accident. They are met by God on the stairway to heaven. God says, “There are 3,000 steps to heaven. It’s very serious up there. I’ll tell you a joke on each 1,000th step you reach. If you laugh you go to hell.” So they start walking and reach to the first 1,000th step. God tells a joke, Lars laughs out loud and goes straight to hell. Ole and Sven look at each other nervously. On the 2,000th step God tells another joke, Sven tries his best but laughs and goes to straight to hell. On the 3,000th step God tells the last and best joke, Ole doesn’t laugh and proceeds to the gate. Suddenly, Ole bursts out laughing hysterically. God asks, “What are you laughing about?”. Ole replies, “Oh that’s funny. I just got the first joke!”.

To be honest, lefse and lutefisk are white and bland and simple. Their humble, long-storing ingredients are the flavor of poverty and survival, of northern climate a with short growing season.

Lefse started out as an unremarkable flour pastry. It’s believed the potatoes—the ingredient that makes this food really special—only became an element when Norwegians traveled to Ireland, where potatoes were a staple and more plentiful and nutritious than flour.

Lutefisk origin stories, on the other hand, are all over the map. Both Norwegians and Swedes claim to have invented it. One legend says some dried cod fell into a vat of lye by accident, but the people were too poor to throw it out, so they rinsed it off and ate it anyway, eventually finding that soaking in lye was better than water at rehydrating the cardboard-like dried fish.  

Today, Norwegians across the Dakota Territories eat these foods around the holidays to remember the old ways. Here you can find lutefisk suppers in church and lodge basements every weekend throughout the winter. Wish me luck!

 

 

Devotions from Baba’s Front Porch: Phone Conversations

November 15th, 2017

Do not be hasty to speak, and do not be impulsive to make a speech before God. God is in heaven and you are on earth, so let your words be few. Ecclesiastes 5:2

Have you ever been on the phone and you lose the signal and the call drops? Did it take you a few minutes to realize that the person was no longer listening? Don’t laugh, I know it has because it happens to me at least a couple times a week while driving into the Black Hills. Sometimes it’s easy to get so wrapped up in what we’re talking about that I don’t realize I’m about to pass the imaginary line of phone communication driving up the hill. And I think she’s just listening. It’s kind of embarrassing, isn’t it?

Or maybe you tend to interrupt others. Your friend says something that reminds you of something else, and without warning you change the subject. Do you find yourself later realizing that your friend never finished their story?

Sadly, our prayer lives sometimes resemble a one-sided conversation. We begin by telling God all the things that we think we need. We outline for Him exactly how we’re going to carry out His plans for our lives – without always asking Him what those plans are! On we go, full steam ahead, without realizing that we haven’t heard a response from God. We’re so busy talking that His silence slips by us.

Other times we begin to get a vision for something Gods wants us to do. But before He can finish preparing us for His plan, we rush off with only half the story. It may be a good idea for us to slow down just a bit. God knows our hearts, and He doesn’t need so many of our words. Our friends might appreciate a little more listening too.

Murder on the Orient Express

November 12th, 2017

Yesterday I thoroughly enjoyed a magical cinema event. I use the word magical because Murder on the Orient Express takes you out of your own reality and places you in another world that is not macabre or dangerous but filled with beautiful people, exquisite dialogue, snowcapped mountain landscapes and sumptuous costumes. The exquisite cinematography alone was worth the cost of admission.

Murder on the Orient Express has many aspects to applaud. It has a good portrait of some 18th century look with all those etiquettes and manners. The movie is fully loaded with the story many already know, with a few different suspects that made it intriguing. Please don’t compare it with the novel lest you lose the momentum of this cinematic whodunit.

The supporting cast includes some big names including the likes of Penelope Cruz, Willem Dafoe, Dame Judi Dench, Johnny Depp, Derek Jacobi and Michelle Pfeiffer. All play their roles well, but because, Branagh himself apart, this is very much an ensemble effort, it would be difficult to single any of them out for special praise.

However, one thing that took me off-guard was that Johnny Depp was not only not the star of the film, he was playing one of the least interesting characters in the whole film. What also took me by surprise was how much I enjoyed Kenneth Branagh’s interpretation of the character of ‘Hercule Poirot’. He was captivating to watch. He left me undoubtedly wanting more. I would happily welcome a follow-up film (which may or may not have been hinted at in the film).

Whereas Agatha Christie understood human nature in its myriad forms, Kenneth Branagh so fabulously unveils in his Murder on the Orient Express. Yes, he has assembled a world class cast of superstar actors, but it’s Branagh himself, both as actor and Director, who pulls the real tale of loss, unrequited grief and revenge, of this story out brilliantly. You don’t get much more powerful emotions in human existence and these are wonderfully executed in this film.

I highly recommend Murder on the Orient Express as a “not to be missed” film. It’s fantastic, even if you know the plot. Go and see it and watch this wonderful tale again from a different perspective. This is a tale which plumbs the depths of human existence: what Poirot calls ‘the poison of deep grief.’ Fabulous.

Devotions from Baba’s Front Porch: The Pantry

November 8th, 2017

Always be prepared to give an answer to everyone who asks you to give the reason for the hope that you have. 1 Peter 3:15

Does this happen to you? You wake up in the middle of the night with a sudden craving for a certain food, but the only thing in your kitchen was some instant oatmeal, peanut butter, a sleeve of crackers and an apple? Or perhaps a sudden winter storm blew in, and you couldn’t leave your house. Those are the times you realize the pitiful state of your pantry. Being snowed in is a reasonable concern in Rapid City, and it’s NO fun without sufficient supplies. (“supplies” is code for coffee and chocolate) It’s frustrating not to have what you need when you need it.

When it comes to the spiritual aspect of our lives, however, it’s more than frustrating when we find ourselves unprepared…it’s dangerous. Scripture tells us that we should always be prepared to defend our hope. Imagine that you were in a conversation with someone and they had questions regarding your faith. Would you be able to supply them with a response, or would you be unprepared?

Our pantries may look very different, yet still serve us quite well in an emergency. You may whip up a homemade pizza while someone else is content with peanut butter on a spoon. Likewise, not everyone is pulling from the same spiritual stockpile. One person may have a seminary degree, while someone else is a new believer. That’s the beauty of faith. When it comes to defending it, the answer is the same. The reason for our hope is always: Jesus

Don’t get caught unprepared. Be prepared with a hot beverage and chocolate in the pantry and Jesus in your heart.

Marshall

November 5th, 2017

…one nation under God, indivisible, with liberty and justice for all.

Our pledge of allegiance doesn’t command us to pick and choose liberty and justice for those of a certain race or religion. It clearly states “for all.” just as we’re supposed to love one another. Sadly neither has happened throughout history. Marshall is a movie about a great American that stood in the gap for such justice.

Set in the 1940’s, Marshall follows pioneering Supreme Court Justice Thurgood Marshall in his earlier years as a lawyer for the NAACP. A married white socialite in Greenwich, Connecticut, accuses Sterling K. Brown of rape and attempted murder. Out of fear of losing her marriage, and status in the community, she was willing to destroy another human being.

It’s fair to say Chadwick Boseman is becoming one of the best actors of his generation. Chadwick Boseman is suave in his portrayal as the future Supreme Court Justice. He reminds me of a young Sydney Poitier with his quiet confidence and his cool style. Boseman has taken on film versions of such icons as Jackie Robinson in 42 and James Brown in GET ON UP, so he likely jumped at the chance to play the revered figure, Thurgood Marshall. Mr. Boseman has true movie star screen presence, and portrays the young Mr. Marshall with a self-assured swagger that accompanies a brilliant legal mind – a mind that refused to be ignored during a time it was desperately needed. The film does portray Marshall honestly as a smoke, drinker and hints at carousing. The common flaws of a great man.

Josh Gad plays opposite of Boseman as a young Jewish attorney, Sam Friedman. Slowly a friendship develops between the two men and they soon find that they have more in common that they first thought. Neither is an accepted member of the community; one because of his religion and one because of his race.

This film is a historical heavyweight with a very good screenplay. The touches of comedy bring a welcome balance to its tension-filled courtroom and difficult subject matter. I appreciate that Marshall takes its subjects seriously, but doesn’t take on a dreary tone doing it. The scenes in the courtroom are intense and keep you interested in the action. As the case develops, these scenes get more and more engaging.

In 1967 when Lyndon Johnson appointed Marshall to the Supreme Court it wasn’t his race that made Marshall’s appointment unique. It was the whole level of experience in the kind of law he practiced for people like Sterling K. Brown. Marshall believed the goal is justice and the law must work for all for justice to be realized.

Overall the movie is both gripping and inspiring. The entire cast is excellent, and I was emotionally invested the whole time. Marshall will move viewers both to tears and anger from start to finish, and I highly suggest you go see it. Vow to follow your moral compass even when it’s hard.

Devotions from Baba’s Front Porch: Surviving Goodbyes

November 1st, 2017

There is nothing on earth that I desire besides you. Psalm 73:25

There was a time when folks lived their entire lives and died in the same small town. It wasn’t uncommon to grow up right down the road from grandparents. And you would NEVER dare misbehave in public because everyone knew your family and would have called your parents before you made it home. But these days things are different. People don’t stay in one place, they pull up roots and replant them somewhere new. Many of us have lived a lifetime of goodbyes – like I had to say to my family last week before returning to Rapid City, SD.

No matter how much we wish it were different, goodbyes are a part of life. Circumstances change. People change. Life happens and jobs change. Sometimes we must leave people and places that are dear to our hearts. Other times those we love leave us. Some goodbyes are welcome, however many goodbyes aren’t happy and some even painful.

Through it all, it helps me to remember that we must learn to hold on loosely to the things of this life. The things and people we cherish must be held with open hands as we entrust them to the One who loves them even more. We can trust Him to restore all joy.

Wanting our Lord more than we want any thing is the key to surviving goodbye. He must be our heart’s greatest desire. If God calls any of us to a goodbye, He can bring good from it. If it’s painful, we can trust that He will use it for His glory. Yes, some goodbyes will hurt, and we’ll grieve. But at the end of the day He will heal all sadness and reveal purpose.

Tamara's Journeys

Journeys as great as the destinations.