Well, it’s the first Monday in September, so you know that means Labor Day. Started in the early 1880s, during the unfortunate part of the Industrial Revolution, it actually was begun by a labor boss in New York City as a day of tribute for the work and achievements of the laboring class. At one time there were huge parades and speeches, but today it seems it has boiled down to barbequing on the last real day of summer. Nothing wrong with that either, I guess, so we’ll go with that.
Around our house, however, it is also that “extra” day holiday, where there is the opportunity – nay, the inevitability – to do some labor ourselves. No extra pay, no special rewards – just a day to do a couple of things we have put off for too many weeks.
We are still working to make the pie safe that stores all of Cheri’s mom’s green depression glass into some thing that is other than a mold maker. We’ve used a few different techniques, from lemon oil to seal it up, to spraying it with vinegar and letting it air out, to putting baking soda boxes in the thing to absorb odors, and then we finally began to question if perhaps the glassware itself had gotten a coating of musty whatever. Actually, when you sniffed the plate (not something I usually recommend), it indeed had a slight musty aroma.
You know what that means, of course. Rather than saying, “Oh, what a pity!” and closing the pie safe back up, it came to pass that we needed to take all the glassware out of the piece, and hand wash them. More than 500 pieces of glassware, not including a large variety of serving bowls, mixing bowls, Kellogg’s measuring cups and giant butter dishes, with the word “Butter” on top, just in case someone had come from another planet and was not acquainted with the yellow, sweet tasting mixture, ready to put on popcorn or mashed potatoes.
We washed and dried every dish. Every one, periodically taking a moment to sniff the glass for an tell tale signs of continued must. The process started about 9:30, and finished up just after 1pm. That’s a lot of glass, to be sure. In a little while, we will have the joy and excitement of trying to put it all back into the pie safe. Downsizing anyone?
However, as we were emptying out the top drawers (there are always drawers in pie safes to put other stuff besides pies), I came across two nearly black and very tarnished spoons, that I could only guess to be silver, and most likely sterling silver. One was a big character, with tiny slots in the bowl, and a nice sturdy handle. The other one was a fairly tiny spoon, with an interesting coil twisted handle. Not sure why someone went that way, but it will give me something to research I guess.
Anyway, the spoons sat on the dining room table, surrounding by an ocean of green glass. When it was finally all washed up and drying in the kitchen, the spoons were left. On a whim, I said, “Maybe I’ll go ahead a polish these up.” I knew that somewhere in the back of the small closet at the end of the hall next to the bathroom, we had actually stored a number of cleaning items, from tub and shower cleaner to air fresheners, and even to rarer items, like some leather cleaner wipes from when we tried to clean both a leather purse and a leather briefcase. By the way, if you see those on the shelf at the grocery store, just keep on walking. They are less than useful, and just make the leather stink. I also purchased from special liquid that is used to clean brass serving items and other brass things, like a ton of brass that Dad brought back from Thailand, that we all divided up after Mom died. I had four completely black stemware brass toasting glasses, I guess, and I used the liquid and it did a bang up job. Five stars.
Finally, at the back of the closet, I found the small box that included a bunch of silver wipes. They were completely dried out sheets, but the instructions were to wet the sheet down, rub it on the silver item until your arm nearly falls off, and then rinse the item, and dry it off, and it will be as good as knew. Ok – I’m game. I wet the cloth, and began rubbing the big spoon like I expected a genie to pop out. To my amazement, it quickly turned much, much lighter! I cleaned up the handle, washed it off, and it truly was a beautiful big ol’ spoon. What I am guessing is that with the tiny slots on the bowl, it was probably a spoon used to sprinkle sugar on your newly buttered piece of lefse. For those of you who live below Minnesota, lefse is a Norwegian substance made by boiling potatoes, and then ricing them twice, mixing in butter and cream and letting the pile cool in the garage, since you are probably going to make this just before Thanksgiving, at a time when the garage becomes a walk-in refrigerator.
After bringing it inside the next day, you form nice small balls of dough, and then take a ball, put it on the lefse rolling board, and using your lefse rolling pin, roll it out so you can just about see through it, without having it stick like adhesive to the board. You then move the thin round dough to the lefse grill, another round and very hot griddle of sorts, but with absolutely no oil on it. You of course, use the lefse sticks, long and flat with a little rosemaling on the end, and when it seems to have cooked on one side (you just know), you flip it over, being careful to have it end up on the pan to cook the other side.
When it’s done (you just know), you then remove the newly minted lefse over to the dishtowel, where you wrap it up so it can’t dry out. Over and over again, the little round balls of dough are transformed, and finally, when all are cooked and covered until a million white dish towels, you take Saran wrap, and after folding the lefse into a quarter, stacking three on top of each other, you wrap it all up in the Saran Wrap, and store it back out in your walk-in refrigerator.
When you are ready to have a piece, you take one piece out, open it up completely and slather it with butter – probably from that massive butter dish that says “Butter” on top, and you, in this case, take your silver slotted spoon, and dust/sprinkle/dump as much sugar as you would like on it, again folding it in half and then rolling it up and eating it from one end to another.
That’s what the spoon is for, I think.
The other little spoon took a bit more rubbing, since the handle was a twisted coil of silver, but as I cleaned it, it became more and more beautiful! The bowl was etched with a silver pattern, and the back of the handle was inscribed “E. R 2-2-08.” My first thought is that we hit the jackpot, and this of course was Queen Elizabeth’s spoon when she was a baby! The E.R must stand for Elizabeth Regina, right?
Except when I began to think about it, that would make the queen 113 years old this year, which over shoots by nearly 20 years, and her birthday is sometime in the spring, so a February date wouldn’t fly. Oh well, it’s still a very cool little spoon with a wonderful mystery that may never be solved.
Thus ended my labor on Labor Day. The only thing left was to take a nap (finished), and then prepare to grill up the special burgers when the day comes to a close. Tomorrow, we stare Fall right in the face, but today it’s 84 degrees, and the wind is blowing nicely.
It’s the everyday kind of days that sometimes we never remember. However, sometimes, something happens to pluck that day out of obscurity, and give us a memory. There are two keys to having that happen, of course. First, we should always strive to do something interesting every single day that is worth remembering when the next day comes around. It doesn’t have to be earthshaking –just a little something, like polishing a couple of neglected spoons, and finding new beauty in them. The second key, almost as important as the first, is to keep our eyes, our ears, our hearts and our minds open to seeing what each day unfolds to us. The reason some days are so forgettable is that we forget why we are alive, and what great and simply blessings God brings to us, with each day that God has made.
Don’t waste your day – do something memorable, and then, by golly – remember it as the future comes towards you. It’s worth the effort.
Word for the day: lagum. Pronounced LAH-gawm. Today’s pearl comes to us from the same folks who brought us lefse – the Norwegians, and the Swedes. It’s a special word for that culture and language, as the word means, “just the right amount.” It’s different than “average” which sometimes seems as though something is missing – it really is “just right,” like baby bear’s bed and Goldilocks. Lagum is a principle of living, in which one strives to achieve a balanced, moderately paces, and “low-fuss” kind of life. Sounds like a virtue for the Scandinavians, doesn’t it?
After 43 years of ministry, Randy Cross lived his "fourth life" and shared about retirement, living boldly and intentionally in our world. To be sure, there was some North Dakota thrown in.