......finding a new home for lutefisk lovers.

(ok we don't love it. or even like it. but we're supposed to.)

24 December 2011


It WILL be a Merry Christmas!  Last year, I wasn't able to find any lefse for our Christmas Eve smorgasbord, the Norwegian tortilla made of potatoes that you slather with a fistful of butter, sprinkle with a pound of sugar, then roll up and eat like a Scandinavian pixie stick.   It never occurred to me that  I wouldn't be able to roll up to my New Hampshire grocery store and find Norwegian delicacies in the refrigerated section like I could in Minnesota.   Duh.   The lack of Lutheran ladies pedaling samples on Saturday afternoons should have been my first clue.   There are no Norwegians here so why would anyone carry lefse  ("What is it again?"   "It's called lefse."   "Pizza?"   "No, LEFSE."   "How do you spell it?"   "It's L-E-F-  oh never mind.")?   Norwegians started coming to the east coast in the late 1860's but, when they couldn't dig a damn hole because of all the rocks (uff da!),  they went to Minnesota.   Hence all the Lutheran ladies pedaling samples on Saturday afternoons.

But this year I did some research..............and planned a roadtrip to Karl's Sausage Kitchen and European Market in Saugus, Mass, outside Boston.   We scheduled our Sausage Kitchen stop to take place after an afternoon in Boston.   Driving and parking in and around Boston is ri-DONK-ulous.   It's batshit craxy.  Yes,  I meant to say craxy.  That's just how crazy it is.   The words  "right"  or  "left"  or  "straight"  or  "direction"  or  "can you keep the same street name for more than a f*ing block"  are completely meaningless.   So in order to lessen the holiday driving stress,  I again did some research and hatched an expensive but brilliant scheme:

We would use the valet at a fancy hotel to park our car,  eat lunch in the hotel restaurant,  pay the overnight parking fee,  walk to our downtown destination,  and then continue to Saugus for lefse.

But after driving every street in the city of Boston,  we still couldn't find that damn hotel with their fancy valet.   We drove by the address about 19 times,  the GPS mocking us every time with her  "Arriving at address.....on right."   And before we got to where the hotel was supposed to be,  we had been doing this:

May I remind you that this is WITH a GPS?   It's all a guessing game and if you interpret the left hand veer to be just 2 degrees further to the left,  you will have taken the wrong left hand veer and missed your turn (for the 3rd time)  and inadvertently gotten back on the highway (for the 3rd time) where you will have to pay a $3.50 toll.

Finally, when we see a giant blue "P" sign, we just drive in and park.   Is it near our destination?   WHO KNOWS?  We have to forge ahead on foot!   It's the only way!

And we DO find the hotel on foot.   But they are too cool to announce themselves with anything like a sign or a doorman or a place to check in.   Even the windows are tinted so you can't peek inside and see all the cool people there.   Completely dark and nondescript until you step inside and experience the avant garde-ness of it all.   We're not eating there at this point because our plan is foiled;   but we just had to find it and ask Dieter or Bauhaus or Schnell how you actually get your car parked there.

Then Boston day is finished   -   and we're faced with getting out.  We're afraid.   How will we get to Karl's Sausage Kitchen before Christmas?

We brace ourselves, get in the car and buckle up.   The ride is spastic and feels innately wrong.......like you're swimming down instead of swimming up toward daylight.   The traffic is fast but the roads are small.  And so not straight.   The GPS shows us where to go but we don't believe her.   As in:

"That was it!  You missed the turn!"

"That wasn't even a road - that was like a sidewalk!"

"You were supposed to turn left on that sidewalk!"

At one point,  it felt like we were driving in someone's backyard.   But lo and behold,  after fearing we would end up in Whitey Bulger's driveway,  we see a shining beacon of light!  A sign lit from within!   Karl's Sausage Kitchen!

We pop a wheelie onto the shoulder (or do a pop a wheelie.  it's a constant argument in our house) and careen into the parking lot.   I'm manic when I go in and approach the counter.

"Lefse!  Where's the lefse?   Do you have any lefse left?"

I send Mike to look for lingonberries,  Liam runs for candy,  and I guard my space and bark my order like there are throngs of Norwegians behind me trying to score the last of the lefse before Christmas Eve (there was no one behind me).

We make our purchases and explode out the door   -   VICTORIOUS!   And I'm like  "LEFSE!  LEFSE!  YUM YUM!  LEFSE!"   And instead of being an irritated ball of stress,  Mike is like  "We did it!  We did it!"  (subtly, of course).   And because he loves me and knows what I like,  he quickly snaps a pic of Liam under the Karl's Sausage Kitchen sign.

That's a Merry Christmas.
A super Merry Christmas.

God jul, everyone.

21 December 2011

I almost forgot the best one!

One day several years ago,  we’re  sitting by Lake Harriet and the sun is shining on the water in that way that makes little sparkles;  like diamonds shimmering on the surface of the water.  It’s one of my all-time favorite things...........crisp new magazines, balsamic vinegar and sparkly water.   And I say to Liam, who is 5,  “Look at the sparkly water.  Isn’t that the best?”

And he says,  “The sunshine on the water makes me happy.”

Man, I love this kid.

“The sunshine in my eyes can make me cry.”

Is he looking directly into the sun?  That’s not good.

“Sunshine on the water looks so lovely.”

Seriously,  the sweetest kid on the planet.

“Sunshine almost always makes me high.”


Omigod, he’s quoting John Denver.  Damn.

20 December 2011

I am up way too late.......

So I’m watching the Odd Couple and it goes to commercial break.  But it’s no commercial break…..it’s a Time Life infomercial for a cd compilation called “Romancing the 70’s.”  Little do I know that this will go on for 20 minutes and the Odd Couple isn’t coming back.  But they hook me.  Like HOOK me.  All 20 minutes hook me.

And I sing every single song………..every word to every song in all 20 minutes of that infomercial.  I sing along with England Dan and John Ford Coley for 8 seconds and then it switches to Olivia Newton John and I sing her 8 seconds and then it switches to Glenn Campbell and I sing his 8 seconds.  I don’t miss a beat.  And then Anne Murray.  I’m really impressing myself.  Even “Angie Baby” by Helen Reddy.  I got all the words to Angie Baby!  Who even knows that song?  I am smokin’!  Ok, I admit, I stumbled over “Alone Again (Naturally)” by Gilbert O’Sullivan but that was the only one.  Can any of you sing that song right now?  I’m giving myself a break on that one.  And when Chuck Mangione comes on playing his flugel horn and there are no lyrics, I just hum because I’m on a roll and I don’t want to ruin my streak.   

And as I sing every word of all 8 seconds of every song, I think  “this is the song that my babysitter liked”  or “this was on the radio when I got dropped off for rollerskating”   or   “I heard this song on my transistor radio sitting on a blanket in the back yard”  or  “I heard this song shopping in the downtown Dayton’s”  or  “My mom used to play this on the piano”  or  “I wonder if Crystal Gayle has cut her hair yet?”

And Nicollette Larson only had one hit.  And then she died.  That’s so sad.

“Nights in White Satin” is just too melodramatic for me.

How AWESOME is it to hear the theme from Ice Castles again?  “Through the EYES of Love;”  get it?  She’s blind!  She can’t see!  But she’s going to skate anyway!  The crowd goes wild!

And what was Kiki Dee wearing in that video with Elton John?  It looks like overalls made out of pink denim handkerchiefs.

“The Nights That the Lights Went Out in Georgia” cracks me up because it’s by Vickie Lawrence and my friend, Kristin (another Kristin), thinks that Vickie is Carol Burnett’s sister.  I don’t  know why she thinks this.  And I think it’s funny.

David Soul of Starsky and Hutch fame was the picture of sincerity when he sang “Don’t Give Up on Us Baby” but my friend Martha told me that he beat his wife which makes this song sickening.  Like  “I only did it because I love you so much”  and  “I promise I’ll never do it again because I love you so much.”  Suck it, Hutch.

Please tell me that somebody saw the made for TV movie starring Rex Smith and that girl from the Abe Vigoda show!  The movie was called “Sooner or Later”  (the Abe Vigoda show was called “Fish.”).   This made for TV movie was very risqué for us kids because it featured t-e-e-n-a-g-e-r-s having s-e-x.    I was so surprised when my brother bought the 45 of the made for TV movie’s featured ballad, “You Take My Breath Away,” by soon-to-be-sex-symbol  Rex Smith.  Because it was a mushy love song.  Coincidentally,  I just saw a flyer for a production of  “The Sound of Music”  at the Ogunquit Playhouse down the road from us starring, yes, you guessed it…..Rex Smith.

This summer, I’m at a lobster shack and Lou Rawls is on the radio singing  “You’ll never find, another love like mine…..”  And the guy at the next table is so happy to hear this song.  And he’s singing along but he can’t remember who it is and he can’t remember the title.  “WHAT IS THE TITLE TO THIS GREAT SONG!”  And he keeps singing the same words,  “you’ll never find, another love like mine…..”   And I’m thinking, dude,  listen to the words coming out of your mouth.  Every time you open your mouth,  you say the title of this song.  But he’s just so frustrated…..what is this song called?!  He eventually calls the waitress over and she’s like 19 so she’s never heard the song before but she’ll go look at the radio and see if the song title is in the display panel of the radio.  But oh!  She missed it!  Now we’ll never know what that song is called!

I learned about the definition of suicide from “Seasons in the Sun.”  One of the big kids in the neighborhood told me it was about suicide – but I didn’t know what that was.  So I asked my mom while she was in the tub (not actually relevant) and that totally took the wind out of my sails.  Now it felt inappropriate to sing  “We had joy, we had fun, we had seasons in the sun,  but the cops took their guns and they shot us in the buns.”

 “Daniel my brother,  you are older than me……..”  sings Elton John   – and I see everyone in my 7th grade general music class and we’re taking our  “Rhythm Skills”  test on a bongo drum.  The music teacher gives the bongo to a person in the front row, then she puts the needle down on “Daniel”.  The student in the first row pounds out the rhythm on the bongo with this nonchalant I-don’t-care-about-anything-because-I’m-in-7th-grade look on her face and then passes it to the person in the desk behind her.  And we do this  -  pound the rhythm, pass the bongo  -  until we get through the whole class.  I think she had to restart “Daniel” a couple of times.  And I was sort of embarrassed for the teacher……because I knew that she thought “Daniel” was a current song.

“Tie a Yellow Ribbon” used to make me teary because I just felt so badly for that guy getting out of prison and coming home on the bus thinking he wouldn’t have a girlfriend to come home to – he was sure there would be no yellow ribbons.  But then he looks out the bus window and sees a HUNDRED yellow ribbons around the old oak tree!  I just got goosebumps.  That criminal must have been so happy.

But, if you're wondering,  I didn’t order it.  I swear.

16 December 2011

The View from Little Boar's Head

The beach in winter can still be shiny and blue.  But at other times,  it appears grainy.......processed in black and white.

Our 18 miles of coastline is mild in December, and even when it's grainy outside,  you may still see an occasional sailboat.

13 December 2011

A Gift From the State of New Hampshire

Dear New Hampshire,

Thank you for the Lyme Disease.    It’s great to be “the best” at something,  and you are seriously  “the best” at giving people Lyme Disease.  Seriously good.  There is no other state in the nation that gives its residents more Lyme Disease.  I rarely meet someone here that doesn’t have a Lyme Disease story………and now, I’m one of them.  Finally, a sense of belonging!

In Minnesota,  we have big, fat, highly visible wood ticks.  You can spot a wood tick from across the room.  My brother has a perfectly round mole that sits on the skin just below his chin and he’s had a lifetime of well-meaning aunties trying to scrape it off his neck.   But Lyme Disease comes from deer ticks.  Deer ticks are so tiny and nondescript you could easily mistake them for lint.  Do they have legs? Who knows?  I left my magnifying glass in the car.  Hey, there’s a hair in my belly button.  No wait, that’s a deer tick.  A good, thorough tick check requires Steve Austin-style bionic eyes, an inordinate amount of patience and a giant dose of self-doubt.

“That Kristin,”  you say.  “She must be quite the outdoorswoman!”

That’s funny.  Remember me?  The one who cried because there was no wifi at the coffee shop?  Yes,  I  “go” outside and I “like” it but I don’t roll around in it.   My idea of camping is setting up a tent, roasting marshmallows, playing charades, then packing up and getting home before “Survivor” starts.
But I do have a parade of deer staring at me through my kitchen windows like “What’s for dinner?  Got anymore coneflowers?”  There are so many deer in our yard that we don’t even run to the window and say  “Look!  A deer!”

 Hmmmm.  Where do deer ticks come from?   Oh yes, that would be deer.  Lots and lots of deer.
The deer live in the woods.  Like all the other houses in our neighborhood, our house sits on 2 acres of woods.  There are trails and rock walls and other fun stuff in the woods;  but no one plays in the woods.  Everyone is afraid of Lyme Disease.  When I cut through the 25 foot swath of trees to get to my neighbor’s house, I’m chastised by Dr. Neighbor;  “It’s not safe,”  he says.  “Unless you want to spray yourself with bug spray every time you come to my driveway,  I wouldn’t do it.”

“Whatever,”  I think.  Why are these people so paranoid?  How can you not play in the woods?  This is a fantasyland for kids!  I swear,  I’d play Narnia myself if someone would play with me (but I don’t want to be Susan.  She’s a priss).  But I’m thinking this at a time when I only have Minnesota news reports as my information source,  a place that just doesn’t see that much Lyme Disease.  I’m thinking this at a time when I don’t know that a wood tick is not a deer tick.  I’m thinking this at a time when I’ve only heard of one other case of Lyme Disease and it was front page news.  To me, it was the equivalent of worrying about polio.

And now I have 15 bottles lined up on my counter and a schedule of what to take when;  this one is in the morning with food,  this one is on an empty stomach,  this one is before bed, this one is with food before 3pm.  And twice a week, I sit in a recliner at my doctor’s office where I receive 2 hours worth of Vitamin C intravenously .  (Ok, that part is kind of nice actually.  Forced relaxation  -  you can work, you can read, you can nap but you cannot be a slave to distraction.  No jumping up and running to Target when the task gets challenging.)

I follow (term used very loosely)  the Lyme Disease Diet which forbids gluten, dairy, soy, red meat, pork, shellfish, processed foods, fried foods, corn, eggplant, tomatoes, fruit juices, sugar, caffeine and alcohol.  So you can’t even get drunk and pretend it’s not happening.   I’ve spent hundreds of dollars on gluten-free foods that taste like shit.  “Bread” that tastes so bad that the entire $8.00 loaf goes in the garbage.  I dream about sandwiches.

Because I can’t have soy,  I can’t have the natural dairy alternative:  soy milk.  So I’ve tried rice milk, oat milk, hemp milk and almond milk.   “Oh I love almond milk!” says my vegan personal trainer.   No you don’t!  You don’t LOVE it!  You just think you love it because you hate it the least and you haven’t had love for so long that you’ve forgotten what it tastes like.  Last night, when everyone was in bed,  I opened the milk bottle and I chugged it like Gatorade.  I seriously couldn’t stop chugging.  It was like I was dying of thirst and milk was saving my life.  I love you, milk.

My prognosis is firmly, decidedly, unequivocally…….unknown.   My symptoms are mild but my test results are not.   In the IV room with my Vitamin C drip, I sit across from a woman who does her 2 hour IV treatment every single day.   And she drives an hour each way to get there.  She’s had Lyme Disease for 6 years and she’s been on disability for 2,  unable to work because of the severity of her symptoms.

All I had was tingly hands and 10 extra pounds that wouldn’t go away.

But my test results suggest that I shouldn’t be tricked into complacency.  So I sit in my recliner for 2 hours and feel grateful;  I say thank you for this mysterious lack of symptoms and hope my luck holds out.

Thanks again, New Hampshire, for this welcome gift.  I hope I can shove it back in your Lymey pie hole someday.

Kristin, The Girl Who Loved Sandwiches.  And Milk.

09 December 2011

A Salve for My Coffee Shop Woes

I never thought that I, the only one who doesn't drink coffee,  really - the only one,  so much so that people offer me a cup and I say "No, thanks.  I don't drink coffee"  and they never just say ok they have to stop and contemplate that,  like "How could that be?  How did that happen?"  -  ok, start over.  I never thought that I, the one who doesn't drink coffee,  would put "find coffee shop" at the top of my how-to-live-here-happily list.   But, as you can see from the previous post,  coffee plays a much bigger role in my life than I thought.

So after the "Dear New Coffee Shop Owner" debacle,  I was determined to find a salve for this wound.

And I found it.

 It's not convenient and there's a sign that says  "no computers" but I can poach wifi with my iPad.  And it has this.........

........the best view of any coffee shop on the planet (perhaps I should make them a sign?).   And actually,  I spent 2 hours here before I even took my evil electronic device out of its hiding place.   I spent 2 hours drinking my iced chai latte with soy and watching the waves crash against the rocks.
I think it's my new office.   The commute is killer, and I may not get much done,  but it'll be worth it.

The breakroom.

The conference room.

My coworkers.   I swear, they can make a coffee break last all day.

06 December 2011

A Letter to the Owner of the Coffee Shop in the New Grocery Store:

“Dear New Coffee Shop Owner,

You have made a big mistake.   While thinking you were doing the right thing,  you have actually made me feel  unwelcome.  Like many in this place,  you have made a decision that inadvertently alienates me.   Because the new coffee shop that I thought was going to change my life and make me feel normal again……. doesn’t……. have……. wifi.   

Or…...even…...outlets  (scratching eyeballs out).

How out of touch are you to think that you are doing people a FAVOR  by not providing them with the resources they need to do their work in a place that is more enjoyable and more social than a cube?   The resources that are the norm at every other coffee shop in America.   This is how people work in the new millennium.  That’s what people do in coffee shops  -  they drink coffee and work.   All I want is a fucking iced chai latte with soy and maybe a blondie brownie.   It doesn’t have to be venti or grande or whatever.  I’d just as soon order a small…..but I do need something to drink while I manage my email.   And I thought it would be nice to do this daily and very necessary chore in the midst of my neighbors  -  instead of in isolation.

We are already so isolated in this place………and your decision to discourage the use of electronics in your COFFEE SHOP  (seriously???),  the only coffee shop in the area,  just keeps us further isolated.  There is a culture that exists outside of these borders whether you like it or not.  It’s not a bad culture  - it’s vibrant and interesting and worthwhile – and it’s the way we work in this day and age.  If people can’t work here,  they will not come. 

You don’t have to change and conform to what I think is normal and good.  But it’s clear that you don’t want my kind here.   And so I’m leaving.   This place is of no use to me.”

The Backstory:

I saw a bumper sticker the other day that said  “Friends don’t let friends buy Starbucks.”   And 18 months ago,  I would have agreed  - why go to Starbucks when you have Dunn Brothers and Caribou and Turtle Bread and Java Jacks and Kenwood Deli and Rustica and…..etc., etc., etc.   The city thrives on coffee.   My  (former) city thrived on coffee.

But coffee shops are few and far between here in the woods.   People will cry  “Dunkin Donuts! What about Double D?”   Yes, they have coffee.   But it’s not a coffee shop.   It’s just a place to get coffee and get back in your car.   It’s like McDonald’s.   I’m talking about a place to enjoy a beverage during the day that is not soda.   A place to meet up with a friend without the time commitment of lunch.  A place for a quick meeting without signing up for the conference room.   A place to get some work done because your house is disturbingly quiet and the laundry keeps calling your name.   A place to relax and read a magazine  -  (because the laundry never stops calling your name).   A place to be alone……..but surrounded by people.

And to be clear,   I don’t even drink coffee.   It’s not about the coffee.   It’s about the people and the comfy chairs and the treats and the fireplace and the buzz of activity that means you’re a part of the world.

When we first arrived in New Hampshire,  I drove around with my computer,  trolling for a place to work.   I drove and drove and drove and drove until I ended up at a McDonald’s.   Did you know they have free wifi?   I had to clean ketchup off the table before setting up my computer.  At that moment I would have eaten glass for a Starbucks.   How did the company that put two stores on one block completely miss this part of the world?   I’ll give you your corporate greed and your world domination if you’ll just give me a comfy chair and a chai latte that doesn’t taste like a gingerbread house.

So you can imagine how excited I was when the fancy new grocery store opened near my house with a sign that said  “Coffee Shop Coming Soon!”   I swear,  I camped out in the parking lot, holding my computer with the specially designed orange and yellow striped skin for which I paid $75 extra.

I waited and waited and when the doors finally opened,  I ran in clutching my computer hoping to score a table by an outlet.   Then I laughed at my panic  -  because this place was brand new, not retrofitted  -  they’d surely have outlets at every table.   

 But I couldn’t find my outlet.   This is stupid.  I must be looking right at it.   Wow,  maybe they didn’t put an outlet at every spot.  

So I look around……….and I don’t see ANY outlets.

Ever the optimist,  I’m sure this isn’t right.  I sheepishly approach the counter girl  -  “This is so dumb, but I can’t find an outlet.”

“There aren’t any,”  she says.

“(this is me saying nothing because I’m sure that’s not what she said)”  I said.

I recover.   “You did not just open a coffee shop and forget to put outlets in.”   Trying not to be snarky but it’s not working.

“We didn’t forget.  It’s on purpose.   There’s no wifi either.”

(this is where I clutch my chest in disbelief because, seriously, no coffee shop owner could be that stupid.  I clutch my chest and I stare at her.  I say nothing.)

Because I’m just staring at her, she says  “The owner wanted people to talk to each other.”

Disbelief.  More silence.   I finally say, “That is a mistake.  Our computers are our work.   That’s what we do during the day.  I’m not on my computer because I’m avoiding people  -  I’m doing my job.  Just like you are doing your job standing behind that counter and taking my order.   And I thought it would be nice to work here and give you my money instead of being at home working by myself and giving no one my money.   I was planning on picking up some groceries on the way out, too.  But instead, I will go someplace else with an outlet and wifi.  I will get in my car and I will drive 10 miles to the nearest outlet and wifi and I will give them my money.   Please, please, please tell your boss that this is a very, very big mistake.   As in,  I’m not coming back.”

And then I started to cry.

And I pictured someone coming up to me in the grocery store and asking,  “Why are you crying?”  And I would say  “Because the new coffee shop doesn’t have wifi.   Or outlets.”

It’s like these people are all getting together secretly to find ways to make me feel out of place.   They just keep kicking me in the nuts.   This transition goes on and on because there were so many unforeseen changes,  so many things that were so taken for granted and so a part of my fiber that I didn’t realize that they didn’t exist elsewhere.   And I stumble upon the unforeseen changes one by one, each one a stupid surprise, making this transition take much longer than it should.

I knew I loved wifi.   But I had no idea how much I would miss outlets.