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past butter baths and blueberry stems - Barnstorming on an Invisible Segway [entries|archive|friends|userinfo]
Marissa Lingen

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past butter baths and blueberry stems [Dec. 13th, 2008|06:40 am]
Marissa Lingen
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[Current Music |Josh Ritter, Empty Hearts]

This year I began the lussekatter baking by dousing the kitchen with a cup of hot melted butter. Ista thoroughly approves of this behavior--a new tradition!--although she suggests that next year I could aim more for the floor and less for the countertop. If you'd told me last year at this time that the vertigo would still be bad enough that I would lurch and spill the melted butter over hell's half-acre when I was making the lussekatter, I would have told you that this could not be, that this was not acceptable. And it's not. But here we are: when I am done eating this one and drinking my milk, I will do yet another session of PT. Because this is what we do, we keep with it and we keep going and we do not let the important stuff lapse if we have to beg, borrow, or steal the energy and the strength to do it. And lussekatter are important stuff.

I did not swear when I caused the melted butter Ragnarok. ("From what I've tasted of desire," says the fella, "I hold with those who favor melted butter.") No, it was worse than that: I sucked my breath in through my nose. Everyone with Scandosotan friends and relations is now wincing. The breath in through the nose is really no good. And it's not that it's the precursor to something worse. It's just bad in itself; you don't want someone you care about feeling like they have to suck breath in through their nose and do that little mouth thing of endurance. I was well into grade school before I had it through my head that someone's parents "yelling at" them was not a figure of speech. I would occasionally blithely report that I had told so-and-so I wouldn't do such-and-such because my mom would yell at me, and my poor mother would protest, "When did I ever yell at you? When did I ever?" And when I was 6 or so, I would kind of internally roll my eyes, because she was being so literal and everybody knew that it was like toeing the line: nobody's mom actually drew a line and made them line their toes up on it. Sheesh, Mom, said my child-brain. It's just an expression. Then I was around friends' houses enough to see that, no, not really. People actually did fill their lungs and yell at their children. Also their spouses. Also their dogs. Also the TV. People who were good and caring people did this. People I liked.

I am still adjusting to this information, people. Last week someone was saying that she admired my good attitude through all this vertigo crap, though she was sure I had moments of yelling at the dog, and I was shocked. I had to take a moment to give myself the little pep talk my mom used to give me about different families handling things differently so that I didn't behave as though she had accused me of something nasty. We are just not yellers.

So. I cleaned up the melted butter. I melted more butter. I put more butter on the grocery list. Onwards. I learned from last year's experience to leave plenty of time: I am in no emotional state to deal with a moment of "oh noes, we're not going to have lussekatter after all," so when it said it required 45 minutes to raise, I did it to be ready at 4:30. It was ready at 8:00. Lussekatter dough is slow stuff. You can do rosemary buns in the very twinkling of an eye compared to lussekatter. You could do rosemary buns two or three times over while you were making the lussekatter, but that's a lot of kneading, so I really don't recommend it.

markgritter came in while I was singing and kneading and singing and kneading. He peered skeptically at me from the far side of the kitchen counter. "Is that ever going to come out of the bowl?" said Captain Skeptical. "Yah," I said, "that's how you can tell it's ready. It starts to come away from the bowl. Look, watch my hand." I pulled my hand back. Only the tiny bits of lussekatter dough left on the back of my hand from the early kneading process remained--the rest of the dough stuck to the dough rather than to the mrissa. "Hmm," said Captain Skeptical.

And I didn't give up, and I didn't surrender, and we got through the part where the kneading was good for my hands and into the part where the kneading hurt. And by that point it was 9:00 (no, I didn't knead for the full hour; I said it was ready at 8:00, not that I started then), and I was wobbling on my feet, and I said to myself, "Self, this is good pliable smooth dough. What it is not is kneaded enough to twist into shapes, braids and s-curves and like that. Self, we are just not doing that this year." So I thumped it down in round buns and put on the dried blueberries, and lordy, I have never seen such stemmy dried blueberries. And that's kind of this year, you know? Everything takes a little longer than you thought, or maybe a lot longer. You think you might be entering the home stretch, and then you realize that the home stretch has lasted months. But the goal is worthy; there is no ignoring the worthiness of the goal. And markgritter helped me with the oven bits, and I showed him how to tell they were ready, when the golden color of saffron in the dough turned into the golden color of baked buns, how the edges smelled just right, just before they'd start to burn.

So here we are. The house smells of saffron and yeast. timprov is up before dawn and we have both had our lussekatter. And they are tasty and good and right. And because I love markgritter, I will not wake him up singing the Santa Lucia song, even though they are really best when they're the only token of the sun returning in a dark pre-dawn morning. I did them, they are done. The sun can return. The year can turn.

Happy Santa Lucia Day.
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Comments:
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[User Picture]From: dichroic
2008-12-13 12:56 pm (UTC)
It's beginning to be one of my holiday traditions: the annual lussekatter post. I treasure them.


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[User Picture]From: mrissa
2008-12-13 02:28 pm (UTC)
Thank you.
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[User Picture]From: mrissa
2008-12-13 02:28 pm (UTC)
Yes, that's what it is, I am a missionary to poodlekind!
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[User Picture]From: halfmoon_mollie
2008-12-13 01:38 pm (UTC)
Happy Santa Lucia Day.

I so admire you for sticking to your therapy and somehow managing not to whine - when you, maybe, of a lot of folks I know, have every RIGHT to whine.

Happy Santa Lucia Day.

Vertigo, be GONE.

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[User Picture]From: mrissa
2008-12-13 02:28 pm (UTC)
Thanks. I don't really see how whining would help, so mostly I try not.
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[User Picture]From: buymeaclue
2008-12-13 01:44 pm (UTC)
The year can turn.

And may it be a better one.
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[User Picture]From: mrissa
2008-12-13 02:29 pm (UTC)
And for you.
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From: ellameena
2008-12-13 01:58 pm (UTC)
LOL. Well at least I didn't say "kick the dog!" Feel free to translate that sentiment from Eastern European to Scandisotan. :-) And at our house you know that spilling the hot melted butter would be observed not with a sucking of air into the nose, but a loud and fullsome string of curses, a little blaspheming, and possibly yelling at the dog or the cat, if he ventured to get in my way during the cleaning up, which he would, because melted butter is worth it.

My husband's cultural background (Ssouthern) is a bit more like yours, and it's taken him a long time to get used to the idea that sometimes people express themselves with *emphasis* and it doesn't mean that they're necessarily even angry.
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[User Picture]From: mrissa
2008-12-13 02:30 pm (UTC)
Uff da, the Southerner thinks you're expressive? That's pretty expressive! On the other hand, we have some Southern men friends who have moved up here and feel pretty comfortable, so maybe it has cultural pockets like that.
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[User Picture]From: lotusice
2008-12-13 02:06 pm (UTC)
Ah, and bawled all the way through it.

In good ways.

Adore.

And have a lengthy email sitting in draft that will either go half-thought or I'll actually finish it this weekend and send, but am still thinking of you.
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[User Picture]From: mrissa
2008-12-13 02:32 pm (UTC)
You too, lady.
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[User Picture]From: ozarque
2008-12-13 02:18 pm (UTC)
You are a role model for all of us; I hope you know that. Happy Santa Lucia Day!
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[User Picture]From: mrissa
2008-12-13 02:39 pm (UTC)
When I was 17, I had all sorts of people telling me I was a role model "for young girls" because I was doing a physics major. And I kept thinking, "Lady/Mister, I am just doing my differential equations homework and trying to get my lab writeup done in time!" So I had to learn that being a role model is in those tiny steps, that a Supreme Court justice could sit there thinking, "Lady/Mister, I am just trying to get this brief written on time and not forget any of the important footnotes!"

So thank you.
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[User Picture]From: mrissa
2008-12-13 02:42 pm (UTC)
Thanks, dear. Soon we will be in the good part of the winter, where it's still really cold and snowy but is more light all the time.
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[User Picture]From: tanac
2008-12-13 02:26 pm (UTC)
Happy Santa Lucia day!

and oh yes, my mother's side never yells, not ever. My dad is more the blustery type and wanders around yelling and whatnot whenever he's frustrated and forgets it ten minutes later; I've always been a wreck whenever he does that.
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[User Picture]From: mrissa
2008-12-13 02:43 pm (UTC)
I had a boss like that one summer, and he terrified me, because it was so far outside my experience that anybody would behave like that, I had no idea what he would do next. The answer was generally nothing, but I had no experience of men yelling. There was mild exasperated voice from my dad and my grandpa, and that was all. (And the "men" part mattered because the boss in question was a big man, 6'3" or so and broad-shouldered, so he was very physically intimidating when he stormed around and yelled.)

Edited at 2008-12-13 02:45 pm (UTC)
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[User Picture]From: redbird
2008-12-13 02:36 pm (UTC)
Happy Lucia Day!

I don't yell at the cat with transferred anger or frustration; I do sometimes yell in startlement or, less often, the vain hope that it will deter annoying behavior.
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[User Picture]From: mrissa
2008-12-13 02:45 pm (UTC)
We sternly say, "Ista! That is not what we do."

She's grown up with us. She knows that one.
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[User Picture]From: greykev
2008-12-13 03:16 pm (UTC)
Happy St Lucy day dear, may the season bring you joy and surprises.
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[User Picture]From: mrissa
2008-12-13 03:59 pm (UTC)
And you, brother mine.
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[User Picture]From: laurel
2008-12-13 03:48 pm (UTC)
Happy Santa Lucia Day to you as well.

Kevin can't stand movies or TV shows where there's intense conflict between characters that results in yelling or even sometimes just raised voices. He cringes and will leave the room. (He's the same way about embarrassment "humor".)

My family doesn't yell either, except my Mom sometimes did and later on I realized it was when her medication (for depression) wasn't working all that well or at all or she was otherwise having a rough time with it. And I've noticed that for me, the times I raise my voice or come the closest to yelling are also related to meds or mental illness or it sure seems like it. 'Cause it's not *me* to do so, if that makes sense. Can't help but wonder if you could start diagnosing lifelong Minnesotans with stuff just based on if they're yellers! Heh. Perhaps not.

But now that I think of it, the times she did yell seemed so crazy or alien and it was just so uncomfortable and weird. Because who does that, except in the movies? We didn't take it very seriously, I suppose, perhaps because of that. My Dad got his points across clearly much easier than she did, without ever raising his voice.
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[User Picture]From: mrissa
2008-12-13 03:59 pm (UTC)
I do not enjoy embarrassment "humor," either. Especially when it seems like someone could Do Something and they are Not Doing It, yarrrrg.
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[User Picture]From: wild_irises
2008-12-13 03:55 pm (UTC)
Here's hoping that by the time you make this post for 2009 stemmy blueberries are the only problem you encounter.
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[User Picture]From: mrissa
2008-12-13 04:00 pm (UTC)
Thanks! Best of '09 to you, too.
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[User Picture]From: athenais
2008-12-13 04:03 pm (UTC)
Natten går tunga fjät, runt gård och stuga.
Kring jord som sol'n förlät, skuggorna ruva.
Då i vårt mörka hus, stiga med tända ljus,
Sankta Lucia, Sankta Lucia.

I love to read about you making the lussekatter each year. This year's entry is very fine indeed.
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[User Picture]From: mrissa
2008-12-13 04:24 pm (UTC)
Thank you!
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[User Picture]From: reveritas
2008-12-13 05:16 pm (UTC)
*is celebrating Santa Lucia Day for the first time with wild abandon*

happy happy! i'm sorry about the butterdammerung.
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[User Picture]From: mrissa
2008-12-14 03:54 am (UTC)
Wild abandon, really? Okay, I think we can deal with that.
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