The Bulletin
Sunday, December 14, 2003
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Updates -

by Kjirsten and her mom (Mitzi Swenson)

I went to convention in the rain forest today. It involved taking a bus that was to leave at 4 a.m. but the driver apparently doesn't have an alarm clock, so we actually left closer to 5. The convention grounds are really small, like smaller than our yard, but around 80 of us comfortably fit into a wood hut and listened to seven workers from Bolivia, Paraguay, Brazil, and the States speak.

The surrounding area is beautiful, stereotypical rainforest environment with lots of palms, banana trees, and flowers. Lunch was mostly rice and potatoes mixed with just enough meat and veggies to make you wish for more.

I rode back to Cochabamba with 18 others in a 13-passenger van reminiscent of the sweat lodge of a few nights ago.. hot, humid, crowded, and um, sweaty. But nasty bus ride aside, it was a lovely experience and I hope to be back next year.

Note from Mitzi:
We're leaving tomorrow to fly to southern Chile to meet Kjirsten for about 10 days of backpacking in Chile and Argentina.

by Ben Johnson

Well I am finally getting a chance to check my e-mail for the first time since Thanksgiving. I now realize that this is a bad time of year to neglect my inbox, because it was full of messages back and forth about Christmas gifts and holiday plans. Your surprise visit was a wonderful idea and even though I missed the family gathering and all the cooking (which I am sure was wonderful), I was very glad you were able to make the journey to the Ashby area.

I have been busy lately getting ready for the wedding I was in last weekend and the one I am in on the 20th. Oh yeah, and my job which is still going quite well. I seem to be learning more every day, but soon it will come to an end. I registered for my spring semester classes, which sound like fun, and I am now starting to get ready for the big move back to the cities, which I will be doing around the tenth of January.

Today I had a different experience; I had to ride in a cop car. Well actually I had to ride in two of them. I can already imagine what is going through the heads of people reading this: "what in the world did he do?" Well actually they made me drive two cop cars. They needed servicing, so I got to drive them from the station to the shop and back again. Kind of scary I'd say.

Well it is getting late, so I better be going, but it was very good to see you and grandpa again and I will try my hardest to get the Saturday off for the Xmas get together so I can catch up with the rest of the family.


by Kristi Indermark

It has been so long since the last time I wrote an update, so much has happened. To confirm earlier rumors, yes, Shari (Mom) is getting married. The wedding will be the end of March. We are still working on details. For those who don't know, her fiance is Ray Schweiger. He is originally from Chicago. Any other details Mom will have to let you know. We all like him very much and are excited for the wedding. I will try to get a picture of the two love birds and send with the next update.

My dad (George Larson) is down visiting us in Florida for the next two weeks. He is loving all the time with the grandkids. Nathan 2, Devan 1, and Jordan 4 months. Last night we had a birthday party for Kelly's husband, Mike. The boys had a lot of fun playing with the gifts Great Grandpa Miller brought (a big ball and a dump truck).

Tomorrow morning we (Dad, Jordan, and myself) are taking Great Grandpa to a nice, big breakfast. I will be playing hooky from work ... don't tell on me. :) Then, later in the day, we are meeting up with Kelly and her two boys and head to the museum. We are going to see the manatees. Snooty is a 50 year old manatee, longest living manatee in captivity.

Jim and I finally got the pool heater installed and running. Our pool should be warm in the next couple of days. We can't wait to use the pool. Jordan is doing great. She grows so fast. She can now hold her own toys. We are anxiously awaiting the night she will sleep all the way through.

My best friend, Jenny, came down and painted our nursery for us. She drew Disney characters on the walls. She did an amazing job. We just picked up our Christmas pictures tonight; now I can start the fun job of Christmas cards.

by Donna Richards

Just dropping you a note that I've found a new job!!! I'm very excited as I was pretty fed-up with the management at my current position. I work as a Customer Service Rep (CSR) for an insurance agency in Bloomington. Their office is about four miles from my home and I've worked there for about five years.

At my new job, with R. J. Ahmann Agency, I'll still be a CSR, but the office is less than 1.5 miles from my house. The "benefits" (health insurance, profit sharing, etc.) are just as good or better than at my current job. Plus I get a pay raise -- can't beat that. I'll start on December 22nd, just before Christmas.

I'm really looking forward to a new opportunity. Even if it's the same type of work, at least there will be new faces and challenges. When I decided to go job hunting, this was the 1st place I interviewed. Turns out that it was the only place I interviewed. I feel very fortunate to have found this position fairly quickly.

Thanks for your interest.

The Family Cookbook
Culinary Heirlooms
donna's chili
by Doug Anderson

       Hello again, this week's recipe is a request, so my sense of self-worth is soaring! I am ACTUALLY providing a service for our family, not just taking up space; go figure.
This week's recipe comes from the great sprawling plains of Ashby, where men are men and chili is in great demand. Actually, everyone thinks they make great chili, (like everyone thinks their jokes are funny) but my sister actually does! In case you think I might be biased, see for yourself!

Donna Mae's Four-star Chili Con Carne

2-3 lbs. of ground beef, depending on how meaty you like it.

1 bag of frozen Bird's Eye pepper stir fry (red, green peppers and onions). I cut them smaller, after they are partially defrosted. Of course, fresh work well too ... this is just a short cut method and easier for a country gal to keep on hand -- or hit the farmers' market in the fall and freeze your own.

3 stalks of celery, "steamed" with a little water in the microwave for 2-3 minutes.

2-3 Tbsp. of chili powder

1 Tbsp. Lawry's seasoning salt

1 Tbsp. pepper

1 heaping Tbsp. garlic (I used the jar kind.)

2 cans tomato soup

1 can diced tomatoes. (I choose a seasoned form ... like basil added, or whatever you like.) Here again, fresh is even better.

2 cans kidney beans

1 can mild chili beans

Partially fry the hamburger; drain grease, add seasonings and garlic. Finish browning the meat. Add remaining ingredients. Simmer. As with most chili, will probably be better the next day.

Top with sour cream and cheese, if so desired.

       And there you have it, I hope you were paying attention, Dad! Thanks Donna, for such a stellar variation on a standard form! Thanks also to Dad for requesting it. Speaking of which, if you have seen something in this column that piqued your interest but didn't have time to write it down, I DO take requests, so just let me know. See you next week, until then, happy chefing!

The Matriarch Speaks W
by Dorothy (Dake) Anderson
Springfield MO

Rescue, 1940!

What a strange winter day! It had started out so nice and warm, and then in the middle of the morning, reports had come to the superintendent of our school that a bad winter storm was moving in. He made the wise decision to send us all home. I remember the excitement of getting a day off! The hurry and scurry of early dismissal.

We were the first off on our route, so it wasn't many minutes until the three of us were unloading and scrambling for the house in the already stinging cold that pelted us with snow. We rushed into the warmth of the large dining room that was steamy from the boiler of water where Mom was boiling the whites... We dodged under the clothes she had hanging to dry on ropes that Dad had stretched for her. She was in the middle of the weekly wash.

We went and changed into our everyday clothes then came rushing back from our icy bedroom. We heard the dogs barking their welcoming chorus and we guessed it must be Billy coming home. Sure enough, Fritz had sent him home. They had been listening to reports on the radio in the implement shop where he worked and decided they better close and everybody go home; they didn't want to stay overnight in the shop!

Billy said the roads were already drifting shut in the cut. (We had two places where there were high banks on both sides of the road. They were called cuts and when they filled with snow were often impassable.) Dad and he decided they had better go out and take care of watering and feeding the stock. LeRoy dressed up in his warmest and went along to help.

Gert and I got out the old catalogues, and some scissors and cleared an area off on the big table and started choosing from the "Wish Book." First she picked a Mom; then I picked one. We carefully cut them out and then chose a Dad. After the family was all chosen, we began on the furniture for our various rooms. What fun to have a vacation -- and though we both liked school, it was great to have a break!

Mom was just wringing out the last batch of wash when we heard some scraping and banging and commotion at the side door. At first we thought it might be Dad and the boys, but no -- that was definitely a knock at the inner door. When Mom went to the door and opened it, a snow covered man stumbled in. The first thing I noticed was he had oxfords on and they were filled with snow around his ankles. He had no hat and only a light coat. He had his head ducked down into the collar, and could hardly speak through his chattering teeth.

LeRoy came running to the house and Mom sent him to tell Dad and Billy to come right away. In a few minutes they came into the entry where they swept each other off with the broom that was standing there for that purpose. They joined us to see what this was all about.

Mom had the young man in a chair by our oil heater. She had made him take off his shoes and rub his feet dry then she had given him a pair of Dad's socks that she had warmed on the top of the stove. Finally his chattering had stopped enough for him to tell his story to all of us. This is the story he told:

He was taking his girlfriend home after she had been visiting at his parents' home near Waverly. They started out for the drive home to Cokato, taking the short cut through the country. They had not thought of changing from the light summery clothes they had been wearing for the earlier part of the day, which had been so warm, but they had soon realized they were in trouble. The weather was no longer balmy. It had started to snow almost immediately as they started out and was getting fiercer by the minute! The snow was coming down so fast and the wind was getting so strong that fear began building up.

They had started down the road that went past our farm. They got through the first cut in the road safely. He said that he noticed our driveway as they went by. A half mile farther on, they came to the next cut. He hit the cut with all the force he could, but just couldn't make it through. The car was stuck. Now what to do?

He made the decision that probably saved their lives. He got out, cleared away the snow from behind the exhaust pipe. Then he climbed in and got warm again (light clothing, bare hands, oxford clad feet). He told his girlfriend that he was going to walk back to the place they had just passed; she was to stay with the car. She was to run it and then turn it off until she got too cold, and then run it again. He would go for help. Well, he had now found it!

My Dad and Billy were going to have to go on a rescue mission. I really don't think the young man could have found anyone wiser and more willing than those two. They soon had a bundle for each to carry. In one of the bundles was a fur coat of Mom's, and in the other were boots, wool scarf, and mittens. They both put back on their coats and boots and put on their caps with ear flaps down, and then Mom tied scarves around their faces. They pulled on gloves then we helped them pull on big leather mittens.

They each picked up a bundle and started out. I saw the door close behind them. We all watched out the front window and saw them head for the road, through swirling snow which soon covered all signs of their going. A shiver went up my back and a little prayer went up for their safety and for the safety of the girl stranded out there by herself!

We all stood clustered around the big window and peered out through the raging storm, watching for them. No one spoke and Mom helped us all by heating up some soup, just like she knew they would be safely back soon. It seemed an eternity before we sighted something coming through the swirling snow. Yes, there were three bulky objects, so they had certainly brought back the stranded girl with them.

They stumbled in and Mom grabbed the broom and got the worst of the snow off. They were soon around the stove, getting warmed up. After that, we all sat around our big table with bowls of soup and slices of homemade bread and listened to Dad and Billy take turns telling of their rescue mission.

They had struggled against the wind, and when they were almost blown off course, they had gotten down and continued on their way by creeping, until there was again provided a little shelter from the trees along the way. They had made their way, knowing only that they were headed the right direction, and finding their way by staying between the ditches. They had struggled that half mile, and then the clothes were unwrapped and donned by the stranded traveler.

They had lined up Dad, the girl, and then Billy, each holding on to the coat of the one ahead, and had made their way back. It was a little easier returning, as the wind was to their back. And now, here they were, safely around the table, and it was obvious we were going to be having unexpected company until this furious blizzard was over!

Dad assured us that this storm of November 11, 1940, was the worst blizzard he had ever seen! And others were of that opinion, too, as it is often called the Blizzard of the Century.

November 11, 1940 blizzard
Snow bank left by snowplow in the "cut"

After the snow plow opened the road, but the wind was still howling, we went drove along with Dad to see how it looked. The picture is old and discolored but does indicate the magnitude of the storm. LeRoy is at the top of the snow bank formed by the plow opening the cut. Gert, Dad, and I tried to bundle up, but I know I was COLD!

Click here or on the photo of Arbor and Gordo to see a slide show from the trip.
(Slide show opens in a new browser window.)

These photos are from a 300-mile trip I took with my sons Wiley and Arbor this summer. We walked from near our home to the Columbia River at the Washington border, following the scenic Pacific Crest Trail at the top of the Cascade Mountains. We made an odd sight, with our two adult pack goats and three 6-month-old baby packers-in-training. The adult goats wore a miniature pack saddle made of aluminum, with a piece of carpet on each side for padding. Two 4-gallon plastic buckets in webbing harnesses hung from the saddle's crossbuck, with our sleeping bags and foam pads on top. The buckets were handy in camp as water pails and chairs.

Goats are the ideal pack animal ... they follow better than dogs, are surefooted enough to cross any terrain a person can, eat just about anything (including other hikers' toilet paper – gross!), and can carry 40 pounds of gear and food. They loyally follow along the trail, and at camp they stay close by. No need to tie them up ... our main worry was keeping them out of our packs! This makes traveling with goats far easier than with horses ... when we want to take a break, we just plop down wherever we are, without fear the goats will run off.

Goats, though, have strong personalities. We soon found out that Gordo (the white goat) was incurably lazy. He evolved all sorts of tactics for stalling on the trail, such as shoving to the front of the line and stopping (which stopped all the other goats, too, so he couldn't be left behind), or darting off the trail and wedging himself under a low tree branch so that it took forever to get him unstuck. We prevailed in the end, though, after we made the discovery that Gordo is also incurably ticklish between his back legs ... all it took was a light touch in the right place, and he surged forward as if rocket-propelled. Although this technique remained 100% effective for the duration of our trip, I've decided that I'm never going anywhere with Gordo again!


Another fine edition! It was good to see Hetty back, in fine form, too, I might add. Whose wedding bells was she talking about?

If you don't know -- check Kristi's Update!

Things seem kind of scary in South America, and Kjirsten's parents are going there by choice! Pretty brave!

Elaine's quiz was very entertaining, I like little sideline items like that. All in all, a very well done and fun read.



Stories published online in "Kidwarmers"
The funniest things kids say.
Sent to us by Donna Johnson:


Zachary called and asked his Grammy if she would take him swimming. She replied that she had her hair done for Thanksgiving and she didn't want to get it wet. Zach replied, "When it's wrinkled again, can we go?" -- Sally Hershiser (Grammy) of Kent, Ohio


Being a mother can get stressful. Annette, mother of Lauren, 9, and Kaitlyn, 6, needed to take a few minutes break. She went into her room to regroup when she heard Kaitlyn's hand on the doorknob. Then she heard Lauren stop her and say, "No, leave Mom alone. She's trying to reboot!" -- Annette from Montana


Three-year-old Brianna was scared of Santa Claus. She would not sit on Santa's lap or even talk to him on the phone. Her Grandmother Barbara tried telling her how much fun Santa was and that he would bring her a present under the tree. Finally Brianna gave in a little, saying, "I will go see Santa if Cassie (an older cousin) comes with me. Santa has two knees so both of us could sit on his lap at the same time!" -- Barbara Roney (grandmother of Brianna) of Portland, Oregon


Yehuda's 13-year-old daughter was asked to get the salami from the refrigerator. She said, "OK, I'll get the cold cats." When Yehuda's wife explained that it's "cold cuts," she responded, "Since franks are hot dogs, I thought salami would be cold cats!" -- Yehuda Yoel Zimmerman of Ashdod, Israel


Leah's daughter Sarah asked Leah how old her grandmother was. Leah said, "39" because that's how old Grandma has been for as long as Leah can remember. Sarah's eyes got big and she said, "Wow! She's younger than my dad!" -- Leah Clark of Tampa, Florida

QUOTATION FOR THE DAY: A truly happy person is one who can enjoy the scenery on a detour!

EDITOR'S POLICY: If you wish to subscribe to The Bulletin, simply send me a statement of that fact. If you wish to keep receiving it I hope you will contribute to one of the columns that are running in this family epistle (at least occasionally!). My e-mail address is

This Bulletin is copyright Dorothy M. Anderson; the contents are also copyrighted by the authors and photographers and used with their permission, and the contents are not to be used for any commercial purposes without the explicit consent of the creators.