Friday, March 6, 2009

Show and tell

Bright Beauty from the Garden
My son and I worked again with the gardener at the church, and this time my son planted 576 seeds in flats, all winter vegetables, like cauliflower, broccoli, chard, cabbage and kale.

For our efforts, we brought home Swiss chard, to try for the first time. It was delicious! I am a big fan of greens, lately--a big fan of anything fresh from the garden, actually.

Speaking of which, we ate a carrot that had only been out of the ground a few moments. It was better than chocolate, and I never thought I would say that about a carrot.

Anyway, this Swiss chard was "Fiesta" variety and here's why:
A Blanket the Color of his Eyes
And while I am sharing, here is a pic of the lambswool afghan I crocheted for my other son, who will graduate from high school this year. This project took about 2 weeks, while the last one took months. Not sure why...
Pretty Flowers Anyway
My internet access has been spotty and unpredictable all month, so I also never got a chance to show you the roses I received for Valentine's Day. They aren't as meaningful as you might think, but that's not their fault. They were lovely.
Stories Between the Lines
And finally, my Swedish friend has found out a bunch of interesting genealogical information about my family by reading old church records from the mid 1800s. The records look like this, but my friend can decipher them:
Augusta's Story
So here is a little story about this woman, Augusta. She was my great grandmother:
Augusta was born in a tiny hamlet in southern Sweden to a farming couple. She had an older brother Bengt and a younger brother Algot.

Bengt was adventurous and went away to America in 1882 when he was 24, because the American government was promising land to immigrants.

When he got there perhaps he wrote letters home saying it was good, because five years later in 1887, Augusta, 25, and her little brother Algot, 23, packed their bags and sailed for America.

They all three settled in Kane, Pennsylvania. Augusta never learned to speak English; I don't how she made her living.

Soon she married Johan, a young man who was also a Swedish immigrant from the same area her family lived in. Perhaps they already knew each other.

Johan was the son of a farmhand and he had come to America seeking land of his own. He came first to Illinois, but wound up in Pennsylvania where he married Augusta. They had a bunch of sons, including my grandfather, and lived happily ever after.

Bengt's Story
Augusta's brother Bengt, however, had a more eventful story. He married, and he and his wife had two sons. But soon Bengt's wife became mentally ill and had to be committed to an asylum.

Perhaps Bengt was overwhelmed caring for his two young boys alone, grieving about his wife. Perhaps his mother offered to help. In 1900, Bengt decided to return to Sweden with his ailing wife and his two sons who were 12 and 7. The family moved back to the farm with Bengt's aging parents.

Bengst's wife never went back into an asylum, but after her sons were grown she ran away from Sweden and returned to America in 1915. This secret act was recorded by priests in The Book of Nonexistence.

Bengt eventually remarried, took over the farm after his parents' deaths, and then died in 1926.

This story is written between these spidery lines on yellowed paper. There are giant stacks of these papers. Imagine the stories.

My story would be so incomplete if you tried to piece it together from official records.


Kym said...

A)it is amazing what we can learn from official records and newspaper accounts of our ancestors' lives

B)What people could tell about us from records would just brush the surface so

C)their story must be so incomplete. Ergo, what amazing lives everyone leads! Every one has tales that if told by a great novelist would keep us rivited!

Kristen said...

I once heard an interview with Toni Morrison, who was being criticized about how she shows too much triumph and glory inside every one of her characters ... and thus, not enough representation of people's "ordinariness." Well, she boldly declared the best lesson I have ever learned in my entire life this far: "The 'ordinary' person *is* EXTRAORDINARY!"

BTW, Indie, the Afghan looks decadent and beautiful!

Lots of Love,

Ernie Branscomb said...

I get great joy out of little tid-bits of history about my family, good and bad,. It gives you some sense of who you are, or should be. Kym e-mails me with stuff that she digs up about my family, sometimes I knew about the info and sometimes I didn't, but I always find it to be fun.

steviewren said...

I find people's stories very interesting. Wouldn't it be fun to be able to interview your ancestors for an hour? The questions I would ask!

Your blue afghan turned out lovely. The pattern is really pretty.

Indie said...

Thanks, Steviewren! I didn't buy enough yarn, so I ran out. Of course the tiny yarn shop had no more and a two week wait for orders. S

o I made a border and fringe in grey. I think it looks good. I hope so. I'll have to post a pic and see what everyone thinks.

I won't make that mistake again, not getting enough yarn.

Ernie, Kristen, and Kym, my Swedish friend is my superhero. You wouldn't believe the things he's found out and told me. He found all the names of relatives all the way back through the late 1600s.

Details are sketchy, but one of my ancestors, a father of 10, was destitute and flat broke at 60 and was arrested for drunkenness.

Many of them lived into their 90s even in those days!

Kato said...

First of all, I love hearing your gardening adventures with your son. I'm so happy to hear about a young man spending time, not only in such a healthy endeavor, but with HIS MOM! And it's such a gift to give that labor to the earth and the community. I'm jealous, though, of your early start on winter crops... what a rainbow of chard. I think I prefer that array to your valentine bouquet!

The stories of your ancestors are gems to pass on to your children, don't lose them! How much richer our appreciation of our grandparents when we hear about their lives as young parents, and as children... How many fascinating experiences have been lost through the ages, or written "between the spidery lines"?