Sunday, December 30, 2012

The Transformation of a Tradition....

Traditions change, we all know that. As a culture, we do things, celebrate things and don't remember the reason why. Such things happen in families as well.
I'm Danish, or a Dane, which ever is correct, well 25%, I'm also about 25% Irish, can you imagine the conflict inside me.
My oldest daughter is named after my great grandmother, Christine who came over from Denmark when she was twelve, with her parents and grandmother. So, I am the sixth generation and my daughters are the seventh, of women making "Sistacog" bread for Christmas and when together, being bossed around by their mother, grandmother and aunts- the main Danish tradition in my family.
Problem is this Christmas, I stopped and questioned what "Sistacog" was and well Googled it! I found it is not a known word,  no mention of any variation of  it on any site, both English and Danish!
Other people have their ancestral traditions at Christmas, some delicious, some down right stinky and gross like lutefisk. Where did our family tradition of  "sistacog" -a buttery, heavy on the eggs and milk, cinnamon raisin bread come from?
In comes Facebook- I hate facebook so hate giving it credit, but I am an honest person. Jon mentioned a post from an old friend describing the delicious bread he got as a gift from a neighbor, a delicious Christmas bread, calling it "Julecage".
I google "Julecage" and the recipe and pictures of the bread are the same as our "Sistacog". Eggs, butters, milk, sugar, spices and dried fruit.
We Google how to pronounce "Julecage" in Danish. The "cage" in English sounds more like "cog" with a little "cow" in there too in Danish. That sounds like how my grandmother would say it.
We discover that  "Cage" means "cake" in Danish.
We call my mom, my grandmother and great aunts gone now. She digs through old handwritten recipes and an old Danish cookbook, she verifies that yes, "cage" means cake. She doesn't have much faith in "Google".
But no explanation on "sista"?
So we figure out what "jule: means- back to Google.
"Jule" means Christmas. "Julecage" means Christmas Bread. My mom remembers that my great grandmother would make it all year, but at Christmas she would make it in a wreath shape, put more dried fruit in it and sprinkle it with colored sugar.
Sure enough back to Google- there are pictures of exactly that. I even found a Danish cooking blog and the recipe is the same, except she doesn't put dried fruit in it and uses cardamom instead of cinnamon.
This has been a fun family effort the day before Christmas, but I realize I should be getting to the actual making of the "Sistacog" instead of researching it- then it comes to me- "Christmas Bread", "Sistacog"............"Christa.....Cake"......"Cristacage!"
I think once in America, the word "julecage" morphed  literally into half English "Christa" and half Dansih "cage" and somewhere through the generations we dropped the "r" and forgot what it meant!
The day after Christmas, when I took the girls over to Durango and were in one of their bakeries, our "hunch"- though my mother still is not completely sold, since Google is our main proof- was more confirmed by this basket of "Christmas Breads for sell!

We are now trying to get "Sistacage" more to sound like "Christacage" though I think we will have look towards the younger generations for that. And in a way, for my love of my mom and grandmother, who I can just hear "poo pooing" such nonsense, it might need to stay "Sistacog"

Drums in the Night...

I've actually been doing a lot for the holiday season, just have not had time to blog about it! First of the month, before the snow, we drove up to Mesa Verde National Park  for the local appreciation Christmas celebration. The park service lines the roads and paths around the museum and Spruce Tree Ruin with luminarios, little brown paper bags filled with sand and a glowing candles.

The weather was very warm  and we hadn't had any  snow to speak off, so the walking was enjoyable down the trail and ever so often we would bump into someone we knew and stop to have a chat, the whole time being serenaded by Native American Drummers down below in the ruin, they were literally sitting in darkness, singing and drumming, so have a listen....

 and here are my pictures of Spruce Tree aglow....

 and here is a snowy-er trek down to the ruin a couple of years ago...

Monday, November 26, 2012

Had a Real Nice Thanksgiving...

Thursday we had a real nice, lazy Thanksgiving, didn't eat turkey until like 5 o'clock. But had an olive, cheese and sausage feast about noon...

courtesy of Whole Foods, which we hit in Colorado Springs last weekend, when Jon was up there to speak at the Colorado County Attorney's conference. Since we don't have the glorious grocery store anywhere near us, when we do get to one, we sort of go crazy...
We got our free range turkey there, and some wonderful chicken to stick in the icebox, and a whole lot of bread, regular sour dough, rosemary sourdough, pretzel bread- if you were wondering. Cheese- Gouda and another stinky cheese.
 I slowly and purposefully browsed the aisles as Jon just kept bringing back olives and cheese- said the lady "manning" the free cheese samples" got testy.
I don't like whole olives, but when in LA for the publishing conference, we live at the hotel bar, and they have an olive spread to die for- found it! at Whole Foods- so good with those olive oil crackers or with Peta bread triangles.
Been loving my "peace sign" to go cup, many of our old ones have "just disappeared" in a house of teenagers. Daughter #1 was spying it, but it is still here and she headed back to college yesterday.
Daughter #2 wanted to try to make fried calamari- no place to get that here- so bought some squid frozen and experimented Wednesday night, while Daughter #1 and I tried to figure out popstickers like the kind at Panda Express- something else that is always a must on a trip since not here in the Four Corners.
It was wonderful, having the girls in the kitchen and Jon helping, even if he did let the "white beast" eat the tops off my homemade rolls.

My pecan and apple pies turned out wonderfully and the dogs didn't get them!!
"The Boyfriend" was around and made it feel more festive, as was Grandpa, though he just came in mostly to eat and then headed back out to his horses and cats. I take that back- a rousing card game of Michigan Rummy was played by all- I don't think I ever got out of the negative numbers!

I love the big Thanksgivings too, where the women are all in the kitchen and many know what and how to get down all the cooking- we need to get over the mountain to be with my mom next year, though she and I were on speaker phone several times chatting, both in our kitchen's cooking.

Friday was lazy where Daughter #1 went to "the Boyfriend's" house for a second feast and then Saturday we were back together and headed up to Telluride, where because of the mild weather, the kids snowboarded and Jon biked the valley floor in shorts- no joke! I spent the day sketching, the above scene of Telluride's Courthouse and the rugged box canyon beyond it. Sat in our truck on the street with the windows rolled down.

When the kids were done we met up at the Steaming Bean...
Where people were debating between something "hot" or something "cold".
Then it was time to head back home...
Now it is Monday and the challenge is to get ready for Christmas and keep the "bliss" - if I stay out of Walmart, I might be able to! 

Thursday, November 22, 2012

Was Having a Good Thanksgiving until...

Hubby was cleaning the kitchen and left for a minute, to have the "hovering" dog sneak in and eat the tops off half the homemade rolls I had spent all day making. Same dog, same scenerio a few years ago, except it was the pecan pie his mother- in- law had spent the day making. Beginning to think this new modern idea of the shared work load at the holiday, really is Not worth it!
How's your Thanksgiving going? Any stories?

Saturday, November 10, 2012

IF: Tree

This is an old, old illustration, so old, I know I did it for some sort of a e-magazine for kiddos, but can't remember. Just know it had something to do with the little girl observing and drawing things in her sketch book.
Speaking of trees, here are the trees across the road from our house, after the fire and our first snow...


Somehow they even seem sadder in the stark snow. 300-400 year old junipers and pinons, now burned to charred toothpicks.
The rancher across the  road from us, brought his cows home from the mountains and they are wandering his pasture, trying to stay on the grass area and avoid the swirls of chard ground where the wind pushed the fire across the pasture.

Wednesday, November 07, 2012

Moving Forward (again)...


I actually did this illustration in 2008, which still for me was such a pivotal time in our nation's history- electing our first African American President, which apparently according to last night results, we still have enough faith in to give him another four years to steer this country in the right direction, or voted for him out of sheer fear of the other alternative!
For me it was a little of both....Romney terrifies me for so many reason that thank goodness are now "mute points", starting of course with his opinions of the Arts and education, which some might argue are not important issues, for those read this.
Watching the coverage, last night, the commentators kept saying that this "could" be an election, where Obama losses amongst whites but still wins.
Think about that- and how for the last 200 years that has not been the case- put another way, up until recently, whites have decided the Presidential election of the United States, no wonder Minorities questioned if it was worth it to get involved.
But that has all changed hasn't it?
We held an election at my school, yesterday, where less then a third of the children are White, most Native American and Hispanic. In the older class, the vote count Obama 19, Romney 3.
Apparently, I, now am also a "mighty demographic", an educated white female! Didn't know that was a new thing, but guess there are enough of us now, the powers that be are paying more attention.
What was the most "telling" for me last night was the stark difference in the supporters at each candidates headquarters...
Romney's ?
White, older, conservatively dressed
Obama's ?
Every age, sex, race and fashion sense
Well, I won't lie, I feel a sense of relief this morning, but I do have concerns for the next four years, I am an Independent, for the fact I can not completely a line myself with a party that supports abortion and gay marriages, but these issues have never been at the fore front of Obama's platform, let's hope that stays the course and I hang my head low as a Coloradan where now marijuana is legal.
Now that I have thrown in my analyse of the election, let me just say, I have never thought change comes from  the Top, in policies and the people who head to Washington. I think change happens when each one of us get up in the morning and do "the right thing" on a daily bases, but teachers need to make a living when they are teaching our kids, and soldiers need to be able to get the care they need when they come home, and widows shouldn't be denied health insurance and we are responsible for how we leave this world's environment, for those things I am very glad for who will be sitting in the Oval Office for the next four years!

Saturday, October 27, 2012

For the Fire Fighters....

These are for the firefighters that saved our house this week....


I had three dogs and many of our treasured possessions in that green car where beyond is a local volunteer fire crew. Forest Service, Bureau of Land Management and many of our neighboring volunteer teams and equipment were on the scene to save the homes up on our mesa, including ours.

Jon wasn't home and it was up to me and a neighbor to get what we could out of the house and the dogs, one who bit me because he didn't  understand, to safety while  a cyclone of fire and smoke hurled upwards when the juniper and pinons caught fire right across the road from the house.  

While I was trying to get out of our driveway, a skidster, a huge earth moving machine was trying to get in and cut a fire line to save our house.

The whole mesa top was evacuated and we spent the night in a hotel...early the next morning, we went to the ridge and with binoculars could see our little red roof and a island of green around it.
It wasn't until that evening that we were allowed to return home.

Today, we were able to walk around our property...
It's hard to tell, but these are up rooted juniper trees that can live to be over a 1000 years old here in the southwest, these were babies, maybe 150-200 years old. On top of this one is a yucca, upside down now.
The skidster cut a wide path across our forest, to stop the fire from heading towards our house and our neigbors barn...
munching an old porcelain and steel bathtub we had buried to serve as a water trough for wildlife....
The fire did manage to burn some of our back acreage, but fire crews with shovels and chainsaws were able to keep it under control on our side of the road...

And it looked much much better then across the road down in the canyon...
Past our house is the mouth of the canyon where  the fire whipped into our neighbor's hay fields, before being done....
Tonight we are going to make homemade calzones and watch movie and thank God...
 and our firefighters for the blessing of our home!

Sunday, October 21, 2012

IF: Sky

IT IS FINISHED!! Sorry for the loud capitalization, but this piece is finally done and since it can fit into the Illustration Friday theme of "sky", I present it to the world and there are a lot of butterflies in that there sky!!

If you know me at all, you know I hate when the first thing someone asks about my work is how long it took to make. I want people to be greatly moved by the image, be in awe of it's message, not how long it took to stitch, saying that........

I named the piece "Migration in Moab" but I seriously considered titling it "@#$#$@#$ butterflies" insert your most severe cuss word. I was stitching butterflies for over one year, yup, you read right, over one year of small, medium or large butterflies. I refused to count the numbers of butterflies, but Daughter #2 did and she stopped counting at like 168 with still more to go. The piece is like 23 inches by 32 inches, to get a feel for how big that is, here it is laid out with the pattern on my drafting table..
Don't ask me why I decided to make such a huge collage, I can't remember anymore. I think I was looking towards gallery work and wanted to see if I could make something that could own the wall when someone walked into a gallery. It owns the wall, I'm not sure where I am going to put it, I have already entered it in a juried show and shown it to a magazine art director, was thinking of sending it to a few festivals that happen in Moab, Utah as possible festival posters, but don't think I have the heart to try and sell it the actual piece.
Not just that there is a lot of time in it, but more because the model is Daughter #1 ( chronological age, not  in importance). I finished the piece just after she went off to college....
The butterflies were actually an after thought. I had the whole thing done by fall of last year, but thought it needed something. Then we went to a lecture at our cultural center on the migration of monarch butterflies and found out that the Four Corners was in their migration path and the two ideas merged together. Put some butterflies on it, not quite right yet, put some more on, set it aside and then realized it needed a whole another arch per say of butterflies, so started overlapping butterflies on top of butterflies....

So now it is done and on it's way to the framers, I think. The two butterflies on the black are actually 3D butterflies, like they have escaped the picture and when it comes back from the framer, I am going to attach a butterfly to the outside of the frame, if I can bring myself to stitch one more ##@$@#$ butterfly!!

Wednesday, October 17, 2012

First Sighting Today...

Something creeped up on me worse than the mountain lion that had dinner in my back field...
It snuck up on me totally by surprise, while the leaves are still falling from the tree and Halloween is still two weeks away but this time I managed to get some pictures to prove it! The first CHRISTMAS COMMERICAL!!!...
Shame on you....Target!