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Ehmke Diaries

December 21

Ice and snow and very cold!!! We did not attempt the drive to church in Scott City as the roads are slick plus there are TV warnings not to venture out. But by late afternoon the roads were better. We spent the day wrapping presents, still planning some year-end income and expenses. Enjoyed the family fire at the fireplace.

In the evening we went ahead and drove to the church Christmas program as Marit has a speaking role plus the chorus parts. It wasn't too bad on the roads over but very slick on the way back. Anyway the program went well with a birthday party for Jesus following the program.

December 22

No school as the wind and snow blew all night. Worked on Christmas preparations. Marit and Louise made our annual Kristina's Kringler--an old family pastry recipe that the family loves to eat. We made it because tomorrow when all are here we will celebrate Santa Lucia--Marit and Louise will get up early and bring coffee and kringler to Vance and the brothers. We celebrate the coming of the light. This was supposed to be on December 13.

Marit and Louise had quite a drive in the country today. We made our annual trip to a small dairy farm in the next county to get raw whole milk. The milk is for a special Swedish pudding that has been made in Louise's family for generations. It is called ostkaka or "cheese cake". It is made by separating the curds from the whey. Then cooking the curds with cream and flavorings--like a pudding. It is a family favorite.

But getting it was another story. We had snow melt today which turned the country dirt/sand roads to pure mud. The road got worse the closer we got which is about 30 miles from our house. We nearly went into the ditch 4 times. Drove sideways a lot!!!. Then when we got there they weren't home even though we'd called. What a mess. We ended up driving 20 miles into the next county to avoid going back the way we came. So no Swedish ostkaka for the Jul or Christmas. Maybe we can get it next week. Vance gave the boys and Marit an early gift--his home-welded horseshoe/undercutter blade bookends and gunracks. He's handy in the shop. Most farms have to have a good shop to work on the basics of keeping up the equipment. A welder is a must for those pieces of metal that always break when you are busy in the field. A lot of farmers do their equipment repair and preventative maintenance over the winter.

December 23

We made cookies and preparations for our family Christmas Eve dinner. Louise cooked and baked while Vance and boys and Marit did lots of wrapping of gifts. It's too cold and nasty to ride mules yet. The kids did open one very large gift each. Snowshoes for each and just in time. Marit was the first to try them in the new snow. She did well even though they are as long as she is tall!!

December 24

It's great to get the mail and now we have e-mail!!! We did get a new computer and signed on to the Internet. What an experience.

Christmas Eve dinner was pork roast, rice, Louise's homemade bread (cardamom braid), glazed onions, trifle for dessert instead of ostkaka. All enjoyed. We usually go to church but when we got to the highway at Amy, the road was just too slick so we drove back home.

We started a fire. Marit read us the Christmas story and played 2 carols on the piano. Then we opened our gifts. It was fun and not too many surprises--socks, shirts, camera, sweaters, slippers, a giga pet for Marit, rollerblades for Louise, vest for Vance. It was a lovely evening.

December 25

Up early as Santa visited. Marit got a dollhouse!!!! And the biggest surprise was a call from Phillip in China wishing us a Merry Christmas. He was the guide who visited in October. Then we got e-mail from an old friend from Africa who lived with Louise's family as a student in California. What a day. It was great to visit by e-mail.

After breakfast we packed up for the trip to Lindsborg to the grandparents for Jul dinner. It is a challenge to ride for 3 hours with 6 people in the car!!! We left enough feed for the mules with some bales that a man brought by recently. It is baled feed or sedan grass, which looks like a skinny tall corn plant at maturity. The water at the windmill tank is full and thawed enough for the mules and dogs.

Enjoyed the family dinner and open house at the home of the Elmquists.

December 26

Annandag Jul day--the other Jul day which means the day for a Christmas/Jul church done all in the Swedish language. Louise's dad, Rev. Perry Carlson, did the liturgy. It was beautiful.

Then we did some post Jul sale shopping for tomtegubbens. Louise collects them as well as Santa Lucia dolls. It was fun to be in the Little Swedish village of Lindsborg.

We left for home about 4 p.m. arriving about 7 p.m. All was well. We had a great day in Lindsborg especially for Louise when some old friends sang Happy Birthday to her even though her birthday is not until tomorrow. One of the singers was Becky Copely who sings for the NY Metropolitan Opera.

December 27

Louise's birthday!! But still had washing and cooking to do. We all attended a beautiful wedding in Dighton. The wedding dance was fun for Marit who enjoyed the grand march.