Get Involved and Wipe Away that Generational Gap


(My grandson, Andy, has a Korean mother who is musical. He also inherited his Danish great grandfather’s gift for the violin from his father)

My Danish grandfather made a habit of reading the dictionary every day. He wanted to improve his broken English and add new words to his vocabulary. Because of his example, I used the dictionary early on in my education, and I taught my own children to do the same. Through grandpa’s example, I always knew that if I didn’t know the answer, there was always a book or other information where I could find it.

When I discovered the Public Library, I had a fountain of information at my fingertips. I wanted my children to experience my thirst for knowledge, so we trucked home a new round of books each week.


“An Open Book” 20 x 16 mixed media on canvas (SOLD, prints available) (My granddaughter Amelia was my model)

It’s too bad that more people don’t have positive role models in their lives to help them recognize possibilities rather than roadblocks, and opportunities instead of closed doors. That’s what parents should do for their children.

I don’t think any of us intentionally set out to be bad parents. Most of us don’t want our children to grow up to become drug addicts, thieves and lawbreakers or worse. We would like to see them grow into contributing members of their community and church. Even though our goals and family values may not be the same, we can all agree that we’d like to see our children grow into happy healthy adults.

The adage “like father like son” often comes true. You can’t discount the importance of example and how it plays out in your child’s life.

I have fond memories of watching my Danish grandfather “slop” the hogs. I remember the distinct smell of the “mash” mixed in with scraps of leftover food. I can still recall the sound of them grunting in satisfaction as they slurped up what I considered a gross concoction of leftovers.

I remember still the satisfaction on grandpa’s face as he mimicked the pigs and watched the look on my face. I didn’t always understand what he said, but his voice and singsong words tumbled from his mouth like music.


“Americana” 20 x 16 mixed media on canvas

After dinner one day, he was sitting quietly on the couch reading to rest his full stomach which he patted playfully. When he saw me he said “come give papa a smack.” I’d heard him use this term before, but wasn’t exactly sure what it meant. He kept up this silly banter insisting that I give him a smack so I took a book, climbed up beside him and smacked him over the head.

The look of surprise on his face stunned us both into silence. The he laughed and mumbled some more Danish words before he taught me that a “smack” was another way of saying “give me a kiss.” He patted his cheek to emphasize where the smack was intended to land.

There were many things that “Pa” taught me that came more from just being who he was than from any intentional purpose. My sisters and I felt privileged to call my mother’s parents Ma and Pa, as she did, because we lived above them in an old two story house for many years.

Papa was a blacksmith by trade, and a musician from his internal joy and passion for life. He played the violin and he composed music. Through his playing of both piano and violin, I gained a love for the music of stringed instruments; especially the cello.

My mother had a musical family and one of my aunts would play the piano while the sisters sang together. Her brother and his family played the fiddle, the banjo and guitar and the whole family played and sang, entertaining throughout our whole community.

Family traditions can form a strong network of love that may help keep young people on track. The thought of disappointing my parents or grandparents in any way kept me from doing some of the wild and crazy things my friends did. Often called “the ties that bind” this network reminds us of family values and those we love. Some may look upon this support as restrictive, but I view it as a safety net that certainly kept me from trying many of the things that entice youth.

I’m grateful for my parents and both sets of grandparents. Their lives are still cherished long after they’re gone. The influence of my Danish grandpa’s music and his playful spirit still resonates through succeeding generations and will probably continue to do so.

I’m always surprised when my own children retell something I said when they were younger or recall an action that I’ve long since forgotten. You never know the affects of your love, your example or influence on the lives that go after you. Don’t diminish those moments. Make the most of them!


(A memorable walk in a cave formed by Mt. St. Helen’s eruption) (I wasn’t cross-eyed, just blinded by the flash bulb. My oldest daughter and her boys)




1. What made you start your blog?  For many years, I worked as a free-lance writer and also as an artist so I decided to combine these skill sets into a blog. I’m also the mother of six children and was active in my community and church; and participated in my children’s schools as they were growing up. The name of my blog is: “The Art of Living — artwork and musings from my dancing heart.”

 2. What is your greatest achievement?  Overcoming many trials and tribulations, and like Job in the Bible, I’m still standing strong. I have a solid faith in God and in the basic goodness of people. The wisdom I’ve gained in “overcoming” may help someone else hang on just a little longer!

 3. Your favorite animal?  I’m a dog lover and have owned many over the years. I’ve also had a few cats, but dogs remain my favorite animal. Coming in second would be birds. I love to hear them, watch them, and paint them.

 4. Any specific goals for the rest of this year?  I’m doing some Bodoir paintings and a few belly dancers, too. I’m trying to keep them inexpensive and fun. I’ll be adding a few jewels to enhance their costumes, and give them a sparkly flair.

 5. Your favorite quote?  I’ve forgotten the photographer, but I loved his work and his quote: “Find beauty in imperfection.” Sometimes the plain, the broken, the ordinary can become magnificent if photographed or painted with the right emphasis and lighting. You don’t have to wait for something wonderful to come along. Paint passionately what’s right in front of you.

 6. What is your favorite style of cooking?  I’m the soup maker in our household. I love a good bowl of soup and a slice of homemade bread. I could live on this. You can be very creative and it can’t go wrong. Other than that the Mediterranean style of cooking is my favorite.

 7. Your favorite TV series?  “Downton Abby”  I was sad that Season V is over. I love Masterpiece Theater on PBS and the BBC. Excellent programming! I love to watch Shark Tank on CNBC and the new detective series on Fox 4 “Beckstrom.” He’s a pitiful character, but because of it we cheer him on. He embodies human weakness and that is why he’s a good detective.

 8. What’s in your bag (purse or briefcase)?  Make-up for quick repairs! breath enhancers, hand lotion, eye drops, pill box, pens, notebook, credit cards, little cash, sunglasses; nothing unusual, really! I have natural curly hair so I use my fingers rather than a comb.

 9. What do you prefer to use for social media? I spend time where it pays off: Twitter, LinkedIn, Tumbler, Facebook, Pinterest, Fine Art America, Red Bubble, Blog Catalog, and a few others.

10. Your favorite short joke?  I’m hooked on anything “Maxine.” I think she resonates what we all feel. I also like”Ole and Lena” jokes because my husband is Norwegian. I love to hear jokes, but I rarely tell them. I always screw-up the punch line so I won’t tell one here.

 11. What did you want to be when you were a child?  I wanted to be a ballet dancer, hence the title of my WordPress blog: “Musings from my Dancing Heart!” The movie “The Red Shoes” had a great impact on my life. I discovered early on that I had a talent for creative writing and so I pursued this as my parents couldn’t afford dance lessons.

My favorite bloggers are:

The Questions I would like you to answer:

  1.  Where do you get ideas and inspiration for your blog?
  2.  How often do you blog? Once a week / 3 times?
  3.  What gets traffic to your blog? Is it subject matter or Tags?
  4.  What is your passion in life? What drives you?
  5.  Do you feel you have something to say to the world?
  6.  Do you blog to feel important or stroke your ego?
  7.  Do you blog to make a difference in the world?
  8.  What is your favorite subject? Does this inspire you?
  9.  Do you make time for friends and family?
  10.  Do you believe in God?  How does your faith assist you?
  11.  Will you still be blogging a year from now? Two years/ What is your long-term goal?

Sibling Rivalry – the Bratty Brawls between Brothers and Sisters

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My husband’s son and his family.

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My sister’s son and his family.

My oldest sister who passed from this earth over a year ago was my inspiration; but only in later years when, with maturity and age, we became friends.

As children, we shared a double bed in a tiny room with one dormer window. We had no closet, but hung our clothes on the back of the bedroom door and on the door of the hallway that led to our room. Also in the hall was a chest. We each had a drawer; the other three contained towels for the small bathroom a step away.

The bathroom had one small window which you could only see out of when you sat on the throne. If you stood up in the tub, you would likely hit your head on the sloping ceilings. This awkward bathroom served our family of four, and then eventually five until my parents were able to afford a bigger place.

My sister had strict rules on how we shared our space. She was almost five years older than me; and, of course, taller, so I listened out of fear. She once drew an imaginary line down the middle of the bed and threatened to tickle me if I crossed it.

Tickles from God

“Tickles from God” acrylic on canvas.

Her tickling torments lasted an eternity, or so it felt. She sat astride me and tickled my stomach, my neck and pits until I couldn’t breathe. I thought I was going to die! If the sessions hadn’t been stopped by an angry relative, I may have.

She and my older cousins ganged up on the younger ones by chasing us with angleworms and eventually throwing them at us. I had angleworm nightmares for nights afterward. They told us ghost stories that haunted our dreams and sent us running in fright to our parents. We were gullible and they used this knowledge to keep us in line.

Granted, my sister had reason to be peeved. I was her little shadow and followed her everywhere. Sometimes she was required to babysit me and take me with her wherever she went. I was a constant drag on her social life.

Once she convinced me that she had picked a miniature cherry that held magical powers because it was eaten by fairies. The tiny red ball sat atop her finger and I wanted the prize. I stood on tiptoe and begged her to let me taste it. With regal authority she allowed me to lick her fingertip. I tasted nothing. When she began to laugh, I knew she had tricked me.

“You ate my blood,” she boasted. “You licked my finger and ate my blood!” She was doubled over with laughter. She told everyone we knew.


“Broken Hearted” 11×14 pastel, matted and ready to frame.

I was crestfallen. She had pricked her finger and then made a fool out of me. I felt small and stupid. She had also broken the bond of trust between us. I would never be fooled again.

I got even later when I was a teen and she worked a part time job and had more clothes than I did. After she left in the morning, I’d help myself to one of her outfits and go off to school. By the time she returned, I was already home and changed. My mother didn’t approve, but she never intervened. This was a battle between me and my sister.

My daring behavior lasted for weeks until an unfortunate accident revealed my secret. The explosion was more than I’d expected. As I saw it, she had many clothes, and I had few. Plus most of my clothes were her hand-me-downs, anyway. It wasn’t fair!

After her discovery, we became bitter enemies. I was jealous of her and she resented me. We barely spoke until she married and had her first child. Then childish rivalry faded away and we developed a solid relationship based on respect and family ties.


My oldest son and third daughter sharing some fun.

My own children squabbled over minor things and fought for the attention of their parents. When you share a mom and dad between three brothers and three sisters there is bound to be jealousy and envy. When my oldest was finally old enough to watch her younger brothers and sisters, I was elated.

Pam was always more mature than her young years and I trusted her judgment. When I returned to the sounds of wails and anger, my high hopes plummeted. She and her brother, only 14 months younger, came wailing to the door with their sad tales.

“She’s not the boss of me,” Chris complained.

“He wouldn’t do what I told him,” Pam responded. “He broke my Barbie doll,” she cried as she showed me the headless beauty.

“She hit me over the head,” Chris bawled. “She broke my guitar,” his volume increased as he showed me the broken strings and the chipped wood. The guitar had been a gift; a cheap handmade guitar that had served its purpose many years ago.

After that incident, I made a decision to put Chris in charge half of the time because of the closeness in their ages. This seemed to work out well, and they were able to respect the one who had the ruling hand at least for an hour or two.

Brothers often roll on the floor and beat each other to a pulp to resolve their differences. Sisters usually cry, scream and destroy the property of their rival. By the time we all grow up, the anger fades and the memories become the threads that bind our common history together. Sibling rivalry is inevitable, but the rewards far outweigh the struggle and help to prepare us for the brutal world beyond the comforts of home.

A Loaf of Dorothy’s Bread


My granddaughter making her first batch of mini-cupcakes.

When Dorothy was 95 years young, she still baked bread every week like her mother used to, and she saved one loaf out of three for her friends. You see, Dorothy didn’t drive. She depended on friends and neighbors or a local taxi service to get around. She repaid all of us in homemade bread (she wouldn’t take “no” for an answer). One bite of her buttery bread and you’re just this side of heaven.

I’ve also tasted her Cherry Danish, and her chocolate brownies with penuche icing that are so moist and rich the taste lingers for hours. I’m sure her love of cooking and her optimistic outlook on life have kept her young. She’s tiny and petite, but never frail. At 95, she could still climb her front stairs with vim and vigor; although, some days were better than others.

Dorothy’s mother made bread. She passed this skill onto her daughter; a legacy of love that allowed Dorothy to “break bread” with others in the same way. Sharing bread with family and friends is a tradition that strengthens the social fabric of society. Every culture around the world uses bread in one form or another as the building block for each meal. Since the beginning of time, bread has been the “staff of life.” Evidence of grain usage pre-dates recorded history.

Adding more ingredients.

Adding more ingredients.

It is still being argued over who made bread first, the Chinese or the Egyptians. The Chinese still use the same fermented but steamed bread that they used thousands of years ago. The Egyptians learned how to bake their bread, and probably built the first ovens. They discovered that fermented wheat formed a gas that made their bread lighter.

We know for certain that grains like rye, millet, barley, and wheat were cultivated in Palestine 100 years before the birth of Christ. Flat breads fried over an open fire are still the basis of nomadic diets in the Middle East. Some things never change.

The Bible is filled with references to bread and its importance in human history. When Joseph was in prison, falsely accused by Potiphar’s wife, he gained a reputation for interpreting dreams. The Pharaoh heard of this and called for Joseph to interpret his dream.

God warned Pharaoh in the dream that Egypt would experience seven years of feast and plenty, and seven years of famine. Joseph explained the purpose of the dream, and suggested that Pharaoh store up grain in the good years so they might have food during the years of famine. Pharaoh did as Joseph suggested and made Joseph ruler over the land of Egypt. There was none higher than Joseph, except the Pharaoh on his throne.

Enjoying a taste!

Enjoying a taste!

The scriptures tell us that during the seven years of plenty, so much grain was stored that it was impossible to count it all. But when the famine came, all in Egypt had food to eat, and they had enough to sell to anyone who wanted it. People came from all around the region, and by this means was Joseph reunited with his family; a blessing and an example that God provides for his children when they obey him.

Jesus said: “I am the bread of life: he that cometh to me shall never hunger; and he that believeth on me shall never thirst.” He knew the people of his day understood the importance of bread in their lives. Now he was telling them that his teachings were as important to their lives and well being as bread and water for if they ate his bread (the Word of God), they would be filled.

The finished product.

The finished product.

We are also commanded to ask the Lord in prayer for our daily bread. Having clothes on our backs and food to eat are basic needs that God promises to provide if we but call on his name and have faith that he will answer.

Wheat and other grains, if properly stored, can last for many, many years and stay viable enough to sprout. Sprouts are chock-full of vitamins and can be used with bread to supplement the diet and add extra nutrition. Sprouts can top a sandwich much like lettuce. Fresh green sprouts can be eaten as a salad, or used as a vegetable. A family could survive and live well in a crisis just by storing wheat and legumes for a designated period of time.

When combined, bread, lentils, peas or beans form a complex protein that sustains a healthy life style. Vegetarians depend on these complex proteins in their diet. The great thing about eating this way is that it’s not only healthy, it’s inexpensive. Who knows, a diet like this may help you live to be 95? Maybe that’s the secret to my friend Dorothy’s longevity?

"With These Hands Wonder" available by clicking image.

“With These Hands Wonder” available by clicking image.

Dorothy’s bread has been broken and shared with many people. “Cast your bread upon the water,” scripture tells us, “for thou shalt find it after many days.” Dorothy’s bread goes out and returns to her in blessings and love from her friends, but she will tell you she receives much more than she gives.

Dorothy revised her bread recipe to accommodate her weakened arthritic hands. Her recipe requires less kneading because it has an extra rising in the refrigerator overnight. Since it’s a big job, the bread is made in two stages: the first day, she mixes and allows the bread to rise in the fridge; the second day she forms the bread, lets it rise again, and then bakes it. Still, quite an accomplishment for a 95 year old woman!

Dorothy has no children of her own, so I am sharing her recipe with you. Pass it along to your friends, enjoy it yourself, and help her legacy of love continue for many generations to come.

Dorothy’s Bread

2 pkgs. dry yeast
1 tsp sugar
1 C. warm water
Dissolve yeast in sugar water for at least 5 mins. or until the yeast bubbles and grows.
Add 2 large eggs, beaten
Fold into dry ingredients (waiting in another bowl):
6 C. flour (3 whole wheat, 3 white)
1/2 C. Sugar
1 T. salt
Add 1 C. vegetable oil alternately with egg/yeast mixture.
Add 1 C. boiling water, gradually; stirring until smooth.
Add 1/4 C. melted butter over the top; cover and chill overnight in the refrigerator.

Next day, turn out dough on heavily floured board. Knead a few times and divide into thirds. Roll with rolling pin; form into three loaves; place in loaf pans. Brush with melted butter. Rise for 1 1/2 hours. Bake in preheated 350 degree oven for one hour.

Enjoy! And, Dorothy, dear; may God bless!

Epilogue: Dorothy is now 99 years old and has been confined to a rest home for the past three years. Her bread making days are over which makes this article and her recipe all the more special.