Lefse and Weltschmerz

Our son sent me a text earlier this week along with this photo:

“This is how low I’ve had to stoop to mimic your lefse”.

“It tastes like mediocrity and sadness. As if some underappreciated Norse lady made it sacrificing quality for quantity. It causes me great Weltschmerz”.

I am sure that there are many people who gladly eat Mrs. Olson’s potato lefse and really like it.  My son is pretty spoiled. I am making lefse today and bringing several packages with me in my suitcase to Brookings on Monday.

I understand his Weltschmerz, his world weariness and melancholy, especially now that  Christmas is over and the new year looms ahead with all its uncertainty. I combat it with baking and catnaps.

Where is your Weltschmerz meter at these days? What causes your Weltschmerz? How do you  cope with the inadequacy and imperfection of this world?



35 thoughts on “Lefse and Weltschmerz”

  1. The older I get, the more I take comfort in knowing that none of this will matter in 30-40-50+ years (I assume I will die somewhere in that time span.) Humanity needs to lighten up and realize we are but cosmic dust in the grand scheme of the universe, Yes, make the best of your life, conserve energy and resources, enjoy the beauty and wonders of the physical world and make the best of your personal relationships. But realize that compared with our Sun finally burning itself out, or the Big Ass Asteroid finally hitting its mark, or some idiot power monger starting a full out nuclear war that wipes out life as we know it, everyday life for 8 billion people is ALL small stuff. Don’t sweat it. Make your little corner of the world the best, most peaceful, positive corner of the world it can be.

    Chris in Owatonna (whose Grandma Anderson made kickass lefse)

    Liked by 3 people

  2. You make me smile, Renee! I trust that both you and your son are aware of how blessed you are to register your weltschmerz on the quality of the lefse you are able to procure or make. Being Danish – as opposed to Norwegian – I have happily adapted any cravings I have ever had for lefse to cravings for fresh tortillas instead. Pretty much a result of the neighborhood I have lived in for a major chunk of my adult life, I guess.

    Last night we attended a Boxing Day dinner at our friend Ann’s house. She had sent out written invitations three weeks ago. Our assignment was to pick up Hans Olaf, an 87 year old retired hydro-geologist professor. Hans Olaf’s mom was Norwegian, his father German. His childhood was split between those two countries before, during and after WWII. He has spent most of his professional life in Europe, Africa, Australia and the US. A delightful, interesting old man, whose physical health is failing, but whose mind is sharp and engaged in what’s going on in the world. Getting him out of a wheelchair and into a car is tough, and we’re ever more cognizant of how precious our time with him is.

    “Dinner” turned out to be a bag of Swedish meatballs from Ikea, heated in a skillet with some cream of mushroom soup for a sauce, a jar of lingonberries, and a tossed green salad. Two bottles of wine, and that was it.

    After we took Hans Olaf home and escorted him to his room at the Sholom Home, we drove straight to a newly opened Thai food take-out place on S. Robert Street. Hans was still hungry.

    It was an evening of good conversation, the food was incidental, and it brought to mind a recent conversation here on the trail about vacations. The more memorable ones are the ones that stand out despite their obvious shortcomings. It’s a lesson that’s becoming ever more evident in our interactions with our friends. I’m becoming increasingly mindful of the fact that these gatherings are finite, and it behooves us to appreciate them for what they are: quality time spent with people we care about.

    Liked by 4 people

    1. Here’s what a dear friend of mine just posted on FB: “Santa didn’t come. Presents weren’t wrapped. Christmas just isn’t the same when your parents are gone, and the kids are grown, with their own families and gatherings. With Don off his feet for a bit, nothing much got done around here. Really really can’t wait to build a house big enough for holiday gatherings!”

      I sat down and wrote this friend a letter. I’m constantly amazed by the amount of energy and creativity she shows in dealing with some really tough breaks. What she refers to as “Don off his feet for a bit” was a major heart attack and the resulting medical bills that are overwhelming their fledgling enterprise. Small wonder that she’s despondent, they are fighting impossible odds. And yet, she puts up the facade of good cheer, probably because she wants to shield her friends from the harsh reality that her life is right now. I may not be able to take away her pain and sadness, but I hope it helps to know that a lot of us really care. As Mr. Rogers’ mother said: “Look for the helpers.”

      Liked by 4 people

      1. I spoke with one of the designers at the flower shop today. She just started working at the shop a few weeks ago. Her husband had a stroke on Christmas Eve, and she hasn’t been in the past couple of days. She caught a cold herself a few days ago and sounds terrible, yet she talked about how much she loves working at the shop and was so grateful that the owners had been so supportive during this crisis. She was hopeful that her husband would be released from the hospital today or tomorrow. She seems quite positive about her situation, and I hope she and her husband have good insurance.

        Liked by 2 people

    2. Renee, my sense is that you and your family have a really good grip on adjusting to circumstances. I love that you know how to take care of each other and yourselves. Of course, you have a lot of degrees of knowledge on mental health in the mix, and I’m hopeful that that helps. Flying strictly by the seat of my pants and life experiences, I have to trust my gut.

      Liked by 3 people

      1. At my house I am the optimist and my wife is the realist
        it’s a challenge to keep being optimistic and always striving for that time when things will be right and times will be less turbulent
        i’m fortunate to have the ability to envision and to dream and to reach for the pot of gold at the end of the rainbow where my wife is there to put her nose to the grind stone earn a paycheck and try and keep the walls from caving in
        I keep pulling rabbits out of my hat in order to keep the wolves at bay but I think my wife looks forward to the day when that stuff will be looked after before rather than after the fact even more than I do

        Liked by 4 people

  3. One of my canned phrases is “the whole world is messed up except for me and new and I’m having some serious doubts about you”

    as we go on unfortunately it is becoming less of a joke and more of a reality with humanity at large

    The trail is kind of the safe place the calm in the eye of the storm but it’s hard realizing that 40 some odd percent of the population is truly screwed up

    It explains more than I wanted to understand about why things are difficult and the challenges we face daily seem to get worse and not better

    we have fondue on Christmas Eve and New Year’s Eve and this year my family asked if they could help by bringing the ingredients to the fondue and I told them that if they could pick up the Emmentaler and Geuer cheese a bottle of kirschwasser some shrimp and some steak for the hot oil fondue that would be great
    They were amazed at how expensive cheese and kirschwasser and steak can be

    it’s good to provide an appreciation of some things taken for granted and it’s good to have an understanding of what’s involved in all the different aspects of life that go on without much monitoring

    it’s hard to get terribly upset about the quality of cheese fondue not being exactly what you want and if that’s my problem of the 2019 year looking back I think I’ll be OK

    Thanks for the Safehaven here on the trail look forward to seeing y’all in 2020

    Liked by 4 people

  4. Oh, I think son makes the best of things even with commercially manufactured lefse. He has a sly and sprightly sense of humor which he uses to cope with what comes his way.

    Liked by 4 people

  5. A new friend has a credo I hadn’t heard before she shared it: “Bloom where you are planted.” That is useful, for it suggests we don’t have total control over where we are planted. Various forces determine that. The best response is to do one’s best wherever life puts us.

    I have recently been planted in what is called a retired community. In less reverential moments I think of it as a geezer warehouse. I now live with approximately a hundred old–really old–people. I don’t especially like old people, certainly not enough to choose them as the only people I spend time with. But here I am.

    The person I used to be was not an ideal match for this environment. After half a year living here, I’ve learned to be someone else, someone who is less private, more comforting and less political. I play the part of a fellow who is less sophisticated and more optimistic than I naturally am.

    The person I pretend to be is a comfort to my new friends. I’ll take that. At my age, that is a form of blooming.

    Liked by 3 people

    1. That’s a tough place to be Steve. I don’t like the fact you have to “pretend” to be someone you’re not. But I also get how you’d have to simply to keep your sanity and the peace of the place. You don’t want to be the “Old grump down the hall” either.

      My Dad was in your same situation when they first moved into the senior place. He was grumpy all summer leading up too that move. And I can’t say I could blame him and I don’t predict I’ll be any better. But I’ll bet you’re bringing some of your old self into this place and pulling some of those old people over to your side. Slowly and imperceptibly so they don’t catch on. 🙂

      One of my co-workers at the college just had her Dad move into a place. Thought maybe it was just for recovery, but, they’ve all come to realize Mom can’t provide the care he needs from home, and he’s figuring that out too. And I’m glad to see they’re not all fighting it.

      As Chris says, it’s all perception.
      Trying not to take things for granted and appreciating what we have when we have it.
      Don’t let the worry take you over; so many things we worry about never do happen.
      To quote ‘The Treasure of the Sierre Madre’: “You know, the worst ain’t so bad when it finally happens. Not half as bad as you figure it will be before it’s happened.”

      Liked by 3 people

      1. Thanks, Ben. Don’t worry overmuch about pretending to be someone else. I think we all do that in life. I choose to see that being someone else is kinder for my friends. It makes them happier. One of my dinner companions suffers (quietly) from anxiety. I like to be a person whom she now find comforting.

        Liked by 2 people

      2. I suppose pretending is your version of “fake it till you make it.” If you pretend something long enough, I suppose there may come a time when it’s second nature and no longer pretend?

        Liked by 1 person

  6. YA and I are in a good place right now. We have the same temperament; when times are rough, we crab and pout for a bit and then we settle in. But truly, no working fireplace for the solstice is just not the end of the world. We found a yule log channel on cable and played that while we opened gifts.

    Liked by 3 people

        1. the crepe guy in paris has a iron plate the heats to proper temp and then he pours the right amount of batter onto the hot plate then pulls it and rolls it over the surface and pulls it back across like layering the cooked batter a little at a time
          damn they were good at the neighborhood joint on the corner i got onion pepper mushroom and cheese and even though that’s the same choice i have made and cooked at home a hundred times before it was so tasty
          the crepe was good but the oil they cooked the veggies in and the amount of cooking was wonderful

          seemed very cool when the corner crepe joint in paris is very good

          Liked by 2 people

  7. Yes, the after Christmas slump. You go through the 4-8 week build-up of excitement, gift-buying, movie-watching and anticipation — and then it’s over within an hour or two. We had a lovely, low-key Christmas and I got nearly everything on my list (thanks to me!). So I wrap up all my presents and say it’s from my husband — he’s so sweet!

    I started a different job in October at same employer, and enjoyed a significant raise. So I’ve been feeling very generous this Christmas where it feels right. I’m feeling very grateful this season and wish you all a wonderful holiday.

    Liked by 3 people

    1. Glad for you about the raise. Although we all know that money doesn’t buy happiness, still it definitely can solve certain problems and ease some anxieties.


    1. Unfortunately I think we’ve got another a few days, maybe even until the first before the Hallmark Channel quits playing all of its drekky Christmas movies.

      Liked by 1 person

      1. The more closely you examine Hallmark Xmas stuff, the weirder it gets. Those flicks perpetuate bizarre versions of nostalgia. Apparently there was a time decades ago when a small retail store in a tiny, picturesque New England town would support a staff of clerks (all gorgeous, all Caucasian) so they can enjoy perfect upper middle class lives. And though there are some minor conflicts, the solution to all of them is: “But it’s CHRISTMAS!”

        Liked by 3 people

Leave a Reply

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in:

WordPress.com Logo

You are commenting using your WordPress.com account. Log Out /  Change )

Twitter picture

You are commenting using your Twitter account. Log Out /  Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out /  Change )

Connecting to %s

This site uses Akismet to reduce spam. Learn how your comment data is processed.