Making Maui Memories


As many people do while making preparations for the Christmas season I was thinking yesterday about the fun I had with my daughter’s family two years ago on Maui. I had enjoyed that vacation with my grandchildren during the week before Christmas and arrived home just in time to celebrate Christmas Eve with the rest of my family and create the Christmas turkey feast the next day.

Waterproofing a child -- Maui 2012

Because we always lived beside the ocean it was a goal of my husband and me to have our children ‘waterproofed’ and it pleases me to see that these parents have set a similar goal. While away with them I had witnessed once more the good that regular swimming lessons can do, even if you live in Alberta. I was delighted to find the grandchildren are turning out to be ‘water-babies’ too.

Having spent so many Christmas seasons in ‘the Islands,’ Maui itself holds a special place in my children’s memories of Christmas; my grandchildren are now having a similar opportunity to experience its delights.

When our children were little my husband held a sales position within the logging industry, which meant he travelled a great deal, often spending several nights a week away from home. Anyone who knows that business, will acknowledge the month of December is generally a slower time, with many logging camps shut down for unfavourable weather conditions or simply their scheduled crew holidays.

We were never a family that went away during the school’s summer holiday time. Instead we chose the Christmas school break for our vacation. When the kids were 4, 6 and 8 we tried our first warm vacation – Maui was the choice. It turned out to be a fabulous change from winter at home, an opportunity to extend the summer swimming lessons and best of all, the telephone didn’t ring.

We treated those weeks as true family time and came home and back to school with a better understanding of each other. Because of the assignments the children completed for their teachers we learned together a great deal about the history, traditions and industries of the Hawaiian people. It was a good experience for all of us and for 12 years it was an accepted family tradition.

Some will ask, “How could you be away from home during that celebration time?” We could for the benefits I’ve mentioned, we could because we had a very small nuclear family of only our parents. Having Christmas on Maui differed from ours at home only by the day’s temperature and its activities.

Here was our typical Christmas Day: Christmas morning open stocking, eat breakfast and clean up the dishes, then open the few packages from grandparents we had brought along. Next came my dressing a turkey and packing a lunch; just before we left for the beach I put the turkey into the oven.

When we arrived back at the cabin at sunset with sun touched, sandy, salt-crusted skin everyone had a shower, maybe even a dip in the pool. Then it was into pajamas for the children, followed by a celebratory dinner. It was the same meal as we served at home but with less fuss and scrambling to meet an unspoken deadline for its service. The next day for our lunch sandwiches we had turkey meat and cranberry sauce. And so our vacation continued, back to a different beach each day.

Maui Beach

Religious Freedom?

I’ve always enjoyed reading but lately I’ve become alarmed by the number of books and stories in the general media that tell the story of people, predominantly women, who have finally escaped after long years of virtual imprisonment by leaders of some religious sect, or in some cases more accurately described as a cult.

Through my interest in the rights of women I’ve discovered that around the world there are many beliefs that place women on the lowest rung of humanity, some established by male leaders as breeding machines for increasing the followers of that sect, many as a source of income because of the work they accomplish without being paid. Others keep women hidden away under strange clothing deemed to be the only acceptable way for them to appear in public and when they do, in some instances only with a male relative.

Canada prides itself in having freedom of religion, which is frequently used as a defense for these, to most of us, unusual practices. But Canadians also believe in equality under the law. Where does that equality go when a person attempts to leave the community only to be told by the captor that they must follow the precepts of the religion or they will be excommunicated, or depending on the group, go to Hell.

I submit this brief introduction to explain my thoughts as I offer the names of some of the books I have read about such apparent “bondage.” And there are many others. You’ll find these ones listed on my Goodreads bookshelf.

Hutterites: Our Story to Freedom Shamed: The Honour Killing That Shocked Britain – by the Sister Who Fought for JusticeBeyond Belief: My Secret Life Inside Scientology and My Harrowing Escape  Property: The True Story of a Polygamous Church Wife Reading Lolita in Tehran Not Without My Daughter A House in the Sky Infidel The Punishment of Virtue: Inside Afghanistan After the Taliban Price of Honor: Muslim Women Lift the Veil of Silence on the Islamic World Nine Parts of Desire: The Hidden World of Islamic Women Stolen Innocence Keep Sweet: Children of Polygamy

Rose Hip Jelly

In the late autumn and into winter wild roses produce a seed pod valuable for their Vitamin C content and ready to be made into a flavorful jelly or jam. In my book, from Fjord to Floathouse, I referred to them:

The outer reaches of the craggy mound I thought of as my personal space were covered with wild roses whose blooms and delicate fragrance in May kept me returning. Before long the same plants yielded tasty nibbles in the form of gigantic rose hips. Mom encouraged me to pick these for her to use to make jelly.

Here is a recipe I’ve used successfully. By the nature of the fruit, amounts and preparation times are approximate. Rose hips have very little pectin; therefore using pectin is strongly advised.

5 – 8 cups rose fresh hips
3 – 4 cups water
½ cup fresh lemon juice
1 pkg. pectin crystals
4 cups sugar

Rose hips simmering in a large stainless steel pot.

  1. Rinse the rose hips thoroughly and cut off the stems and scraggly ends. (I use sharp garden clippers.)
  2. Place rose hips in a large stainless steel pot, add water, and bring to a boil. Reduce to a simmer and cook until rose hips are soft and can be mashed. (up to an hour)
  3. Using a potato masher or electric hand blender crush the pips until entirely broken down.
  4. Softened mixture in 4 layers of cheesecloth.Prepare 4 layers of cheesecloth in a colander held with clothespins over a saucepan, or use a jelly bag. Transfer softened mixture and allow to strain into pan. (several hours or overnight)
  5. When the fruit ‘mess’ is entirely drained measure liquid. If there is less than 3 cups of juice you can add hot water and allow it to drain through the fruit again.
  6. Discard fruit pulp. Place measured juice into large stainless pan. Add lemon juice and stir in powdered pectin.
  7. Bring to a boil and when pectin is fully dissolved, add sugar. Stir in thoroughly.
  8. Allow to maintain a rolling boil (one that cannot be reduced by stirring) timed for one full minute. Then remove from heat.
  9. Pour into sterilized jars leaving ¼ inch at the top. Seal with sterilized lids and label.

6 jars of jelly ready for the pantry.

My Grandfather’s Pipe


In August of 1998, and after three years of family history research, I made my first trip to Norway where I met 18 second cousins and three elderly ladies who were first cousins of my deceased father. Hosted by families – the grandchildren – of two of my grandfather’s brothers I walked the farm he had chosen to leave and explored the old church and cemetery that held the names and seat of his Forberg relatives.

I will never know why he left his birth place. It was likely a desire for a better life, because with large families and the scarcity of what farmland produced, life was not at all easy. But his determination not to live his life as a farmer was more likely the reason. He had left home to work in a nearby forested area before deciding to emigrate.

I had only recently learned then that he was the eldest of four brothers and according to the rules of the country at the time he would have inherited the large Forberg family farm. This was apparently not a role he wanted, so he left the farmer responsibility to his next eldest brother whose grandson, Einar, now runs the Forberg farm that I was visiting. At the farmhouse I saw the family heritage displayed: the original home he had left, carved boxes made by a younger brother who did not marry, wooden trunks, bowls and implements decorated with rosemaling and the family bible my grandfather had returned to Norway after he decided not to move back ‘home.’

In a roundabout way this brings me to my present conundrum. I am the eldest grandchild of the eldest son and my father, Einar, was the eldest son of our Canadian Forberg ancestor Einar, he who emigrated in 1896. Dad had no sons, only me and my younger sister, but he did have a brother, Ingolf. Rules of inheritance have changed since then and in Norway a daughter is now eligible for a primary inheritance. Had my grandfather remained in Norway, as the eldest grandchild I could now be running that Forberg family farm.

My difficulty is over deciding who should inherit my grandfather’s Norwegian pipe. It has come to me from my sister who no longer wants to devote space to it. In fact, I was not aware she had it! In my memoir Beyond the Floathouse, Gunhild’s Granddaughter, I have written,

I remember Grandpa Andy as an elderly gentleman, and recall being absolutely mesmerized by the process he went through each evening to prepare and smoke his pipe. On special occasions he would use a traditionally carved long Norwegian pipe festooned with red tassels attached to a cord from which the pipe hung on the living room wall.

I watched him lift it from the wall hook and pack the bowl with a particularly pungent brand of tobacco which he smoked only rarely. Seeing him hold the bowl almost at arm’s length, suck in to get a fire started enough that we could smell the smoke, was an even more fascinating procedure for a little girl of six to observe.

But let me return to Ingolf Forberg, who did have a son, Cory Forberg. Cory has both a son and a daughter and they have children. Should the Norwegian pipe go to Cory’s young son or is it more fairly placed with my own son Eric Siebert, who has no children of his own? Another alternative is his sister’s son Tait Ackermann? After some discussion with my friends who study genealogy, the consensus seemed to be that by following the modern view of inheritance my son Eric had the right to have his great-grandfather Forberg’s pipe.