Archive | February, 2015

High Plains history, high drama

February 22, 2015

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The Heart of Everything That IsWaiting inside the pages of this superb work of nonfiction are captivating stories and a semester worth of U.S. history classes.

“The Heart of Everything That Is: The Untold Story of Red Cloud. An American Legend” fills in a gap in my own education  during the ’50s-’60s-’70s about native peoples, their culture and how they tried to preserve that culture from a society that considered them less than human, a society willing to do just about anything, even the immoral and unethical, to fulfill what was termed America’s “manifest destiny.”

In telling that story, these 400-plus pages convey interesting historical information about the High Plains, a section of North America that too many talk about as fly-over country, and, maybe more importantly, give the facts about what the United States leadership and military were willing to do in Euro-centric America’s quest for land and gold.

Red Cloud’s story and that of the tribes that populated the middle of the continent for centuries before the American push westward is a fascinating insight into another culture — often a brutal one, yet one laden with the same foibles, political intrigue, revenge-seeking, hopefulness, love and despair found in every other human society.

The story of the Indian wars across Minnesota, Nebraska, South Dakota, Wyoming and Montana that authors Bob Drury and Tom Clavin share comes through as interesting as any novel. But readers will be amazed when they get to the final pages of “The Heart of Everything That Is” and read about the research they did, see the pages of references to sources and view the photos of the principals who fought on both sides of those Indian wars.

This is no novel. Instead, it is a book every U.S. citizen should read for its moral implications, and one that should cause readers of every ethnic background to reflect upon their own outlook toward native peoples certainly, but toward people of every other culture as well.

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A different way to do Lent

February 18, 2015

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LentStill looking for a lenten sacrifice/service/something to do?

Here are a couple ideas paraphrased from “40 Days, 40 Ways: A New Look at Lent” by Marcellino D’Ambrosio via Servant Books:

  • Decide to forgive someone who, in your mind, has offended you.
  • Pray for the person who you find the most annoying.
  • Before work, chores or study, make a conscious decision to offer up whatever you are doing in love of God and for a person in special need.
  • Take the first available 10 minutes each day thinking about everything you should be grateful for and thanking God — BEFORE you ask for anything.
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Fat Tuesday means Polish tradition: paczki

February 17, 2015

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storefrontThe bakery and deli at Kramarczuk’s Sausage Co. opened at 7 a.m. — an hour earlier than usual — to handle the Fat Tuesday demand for paczki, but Jim Bogusz was standing outside the doors at 6:37 a.m.

It was still dark on Hennepin Avenue in north Minneapolis then, but Bogusz (pronounced “Boh – goosh”) had come all the way across the Twin Cities from the eastern St. Paul suburb of Woodbury, about 20 miles, and he didn’t want to be late to get his bismarck-like fried pastry stuffed with fruit filling. He was picking up paczki for himself, his family and his neighbors.

“You never know, with traffic,” he said.

With a knit cap pulled over his ears, he paced in front of the iconic sausage shop to ward off the cold. It was 3 degrees on this day before Lent would begin.

paczkiIn the Polish tradition, the sweet, sugar-coated paczki were a way to use up the household supply of flour, sugar and lard, which wouldn’t be used during the Lenten time of fasting.

“I’ve got all things Polish in my blood,” Bogusz said as he talked about the day-before-Ash Wednesday tradition. “It gives more meaning to this time of year. I like bringing more meaning to my kids. I want them to know where they came from,” he said.

By 7:02 a.m. the parking lot at Kramarczuk’s was full. Boxes of paczki filled tables set up in one part of the shop’s adjoining restaurant for the line-up of customers who had pre-ordered.

better boxesDozens upon dozens of empty paczki boxes lined the shelves of the bakery and deli, and store staff scrambled to fill the boxes from baker’s racks of raspberry- and apricot-filled paczki for both orders and for the walk-in customers who were lined up as well to get some paczki before they were sold out. The place was buzzing.

Martin Lukaszewski got a parking place right in front of Kramarczuk’s. Proudly acknowledging his 100 percent Polish heritage, he said he had driven in from Blaine in the northern suburbs to keep up the tradition he grew up with in South Bend, Ind. “I used to make paczki all through the year,” Lukaszewski said. “My dad’s sister and her husband owned a bakery.”

He was picking up two dozen paczki as part of a fundraiser to combat Parkinson’s Disease, which he has been diagnosed with, but admitted there was a gastronomic reason he was at Kramarczuk’s so early on a frigid February morning.

“I’ve always got to have my paczki,” Lukaszewski said, and once inside, he stood in front of the counter with a big smile on his face.

 

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