THE NEWNESS NEVER WORE OUT Kate’s Journal


Episode 34 Kirkland 1969-1974

051 “Inuit Mother and Child” watercolor by kayti sweetlanhd rasmussen

There was some success selling my sculptures in Seattle, and a minor bit of chicanery. If someone doesn’t try to cheat you, you haven’t made an impression.

For our second Christmas in the Northwest, Dr. A with the aid of a large truck and a large friend, brought home an enormous tree which reached to the ceiling of the barn, and became home to a number of enormous papier mache elves, while several more elves, dressed in colorful velvet clothes, straddled the rafters. The California family arrived in full force. and audience participation prevailed while serving up the old Rasmussen Christmas breakfast, with a few aebleskivers thrown in.

We learned that a family isn’t complete without a new generation, and in 1973 our California daughter gave us what we knew to be the world’s smartest and cutest grandson. It was troubling that he lived in California while we presently lived in Washington.

The flu can make a wet dishrag out of you, and in the midst of feeling sick and sorry for myself, alone on Valentine’s Day, our youngest daughter announced that she wanted to get married on St. Patrick’s Day. Better than that, she wanted to get married in our barn. Dr. Advice was traveling two weeks out of every month, so he was slow in getting the news, good or not so good.

marvin Oiver Large print by Marvin Oliver, Professor of Indian Studies, University of Washington

It’s amazing how fast a wedding or a climatic catastrophe (there isn’t much difference between the two) can get you out of bed. The amount of time spent on wedding arrangements today can give you plenty of time to change your mind on the whole thing. We had a month, and our daughter was in the middle of finals.

Handmade invitations, wedding clothes and food appeared in the appropriate time with the help of friends including pickled oysters from the Hood Canal from Georgia and Emmett. When everything else was set, we needed someone to marry them, and believe me, it isn’t easy when you do it at your home cold turkey. After a number of rejections, including all the regular churches, someone had a relative who was an unemployed Mennonite minister who would come.

The day of the wedding gave a display of weather the Northwest is famous for; rain, snow, hail and brilliant sunshine, not necessarily in that order. The bride walked down through our meadow on the arm of her handsome father and into a warm and cozy barn with sunshine pouring down through a large window near the ceiling. The groom was a lapsed Catholic, the bride was unaffiliated, and we were just guests, and we built a chuppah which was covered with daffodils and daisies. The new grandson slept peacefully in my arms throughout the service, undisturbed by the festivities.

North Coast Shaman “North Coast Shaman” sculpture by kayti sweetland rasmussen

We sent the new couple off with the bride carrying a small cage of crickets (don’t ask) and found that the Mennonite minister had not signed the wedding certificate. Ominous? Everything got straightened out eventually.

There are strange sights in the country which you don’t usually see in the suburbs, a lot of them involving animals. A small Shetland pony being led down our road at 5:30 Christmas morning would be one of them, an entire line of cars at morning commute time regularly stopping to let a row of ducks cross the road, a couple of escaped horses stomping through our newly planted lawn., and of course, the belching goat.

One of our friends was a weaver of lovely things, which led me to try my hand with the warp and woof, but without her expertise. It seemed a shame not to be able to even weave a reasonable set of place mats and napkins, but it was a nice feeling to sit and try on a rainy morning.

The barn allowed us to have more parties involving more than four people. On one such occasion, a woman guest left in a huff when her husband told a raunchy joke. She just didn’t fit in or got tired of her husband’s boorish behavior. At another party, planned to entertain guests from California, fell apart when the belly dancer planned for the entertainment, refused to come when she discovered one of the guests was Jewish. Later, when our house was for sale, she wanted to buy it to use the barn to teach belly dancing in. She couldn’t come up with the money.

Seattle is one of those places where float planes fly in and out to Lake Union, taking you to places further north, and if you want to, you can go even further north to see the Iditerod races, fishing and meet new friends.

A 12 pound turkey graced our table on our last Thanksgiving in Kirkland. Complete with all the trimmings; potatoes, gravy, dressing and pumpkin pie, it brought home the fact that we had a 12 pound grandson waiting in California. Not that he was eating all this stuff by then, but you couldn’t ignore the weight or cuteness similarity.

Dr. A had supervised the building of the Alaska pipeline, caught a respectable number of fish, and made a lot of new friends, so we semi-reluctantly pulled up stakes and headed back to California.

chilcat blanket

Addendum: This post was written without using the word “I” even once. In this day and age of people like Donald Trump who seems to have a monopoly on the word, and even nice people who don’t realize they are doing it, it seemed a good lesson.

WEDDING BELLE Kate’s Journal


Episode 16 Alameda, 1946

Nineteen-forty-five slipped into history as quietly as it had arrived. I heard a rumor in April, 1946 that Sam Rasmussen had returned from overseas.

I had no desire to see him, but suddenly he appeared staked out on my front porch. I often arrived late home from work, and often with a date. This ridiculous situation continued for two weeks; I would quietly walk around him on my way to the front door as he sat quietly on the hard cement step. I have always believed in giving credit where credit is due, and this certainly showed a certain amount of stamina even for a former boyfriend. Finally one night, coming home about 10:00, he handed me a peace offering of flowers; a clay pot of geraniums he had “borrowed” from the neighbor’s porch or brought from home, that was never clear. The ugly pot graced our balcony for the next three years.

We were married in September, 1946 at 4 o’clock in the afternoon. Aunt Helen allowed me to wear cousin Gladys’s wedding dress with the stipulation that I promised not get sunburned before the wedding. She had for several years cautioned me on the dangers of sunbathing, all to no avail. I knew I looked better tan than white.

My father arrived home just in time to walk me down the aisle, meeting the groom for the first time. His fatherly remarks to Sam included “You’re OK, except that you’re a Californian.”

Walter M. Sweetland

My pre-wedding tears began at l:00 p.m. I hid out in the basement until my father came down to comfort me. After assuring me that I really didn’t HAVE to get married, now was the time to give it some thought. I remember him saying he thought I had good common sense, a fact I have often been aware of throughout my life. We were extremely young and inexperienced. The groom was only 20 and I only 18. It didn’t help that so many people said it would never work.

The showers, parties. new clothes and rehearsal had been fun, but it came down to the fact that I had never attended a wedding, and I was a terrified bride-to-be.

Wedding
We held our reception at Aunt Helen’s and though the wedding cake came from Neldam’s Danish Bakery, Aunt Helen made the groom’s cake which was equally beautiful and delicious.

We took a two week honeymoon both to Lake Tahoe and Benbow Lodge on the Eel River in the Redwoods. We had no car of our own and borrowed his mother’s car for the drive to the honeymoon.

On our first morning after in a Tahoe cabin, the new husband asked for pancakes. I not only did not know how to make them, I did not recall ever having had them. We had waffles in my family, not pancakes. It soon became apparent that not only did I not do pancakes, I didn’t know how to cook anything.

Sam’s mother’s car broke down somewhere along the Redwood Highway, and we were forced to take a Greyhound bus home to Alameda, where we would be living in the same attic apartment at Aunt Helen’s I had lived with my mother. My parents in the meantime had rented a house a few blocks away. They were preparing to settle in Dad’s hometown in Grants Pass, Oregon as soon as he took his leave from the service.

We arrived home in the middle of the night with 63 cents between us and no key to the apartment. The old house has a fire escape ladder which we climbed and broke into the bedroom. The following morning, the new husband asked me when I intended to get a job.

(Now, sixty-nine years later; In remembrance: all of the dear boys who served as groomsmen have passed away. The sound of their laughter still rings in memory. Of the lovely maids, all but two remain.)

GUIDE FOR THE PERPLEXED


Broke and heedless when young, not so broke and somewhat more careful in our present lives, we’re mostly invisible to the young who are battling their own storms. We have reached the stage of life where ambition, like promuiscuity, is most pleasant when experienced vicariously. Case in point: I can’t remember the last time in my life I found myself truly fascinating. Don’t laugh. That is sad stuff. You should be able to look in your mirror and see someone you might at least like to get to know.

Of course today my nose is red and dripping, and I feel miserable. I could blame my cold on the plane ride, because I have been known to catch every germ known to man on an airplane, but I prefer to think it is because of all the people I kissed at my youngest daughter’s wedding last weekend. Much nicer to think you caught it from people you love instead of fellow passengers you will never see again.

But this is supposed to be a guide to aging, for which I am well qualified, due to my long adulthood.

We learn from Kahlil Gibran: “I have learnt silence from the talkative, toleration from the intolerant, and kindness from the unkind—-” Never stop learning, it causes the brain to explode into a real mess, and life is hard enough as it is. Pick up on all those old and perhaps dead mentors, you might actually learn something. (If only to keep your mouth shut.)

If you think someone you know has not faced adversity, you simply do not know them well enough. Everyone has something and it is likely to be worse than yours. At any rate, no one likes to listen to all your aches and pains and medications. I can’t stress that last part too strenuously. Old people love to tell you about all their nicks and bumps. Just smile and change the subject.

If you receive an invitation, even if it is to accompany your husband/wife to the gas station, GO! And if you don’t get invited anywhere, go by yourself. Try not to miss out on Life, the dance is over too soon.

Many years ago, I met a charming woman in her 80’s who was so interesting I told my husband that that was the kind of old lady I wanted to be. In typical Dr. Advice fashion he said “You’d better start now.”
Very good advice. Practice charming, or at the very least congeniality.

Lastly, never miss an opportunity to say I love you.

MINNIE AND MICKEY GOT MARRIED


Minnie and Mickey got married and joy reigned supreme in the magical kingdom! After 27 years of singlehood, raising two fine children and carving out a very successful business career, our youngest daughter Cori, (aka Minnie) was married in a beautiful countryclub setting to Jim, (aka Mickey), surrounded by both families, and over 100 nearest and dearest.
As a first date, she invited him to a Halloween party, where they won first prize dressed as Minnie and Mickey mouse, whiskers, ears and all. If a new date can withstand that introduction, he must be a keeper!
Cori has a sense of fun which she imparts to everyone she meets. Instead of one “best” friend, everyone she meets feels as if they are her best friend. She is always there for everyone in sickness and in sharing happiness.
In Jim , she found a partner who has the same spirit of fun, and with whom she can share her love of travel, skiing, biking, hiking, kayaking, and golf., as well as just sitting by the fire and watching old movies.
It was a fairy tale occasion on a perfect evening in the Northwest, and made even more special as one of her oldest friends officiated in the ceremony, incorporating the words of an ancient Native American blessing into the ceremony. Her sister from Southern California, was the matron of honor, and Jim’s best friend, whom he has known since elementary school, was his best man.

Cori and Jim have a special affinity for Hawaii, and friends sent orchid and maile leis which helped decorate the cake table. Hawaiian music played softly during the ceremony.
After dinner and a great coconut cake, everyone (including Dr. Advice and I) danced up a storm.

I have never felt a such a palpable sense of joy as was being sent forth around a room as it was for Minnie and Mickey’s wedding!
May the blending of these two families bring happiness, more joy, peace and contentment and fun for the rest of their lives. AHO

Cori and Jim with her children


Dr. Advice, Cori and Me