A Secret Gem of Arizona: The Desert Caballeros Western Museum


         


 

THE NAVAJO Charles M. Russell 1919

Permanent Collection of Desert Caballeros Western Museum

It’s hard to believe that the tiny town of Wickenburg, Arizona (population something less than 7,000) could have one of the best and most comprehensive collections of early Western cowboy art. Just about anybody who is anybody as a 20th century Western artist is represented here. In this charming setting, you’ll find the entire panorama of Western art including works by the early explorer artists: landscape painters, the Taos Society, founders of the Cowboy Artists of America, and examples of more recent schools with new perspectives from impressionism to realism. You’ll see George Catlin, Albert Bierstadt, Frederic Remington, Joseph Henry Sharp, Oscar Berninghaus, Joe Beeler, Harrison Begay, and even a stunning large bronze by Earle Heikka.

This museum took my breath away! It’s small and intimate. You feel you belong there. You can almost hear the artist’s voices spinning tall tales. I know my favorite Charlie Russell was there telling one of his yarns filled with his delightful profanity. Bob Fjeld, a handsome docent, said he preferred Russell’s bronzes, but for me, Heikka is the prize winner. I think Bob must be one of my long lost Norse kin from Montana.

And then, before you can catch your breath you’re over at The Old Livery Mercantile, Inc. on Tegner Street trying on Cowboy Hats and buying real Arizona silver and turquoise jewelry. Brett and Mary Ann Gerasim at the Old Livery have a motto. “Don’t hurry—this is Wickenburg!”

I love Wickenburg.


The Shieldmaiden and Nordic Detectives


Hervor dressed like a man, fought, killed and pillaged under her male surname Hjörvard. She grew up as a slave, but when she finally found out that she was the daughter of Angantyr owner of the magic sword, Tyrfing, she set out to claim the sword as her rightful inheritance.

Hervor let nothing stand in her way. When none of her crew would dare to embark on the haunted island of Samsey, she did it herself. Approaching the fires above the ghostly grave barrows she summoned her father to reveal himself with such harsh words that her father’s voice commanded her not to pursue her quest for Tyrfing. She would not give in but shouted for her rightful inheritance.

At last the grave opened and in its center a fire was shining and there she saw her father. He warned her that the sword would bring death to the whole clan if she used it. This only made her words harsher. She persisted until at last the sword was cast out of the grave and she eagerly gripped it, bid farewell to her dead kinsmen and walked to the shore.

Her ships were gone, but she made her way to Gudmud of Glæsisvellir and taught the king to play the Viking board game of tafl. However, nobody could mess with her, and she killed a courtier when he tried to unsheathe Tyrfing after she left it unattended on a chair. So she left and resumed her Viking activities of killing men for money.

    

. . .More cheery in battle

Than chatting to suitors

Or taking the bench

At a bridal feast.

 

More on Hervor in my next posting.

Meanwhile, I’m reading Stieg Larsson’s hugely popular The Girl With the Dragon Tattoo. By now I’d guess most of you have read it. And yes, it’s filled with the fatalism of the Nordic Saga. The Stoic methodical practicality of sifting through hundreds of photographs and police records. Dogged, monotonous procedures.
But it’s also filled with Lisabeth Salander, the embodiment of 21st-century shieldmaiden. None too ladylike, she seeks the only law available in tribal society, revenge.

My Indie Award winning novel is available at: http://www.amazon.com/Buffaloed-Fairlee-Winfield/dp/1439200998

NORWEGIAN HERO WHO SAILED THE KON-TIKI


Knut Haugland, the last surviving crew member of the Kon-Tiki died on December 25. The six man 1947 Kon-Tiki expedition, organized by Norwegian explorer Thor Heyerdahl, set out from Callao in Peru on a balsa wood raft to prove that people from South America could have settled Polynesia in pre-Columbian times. The expedition used only material and technology that would have been available to people at the time. The crew sailed the raft for 101 days and 4,900 miles across the Pacific before smashing into a reef at Raroia in the Tuamotu Islands.

But more importantly, Knut Haugland was a much decorated veteran of the Norwegian resistance. He helped sabotage a Norwegian heavy water plant that the Allies suspected might be used to construct a German atomic bomb. Haugland built a radio transmitter from a car battery and fishing rods. The mission was the subject of the 1965 film, Heroes of the Telemark. Haugland narrowly evaded capture when a transmitter he had hidden in the chimney of the Oslo Maternity Hospital was discovered.

Knut is at the top of my list of true Viking heroes. But all he ever said about his exploits was, “We just did a job.”

Mange tussen takk, Knut.

Norse Viking of the Cat World


VIKING OF THE CAT WORLD — THE NORWEGIAN FOREST CAT

  1. Emerald green eyes with a band of gold.
  2. Tufts on paws.
  3. Long silky inner ear hair to deflect the wind and snow that gives this Viking her racing stripes.
  4. A long spun-silk coat to delight the touch.
  5. Magnificent tail that fans to twelve inches.

    Is the Norse name accurate? It sure is, skogkatt, meaning forest cat. A natural breed that came out of the Norwegian forest sometime in the last 4,000 years.

    These beauties must have been companions of Sif, the Norse grain Goddess and wife of Thor. How else was Sif to guard the wheat and barley from the Loki’s tricky rodents. They must have traveled on the knarrs and long boats to Siberia and Iceland.

    At the cat show last weekend I saw this Siberian, Russia’s native forest cat. Doesn’t it look a lot like our Viking? A descendent?

Published in: on December 21, 2009 at 10:33 pm  Comments (3)  
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Ode to a Haggis


OK my good Norse friends. I. M. Buffaloed about your postings on my Facebook wall that you prefer HAGGIS to my menu for the Greenland Viking Feast. And I’ll never believe the rumor that the recipe came to Scotland on the longboats from Scandinavia.

Do you have any idea of what that Haggis stuff is? I can hardly even speak of it. It’s sheep’s puck. The heart, liver, and lungs of sheep all minced up with onion, oatmeal, suet, spices, and salt boiled together in the poor animal’s stomach for three hours. Oh dear! And up until now I thought I admired the Scots.

Here’s their menu for a Robert Burns’ traditional Scottish supper:

1 large Haggis

Neeps and Tatties (rutabaga and potatoes boiled and mashed)

A dram of Scotch whisky

I’ll need more than a dram to get through this supper! But consolation, we can read aloud from Scotland’s greatest poet. The poem I’m thinking of goes—something, something, and then—

“. . . Nine inch will please a lady. . . .” Burns was a great poet.

GREENLAND VIKING HOLIDAY FEAST – 1344


Magnus: Tie an apron over your best fur dress and get ready, Sigrid. Sixty people, sixty people! …and praise Thor,1 they’ll be here overnight. Your reputation as a cook will be tested to the limit. What have you got on hand? We’ll need at least 6 fat seals. Make a list.

Sigrid: 2 seals

Walrus meat leftovers I was turning into pemmican

1 seal, under the stones on the north side (the meat should be turned by now)

Magnus: That’s equal to about 4 seals. So I’ll need to beg a couple of seals from our neighbors; 2 seals from Hallgrim and 2 from Arne.

Sigrid: 13 bundles of caribou bones that are in the cold hole (hunters really enjoy the marrow)

2 rear legs of a good sized lamb

20 bundles of roots from the birch thicket

6 bundles of dried seaweed and algae

1 sealskin full of fermented birds (the kids’ll love them)

Guts from 8 seals stuffed with fat. These will be for snacks. I cut them into little thumb size pieces, and they’re the highlight of any meal.

And, for breakfast, Mangus, we have enough dried fish and butter seasoned with seaweed.

Mangus: We’ll need at least six of your soapstone boiling pots.

Sigrid: I only have four, but they’re getting warm now over the seal blubber cooking lamps. One has a crack, and leaks a little. I smeared grease on the inside, it helps, but we’ll need to do it all night.

Mangus: I’ll send the boys across the bay to get two more boiling pots from the neighbor. But what about the drinks?

 Sigrid: Bva, of course. It’s refreshing. I’ve already boiled the blood and I’ll mix it with the cold water just before serving begins.

 

1 Mangus has never adopted the true faith.

EDVARD MUNCH hears Columbus discovered America


Leif Ericson Day is approaching—October 9. All of us Nordic types are getting ready for big celebrations. It takes plenty of Goggling to make a celebration. So while looking through the great Viking ship stuff at http://media.photobucket.com I ran across the notorious Edvard Munch painting, Skrik, and I finally got it—Eddie’s true intention—the origin of The Scream.

It is a self-portrait. Here’s what happened. Eddie is walking down Ekeberg Hill above the Christiania harbor. He has just visited his sister Laura who is confined to a mental hospital. She’s manic depressive. Eddie only suffers from relentless melancholia. Anyway, as Eddie walks across the bridge he passes two guys. One says to the other, “History books all say that the Italian fugleskemsel, Christopher Columbus, discovered America!”

Well, suddenly the sky around Eddie turns blood red and the fjord and city become blue-black. He stands there trembling with anxiety and he senses an infinite scream passing from his bloodless lips and moving outward through all of Norway and beyond.

ANCIENT VIKING SHEEP STEW


You loved the Norwegian waffles, now how about something really Viking. Those guys on the Viking Facebook have been asking for it. ANCIENT VIKING SHEEP STEW because trouble always sets heavy on an empty stomach.

ANCIENT VIKING SHEEP STEW

Serves 75

Ingredients

  • 50 to 60 pounds fat lamb
  • 3 pounds white fat pork
  • 3 pounds smoked pork side meat
  • 50 to 60 onions
  • 3 tablespoons red pepper
  • 7 tablespoons black pepper
  • 10 tablespoons salt
  • 4 to 5 pounds of butter
  • 3 1/2 to four loaves of bread, broken into pieces 

Dress the lamb. Saw the sides from the backbone and cut the meat into smaller portions. Place meat in a kettle with cold water (the best is one of those big old black iron pots, about 30-35 gallons is good for outdoors). Start the fire. Add the finely cubed fat meat and side meat. Then add onion. When meat is tender, remove all bones, and add seasoning: taste to adjust seasoning. Add the butter and the bread.

To stir, use a pronged stick 5 feet long, or a long-handled fork. Stir enough to keep stew from sticking. When water is needed, add hot, not cold, water. Cook until thick enough to eat with a fork. This will take 6 hours or more. Serve hot. But, leftovers are good cold for breakfast.

Illustrated by Joachim Beuckelaer (Flanders, 1500 ad)

Published in: on July 19, 2009 at 9:20 pm  Comments (6)  
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RECIPE FOR OLD-FASHIONED NORWEGIAN WAFFLES


  1. waffles 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Every day of her life my Norwegian grandmother, Ovidia, cooked waffles for breakfast.  This is the recipe she gave me.  These are not the puffy, thick Belgian things, and they’re not the crispy tear-your-mouth-out American things—they’re soggy and DELICIOUS.

IN A BOWL                         2 cups flour

                                                pinch of salt

                                                2 heaping tsp. baking powder

                                                1 tsp. sugar

                                                1 tbs. oil

 ADD                                       2  eggs

                                                2 cups buttermilk

 Mix it all up.  Batter should be thick and pour slowly like molten lava.  I put in a drop of Mexican vanilla to make them smell good while baking.  Ovidia wouldn’t have done this.

The Joachim Beuckelaer painting above, Making Waffles, is from the mid-1500s.  Check out the guy on the right.  He seems to have something other than waffles on his mind.  And OH MY GOSH,  it looks like they’re having fish, not bacon with their waffles.

 

 

LET’S TALK ABOUT SOME NORSE VIKING STUFF


The Serpent Jörmungandr

No, it’s not the Ouroboros.

Yes, it is the ancient symbol of a snake swallowing its own tail.

This is from Norse mythology.  Jörmungandr is one of the three monster children of Loki who grew so large that he could encircle the world and grasp his own tail in his teeth. 

Or, as in the legends of Ragnar Lodbrok, King Herraud gives a small worm to his daughter Ƃóra Town-Hart and it grows into a large serpent, encircles her cottage, and bites itself in the tail. 

Then, Ragnar has a son who is born with the image of a white snake in on eye. The snake encircled the iris and bit itself in the tail and the son is named Sigurd Snake-in-the-Eye. 

I.M. Buffaloed by what all this Viking mythology stuff means. My Norwegian grandmother never explained it. Can you tell me? 

I only know that most of the time I feel like poor Jörmungandr—devouring myself trying to write books, and market them, and do social networking all at the same time. Maybe I have a snake in my eye, like Sigurd.

Published in: on June 26, 2009 at 11:20 pm  Comments (9)  
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