Notes from Jan

Pancakes, Pumpkins and the Pleasure of Friends

September 29, 2018

What a beautiful time of year in New England! It’s pumpkin time and Homecoming at Gordon, and like the

Swallows of Capistrano, we return.

This morning, Dave and Melva, old friends sat at table with me, downing Norwegian/Swedish pancakes and catching up on life.

Simple, significant gifts.

Like last week, when Gail and I did our yearly birthday getaway, we focused on now and tomorrow, not yesterday.

We spoke of family, travels and friends, while sipping coffee laced with cardamom.

We worked together in Christian Higher Education for many years. Our common mission wove us together, not agreement on all issues.

During breakfast today, I shared one of my current reads: The Gentle Art of Swedish Death Cleaning by Margareta Magnusson. It’ll never get a Pulitzer but if I do as she suggests, may keep my kids from hauling dumpsters to the Perch after I die and lamenting their heritage.

I get it.

They don’ t want it. (fill in the blank)

So far, they want me.

Which, all things considered, is the better part of the deal.

So, how does this relate to pancakes, pumpkins and old friends?

They’re keepers, not stuff.

Pancakes,  something simple around our tables, to bring us together, focused on each other, not elaborate preparations.

Pumpkins, a reminder of this season,  to be enjoyed now, rather than getting stuck on what was or what’s to come.

And, the Pleasure  of friends, relationships to treasure and tend for as long as we’re able.

At one point they asked how I was doing.

“I’m content.”

I plan to become more content as I rid myself of some of the contents in this Perch, garage and attic.

Maybe the Vikings had it right.  When you died, they put you in one of those Viking ships with all your stuff in case you needed it in the world to come and off you sailed, leaving nothing behind for your relatives to fight or fume over.

We know better.

But as the little kid said who wanted to stop going to Sunday School,  “I already know more than I do.”









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  • Reply Shirley Dubeau September 29, 2018 at 5:24 pm

    Great advice! And Great Kid Quote!
    Thanks, Sweet Jan!

  • Reply Sharon Eaton September 29, 2018 at 5:31 pm

    Dear Jan,
    Would loved to have been with you at the table sharing friendship & good memories with Dave & Melva! We lament that we are so far away here in So California now, & love your posts but would rather have a long visit over breakfast, lunch or dinner!
    So glad to hear you say you are “content”! As we continue to see friends “graduate” to heaven , it definitely feels we are at a new stage of our lives & I hope to embrace the wisdom in your posts & be “content” whatever life brings in the years ahead!
    Please continue to bring us your wisdom & your powerful example of what it means to live for Christ on this earth! It is powerful & helpful & always encouraging!

    • Reply Jan Carlberg October 1, 2018 at 4:27 pm

      Love hearing from you, Sharon. Like lifelines come old friendships, keeping us from sinking on days we feel overwhelmed by change and loss. Hope to get out to see you during winter. You’re forewarned!

  • Reply Niffy September 29, 2018 at 5:35 pm

    Words so true! Boy ,do I remember those Swedish pancakes and warmed syrup- brings back so many good memories of great friendship!

    • Reply Jan Carlberg October 1, 2018 at 4:29 pm

      You’re always welcome, Niffy. You were part of the family, just down the street.

  • Reply Dan Russ September 29, 2018 at 5:54 pm

    Enjoy Homecoming at Gordon and give our greetings to the Dolls and the Skillens. Kathy and I are here in Orvieto where I start teaching The Divine Comedy on Monday for the month of October. Wish I could be both places.

    • Reply Jan Carlberg October 1, 2018 at 4:31 pm

      Lucky students at Orvieto. Wish I could be there and be one of your students. As for greeting anyone, I just read this so missed the opportunity to pass on your good wishes. You’ll just have to do it yourself…next year.

  • Reply Shirley Westrate September 29, 2018 at 6:53 pm

    Oh, this message made me smile. I too have been richly blessed by memories of shared food and friendship. Next month I’ll travel to Paaadena to see a precious friend I’ve known for 57 years. Last time we were together, we started at the breakfast table and sat there talking in our nightgowns until 6:30 pm! What a glorious day!

    • Reply Jan Carlberg October 1, 2018 at 4:32 pm

      How fun! That’s true comfort food!

  • Reply Valerie McCoy September 29, 2018 at 8:49 pm

    “…where your treasure is, there will your heart be also. ”
    You know exactly where your treasures lie, Jan.

    The word picture of a Viking ship sailing away with all my ‘stuff’ is daunting. I fear that the family would be waving and singing, ‘there she goes, there she goes’…….and before I traveled over the incoming tide, the tumultuous roar would be….’oh my Lord she’s sinking!!!’
    Me thinks I’d better rent me one of those 1-800-JUNK bins….sooner rather than later.
    I love you!

    • Reply Jan Carlberg October 1, 2018 at 4:34 pm

      Sinking thoughts motivate, thee and me.

  • Reply Sue Andringa September 29, 2018 at 10:05 pm

    So good, Jan … you create wonderful word pictures! Bless you dear friend!
    Similar to your Viking ship is one where a believer sets sail at the end of his life and everyone on shore is saying, “there he goes!” When the ship disappears on the horizon, all those on the the other side and saying , “here he comes, here he comes!!” 🙂

  • Reply Wendy Lane September 30, 2018 at 6:16 pm

    Oh how I love the fall in New England! I so wish we could have come for Homecoming, but just couldn’t do it this year. Already on our calendar for next year though – Steve’s 40th! HOW DID THAT HAPPEN?!! 🙂 Looking forward to seeing and hugging you Mrs. Carlberg!!!
    So glad you have had some precious times with good friends, nothing like it. And with coffee – what could be better?!
    Love the reasoning behind pancakes, pumpkins and old friends – soooo true!
    We have really been thinking we need to get rid of a lot of our stuff – I told Steve if we die before we clean up this house our kids will kill us! 🙂 Now, if only we could move from “thinking” to “doing”!
    PS – I saw pics of the “R.Judson Carlbert Chicken Coop” – would love to hear the story behind it!
    Love you!

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