Thursday, July 31, 2008


For Stanley K. Ranum
July 31, 1914-December 28, 1981
Love you Daddy

Ole: Vell, let me tink…dis is your birthday! Let me give you a little hug and vish you happy birtday!
Lena: Tank you, Ole! Yust tink, I am 66 today.
Ole: Ya, 66 and to tink day built a road and named it after you. Are you going to go to da park and haf your picture taken by da sign?
Lena: Ya, and I am going to vere my route 66 yeans.
Ole: Oh, did day name yeans after you too?
Lena: Ya, and a TV program too!
Ole: Did you get your free road map of dat highway, den?
Lena: Na, I vill do dat later. Maybe on the 20th of Yune. Vhat did you get me for my birtday?
Ole: Well, Lena, I thought about dat for a long time. I figured first you would want a big box of craft supplies. Den I thought about getting you a new set of dishes. Den I thought about getting you some more furniture for da living room. But, den, I figured dat you had all dat and what I thought you might really like is yust to reminisce about vhat you seen in da last nine years in dis place. Ya, dat, I tink is best. I vonted to make da fattest birthday card you ever got! So I figured, Vell, Lena, I tink it is time to vammoose from dis place. Vhat do you tink about dat? You vant to visit about vhat ve seen?
Lena: Vell, Ole, I tink you is right. I suppose it is time to hang up da lefse roller.
Ole: Yah, and ve gotta qvit maken da peanut butter, too.
Lena: Ya, I remember dat. You vas so silly to tink you could take da lid off da yar ven dat machine vas still running.
Ole: Nay, Lena, I took da lid off da yar ‘cause you vas stickin’ your nose in it.
Lena: Oh, Ole, dat vas so much fun.
Ole: Ya, and Lena, do you remember vhen ve went around da building counting all day stuff dat vas white?
Lena: Let me see now, vhat all did ve see?
Ole: Vell, most of da men and vomen had vhite hair except for vone or two dat dyed it black. And den, remember da vhite food?
Lena: Oh ya, I tought I vas going to have a hissy vhen day served dat vhite shicken wid da white gravy and da cauliflower and dat vhite bread von day all at da same time.
Ole: Vell, I figured it out. But I didn’t know vhat dat cold vhite stuff vas.
Lena: Oh, I know what dat vas, dat vas ice cream!
Ole: Ice cream?! NO VAY.
Lena: Ya, da served it cold because Mrs. Yohnson was complaining about it being to varm.
Ole: You don’t say. Mrs. Yohnson vasn’t complaining about da ice cream, she vas complaining about how hot the room vas.
Lena: Oh, you don’t say?
Ole: Vell, Lena, vhat else do you remember about dis place?
Lena: Vell, let me tink a little. I remember vhen Yanis made soup for supper and dat vas ven she had to make two salads and a dessert!
Ole: Oh you mean like red yello with bananas and green yello wid celery.
Lena: Honest to Pete, Ole…are you listening at all?
Ole: Ya. So tell me what you said.
Lena: Yanis didn’t give dem two kinds of yello. We had two kinds of salad and only von vas yello.
Ole: Do ve have dat straightened out, den?
Lena: Yah, I suppose ve do. Vat else do you remember?
Ole: Vell, I remember da days vhen da residents vere always vanting to make stuff to hang from da ceilings in da hall.
Lena: Yah, I remember dat. Do you remember dat lady who didn’t like to get her hands dirty so she had her care giver help her?
Ole: Oh yah, I remember her. Vasn’t she da one dat bought dem bells? Vhat happened to her?
Lena: Oh she died. Ya, her family did. Do you remember dat lady dat I bought all da underwear for?
Ole: No, I vouldn’t vant to tell you dat I remember such a ting.
Lena: Oh, dat’s right. I told you not to tink about dat. Vell, she vas a nice lady.
Ole: I remember dat lady dat you would bring da Flobee in and cut her hair in bed.
Lena: Oh ya! And den she and I vould walk around da building and everyone vould say hello to her.
Ole: Vhat happened to her?
Lena: Oh, she died.
Ole: Vhat about dat guy who also pulled da fire alarm. You know, da von dat tried to eat da Christmas balls ven ve put dem on da table for decorations.
Lena: OLE! Dat vas your brodder , Ole.
Ole: I haven’t seen him around here for a long time. Vhere is he?
Lena: Oh, he died.
Ole: I got von for ya.
Lena: Tell me, Ole.
Ole: Do you remember dat lady, dat Mrs. Anderson who used to come to shurch wid her dog and play da piano?
Lena: Who played da piano, da dog or da voman?
Ole: Da lady. She vas good.
Lena: Vhat happened to her anyway?
Ole: Oh, day moved avay.
Lena: Do you remember dat lady who used to volunteer and alvays brought banana bread for da last Vednesday of da month?
Ole: Oh ya, she volunteered her for about 20 years.
Lena: Oh my, dat is going vay back. Vhat happened to her?
Ole: Oh, she is still around. Sometimes she comes over to say hello.
Lena: Dat is good dat she does dat.
Ole: Ya. Dat is good.
Lena: Say, do you remember dat nurse…dat nice von?
Ole: Let me tink, you must mean dat von dat has been here for so long.
Lena: Ya, da von dat gives da good shots.
Ole: Ya, Ya, I remember her, she vas nice. Vhat happened to her, den?
Lena: Oh she is still around. But she sorta scared me because she vould put her hands on her hips like momma used to and dat means busssiness.
Ole: Vhat ever happened to dat cute nurses aid wid da big brown eyes.
Lena: HUMPF! You mean dat von you vas sveet on?
Ole: Ya, dat’s da von. Vhat happened to her?
Lena: Oh, she vent to school and got to be an RN. She is in Villmar now vorking at the mental hospital.
Ole: Oh she vas a cutie.
Lena: Ya, but vhat about dat Austin fella. Now dere’s a charmer for ya.
Ole: Okay you!
Lena: Who vas da first person you met vhen you came here?
Ole: Oh, I tink dat vould have to be dat Patty nurse over dere on nort.
Lena: Vell, is she here?
Ole: Ya, I tink dat Patty nurse vas doing some hugging classes wid da staff.
Lena: And she got paid for it too.
Ole: Now don’t go spreading rumors, Lena. Dat Patty nurse was trying to get everyone to understand how to take care of us folks.
Lena: Ya, you know she still is doin’ dat over dere.
Ole: Ya, it is good dey haf people like her.
Lena: Do you remember dat lady in da dining room who used to say, GIMME SOMETHING TO SUCK ON!
Ole: Ya, and day vould give her Yolly Ranchers.
Lena: Ya, and remember them funny tables people used to sit at?
Ole: Yah, day don’t have dem anymore.
Lena: Ya and dere used to be a rule dat you vas supposed to talk to the resident ven day vere eating, not to each other.
Ole: Ya, but dere lives were alvays more yuicy den hours. I picked up on some ‘moves’ listening to dem people talk.
Lena: Oh I remember some ting. I remember von time a nurse’s aide called in and said she couldn’t come to vork because her car vouldn’t start and all the time her car vas sitting in the parking lot!
Ole: Vasn’t dat some kind of a deal?
Lena: Do you remember dat time dat day got them two room mates dentures mixed up and day fit?
Ole: Ya and da two ladies laughed about it for veeks.
Lena: Dem two ladies lived in the same room but day called each other on da phone because von of dem vas hard of hearing. Vhat happened to dem?
Ole: Day died.
Lena: Oh, I see. Vell, it sure is nice to have our own phone. Dat vay we can call da office and tell da ladies to have someone bring us sugar for our coffee.
Ole: Ya, it is good day brought extra packages. Now I have about 10 pounds of little sacks in my pocket.
Lena: Ya, but day tink you are gaing weight, Ole.
Ole: Ya, watch dem get excited some morning vhen day weigh me in my pajamas!
Lena: Dat isn’t very nice, Ole.
Ole: I vant to see if day are noticing anyting, dat’s all.
Lena: Oh, do you remember vhen ve used to make dah birthday posters for the residents?
Ole: Oh ya, I remember, it vas always fun coming up wid some ting dat was what day did or liked.
Lena: Vhat happened to dat, Ole?
Ole: Vell, day decided it didn’t look good to have stuff like dat in da halls.
Lena: Ya, a shame.
Ole: But you know what is really good?
Lena: Vhat is dat, Ole?
Ole: Day still have the shurch services and da bingo.
Lena: Ya, ya.
Ole: So vhat do you tink about dat Kendra leaving to go to Eventide.
Lena: Vell, I suppose it is best for on the job training.
Ole: Vhat do you tink about her getting more an hour, dere?
Lena: Vell, I tink dat Kendra girl has a lot of stuff in her head and as more to give.
Ole: Ya, maybe she will come back someday and do another job.
Lena: Ya, maybe she vould like to do dat in the future.
Ole: Ya, and den dare is Yanis. You know Yanis has been here for nine years and she is leaving.
Lena: Ya. She’s da von who comes around and asks us to soup for supper.
Ole: Ya, she is da von who is always writing da names down.
Lena: Ya, and she is da von who always does all da baking and cooking.
Ole: Ya, can any von else cook or bake?
Lena: Not dat I know. You know she makes you wear dem funny hair nets.
Ole: Dems not hair nets, day is shower caps.
Lena: Vell, it really messes up my hair cause I sveat so from dem.
Ole: I suppose if she snuck into the kitchen and got some hair nets she vould be in trouble.
Lena: Ya. And she makes you vash your hands in alcohol, yes like you vas a doctor.
Ole: Ya.
Lena: I vonder if any von ever got sick eating her food.
Ole: Na.
Lena: Do you remember dat time ve vas painting and dat lady taught dat yellow sponge vas cake wid green frosting?
Ole: Oh ya, I remember dat and Yanis took it avay from her and dat other lady ran for help. And da nurse read the label and said it was okay.
Lena: Da nurse didn’t say it vas okay, she said the paint vasn’t toxic.
Ole: And den day got her all cleaned up and gave her another sponge and she did it again.
Lena: Ya, it vas so funny, I almost laughed.
Ole: Ya, and remember vhen day had da rule dat you had to vear leather shoes?
Lena: Ya, vhat was da deal about dat?
Ole: I don’t know, I am still figuring on dat von.
Lena: Oh do you remember vhen dat lady vas put out on the porch in the black pants and day forgot her and she got burned true her pants?
Ole: Oh ya, dat vas bad. I don’t think she goes out anymore.
Lena: Do you remember vhen da kids vould come and ve vould play parachute vid da rubber chicken?
Ole: Ya, I remember dat. Vhat happened to da rubber chicken.
Lena: Oh, it retired.
Ole: Vhat happened to the lady dat brought da kids?
Lena: Oh, she moved to Arizona so her husband could sell cars.
Ole: Ya, Ya. Day half to have cars in Arizona too, I suppose.
Lena: Ole, do you remember vhen we made dem patriotic flags out of dat activity person’s husband’s yeans?
Ole: Ya, da poor guy, his wife cutting off his pants like dat, oh for shame.
Lena: Do you remember getting in dat cold bus and going for a ride to look at the Christmas lights?
Ole: Ya, it vas cold but it vas colder going outside to watch them turn the lights on da building.
Lena: Ya. Remember vhen da halls veren’t carpeted and how fast ve could race our vheel chairs?
Ole: Ya, and I remember dat guy in da red scooter coming around da corners wid out lookin’ too.
Lena: Ya ya. What happened to dat guy?
Ole: Oh, he died.
Lena: His wife still lives here. She volunteered for Cat lick rosary.
Ole: Ya, dat is good. Is someone taking care of da fish?
Lena: Ya, day get fed and so do da birds.
Ole: Do you remember dat lady who used to come and help serve coffee?
Lena: Vell, which one?
Ole: Oh dat von wid da jewel name.
Lena: Garnet?
Ole: No, a white yewel.
Lena: Oh you mean Oyster? She is in da kitchen.
Ole: No, not Oyster, I mean Pearl.
Lena: Ya, I heard she was taking the summer off.
Ole: So what about the oyster in the kitchen.
Lena: Not Oyster, Oster.
Ole: Vell, what about her?
Lena: She is still here. I bet she has seen a lot of different things in the time she has been here.
Ole: Ya.
Lena: I heard dat lady in activities is retiring.
Ole: You don’t say.
Lena: Ya.
Ole: What is she going to do, sleep?
Lena: Why, is that what you would do?
Ole: You betcha.
Lena: Some say she is going to the lake to fish off a pontoon.
Ole: She seems more like a bass boat type to me.
Lena: Na, more like a little boat, little lake, little fish.
Ole: Did anyone ask her?
Lena: No, I just thought she vas dressed like a yypsy today.
Ole: Maybe that is what she is going to do…be a yypsy.
Lena: Fa la la la la, la, la, la, la.
Ole: Vhat is dat?
Lena: A yypsy’s life is free and gay!
Ole: Lena…
Lena: Yes, Ole?
Ole: Let’s go find some white food.
Lena: Angel food cake, den. It is my birthday you know!
Ole: Ya. You know, Lena, you haf made a big difference here.
Lena: Ya.

Wednesday, July 30, 2008


The Get Along Gang, can you name them?

For those of you who have old 8mm film or even a video camera that records on VHS OR a camera that you record TO a VHS tape, you know what an editing nightmare it is. It is on my list of things to do this summer.

Randomly, I picked out a tape, the first few minutes were of a moose running across a field. I must have very excited because I would pan the moose and without turning off the camera, get part of the vehicle, and do it again. Why in the name of heaven I didn't just keep the camera on the moose is beyond me. The only time I am in full zoom and focused directly on it is when it is taking a dump. When finished, it started to gallop once again and I continued with the pan, get part of the car, and pan some more. I don't know if it was a bull or a cow, if a bull, his antlers had fallen off. I wonder if it was running 35mph like authorities claim?

I am fascinated by them. I have never been closer than the video. I haven't seen them in zoos. Why do they have elk and deer but no moose?

In the mid forties paper, there is an article about the first survey of big game in Minnesota. The took several flights over game refuges and sate parks to find 71 elk and 1,800 moose. In Minnesota, there is an area called the Northwest Angle which is bordered on the south by Lake Superior, numbers were lower than expected in that area. The Red Lake Refuge appears to be around the Lake of the Woods, (shore line of 65,000 miles). The greatest herd count for elk and moose were both in this area. This game preserve district is about thirty five hundred square miles.

It isn't like a moose is going to wander into town, although it did just that a few years back. Came right into the school yard, Ella said. Imagine that!!! A moose on the loose!

Another article about moose was report as a yearling bull. He was first spotted from an airplane on 2/29 about 70 years ago. (I bet you are thinking I am going to say they spotted him again recently and he was dead). The article is it says his coat was in good condition, he had no injuries, nor did he have any ticks on his hide BUT he didn't have any fat which indicated poor nutrition.

How do you know if a moose is sick? The walk in circles, bed down a lot and stay in a small are for some time. If you added scream and shout, you would think it was Old Trunks.

My youngest son had a favorite stuffed animal called Montgomery Moose. He was the leader of the Get Along Gang. Yes, a product of a cartoon. He got him as a gift from his brother for Christmas.

Shirley sent me the cutest clip I have ever seen recently. If you haven't seen this, it is worth the look. It is precious.

Tuesday, July 29, 2008


Back in the mid 1940's in late April, one would read there was to be a wedding dance in the Plummer Hall given by Mr. and Mrs. Gust Konickson. The band? Ray Groom and his Orchestra. The boxed advertisement was for Thursday. Another boxed ad was for another dance by the Ray Groom Orchestra on Saturday.

My parents used to go to dances. Mother would paint a line on her leg so it looked like she was wearing stockings. There was a place called Kulseth's, Old Trunks hopes the spelling is right. Along with dancing at the Palm Garden's in town, they also went to the barn dances.

We try to pull the wool over our parent's eyes, (and our sister's too), but the truth be known, common knowledge is one of many of parent' antenna.

Hoping they didn't know about Kulseth's, I casually mentioned late one Sunday afternoon that me and my friends were going to Kluseth's for a dance. WELL! Must have been a rowdy place because the clamps came down.

There were wedding dances and barn dances and tavern dances all around Thief River Falls during my high school years. I learned it was best not to tell them where the dance was because most of the where going to be clamp down-stay home answers. And yes, some of these places were pretty wild.

I remember one night we went to Red Lake Falls to a dance in the fire hall. The dance floor was up stairs. Two girls I knew got into a horrible fight and one got thrown down the stairs.

The dances at Highlanding were honest to goodness get drunk sort of places and if you weren't soaked yourself, it was not pleasant to have an old whiskered drunk trying to hang on you.

I have a great friend named Barb. She had grown up near a place called Four Town. It was a little dip in the road east of Grygla. She grew up there and going to the Hunter's Ball in Four Town was an annual event for her and her parents. Barb tried to convince my parents that although all the deer hunters were probably drunk, they were harmless. Guess what? That is another time I was chained up. Daddy said I didn't know how to handle myself around that sort of atmosphere. I could learn was not the right answer.

A great place to dance the polka was at the hall in Plummer. They had a grand floor and Barb and I could circumnavigate it numerous of times while the band of fiddles and accordions OOOMPAHED away. We didn't shuffle like the old people did. We always had enough energy to come back to TRF and have a burger at Kief's before going home.

My grand uncles sang in a quartet. How good they were, is unknown. My uncle Harry had a great voice and sang on records with an orchestra. They made a record for Mother for her birthday one year. Harry sang harmony to In My Adobe Hacienda.

In an on line group I have been part of for greater than a decade, one of the women was saying she had been to a concert in New York and heard Sir Paul sing and was in Beatlemania mode after seeing and hearing him. Funny how when she mentioned it, I thought back to their appearance on the Ed Sullivan Show.

Yet, when I think about live bands, I think about the barn dances and the fiddles and the polkas. I managed only twice to convince my parents that Maple Lake, a Sunday night hang out for teens was an okay place to go. Make that once, the other time we were supposed to be in Bemidji.

I recently met with some ladies from my high school. Before I went I was browsing the 1962 year book and ran across something that made me smile. Tim had written, "Your pretty lucky, you got to get me to dance the twist at Maple Lake". Who knows if Johnny and the Green men are stilling playing somewhere.

Flash back, what do you see?

Monday, July 28, 2008


In the Rosewood News in the Thief River Falls Times, it is said that Gust Opseth bought seedling cedar trees to plant around his new home. Pictures taken decades later, show the trees grew!

Funny thing about trees, most of us don't 'see' the trees grow. Old Trunks has a sweet story for you. It was mother's day and the children bought a silver maple tree for me as a gift. The idea to give the tree as well as nurture it by watering it that first summer. The tree was planted near the corner of the sidewalk and the drive way. In time the tree would become the shade from the west as we sat on the small deck at the front of the house.

The tree was named 'Twilight'. And Twilight, like all good silver maples grew like a weed. It was strong enough for Bud to hang on one of the branches or hang his newspaper bag.

A few years passed and Twilight encountered what looked like a lightening strike. The answer was not to cut it down, rather to ampulate the top and paint the stump and hope, like the good little maple it was, it would shoot out new branches and continue to grow. As remembered, nearly all the pictures taken on the deck had Twilight as a back ground.

We tried to add other named trees to the front yard. One was a plum tree, called Purple Plum, most likely named for the game and a Sweet Gum tree which was more of a southern species, one got worms and the other one froze out.

Sunday, July 27, 2008


Many of you may have read numerous books and articles about dreams and what they mean.
For all of you, it must be a truly fascinating experience. Old Trunks is hopeful all of us have the intuition to trust that reoccurring dreams or thoughts need to be faced or at least figured out. If for no other reason, to learn to be quiet within oneself and to learn to better communication skills. With that said:

Daddy reoccurring dream was he was chased by a bull and got under the fence just in time. We know he was trying to get away from something.

My dream as a child was falling, into a dark place. Later, I would realize that it was connected to mother being in the San for almost two years. The dream ceased when she came home.

Recently I was dreaming our red car was covered with license plates. They were stuck to the SUV everywhere except the windows. Tom was trying to find a place to put the new one. He was not happy the city police told him to take ALL the plates off and put the new one were it belonged. We might consider the vehicle was red and someone needs to work on anger management! WHO ME? :)

In another recent dream, Tom wanted to go to town to get maps. Yes MAPS. He wanted to go to a place where he could get 50. When he asked the person behind the counter for 50 maps, she asked him why did he need so many. He said he wanted to wallpaper the house and since the maps were free, he wanted to use them. He didn't understand why she wouldn't give him EVEN ONE! When I told him about it, he thought it would be a great idea to paste each small map on the wall so we could see them without looking in the bound books or DNR on the Internet! The bound books, of which he has three, are $25 each. The maps, I dreamed of were all of the Chippewa National Forest, however!

Popular dreams are:

Being chased


Saturday, July 26, 2008

He brought in a Quart 'yar'

With all the discussion about plastic water bottles and Styrofoam usage in our land fills, we would like to think back about how people used to do it. Before there was plastic water bottles, there was the common quart or pint jar.

My grand parents both talked with a Norwegian brogue, a JAR was a YAR.

When grandpa went off to work in the summer, he had a yar of coffee, which he drank cold and a yar of water. Later, the yar was filled with root beer nectar, lightly seasoned with sugar. The nectar was stored in the fridge, if you drank it in the house, it was so cold it made your head hurt, it also made you wish there was more sugar in it. The nectar came from some traveling like salesperson, most likely the Watkins man.

When my sweet Thomas was telling me about how he crawled on his belly in the furrows of a field to get a better shot at a duck, he said they left their lunch in a special place for later. His drink was stored in an insulated container. Remember these? At first they had glass liners. Many of us who did not have a hot lunch program would start the year with a little insulated container of milk, which was warm by lunch time. Before Christmas, it always seemed to break.

My parents liked to go for a ride on Sunday afternoons. They would take the Scotch plaid picnic bag with a container which was made by Thermos. Mother would fill the container with very hot water before she put the coffee in to keep it warm.

We are a society of paper like cups and plastic bottles. Although I saw the quart yars full of water, the idea of it seemed a little far back to me until one summer when I was going on a travel, I bought a quart yar, which was insulated. I filled it with ice and water and it would last all day. The only problem was you couldn't see the road when you tried to drink out of it while driving! Yes, I still have it and it works great!

Again, my sweet Thomas is convinced that bass only are on the bite just before daylight and into sunrise. I know when he wakes me in the morning, the coffee will be cooked and a reusable unbreakable container will be filled with hot water, changed out only when it is time to pour the coffee in.

My children had lunch boxes and liquid containers. The best way to keep things hot was to heat the food to very hot and bring it to school just before lunch. With luck, a hamburger hot dish would still have some warmth to it.

I would hope that all of you consider using reusable containers when possible. Check your cup boards. How many insulated containers do you have that you have bought to refrain from the use of plastic on your morning run to the coffee store?


Friday, July 25, 2008


When Scrooge got his act together and brought a goose to the family on Christmas, was it domesticated or was it a wild goose like the Canada geese in the second picture? Although Canada geese are original to North America, there are at least 65,000 in Britain.

When grandparents and great grand parents cooked a goose, was it domesticated or was it shot?

Have you, in your lifetime lived in an area of the country or on a fly way where the Canada goose flocks stopped to rest and eat before flying north in the summer or south in the winter? If so, then we share the pleasure of the V formation high in the sky and the sound of their communication honk. The goslings have a wheezy whiny like honk which changes as they mature. They seem to group up near Patrick's in Longville like clicks of high school chicks. We know they are family oriented and as the family grows the extended family returns to the nest/hatch area.

Restaurants on lakes often have families of geese loafing on the shore or dipping for food and swimming in the lake. At resorts, where people have hand fed them, they are social and also poop everywhere. One family had so many goose droppings in their yard, they sprayed to detour them. That year the 'family' had 35 goslings swimming between two adults. Although we know they don't lay that many eggs at a time; about 5-7 is common with a maximum of 12. Imagine the work of laying an egg a day! And the chicks are SO CUTE when they are still in their downy coats. They swim the first day and the natural enemy on water are big game fish, like pike and musky.

Recently, while fishing, we noticed the rustle of the bull rushes along the shore. As we watched, geese of all size emerged to a total of about 50. Down the shore line, additional large groups paddled across the lake. It is said that the parents moult, (loose feathers) and are ready to fly about the time the goslings fledge, which is about 9 weeks.

They are magnificent birds in their tuxedo like dress. For those of us who live in a snow bank for several months it is a sign that summer will come when we look up to see the V in the sky and the honking.

Listen for the honkers this fall if you are in the part of the country that has a fly by. If not, close your eyes and listen in your mind.

And......for you.....wake up little Soozi, wake up. Our goose is cooked! :)


Thursday, July 24, 2008

The Making of the bed

Here we are in a time when beds are made out of 'space age' materials and when one lays on such a mattress, one is certain heaven has happened. It is also an era where one can have a mattress made for you or have controls so each of you have just what you want for your own sleeping comfort verses your bed buddy.

Think back to what it must have been like to sleep on a straw filled mattress. Keeping in mind of course, that those ancestors didn't have anything to compare it to. For those of you who have climbed up a straw stack and laid on your back to watch the clouds, it seems like it would be comfortable. But straw breaks down and begins to stick through the ticking.

How nice, these folks must have thought, to gather enough feathers to make a feather bed. How grand it would be, a wife might think, if her husband shot enough water fowl to actually make a mattress. If enough, then maybe even a cover!

The Johnson family were hunters. The birds were cleaned by their mother and she, indeed, kept the feathers, not for mattresses, but for pillows. We have one of those pillows and it is huge! It is a mix of down and feathers.

What is the difference? Feathers can poke through, down are the feathers from the breast. A guessed-a-mit for a standard pillow is about 25. Now, you need to think about this. All water fowl have lice, so you want those little critters to crawl out or die off, then! You make the pillows. Sweet Thomas says if we really want to know what all different kinds of feathers there are in that pillow, we can open it out and see. Erna recovered them as the need arose.

We had mattresses and box springs when I grew up and pillows that were made from rubber. Daddy didn't like them because they twisted up his hair. The parents rubber pillows were replaced with new age filler and the rubber pillows were put on my bed. Twisted my hair too.

As a young family we had those Dacron pillows.

When I moved to Fargo, I had my first encounter with a down pillow. Such an affair started with it that when we went to Canada on a holiday, we went to Hudson Bay and bought down pillows to sleep on while away from our own bed.

Thinking North Dakota was going to be cold, we brought a down comforter. In Minnesota, there is no tax on clothing, I tried to convince the clerk it was to be a wrap, she still taxed us for it.

Well, feathers on the top, feathers under our heads.....let's push a little more and put feathers underneath! That was a little more ducky down than needed and the feather mattress flew to the lake and is just under the sheet. It takes the edge off the hardness of the bed--BUT it packs, so the loft of the feathers is gone after the first sleep.

Down pillows can be shook to bring back the loft but who is going to remake an entire bed every day?

The down comfortable was given away, it really isn't THAT cold in North Dakota. WE DO HAVE HEAT IN THE HOUSE. We have heavy winter, light winter, light summer blankets in the closet. So what do we use? A flannel blanket over the sheet. And pillows? Ten pillows on the bed. Making the bed has become an art form.

Time me: Three minutes!


Wednesday, July 23, 2008


Mentally fly back to the days of your youth and how invincible we all were. Think about the past and what you have become and the hard ship you may have had. Think about a few ladies getting together for lunch and talking about where they are in there lives. Five females who roamed the halls of the same high school and took many of the same classes and STILL have a sense of decency.

Old Trunks wonders if five ladies getting together to card and spin wool talked about many of the same topics 60,70, 80, or more years ago.

Did they talk about their children?

Did they talk about surgeries?

Did they talk about the loneliness widow hood and how they are filling their time?

Did they talk about their hobbies?

Where their hobbies and activities the same? What do you think caused the diversion?

Why aren't we all quilters? Gardeners? Live close enough to our grand children to be fastened at the hip?

For families and friends who have stayed in the same area the process of aging happens day by day. Another class mate from Florida stated in an e-mail he hadn't seen some of those people for over 40 years.......adding, where did time go? If he had been there, he would have gotten into step in a nano second and joined the ranks! It seems as if once we know where they live and they are okay, it is smooth sailing.

All of us at this lunch had become the matriarchs; our parents are all deceased. Yet, as one of them asked, "How come we all look like our mothers on the outside?"

One of the ladies pointed out one difference from us and the spinning and carding group: If you come to my house, I probably would not serve pie and coffee rather a soda or a glass of homemade wine. So you see, the hospitality remains as does the friendship.

Loving thoughts to the four of you at Handy Farms.


Tuesday, July 22, 2008


........The things your parent's used, that you used as an adult that are on their way out?

Can you remember taking film to the store to have it sent away to have it processed? For me, it was the Ekeren Drug Store, later it was dropped off at SuperX, in Fargo, it was Hornbacher's Grocery or one hour at K-Mart! Ella sent hers away to Brown, they were returned to her. Most of her negatives were well preserved and copies could be made of the pictures. Some camera companies are no longer making those cameras.

I ask you, do you have a film camera that has a partial roll in it? Yes, we do, too.

The beauty of digital for us personally, is Tom, who has a good eye for pictures, is filming again. We trimmed his 15 pictures this morning to four, (his choice).

Another thing that my parents did not have was a VHS player. I remember when they came out and how neat it was to rent movies. As a go forward item, we bought a VCR and DVD player together. What we wanted was a DVR, that is a unit which would record on DVD's rather than VCR. That was about six years ago and they weren't available yet.

There are many commericals aimed at people who don't have cable. We know the line, in 2009 we won't be able to get programming unless we have a box and one can get a coupon for them! Let's say you don't have satellite or cable, what are you, about 15%? We are in the 15% at the lake but we can watch TV shows on the computer!

Did your parents ever write counter checks in pencil? Did you ever write them in red ink so they had to be hand processed? At a store in Fargo, if you write a check, it clears and they give the check back to you! Did you ever think that a debit card would be your first line of payment? Or do you carry cash with you for purchases under $50? Come to think of it, Mother charged her groceries and paid at the end of the month.

Speaking of charging.....My parents drugstore of choice was Ekeren's. Everything from pills to make up was charged. Each charge went on a simple two ply form. It wasn't itemized, it simple said, CHARGED and daddy's name.

It was Crazy days in Thief River Falls. Anita and I had gone to town. We needed a little walking around money so I made an agreement with Ekeren's that I would buy this coin purse if I could have them put $5 in it first. Nothing was ever signed, there was no way of my parent's ever knowing what I did. Except of course, when they just happened to tell mother about it.

In the 1930's, 25% of America had an out house, more in the country. When was the last time you were in a pit toilet? Unless you picnic, go to concerts, camp, or fish, it may have been awhile. Never mind, they still stink.

I am thinking about my children: I know that Ryen only has a cell phone. I don't mean to sound like only, but think about this: We just got an answering machine recently because that is all that was available. People with cell phones HAVE voice mail. Ryen can ALWAYS be reached. If he moves across America his phone number will stay the same. It is highly possible Bud does the same. Recently, Rachel stated she was going to a better cell set up. How long will it be before 'land lines', answering machines, and dial up to internet will no longer be available?

Now, I am showing my true colors. I do not look at the physical phone book. I am annoyed they even put it on the step. It is just easier to find the number on line. Recently some one came to Fargo, it was easier to search the hotel and find the amenities than to flip through the phone book yellow pages......(I am sure they are making the font size smaller just to make me growl).

It wasn't that long ago that motels/hotels did not offer WIFI as a perk. If you wanted to be on line and had a local number, they charged you ten cents a call. Even here on the shores of Leech Lake, there is WIFI and laptops are popping up all over. Ten years ago it was plug into the land line and dial up, then use the cell phone to dial up, and now WIFI. So, you see there was a time I could be in the boat with a laptop using a cell phone to talk to America!

Cell phones? VCR? CD? Wireless? Debit cards? Would my parents have gotten on board?

Think about it!


Monday, July 21, 2008


Pelicans have a yellowish pouch connected to the lower mandible of the beak that stretches up to six inches, which can hold three gallons of water! Their bodies are mostly white, with black primaries and outer secondaries, which are hidden until the bird outstretches it's enormous wings. During mating season the male develops a fibrous plate on the upper part of the beak, this is a unique characteristic of the white pelican, it seems to decrease in size throughout the summer. Also the bill is bright orange during the mating season. Their feet are orange, and are webbed not only between the four front toes but also between the second toe and the inwardly directed back toe. They have an enormous wingspan of 8 - 9.5 feet. Their legs are orange, and are extremely short.

The eggs hatch after one month; both parents sit on the eggs. The chicks are then fed by eating regurgiated food out of the beak. The babies are born featherless; the early down is grey.

The family, or raft of several pelicans live on a mat of grass and twigs right on the water. At Leech Lake where we fish, several sit together along with cormorants and sea gulls. In three days of wind gusting up to 50mph, one would think it would have broken up. I am happy to report it did not.

I asked Tom what they were doing with they seemed to be in a circle moving towards each other. They were working together to round up minnows! One of the neatest things was that they all 'scooped' at the same time.

The nesting time is over and the little ones can swim; in three months they will be flying! We went by trolling motor near the their nesting/sitting area today. The birds on Leech are used to boat traffic; rather than flying away; they simple went into the water on the opposite side and floated away. We did wonder if they were molting and could not be air borne. We don't know the answer for you.

A safe estimate for the bay we were fishing in this morning would be 100 or more. We were fishing on Boy Bay. Every bay has pelicans--the numbers are mounting, perhaps in the hundreds.

I am looking forward to seeing how they wobble the skin on their lower beak to cool off. That is, of course, if it isn't too hot for this fisherperson to be watching them!

Sunday, July 20, 2008


Old Trunk lives with a weather wannabee. He should have been a meteorologist, he is tuned in. On a perfectly lovely day on the lake, he will say we are going in, meaning, getting off the lake. I trust him, it is generally weather related.

Although he doesn't keep a record of directions of the wind, temperatures, cloud formations, and the weather that accompanies them, he can, by looking at the NOAA maps, predict the weather.

He doesn't talk about 'weather wisdoms'. My favorite is red sky at night, sailors delight, red sky in the morning, sailors take warning. Or, for fishing:

West, bite the best
East, bite the least
South, blow in your mouth
North, no fisherman goes forth

He understand the difference in lengths of shadows and can tell by old photographs the time of day the picture was taken, although he doesn't even know the people.

He takes pictures of clouds, because, he says, they are beautiful, (and they are). And, of course, he knows what every type of cloud formation there are and know what they stand for. Are you thinking mare's tails? Are you trying to think of what all of them are called? Me too!

He understands the air masses and how they move.

He can tell how hard the wind is blowing by looking at the grass blowing and smoke trailing upwards. I should look up the Beaufort Scale and see if I can understand it.

Me? I can tell the way the wind is blowing when I see a flag THEN look at the compass in the truck!

It is nice to have a weatherman.


Saturday, July 19, 2008


Stand Tall
Walk Tall
Sit Tall

Any one every tell you to stand up straight? Why do you think they did that? Do you remember anyone who had poor posture? I suppose it is part of the Cinderella Story.

We are supposed to learn all this grooming as children. It is to be perfected to the point that it is part of us, yet, who, as a child hasn't simply wet their toothbrush and went to bed--and if someone asked, "Did you brush your teeth?" You said, "Check the toothbrush."

Or simply wet your hands and wipe the dirt on the towel. No soap. After all, if you couldn't see the germs, they couldn't be there, could they?

Or hang up a coat, polish your shoes, and care for other clothes for that well groomed look.


Is it like the Showy Lady Slipper who, after 15 years, blooms.

Is that when we find people to admire because they:

Have pretty hands
Take care of their already pretty teeth
Look at your skin in dispare and wish for no zits

And is this also when:

We don't see that sleep has anything to do with looking like Cinderella.
And poo poo the health classes in junior high that tells us to:

Stand Tall
Walk Tall
Sit Tall


Friday, July 18, 2008


When Grandmother cooked and baked in her early years in Rosewood, she did it on a wood stove. In the stove was a reservoir. The reservoir was filled with water either carried and pumped from outside, then later, a hand pump was put in the kitchen by the sink. The sink had a bucket under neath that caught the water which was thrown out as it got full. Some called it the slop pail.

Simmer, broil, bake, and fry....but mostly she boiled. I remember a triangle shaped pot in which she cooked roast on the back burner of the stove. She would have loved a crock pot. She was the queen of use of leftovers! Her grand children all thought she made the best meatloaf, which we always had on Christmas Eve. I did not believe it was all left overs run through the grinder--but later I learned it really was. Ham, beef, and pork made it extra special.

My own Mother roasted everything, except of course, for the Thursday liver, which was fried. Our family did not have a garden, our vegetables were canned and later frozen vegetables like cauliflower and broccoli were available at the market. Mother bought frozen strawberries in the winter.

I was told we lived too far north and it cost too much to have fresh fruit and vegetables year around. Mother bought products in season. Although, it seemed, potatoes, yams, onions, and iceberg lettuce seemed to be available year around just as apples, oranges, and bananas were. (I wondered how it was cost effective to ship bananas from South America when other items were not available year around).

Now Daddy held the knowledge of how to buy meat. One must realize that during this era, beef was older and grain fed. That means that when one buys, let's say, a T Bone, you are looking for off white fat, (called marbling) in the steak. We fed out a steer at the farm. I fed Old Hickory twice a day. He mooed at me; I mooed back. When it came time to eat this fine, grain fattened steer, I just cried and said, "I can't eat Old Hickory." I did not eat beef until I was certain all those white, freezer wrapped packages were used up.

Mother was a consistent cook. There were three meals on the table each day. Perhaps, like many, it was chicken on Sunday. At our house, it also meant liver on Thursday. There were no one pot meals, except for stew. And if Daddy took a little more than Mother thought he should have, she would say, "Don't eat up for the dogs", Grandmother could have made a lot of meatloaf out of what the dogs got!

Happy cooking! Aren't you glad you don't have a slop pail?


Thursday, July 17, 2008


If I asked my grand daughter to show me how to use a typewriter and how to change a ribbon, what do you think she would say? She is ten and she keyboards on a computer at school and in 2004, she was writing computer programs.

If I asked her how to make a phone call from a pay phone, would she know where there was in her town? We know that party lines and being courteous to the operator when asking for a number has long since passed.

If I told her the story about how when in sixth grade and the bottle of red ink slide down my desk while I was filling my pen and the bottle all spilled on my skirt. Does she know what a fountain pen is? Does she know how to fill it. Or would she ask, what is a fountain pen and what is ink?

If I storied to her about cranking the mimeograph machine and how the ink smelled, could this child with a vivid imagination and a fine mind grasp the concept? If I asked her to duplicate something what do you think she would tell me?

Three cent stamps of my childhood are now 42 cent stamps in her childhood. We didn't have zip codes, nor did we have area codes. You asked the operator for a number and stated the town. I am not suggesting she is writing letters as I did to my parents when I was at camp. I must add it was mandatory that at least two letters were written. Parents sent self addressed stamped envelopes and stationary with the camper. Now, if Jaeme wants to send a note, she does it with an email address, calls on a cell phone or text messages.

I am certain, however, that she could be dramatic and put on a skit on how salespeople should approach a customer and wait on people.

Manual Typewriter with Carrying Case•
49 Keys with 86 Symbols•
Margin Stop with 8 Stop Tabs•
Space Bar with Repeater Key•
Variable Line Space•
Paper & Carriage Release Lever•
Ribbon Color Selector Switch•
Plastic Housing and Carrying Case•
24.8cm Carriage•
24.5cm Maximum Paper Length


Wednesday, July 16, 2008


For families whose father's worked for the Soo Line Railroad, rail passes where given for all the family to travel by train where ever the Soo Line ran. This was especially nice for the Anderson's, a family of seven. They took numerous trips to the state of Washington to visit Ella's sister who owned a hotel.

It is not known what the family did beyond visiting with Nora and Louis, yet, I can assure you they entertained themselves during the days or weeks they were there. Ella was the family photographer and always rounded everyone up to take a photographer; first with Lloyd missing and then herself because cameras didn't have a timer like they do now.

Perhaps we do reclaim a vacation by the photographs taken. Little notes on the back may help us recall the time, day, and activities.

In July of 1982, a pencil written note states: It is 76 degrees at 9:05, we are now out of the city limits. Rachel is reading her book, Bud is getting home runs on his electronic baseball game, and Ryen is getting 'hang ons' with a draw poker game. Ryen called "J's" hang ons and the card that was coming up on the electronic game where jokers.

While at Rockaway Beach, we fed carp and rainbow trout, the two older kids rode go karts and bumper cars. Bud played a pitching machine game and won a hat for throwing the ball 41mph. Pictures were taken of Rachel on a horse, Bud on a Buffalo, and Ryen on a rabbit.

What does one do if there are no still pictures, only moving pictures of telephone poles along the highway driving 70 miles an hour down some small highway in Mississippi then forgetting the camera in the car at special places like Ringling Brothers Baruman and Bailey Circus? Places you have been as a child and wish to share real images with your children? You can only be hopeful they can imagine it or even experience it themselves.

My questions are:

Will they ever dive into the ocean to discover what salt water tastes like?

Will they see a member of there family sprayed with cud chewed grass because the member of the family was teasing the animal?

Will their grandmother's girdle be hung up on a line in the kitchen every night?

Will they get to see the dog jump from ledge to ledge in the Dells?

Will they pick oranges off the back of a convertible?

Will they take a pet along that has major gas because he ate too much lobster?

Will they get far enough into Canada that you pretend to lick an ice cream cone so the clerk knows what you want?

Will they pet animals in a petting zoo?

Will they ride horse back on back trails?

Will they go to county fairs and look at the animals?

Will they at least try foods of the area, like grits?

Will they be amazed at people of different cultures?

Will everyone be refreshed when they return home or is it the old saying, "I had to come back to work to rest up from vacation?"

Old Trunks knows that money is tight right now, yet money for vacation is always extra over the normal every day living expenses. When the Anderson's packed their suitcases for train trips to Washington, there were still outside expenses. As stated earlier, we could not budget for everything at the Dells so we went two years. As a child, vacations didn't happen every year and they were generally ten days.

I saw Daddy at his desk with his old Remington Rand adding machine crunching miles on the map and probably detailing what it was going to cost.

Certainly the many campers, vacationers, and fishing people we saw over the weekend did the same thing. The important thing is we did see a lot of campers and boats on the highway. Perhaps like us, we took our check and put it into a gas fund. Next year we will have to come up with a new plan. Because even if you go to a lake place, there is still costs, still gas to get there, and still a need to eat. And a big boat, which has sat in the harbor and gotten algae on the bottom is not going to get good mileage crossing the lake.

Try hard to take a few days away for refreshment, regardless of where you might go. Put something aside each week throughout the year if you must. It is important.


Tuesday, July 15, 2008


There is something about the Dells that calls you back. It isn't that big a place but there is much to see in the area. When budgeting for vacation, one can't always do everything at once. By now we were running a Buick Sports wagon. It seemed like a good vehicle for vacationing with children; they had more space for one thing.

But where to put the orange tent, the sleeping bags, and the cookware? We acquired a one wheel wooden trailer somewhere. This is how we would haul four bicycles. Yes, by now, Bud was a strong rider. It was 1976; he would be seven in September and Rachel 11 in October. It would be the summer they counted railroad tracks and collected bottle caps.

Bottle caps that you took off with a tool! REMEMBER?

The idea was to go to the sand dunes in Illinois on the way to the island. Now, we knew people who had been there and when asked if the dunes were at tall as the local grocery store they just laughed. If you have seen sand dunes you know they are bigger than a Kroger store.

Have you ever tried walking up a sand hill? The sand is loose, you sink. But who should emerge as first to the top of the hill and ask what took us so long? An added bonus was a trip in a dune buggy, but it wasn't like we thought a dune buggy was nor where we able to tear around the dunes on our own. This is probably another time Rachel exclaimed it wasn't what it was advertised to be!

We would take a ferry to Macinaw Island where there are no cars. At the time we were there one either rode in a horse drawn carriage or you rode a bicycle, which one could rent if you did not bring your own.

The path around the island was asphalt, the air was pure and the weather was marvelous. We all started out together; three of us caught up at the finish line where Bud waited for us.

The shore was lined with Victorian like hotels. Small shops lined the walks. We bought fudge and shirts which read, : Captain, first mate, and crew. We would wear them proudly during the rest of the vacation.


Monday, July 14, 2008


The television show The SWAT TEAM was on the air for 39 episodes. It began in the winter of 1975. On the opening credits, men jumped out of a dark van with their weapons. The show was taken off the air because it was considered to violent for the time. Compared to today's television, it was a pussy cat.

I am not sure just who named it the SWAT TRUCK, I just know that friends of Bud's liked to jump out of the back of it. Yes, they emulated the shows they saw on television and in the movies.

When we acquired it, it was simply an old, small mail delivery truck. We spent part of the summer making the inside into a living space to include two benches that popped up to form a double bed, a piece of plywood was made to hang from the door rollers to serve as a bed for Rachel and the dash was carpeted as a place for Bud to sleep. The bedding stored under the benches and a cabinet hid the cook and eating wear. Curtains were made to cover all the windows. The inside was done in green; the paint inside was called sour apple. The outside was painted with a paint brush; it was olive green.

The idea was to go to the Wisconsin Dells then on to Green Bay, Wisconsin. We would tour the southern side of Lake Superior before heading to Thief River Falls, which, of course, was always part of the vacation because that is where family lived.

The maiden voyage for the SWAT TRUCK was Douglas County Lake. It was primitive camping except for a manual pump for water. For some reason, we didn't have anything to carry water in except large soda bottles, at that time they were still glass. By the time we left for the vacation, we would have acquired a five gallon plastic container for water.

The Wisconsin Dells were beautiful. It is a wonderful part of the Midwest. Rachel didn't think much of the ride on the DUCKS through the forest, yet, I took the trip again a few years ago and found the flora and fauna worth the ride. We stayed at a delight campground called Sherwood Forest, Rachel and Bud kept in touch with walkie talkies. It was the kind of campground certainly worthwhile. By now, we had learned about camping books you could borrow from the library. It wasn't quite so hit and miss. At least we knew what they advertised, even if one had to pay .25 cents for three minutes of cold water showering in a stall rusty with the impurities in the water.

On to Green Bay, although we were not Packer fans. It was hot. Was there any cool area in Wisconsin? It did not seem so. Meals were simple, the idea of eating chili in 90 degree weather didn't seem to make anyone happy. One night, we camped in a park which had tall virgin pines. It was dark when it was daylight. There was a sense of relief from the heat.

We took highway two across Minnesota, stopping near Lengby to visit my parents at their cottage on one of many Island Lakes. We had a fire on the beach in the evening. We went to see Ella in Thief River Falls a day or two later. When the SWAT TRUCK was turned off, it wouldn't start. She offered us her AA card; instead, we got bushings for the starter and got it running.

The trip back to Lawrence was long and hot. Bud started saying DAN DAN the FRYING PAN MAN in such a way that all of us were laughing.

Back in Lawrence, and with only one car, the SWAT TRUCK was used as a work vehicle. It is said people were asking if the driver was selling drugs out of it and it was sold.

The boys in the neighborhood would miss the SWAT TRUCK.

What would be next?


Sunday, July 13, 2008


When your child is bored and bounces baseballs off the pictures in a motel room, you know you have to find a different alternative to staying in motels or at least go back to tenting.

And so it was that the Anderson family had a yard sale and made enough money to order a tent from Montgomery Wards. The tent was 7 x 7. That was to sleep four of us, and later five of us.

We practiced setting the tent up in the east yard; learning that by marking the fiberglass rods which gave it the Quonset like shape, the children could be in charge of actually setting up the tent. The first night we placed the tent so the opening was toward the house. This is when we learned that if you lay on an incline with your head on the decline you are going to have a major head ache in the morning. And so it came to place that before the tent was pitched, an adult would lay on the ground to know which way up was. Anyone with an IQ of greater than 85 could figure that out.

Bud was just about three the first year we went. It would be one night stands from Kansas to Minnesota. Have you been to Itasca State Park known for the origin of the Mississippi River? We camped there. It was the summer of 1973. We were driving an 1965 Chrysler with a dent in the door. It sort of puffed and grunted as it moved along.

Bud and Rachel would walk across the source of the Mississippi, they would have their pictures taken by Paul Bunyan in Bemidji, and they would think petting the deer in Deer Town was lots of fun.A man at the camp ground was in a stall of a toilet wearing canvas sneakers like women wore then, Bud stated he "Didn't want that lady sitting next to him." Bud would tell his dad to slow down driving through the virgin pine of the park because it made him nervous. He would call his cousin, "Baby Anything".

It would be the summer that Grandma Ella, (with the dolls) would get her magic bag out and entertain the children. We would stop in Minneapolis and buy fabric at the Musing wear outlet for pennies on the pound to sew shirts for Bud and clothes for Rachel.

Life seemed simple: The list of what to do and what to bring that were not obvious, yet sometimes were, was not complicated:

Stop the paper.
This was done by actually calling the newspaper, now it is done on line

Stop the mail.
Catch the carrier and get a 4 x 6 card to fill out. Now? Internet

We unplugged everything but I don't know why.

Four sleeping bags
Five pillows. WHY?
Tent mallet
Trouble light
Flash light
Socket set
Ice Chest
Two gallon water jug
Camp stove
Cooking pots
Can Opener
Dish soap

It must have gone well because the next year, we were off to camp again with the wheezy Chrysler, this time with three bicycles strapped to the trunk of the car. About this time we had learned the North Shore of Minnesota had the cleanest air in the mid section of the United States. Bud would stop zonking as soon as we were passed Duluth.

We would drive to Thunder Bay in Canada and go to Fort William. Bud tired on the long walk on a asphalt path through the woods on the way to the fort. He sat down to rest, then exclaimed, "I can press my go button!" Away he flew while the rest of us walked at a nice pace. When we caught up with him, all he could say was, "What took you so long."

At the fort we would watch people dressed in period costumes work as they may have when it was a fur trading fort in 1815. Certainly one feels jettisoned back in time when the only thing they offered to eat was apple cake and apple juice. It is now offering wraps, soda, and other "new world" food. Almost a shame, don't you think?

Bud was a little small to have his own bike on this trip. Their father had bought a fender less bike at a yard sale for a few dollars and painted it blue. Although the idea was that Bud would ride in the bike seat which was attached to my bike. Rachel, of course was more than capable to ride her own. Bud rode side saddle on the power bike most of the time.

Ah, but the next year, we had a different unit for camping. Tune in for the summer of the SWAT truck.


Saturday, July 12, 2008


Old Trunks was one of those kids that went to camp in late July every year. Every year I looked for the lady slipper which I had seen in the old books that belonged to my grand uncle, Olaf. I was always disappointed.

And then, I moved to Fargo and started fishing with my sweet Thomas in Minnesota. The land of the loon and the home of the lady slipper. The first one I saw was in a ditch! I couldn't believe it, I saw a lady slipper.

That is when I learned lady's slipper flowers from early June to mid-July. It flowers best in bright sunlight, although it will grow in semi-shaded areas. In its first year, this orchid grows only as tall as a pencil point. Each year, the lady's slipper may produce a half-million seeds, which are as fine as flour dust. This flower has a long life span; some may be 100 years old. They begin to bloom when the plant is fifteen years old.

Minnesota began protecting the plant in 1925; it is illegal to pick them. Connecticut have them listed as endangered species.

As you may know, they grow in marsh and bog like areas. There is a plant outside our bedroom window, yes, near the swamp and the croaking and peeping frogs. When it bloomed, I counted greater than 30 blossoms. I wonder how old it is? I wonder if anyone can tell me.
Do you know?

Friday, July 11, 2008


Greater than a decade ago, Old Trunks had an on line friend named Jim. When I talked with Jim on line about the Common Loon, he saw nothing beautiful about there color, calls, or mannerisms. Jim only saw them as a dull chestnut colored water fowl that spent the winters near him on the west coast. I pounded the keys long and hard to win him over to my side; one of mystery and appreciation for what became the Minnesota state bird.

Someone is lobbying to have the Chick a dee be the winter state bird when the loons are not here. The lobbyist has not convinced the legislators at the time of this posting.

In our fishing adventures, we have recently seen artificial nesting platforms that float on the lake but or anchored to the bottom. The ones we saw this year where triangle shaped with netting on the sides to keep the predators out. Around the platform were posts stating in was a nesting area, which kept boaters away from the nest.

Yet, on Leech Lake and many others, the loons seem to find a clump of a bog on which to lay and hatch their chicks. If you get too close to the nest, the parent will slip off and swim underwater, surface and make noises to distract you from disturbing the clutch. These solid boned birds can dive to great depths and swim quickly. To fly, they 'run' on the water and flap their wings for several hundred yards before taking flight.

Their hatch is two or three chicks. As babies, they ride on the back of their parents, both for safety and for warmth. By the first part of July they are swimming about and if separated from their parents, dive for safety.

There is one set of loons that had four chicks last summer, this year, the same parents nested again in the same area. When the chicks were very young, there were three, at last count, they had only one chick. Big fish, such as pike may have had them for a meal.

The loons are fun to watch as well as to listen to. Recently a male was courting a female and would chortle, stand tall in the water and flap his wings to get her attention. Not knowing enough about 'loon love' Old Trunks can't be certain she accepted his offer.

Every year the camera is bloated with pictures of loons--every year I hope to be close enough to see their red eyes in the image. Often it is time to lay down the casting rod and admire these marvelous creatures with their pure white and blue black feathers and their red eyes. And nearly ever year, I say, like Jim once told me about whales in a photo he sent, "Well, it looked bigger, closer in person."

Come to Minnesota and listen. That eerie sound you hear is not a ghost haunting a northern lake. It's the call of the common loon. This bird, whose ancestors roamed the earth 65 million years ago. I am so infatuated with them that one year, our Christmas cards was a reproduction of a feather!