Monday, January 31, 2011


Old Trunks was looking for something else when she found this article.


Alfred Anderson killed his wife with a hammer at 8 o'clock this morning. The tragedy occurred at the home of the couple on John Avenue.

Anderson was lighting the fire when his wife returned home from where no one knows. She claims she had been to the home of her son-in-law, and Anderson jumped on her with a hammer in his hand. He stopped not to consider, but hit her on the head, killing her almost instantly.

Officer Thurber picked the man up and he admits to crime.

The woman had her head cut open big enough for a man to put his hand in without trouble. The hammer, a common sized one, is on exhibition at police headquarters. It is clotted with blood and hair.

The couple had reported to have been always engaged in quarrels. The man had just come in from his claim a couple of days ago and is reported to have been enraged at the actions of his wife. She had been out all night and he was building a fire when she came home.

Anderson is fifty two years old and his wife was 49.



Thursday, January 27, 2011


I was writing to a former class mate this morning. He lives in our birth city and seems to have become the liaison for any information about class mates--mostly about illness and yes, death.

And he said, "We were going to Cafe LaBree to have a sandwich. It was the plan after harvest. The plan did not happen.

And so today, I ask you, what are your plans with others? And if they perish or you do, will you hold on to the sack which had the plan?

Aren't plans for living people? Will MST say, "I never took her fly fishing" Or will I say, "I never insisted we go fly fishing".

I told the hygienist the other day that I planned meals for 10 days at a time. It is no guarantee we will have those meals on those days but it does get me out ahead of what is to come. Getting stuck at Oprah time, which is four o'clock with no plan for supper makes it hard to round something up at 5P. Planning ahead is not living in the future, yet, it gives us all a sense of claim to have a sense of accomplishment and a sense of worth each day. It doesn't matter how high powered you are or if, like me, you are a doodler, sense of worth is necessary. Notice I did not say luxury.

And that makes me wonder. If, like Juanita, with a child home with double broken ear drums, is her attitude in the toilet because she can't or rather, doesn't think she can do anything for this poor, sick child? I would hope not, for as mother's, it seems, sense of worth and pleasure are often on a sliding scale according to the health and well being of those we nurture, (yes, that includes husbands).

Personally, I think that is flawed. I think we are responsible to protect worth/pleasure at all costs regardless of what is going on around us. It is part of our duty as humans. It has nothing to do with worrying about sick kids or being sad about someone dying. It has all to do with what we are--deep in side where there are no words.

The challenge for all of us is to make decisions on what we feel is worth/pleasure and go from there even if, sometimes, we find ourselves wringing our hands because loved ones are sad or mad--or heaven forbid, not living their lives as we feel they would do better.

A little struggling has it's good points. Make a plan to struggle a little.


Wednesday, January 26, 2011


Old Trunks is willing to admit her mind wanders. It has nothing to do with being old, rather the way I am structured. And, the more distractions there are, the less focus.

So, WWGD comes to mind. When Grandpa was listening to the State of the Union message on the battery radio, did he stay focused? Certainly he said, "Dem sons a bitches" a few times because that was in character for him. I had a couple of early years listening to him talk about politics, mostly at The Mint, a bar on LaBree Avenue in our home town.

Grandma would go to the grocery store and Grandpa would go to The Mint. We would sit in a booth with other mid-sixties men. They would play with a rubber back cup with dice in it and drink beer. I don't know what that was all about but I do know Grandpa thought FDR was the finest and Harry Truman was doing okay, too. He was, as you may have guessed a Democrat to the bone.

Now the SOTU message was designed so the joint congress would know what the President's plan was. It did not have to be a speech, it could be written. As we know, sometime in late January most of the Presidents people my age have known have pre-emptied programing to visit with us about their goals for the coming year. Grandpa used to say what they say isn't always what they do.

And as an adult, I understand what he meant. He simply meant that proposals had to be accepted by Congress. It wasn't that from Washington to Obama that what the President said was going to happen.

Now we must remember that Obama and all the other Presidents have the interest in the country as a whole. We need to realize that when he says, "Take care of the vulnerable" it includes people on Medicare. So I am saying, like my Grandfather said, "Dem sons a bitches" because we haven't seen an increase in our checks and the price of insurance, not only from Medicare but a secondary insurance has gone up.

Like Grandpa, in his sixties, others his age and mind, are concerned about where the buck are going to come from for increasing taxes and insurance when, we are on a fixed income. Well, WE, that is MST and I are not but you get the point. Where does it stop? It doesn't.

Although I found the SOTU message inspiring, I did wander off. How many times did Biden touch his face and hair? Was someone refilling his water glass from below? Where did that Tan Man get that tan? He is from Ohio, no one is that tan in Ohio, not this time of year. OH, LOOK, there is the guy from Minnesota!

But I did try to stay tuned in and when the President was finished. I simple tuned out all the people who where telling me what the President said. If I didn't get it the first time, I am certainly not going to take someone else's opinion on what THEY think he said.

So, if you were away from your home and could not watch the message last night OR you were so tired you were in bed before the speech, just click on any channel or read any newspaper or read the crawlers on the Internet. You will, I promise, find it. And maybe, just maybe there is a little Benhard in you, too.

Joy to you.


Tuesday, January 25, 2011


Old Trunks wondered if the make up looked like I was jaundiced because I was or because the cataracts made everything yellow. Alas, neither are true.

It is summer skin color verses winter skin color. And I am not the only one affected. When we went to the market on Saturday, more for a walk and to see if life existed beyond the house, I saw a check out person, about my age with hair AND skin the same color. We could have been sisters. Except her lips disappeared when she got a little niffy because MST put the milk on the counter whereas she was supposed to take them out of the basket and slide them across the glass.

Now last year, I bought a spray on your make up machine, which seemed to do a good job except all the walls and the white towels in the bathroom had make up on them too. And, of course, there was the price of $40 a tube which didn't last very long. Back to the drawing board....again.

I could be my freckled, age spotted, wrinkled face in with a palate of colors OR I could be yellow OR I could try experimenting with different make up brands and colors. ....sometime......

Old Trunks did not know that soda was on sale at a store I do not go to until MST saw the ad on Sunday. It the icy wind, we would venture to the store for soda and I would look for make up to mix together to paint the face.

Now this brand was the right color but too light and this one was more rose than yellow but too dark, I could mix them. And since my lashes are growing because of the RX for the DX of glaucoma, I would buy some new lash extender to fill them in.

As I painted away this afternoon, I noticed that regardless of what they say about using lip liner to keep the lipstick from migrating into the lines, well let's say it may work except, I can't see well without glasses and my lips have never been that full. And...again because I didn't have my glasses on, I have one eye brow considerably darker and heavier than the other.

I am a one eyed jack. If I had a face lift, I am certain there would be enough left over to make a leather coat for a size 3X guy.

Oh good grief.


Monday, January 24, 2011


Perhaps you remember a coffee pot percolating on the stove whether it be glass or aluminum. Maybe you had a chance to watch the Ladies Aid people use the big pots where the grounds of coffee lay on the top of the water and the heat brought the coffee to a boil, it was pulled off the stove and an egg was added to settle the grounds.

If you remember any of them, then you know the coffee was served HOT. Scorching hot and if you did not blow on it, your mouth got burned. I suppose that is why Grandpa Benhard sipped his off a saucer as he sat in bed having coffee in the morning. (My grandparent's played cards every night to see who had to get up to make and serve the coffee to the other while still in bed).

Once, in another life, I did take a scorching mouthful from a cup. The coffee just came off the stove. By this time, electric pots had invaded our home and the biggest complaint was the coffee was not hot--enough. After Mr. Coffee came out with their 5 minute pot: hot coffee was not to be had.

Now, Mrs. Johnson had a plug in preculator. It was never hot enough but would not allow anything like a microwave in her house. Tom put one in the basement, as she didn't do stairs anymore and would make her coffee, heat it to boiling, and serve her. She probably never knew that her son was not magic, rather, had a tool hidden to make his mother happy.

So this morning when my question was: How fast can you move when you spill a cup of hot coffee wasn't how hot the coffee was but how fast can you move not to get wet. Warp speed? Yes. Scorched speed? No because it wasn't that hot. Although I may have gotten a little pink.

I wondered then and still do, how Grandpa Benhard could sit up on a V, (that is sagging in the middle mattress) and sip hot coffee from a saucer holding it with five finger tips.

I wondered too, did I see the cup spill this morning or did I hear it first?

Old Trunks is grateful:

1. The desk is covered with a glass
2. My mouse is on a tile given to me by my son
3. My keyboard is raised
4. There is a mat on the floor under the chair
5. I have lots of rags.
6. And because I had coffee soaked rugs, instead of thinking about doing the laundry, I did.

Although this may not seem a lot to be grateful about, it was at least a spirit of being grateful instead of complaining.

May your cup remain upright and be good to the last drop even IF it isn't Folger's and you aren't Mrs. Olson.


Saturday, January 22, 2011


When I said to MST we should put up a snow fence. He just laughed and said, "where"? It was not the best of statements and the answer was even worse.

Snow fence, as we all know, are put up to change the direction of the snow. Most of them are used in the country to keep a lot of the snow out of, let's say, a barnyard, or lawn, for example.

When homesteading was happening people signed up to plant trees to act as a snow belt around their farms. It also helped keep the soil on this flat land from blowing, to , let's say, California. Well, that is absurd, but you get my point.

Now it is interesting to drive around the prairie areas and see long rows of trees, planted eons ago. Look, if you will at little clusters of evergreens. Once upon a time, there was a house there.

In Kansas, Osage Orange trees were used almost like a fence line to keep cattle in. If you haven't seen an Osage Orange tree, they are the ones with the green seed pods called hedge apples and lots of barbs. It is said that before barb wire fences, the tree was planted close together and pruned back to make a thicket tall enough so a horse couldn't jump it, and strong enough that a bull couldn't go through it.

Hedge apples, considered the fruit of the tree are used to keep the bugs out of a house. In Kansas, it wasn't unusual to go visit someone and see hedge apples in each corner of the room. Here in Fargo, they are sold in markets in the fall and considered inedible.

That brings me to another question, if squirrels can eat them, why can't we? The seeds are okay to eat but one must dig the seed out of the surrounding membranes and eat only the seed. And yes, they are not cattle fodder. WHY? Because I cow doesn't chew like we do and the entire fruit, about the size of a soft ball, chokes them.

There will be no rickety snow fence at the Johnson house, to be taken down in the spring, rolled up and put behind the garage. There will be no Osage Orange tree thicket, either, our cow might croak.



Friday, January 21, 2011


Old Trunks remembers that long pick knit stocking cap with a major tassel that dragged on the ground. Of course, I was only eight or so when mother made it for me. It went around my neck twice.

It was the kind of hat you wore when mother rolled her eyes and said, "It is 20 below" better dress warm. That meant the pink stocking cap. It also seemed to mean the air would be still. But in Fargo, it seems to blow like a son of a gun. I am so glad we live in town with lots of houses to act as snow fences.

What I do not remember was being taken to school. We walked. It was only about six blocks as I remember from our house on Arnold Avenue to Northrop School. The school was demolished some time ago and a high rise for seniors sits on the property, although the battered outdoor rink is still on the northwest corner.

Recess was an every day thing. Didn't matter how cold it was; we went out, bundled to the max in warm clothes made for the occasion. Yet, when I think about it now, I wonder if everyone had warm clothes like I did.

There were, after all, no known thrift shops in our town. Perhaps there was an exchange in the neighborhood or amongst families. I know I gave away a few coats and got in trouble for it but when I was older, I did learn people did not have warm clothing. I had more than I needed. Or, as least more than I thought I needed.

Yet, there was something about that long pink stocking cap. I wonder what ever happened to it. I would not have given it away. Have you seen it?


Thursday, January 20, 2011


Old Trunks likes life twists. Oh, not the kind when you go skiing in the flat lands of Kansas and break you leg like Hank did the other day.

The kind that is so remote. The meeting of someone to whom you are related and never knew existed. That kind.

The phone rang at Sinkler Optical last week. The lady on the other end of the line wanted to know if they sold glasses suitable for someone in their 80's. My sweet Thomas assured her they did. Mrs. H arrived with her daughter. It is hard to push a wheelchair in this bumpy snow but they made it into the building. Mrs. H found glasses she liked and a pair her daughter approved of.

That isn't the twist. The twist is, Mrs. H was raised around Willow City, ND. That isn't such a big deal except, that is where the Zimmermann's are from. Mrs. H had not lived there, but her family had. MST went on to say that is where his mother was from.

Mrs. H: And what was her name?
Tom: Zimmermann
Mrs. H: Any relation to Charlie?
Tom: Yes, he was my grand father
Mrs. H: My mother's sister married a Zimmermann!
Tom: Then we are related!

Her daughter had phoned to make an appointment after hours to pick up the glasses. All the way home to the nursing home, all Mrs. H could talk about was the wonderful man at the eye place that knew some of 'her' people.

The task at hand was to find pictures of the people she talked about, clean them up and sharpen them so Mrs. H could see them when she comes in on Friday night at 7 to get her glasses.

It is an exciting find as we know little about that side of the family. Our albums are filled with the Johnson line.

The picture on this blog is of Charlie. It was colored and so faded from years of hanging on the wall. The rifle Charlie shot the deer with is now in the ownership of his great grandson, Les. Les hunts, Tom's son's do not. It was fitting that he get the rifle--a put together model with no serial number--and a fit to find a way to send it to Darrel, Tom's brother, for Les. This was long before 9-11 and even then the rules were st rick. We sent it to a gun dealer and Darrel picked it up there.

Advice? Talk to people. Tell them who you are and where you came from. Who knows maybe you will have a magnificent life twist, too.


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Saturday, January 15, 2011


She works as a bartender at a restaurant in Fargo. Tips flow freely in December. The tips are spent freely in December.

But it is January now and the nature of the beast for people to tighten up on tipping and be just plan gr inches. It is not the Grinch that stole Christmas, it is really the Grinch that stole January.

What is it about this long month? It doesn't seem to matter where you live, although the snow banks don't help it any. There just isn't much going on. Why is it that projects are not thought of in, let's say, November and promised to be done in January? Wouldn't that give everyone a sense of accomplishment and a sense of worth for this 31 days of dark?

In North Dakota, November is the dreary month. It doesn't seem like there is a sun anyway to push the cranks out but we have things going as we fret to get to Christmas. Teri said this morning, "Don't worry about Monday, enjoy the weekend". And isn't that what it is all about?

Fret if you wish. There are things to do in January. You may have to preplan to get your self 'in the mood' but it can be done.

And if, you are a bartender and reap great amounts in December, why not look toward the lack of extra money in January and put some back? Why not pay forward so you have a month free?

I tried to explain to M that it just happens. She did not buy that even, in my years working with 02 patients they were crabby in January and apologized in February. M has worked at this profession long enough to know it is going to happen.

Daddy used to say, "Where is the gum-shun". Grandpa read the obits and since he wasn't in it, he played solitaire until he won. It didn't matter what time of the day he won the game, he wouldn't comb his hair until he did.

As a teen, January meant a thaw. Time to drive that Chevy full bore on the sloppy streets of town. In Kansas, at least for several years, it was getting scouts ready for the big thing in February. January has become the time to do big house cleaning. Each day I take part of a room. At the end of the week, one room is done. If you saw our home you would know even angels collect dust. :)

We have, in a couple of hours, half a month to go. What are you going to do with it? How cranky can you be without apologizing to someone in February.

Catch the sunbeam, shine on others, they won't know what hit them. It is better than a snow ball, that is certain.



Let's hope all of us pick up terms and ideas from everyone we meet. Let's hope we have not mind pruned to the point nothing new seeps in. Let's hope that within the conversations we have with others their is some sense of learning, feeling, and appreciation; no matter if it is like fireworks or jes a lil ol fire fly on the fourth of July.

There are still sweet mysteries in life and as Ann says, "The only thing that stays the same is things keep changing".

I rotate out a computer of one sort of another when it is three years old. It is still got enough pop to it to be useful to someone else. I am down to just buying the tower. I don't want a package deal. I replace the keyboards when they get sloppy and like my huge flat screen monitor. And I thought this desk top was younger. Alas, it is not. Although it had the moxie to move about quickly, I knew there was crapola on it that I didn't use.

So, when Nate was here, he suggested I purge all and reload the drivers. I moved the personal files stored on the computer because he said so. Then he started talking about the cloud. Why didn't I have my pictures on the cloud?

What he meant was buy or use on line storage and have it stored off site. Because I have a brain that has to have some sort of comparison, I said, "Is it like storing the boat at the lake"? He said it was, however, it was always accessible unlike the boat.

And then he told me where to go to do it. And since I had used this server before and made it crash, I was hesitating. He explained to be the bugs had been worked out and I would be very pleased.

Although, in the past, I have been taking the pictures off the lake computer and bringing them home on an external hard drive, now I can just up load them to my cloud and look at them at home. Yes, I can label the folder as I wish. I do have a printer at the lake but it throws blue, the one I gave away did purple. So I like to print at the house.

Is in the cloud for you?


Friday, January 14, 2011


Old Trunks has learned most people do not like paper work. Rather, most people I know don't like paper work.

Helen writes to say that her mother feels all that is needed to seal a deal is a handshake. Isn't that so unheard of now?

Actually, even dying didn't have that much paper work that long ago. Just bury them. Yet, somewhere along the line, the death had to be registered before the deceased could be buried.

I wonder if, when Grandpa Benhard and his carpenter bud rolled that school house log over log to a new location if there was paper work to support the move and the payment.

Shilpa mentioned she wished everything would be paperless. Out there, as Nate says, "In the cloud"

In many ways we jump the canyon between hard copy and paperless without realizing it. Perhaps you have your pay check put in your bank. Others need to feel it, first.

Perhaps as we get older, our heads get full and we don't file mentally as well as we used to. Many we need the hybrid. The best of the paper shuffle as well as the cloud.

What is the cloud? What do I mean?


Thursday, January 13, 2011


If you are old enough, you remember a burn barrel. Anything that would burn or had a label on it that would burn off, such as a can, went to the burn barrel. Food peelings went into a bucket for chickens or gardening. Once the barrel was full enough, it was taken to the dump which, in our town, was down by the river. Yep, the rats ran there. And it smelled because they dump was burned again before it was bull dozed into the river. If you lived in the country and had a swamp, the barrel was dumped in the swamp.

Well, we can't have a burn barrel in town.

Our trash is picked up, (something we did not have when I was growing up--imagine that!)

So sorting out a file cabinet and having realms of old papers to toss isn't as simple as it used to be. And how does one deal with it?

The simple thing would be tossing it in the garbage. But what about identity theft, you ask. All those numbers who say who you are! It probably isn't likely someone is going to the land fill to pick out our garbage bags but if they did--let's say being a person who had a problem with it a few years ago, one needs to do something major.

And that is when we got the shredder. It takes 10 pages. NOT 11 pages. It eats staples and also those annoying credit cards one gets without asking for them.

And it came to pass that Old Trunks was on a rampage. Maybe it has to do with winter, as most of the real house cleaning is done in the months of momentous snow drifts. Or maybe, as mentioned in an earlier post, it is all about cleaning out as a reflection of making space within myself. Or just maybe it was waiting as a waitress, not only for spring but for someone in Texas to get grand news about a brain AND lung tumor, both cancerous.

Nevertheless, I shredded and shredded some more. There was one stack left for Tom to look at. Instead of looking at it, he said it was a toss. But, he said, the shredder may need emptying.
I pushed it to the point that it jammed. I even picked it up and rocked it trying to get the last 4 inch stack of paper to be cut in strips. Alas, it would take no more.

Now, all of us who are married or live with someone know that certain jobs seem to migrate to one person or another. It is almost like a co-op but nothing is written down. In this case, emptying the shredder was in the Tom column.

So I am looking at this thing and trying to figure out how this works. There was no booklet on it that was filed. I know this because I made a list of the how to do booklets. We had one for an over and under shot gun I have never seen but nothing for a shredder.

I did think it advisable to unplug it first. I flipped all the switches I could find and tried to pull the top of the unit off. I was getting no where. I felt along the crevice of the machine looking for a clue when I discovered there was somewhat of a looseness about it in the front. There was also a cupped area just above the window showing, (if you didn't line it was bags) how much paper was in the basket.

And that is when I realized the top did not come off, rather, the waste basket-like portion came out.

Picture this now, I had this unit so packed full that when I did get the basket out it was way over full. WAY OVER! Or is that WAY, WAY, over.

Tie off the bag that is full and pick up the loose pieces on the floor by hand, then use the sweeper to clean up the fragments of paper stuck to myself and those which seemed to pop about while taking out the basket. Mission accomplished. New bag in, the rest of the documents are shredded.

My question now is: Is the bag for the sweeper so full that needs to be changed and how does one do that?

No longer drowned in paper or strangled in the sea of shredding.



Monday, January 10, 2011


Generally, when cleaning the corners happens, it means inwardly I am willing for an inner change. A sort of making room for something else. It just happens. It has for years.

So what did I do? I have this old desk, the heavy metal gray unit, perhaps late 1940's. The top has a glass, between the glass and the top a piece of fabric was placed so I am not looking at the grey top.

The other day or was it the other week, poor sweet Thomas went to open the file drawer which moved laboriously. He brought a can of WD-40 to help lubricate the rails. It took the two of us to get one drawer out. After, it moved, (forgive me--slicker than snot).

This morning I was visiting with a long time email bud. I stated we were going to do the drawers on the desk. I started to think about the amount of time it would take out of Tom's evening to have me empty the drawers, pull them out, oil, and put them back in and all the stuff that had to be put back. Since I had to unload everything anyway, why not just maintain them myself?

The one drawer was a concern, was it too bulky for me to do myself? Why not try it, anyway?

It is more than drawers that open so fast they could fly through the windows. It is more than vacuuming and washing and making cleaning rags looking like time-to-toss rags.

What am I open to? There is room.



Generally, when cleaning the corners happens, it means inwardly I am willing for an inner change. A sort of making room for something else. It just happens. It has for years.

So what did I do? I have this old desk, the heavy metal gray unit, perhaps late 1940's. The top has a glass, between the glass and the top a piece of fabric was placed so I am not looking at the grey top.

The other day or was it the other week, poor sweet Thomas went to open the file drawer which moved laboriously. He brought a can of WD-40 to help lubricate the rails. It took the two of us to get one drawer out. After, it moved, (forgive me--slicker than snot).

This morning I was visiting with a long time email bud. I stated we were going to do the drawers on the desk. I started to think about the amount of time it would take out of Tom's evening to have me empty the drawers, pull them out, oil, and put them back in and all the stuff that had to be put back. Since I had to unload everything anyway, why not just maintain them myself?

The one drawer was a concern, was it too bulky for me to do myself? Why not try it, anyway?

It is more than drawers that open so fast they could fly through the windows. It is more than vacuuming and washing and making cleaning rags looking like time-to-toss rags.

What am I open to? There is room.


Saturday, January 8, 2011


Actually, it is my sweet Thomas shoveling off the porch and sun room roof with his new aluminum shovel. He must be taking it off in layers. He has been up there for some time.

I did stick my head out the bedroom window and ask him if it was slippery. It was not. Then I asked if I should worry, again, I was not to worry.

January is moving right along in the snow banks of North Dakota. We were even featured on the news for the 100 car pile up on the interstate. That is really something when the entire state of North Dakota only has 630,000 people, (up from 600,00 in last census).

It also goes to show that 629,900 people were smart and did not try to do the interstate in white out conditions. The weather was such that our neighbor, who was determined to go to the bank and the market on a blizzard day, was talked into coming to dinner at the house rather than going out. The next day she was asked if she wanted to go, she could be driven in a vehicle that is taller and 4WD. She declined. You can tell SHE is from this part of the country. She went by herself.

When I was listening to her talk at the dinner table, I was thinking about youth and how, when young, you are invisible. Recalling a blizzard when I was a teen and school was let out early. Mother was wringing her hands when the blue Chevy finally pulled up in front of the house. She was frightened I would get hurt or stuck and just why didn't I come home right after school?

She could not listen to why. What she may have never known, or forgotten is, I had friends who didn't have cars and had a lot of blocks to walk to get home in a driving snow storm. These people where my friends, I was not going to leave them stranded.

Men, of course, always have a different slant. Daddy said the Chevy was not that good in snow and I may have put myself in jeopardy as well. He of course, had studded tires on his vehicle.

There were no cell phones then. But in our city, I would guess one could walk up to any house, find someone who would make a phone call for you and keep you warm inside while waiting.

It is five decades since that great storm. The oven is cooking beef stew and baking chickens. If you are stuck in the snow, come over, eat, sleep, and visit with us about the times you had to be out in it!