Saturday, October 30, 2010


Last night, Tom and I were in the kitchen doing our important retired-people activities (most likely, scratching and mumbling). I don’t remember exactly what we were doing or what we were talking about, but I do remember seeing the refrigerator light gleaming off Tom’s backside as he peered into its depths.

“ . . . and I am certfectly papable of handling my own . . .” he continued a conversation we were having before he bent to look into the refrigerator.

“You’re . . .” I interrupted, puzzled. “You’re certfectly papable? Certfectly papable? Did you just say ‘certfectly papable’?”

“I said I was ‘perfectly capable,’” he corrected.

“No, you didn’t!!” I crowed. “You said you were ‘certfectly papable’! I heard you. You said ‘certfectly papable’!”

“Certfectly papable,” he repeated, suddenly liking the sound of it. He seemed to be pleased he had said it, like he had uttered something witty and quotable. “Yes,” he agreed proudly, “I am certfectly papable.”

And that’s why it’s good that we have each other. He needs someone to point out his ‘witty and quotable’ sayings, and maybe even write them down. And me? Well, I am very happy to oblige.

Thursday, October 28, 2010


In 1973, when Tom and I were first married, one of the staples on our newlywed menu rotation was Tater Tot Hotdish: a pound of hamburger, a can of sliced mushrooms, a can of cream of chicken soup, and a bag of Ore-Ida Tater Tots.

At the time, Tater Tot Hotdish met my three main culinary criteria: 1) quick, 2) easy, 3) cheap). The fact that Tom would eat it was just frosting on the cake.

But as a couple, our culinary tastes have moved far beyond our early years of cheap casseroles. We have traveled the world; we have tasted food from other cultures. Our palates have evolved, and we are no longer tied to the comfort food of our Midwest youth.

The only problem is that everything I make ends up tasting like Tater Tot Hotdish. Even when I try a brand new recipe, trying to add variety and international cuisine to our dinners, the new recipes still have that old familiar look.

“I tried something new,” I’ll announce to Tom as we sit down to dinner.

“Great!” he’ll smile, always up for a new adventure. He’ll poke at the new dish, lift a bite to his mouth, and ask cautiously, “What is it?”

“Beef Bourguignon,” I’ll announce proudly, although I’m never exactly confident in my ability to pronounce ‘Bourguignon.’

“Reminds me a little of Tater Tot Hotdish,” he’ll reply good-naturedly and eat it anyway.

Part of the problem is that I’m an ingredient substituter. It really annoys me to try a new recipe and have to buy an ingredient that I don’t already have. If a new recipe calls for ¼ teaspoon of turmeric—well, gosh, how important can turmeric be if the recipe only calls for a ¼ teaspoon of it? Seems to me it’s kind of a gingery/mustardy/curry-ish colored spice . . . so I’ll throw in a little of something I have on hand that looks like it might be in the same spice family and hope for the best.

I’m beginning to suspect that my ingredient substitution might be part of the problem.

The day I tried cooking the Beef Bourguignon (a lovely French dish made from cubed beef chuck, carrots, beef broth, red wine, and mushrooms), I didn’t have exactly the right ingredients. So I just did a little substituting: cubed beef chuck (substituted hamburger), fresh cremini mushrooms (substituted a can of Green Giant mushroom stems and pieces), beef broth & red wine (substituted a can of cream of chicken soup), pearl onions (substituted Ore-Ida Tater Tots).

Last night, I tried a new recipe called “Prosciutto, Pear, and Blue Cheese Sandwich.” ‘Be daring,’ I challenged myself. ‘Break away from the same old/same old menus.’ The recipe called for: 100% multigrain artisan bread, arugula, shallots, extra-virgin olive oil, Pompeian red wine vinegar, freshly ground black pepper, prosciutto ham, a pear, and blue cheese. Really . . . who actually keeps that stuff on hand?

No 100% multigrain artisan bread? No problem (substituted Ore-Ida Tater Tots). No prosciutto ham? (ham? ham-burger? It’s like they were meant to be interchanged!) No arugula or shallots or pears? Easy (substituted a can of Green Giant sliced mushroom stems and pieces). No Pompeian red wine vinegar or extra-virgin olive oil or blue cheese? Not a problem (a can of cream of chicken soup should lubricate the dish).

So, you’re invited to my house for Thanksgiving—turkey, mashed potatoes, stuffing, gravy, yams, pumpkin pie. The works. But don’t be disappointed if it turns out looking a little like Tater Tot Hotdish. It’s a mystery.

Wednesday, October 27, 2010


I had just been outside, so I knew it was windy. A few snowflakes skittered among the raindrops around 3 p.m., but it had switched back to rain.

I didn’t know that we were in big trouble yesterday until I turned on the Weather Channel and—oh, my gosh, Jim Cantore was in Minnesota.

You know, Jim Cantore. The top weather visual editor from the Weather Channel.

He’s so important that the Weather Channel only sends him on location if the weather is big. I mean, really HUGE—like hurricanes, floods, monsoons, or tidal waves. And here he was in Minneapolis, Minnesota. He was in our very own state.

To make it even worse, Jim Cantore was using his big weather voice. “Monster of a storm,” he was booming. “Fall Fury” screamed a headline as they panned away from Jim. Oh, my heavens. They had named our wind.

“Winter weather advisory,” “massive squall line,” “potential to be the strongest storm in Midwest history!!!” Jim’s big weather voice is easily an octave above his normal speaking voice. And, oh my stars, he was standing in my very own state.
“Strong, strong jet stream,” he screamed at us, trying to make himself heard over the wind whistling by his microphone. “Super Storm,” I thought I heard him say, “even bigger than ’98!”

I couldn’t remember the Super Storm of ’98, so I had to take his word for it.

“What sets this storm apart is its intensity,” Jim said worriedly. I hate it when Jim looks worried. It makes me worry. “It’s already snowing in Bismarck, North Dakota,” he warned, “and the snow is sticking to the ground!” Wow, sticking to the ground! Um . . . er . . . wait a minute. Doesn’t snow generally stick to the ground? As opposed to sticking where?

I left the TV long enough to go look out the window again. Sure enough, it was windy all right. And since Jim Cantore was in Minneapolis, I knew we must be right in the middle of something big. Really big. After all, Jim Cantore doesn’t hop a plane for an on-site visit unless entire villages are in peril or animal populations are fleeing.

I was half expecting to be blown away in the night. But when I woke up this morning, my house is still standing, my power is still on, there’s a little snow on the ground, traffic is moving, and we all still seem to be alive.

But thanks, anyway, Jim. If it hadn’t been for your broadcast, I might have mistakenly thought it was just a typical late October day in Minnesota.

Monday, October 25, 2010


I learned a new Latin phrase yesterday. (It’s all a part of my secret plan to learn one new Latin phrase a day for the rest of my life—NOT.)

Here is the Latin phrase: delectatio morosa. Translated, it means “delighting in others’ misfortunes.”

I also know that Buddhists have a term that means the 180-degree opposite: mudita, the concept of experiencing happiness at another’s good fortune.

Example 1: The richest, most arrogant athlete on the planet is caught in an affair—no, let's make that several affairs—that eventually cost him millions of dollars and his marriage. Ah-ha!! We feel smug. Our simple, modest lives seem validated; we may not be the richest, most arrogant athlete on the planet, but by George, at least we’re not scumbags. (delectatio morosa).

Example 2: The richest, most arrogant athlete on the planet signs another four-year, $100 million contract. And even though we have recently been laid off from our own pauper-wage jobs, we feel extremely happy for the good fortune of the athlete. (mudita).

Here’s the hard part. I’m supposed to be aiming for the mudita instead of the delectatio morosa. What?!? I don’t know about you, but that’s not my natural inclination.

Why, if I gave up my delectatio morosa , I’d have to stop slowing down and gawking at traffic accidents. I’d have to stop reading movie magazine covers at the checkout counter at Kmart to find out if Ashton is really cheating on Demi. I’d have to stop scanning the “Foreclosures” and “Court News” sections of the local newspaper, looking for familiar names. I'd have to hope that government figures from the opposition political party (gasp!) can solve our national financial crisis.

But I think I want to try it.

From now on, if you have good news to share, you can count on me to support your joy and celebrate your victory. And if you experience tragedy, I will try not to be one of the circling vultures feeding off your vulnerability and pain. That’s the plan anyway.

This sounds like quite a challenge for a Monday morning—the Latin phrase speakers and the Buddhists, locked in battle for my soul.

Picture Source:

Saturday, October 23, 2010


Tom and I have been married 37 years, so it has become unnecessary for us to speak in complete sentences. Because of our deeply ingrained love (like the Colorado River carving out the Grand Canyon), our conversations are spare yet meaningful.

On Thursday, I had walked my 2-to-4 miles alone, bringing along two empty Fleet Farm plastic shopping bags to do a garbage pick-up on a three-mile route around our neighborhood. But on Friday, Tom and I arranged our extremely busy retired-folks schedule to walk together on the Central Lakes Trail.

I hadn’t brought along bags for garbage pick-up because, in my own mind, this walk was kind of like a date. Still, it bothered me to walk past an empty pack of Camels, a Coors Beer can, a newspaper flier—without picking them up. Which reminded me . . .

Me (to Tom): Yesterday when I was picking up garbage on—let’s see, it would be Roosevelt Street? No, one block off Nokomis would be Oak Street—well, you know that street where there’s a transmission shop and the back side of the milling place—

Tom: What happened?

Me: Oh, you know, that street where the people didn’t mow their lawn for three weeks because their mower was broken?

Tom: Yea, yea—Oak Street.

Me: Yes! Oak Street! That’s it—one block off Nokomis, alphabetical order, Oak Street.

Tom: What happened on Oak Street?

Me: I had just bent down to pick up an empty Diet Coke can out of the gutter when I heard a vehicle coming up behind me.

Tom: And . . . ?

Me: The guy driving—it was a truck. But not a pickup truck, a bigger truck, like a grain truck.

Tom: What about the guy?

Me: The guy in the grain truck—or whatever kind of a truck it was—rolled down his window and said “thank you” to me.

Tom: Thank you?

Me: You know, for picking up garbage. He was turning into the milling company so maybe he worked there. So he thanked me for picking up garbage.

Tom: Did you give him your number?

Me: Yes, my social security number and my bank account number.

Tom: Did you give him your cell phone number?

Me (snorting): Of course not. I’m not stupid. Even though I could tell he wanted it.

Tom: All right then. What did you say?

Me: I said, “You’re welcome.”

Tom: Is that the end of your story?

Me: I think so . . . (pant, pant—we were walking up hill.)

Me (after a moment): Yes, that’s the end.

Tom: Good.

I’m sure he meant that it was a good story.

Like I said, 37 years of marriage and the conversations get deep. Really deep.

Friday, October 22, 2010


You’d think a woman could have a birthday in peace. But no-o-o-o, that would be too easy. When a birthday comes around, there’s a mandatory period of wrinkle examining, soul searching, and actuarial-table reading.

You see, this is the year I turn 62 and am eligible for early-claim Social Security. After watching F.I.C.A. taxes being taken out of my paycheck for over 45 years (including the jobs I had during high school and college), my only goal is to live long enough to recoup those deductions. (In other words, I want my money back.)

According to the Charles Schwab website, I will need to live until I’m 76.4 years old to get back all I paid in to Social Security. After that, if I had a shred of decency, in January of 2027, I’d lie down and die so that there would be something left in the Social Security coffers for the next generation.


I’ll do my best to kick off at 76.4 years. But I had a grandmother who lived to 101, a father who lived until he was 93, and my mother is still ticking along at 91. It looks like chances are excellent that—against my own personal moral sense of right and wrong—I’ll end up being a burden to the Social Security system.

So even though I will likely still be alive in 2027, I will feel tremendous guilt about it as I steal from my children’s generation and drain the Social Security coffers dry.


Having a 62nd birthday is also an impetus to re-check my Lifetime Bucket List and see how I am coming along.

I started out with 38 items on the list; I have accomplished 6 of those goals. One item had to be crossed off because it’s too late (“Go to the 2010 Winter Olympic Games in Vancouver”) . . . oops, sorry, Bucket List. But another one is already scheduled for September of 2011 (“Go on a New England/Canadian trip up the east coast past Maine, New Foundland, down the St. Lawrence River, and end up in Quebec City where we will wander out in the countryside and find Tom’s roots.”).

After that, only 30 Bucket List items to go. I promise I won’t use a dime of my ill-gotten, grandchildren-robbing, anti-American Social Security checks beyond the age of 76.4 to accomplish any of those tasks. Cross my heart and hope to die (figuratively, that is).

Wednesday, October 20, 2010


My mother certainly wasn’t the first person to keep a diary. It seems to me that diaries have been kept by folks like Anne Frank, a Mad Housewife, and a Wimpy Kid since tiny little books with keys were invented. So my mother certainly wasn’t the first diary-keeper and certainly won’t be the last.

What makes my mother’s diaries so unique is that she kept them for 52 years, from 1954 to 2005. That's a long time, even for a persistent Norwegian. She only stopped writing on a regular basis in 2005 because she suffered a stroke that short-circuited her ability to write and concentrate.

These are not your typical soul-searching, tell-all diaries. After all, my mother is a good stoic Norwegian who strives to be decent and modest. It would never do to write in her diary that ‘today is a bad day and I feel the need for mood-altering medications.’

As I’ve mentioned before, self-respecting retired people have a project going at all times. (Remember when I did Tom’s family tree and the family picture-scanning projects?) Here’s my latest project: transcribe my mother’s diaries, scanning in the seventy bazillion newspaper clippings, recipes, obituaries, and miscellaneous scraps of paper tucked within the pages, so that everyone in the family can have access to the historical record.

It makes me a little tired to think about all that transcribing. (And I’m sure it makes my family weary to think about reading any of it once it’s transcribed.)

So far, I’ve read through the entire year of 1954 and transcribed the first half of January. During 1954, my mother baked over 600 loaves of bread (six loaves twice a week), taught my youngest sister to walk, entertained relatives by the '54-Packard-load, survived blizzards, moved a family of eight from one farm to another, canned every type of fruit and vegetable known to man, knitted, sewed, patched, washed clothes, ironed those same clothes . . . and had two Toni permanent waves.

It’s not the stuff of epic movies.

But it gives a picture of what life was like in rual West Central Minnesota in the 1950s. And it might solve arguments like “What year did Great Aunt Christie have her foot amputated due to diabetes?” You know, the type of questions that mushroom into those heated, knock-down-drag-out, shoot-your-cousin arguments on family holidays.

So that’s what I’ll be working on in my spare time between now and . . . I don’t know . . . how do you say “eternity” in Norwegian? “Eeuwigheid?” No, wait a minute. That’s Dutch. Anyway, there are 12 five-year diaries, and my mother has tiny handwriting.

At the very least, it will keep me off the streets and out of the bars.

Tuesday, October 19, 2010


And that's why it's so hard to leave Arizona.

Monday, October 18, 2010


I’m not a nervous traveler.

True, I like to be at the airport very early (often to the point of ridicule by other less conscientious travelers).

True, I position my quart-size plastic Ziploc bag with 3.4 oz. liquids in a side-zip pocket that is quickly accessible within 3.4 seconds or less.

True, my carry-on bag is exactly the right measurements to easily fit into the little 9” x 14” x 22-inch “Does Your Bag Fit Here?” container by the check-in counter. And I never, ever, ever try to pass off a 50-pound tote bag as my ‘purse.’

True, I carefully pre-position my driver’s license in the card holder of my wallet so I can whip it out at a moment’s notice. I do not wear earrings, watches, bracelets, underwire undergarments, or other metal objects that can set off the metal detector. And true, I try to pre-eliminate anything that might hold up the any check-in lines and annoy other travelers.

No, I’m not a nervous traveler. I’m a serious traveler. I mean business when I walk into an airport. Game face, tunnel vision, all business.

That’s why my Allegiant Airline flight back to Minnesota yesterday was a little surreal.

Me: Okay, carry-on luggage secured in overhead compartment. Check. Purse tucked neatly under the seat in front of me, leaving ample room for emergency exits. Check. Seatbelt fastened. Check. Stare straight ahead and try not to look like an airline hijacker. Check.

Flight Attendant (on cabin intercom): Good morning! Thank you for flying Allegiant Airlines! It is currently 81 degrees in our departure city of Mesa, Arizona, and 40 degrees in our destination city, Fargo, North Dakota. Those of you wearing shorts may wish to wait until next June to disembark this plane in Fargo.

Me: What?!? Next June to disembark . . . oh, got it. She’s joking; the flight attendant made a joke . . . shirt tucked under the seatbelt so the flight attendant can see that my seat belt is fastened. Check. Seat in an upright position. Check. Try not to look like a terrorist. Check.

Flight Attendant: On this flight, it is strictly forbidden that passengers have in their possession all sugar-related food products. In a few moments, a flight attendant will be making her way down the aisle to confiscate all candy, cookies, and other treats that passengers may have brought on board. (gasps from passengers) . . . Just kidding!!! Had you going, didn’t I?

Me: Okay, she was just kidding, even though laughter on an in-cabin P.A. system sounds slightly evil. Adjust the air flow valve above my head. Check. Adjust the shades (window seat). Check. Fold my hands carefully in my lap. Check. Try not to look like an airline hijacker. Check.

Flight Attendant: In the event of an emergency, an oxygen mask will drop from your overhead compartment. Put the elastic band around your head and secure the mask to your face, stretching the plastic tubing to start the flow of oxygen. If you are seated next to a small child—or someone acting like a small child (ba-da-boom, pause for laughter)—be sure you secure your own mask before attempting to help that person.

Me: Oh, my gosh. She keeps making jokes . . . are flight attendants allowed to make jokes??? (Mental head shake. Game face back on.) Elbow definitely on my own arm rest and not on the armrest of the person next to me. Check. The wings are on the plane. Check. Try not to look like an airline hijacker. Check.

Flight Attendant: Our captain for this flight is Dante and the co-pilot is Jeff. My name is Tiffany, and the flight attendant in the forward cabin is Lori. It’s Lori’s birthday today. Everybody join me in wishing Lori a happy birthday!!

Entire Cabinful of Passengers (dutifully, in semi-unison): Happy Birthday, Lori!

Me: Don’t these people have last names? Dante? Tiffany? Why can’t our pilot’s name be ‘Captain Manly Courageous’ instead of ‘Dante’? Why do I wish our flight attendant’s name was something sensible like ‘Florence’ or ‘Edith’ instead of ‘Tiffany’?? Why do I wish that it wasn’t Lori’s birthday so I knew for sure she wasn’t tippling champagne in the galley to celebrate? Deep breaths . . . focus. Check. Game face. Check. Try not to look like an airline hijacker. Check.

Flight Attendant: It’s your lucky day today! We are having a fire sale of all our Allegiant souvenir gift items! Get your stocking stuffers early! We have key chains, picture frames, bracelets, earrings, golf balls—all with the Allegiant logo—at fire sale prices. The souvenir cart will be making its way down the aisle later in our flight. Cash only, please.

Me: Fire sale? Fire sale???? Was there a fire? On this airplane? Is this airplane on fire now??? How do flight attendants have time to sell stocking-stuffer key chains? Aren’t they supposed to be checking airlocks and emergency exits and oxygen levels and whether or not Dante, the pilot, is sober and qualified to fly this plane?????????????

I’m a serious traveler. I arrive early. I am prepared, cooperative, compliant, and obedient. I don’t make jokes about shoe bombs. I try not to annoy passengers around me or make unreasonable demands of flight attendants. I try to keep my personal possessions to a minimum and use only the space I am allotted . . .

My luck that I ended up with Tiffany on the Allegiant Airline Open Mic Comedy Flight.

Source of photo:

Tuesday, October 05, 2010


I am catching a plane out of Fargo tomorrow and going to Phoenix for eleven days to visit my kids and grandkids. In the meantime, I realize what a fragile bond I have with my blog readers. I can't afford to lose any of you. Sadly, I will not have regular access to a computer for blog postings. I'm doing only the carry-on luggage routine, so it's either clean underwear or my laptop--and I've chosen the more hygienic route.

So could I ask a favor of you? In my absence, would you please read one of my old blogs every day? I will be back on October 18 and I need all of you to be back then, too. Every single one of you. No dropouts. No excuses.

Here are my suggestions for old blogs to read. They're just kind of a cross section of blogs over the past three years, and I kind of liked them for one reason or another.

DAY 1, October 7: Mayo Clinic

Day 2, October 8: Advice with Strawberries and Whipped Cream

Day 3, October 9: Signs of Danger

Day 4, October 10: Winter Tracks

Day 5, October 11: Fluffy's Master Plan

Day 6, October 12: As Brave as Mrs. Skogen

Day 7, October 13: Monday Morning Walk

Day 8, October 14: Six Decisions That Change Your Life

Day 9, October 15: Taking My Mother to the Doctor

Day 10, October 16: First Two Men in My Life

Day 11, October 17: 90-Year-Old Logic

So goodbye. Don't forget to come back on October 18.


I don’t know who assigned me the job of worrying about perfect strangers, but I find myself with yet another random person to feel responsible for.

Mentally, I just think of him as the Marlboro-Smokin’ Dude of Seventh Avenue. I wish his own mother would worry about him, but somehow she foisted it off on me.

About a year ago, I mentioned that I had made myself the designated neighborhood garbage picker-upper. As long as I was out walking my 2-to-4 miles in my neighborhood anyway, I might as well make myself useful and pick up the trash along the streets. So twice a week, I make sure I bring along a bag or two and I clean up my neighborhood. I net about four bags of garbage a week. (We are evidently a very trashy 'hood.)

About a year ago, I started noticing the Marlboro-Smokin’ Dude. Every day, like clockwork, he throws out an empty Marlboro pack in almost exactly the same spot on Seventh Avenue. He crumples up that cellophane-wrapped pack and tosses it out his car window right into the curb—slam, dunk, two points. So if I pick up garbage on a Saturday, for instance, and then go out again on Tuesday, I can be sure that there will be three crumpled Marlboro packs in the gutter. Bing, bing, bing. He’s my man. Dependable as the sunrise.

So this morning, I was worried. It had been three days since I had last picked up garbage. My bag was already half full by the time I got to Marlboro-Smokin’ Dude’s little stretch of road.

Whoa. What was this?!? No crumpled Marlboro packs.

I scratched my head. Was something wrong? Did Marlboro-Smokin’ Dude move? Was he sick? Give up smoking? Take a different route to work? Did he die of Marlboro-induced lung cancer?

I worried the whole way down Seventh Avenue. Was he okay? Sure he was a littering slob, but he was my littering slob.

Before I headed home, I decided to search Marlboro-Smokin’ Dude’s gutter one more time. Fallen autumn leaves made my search more difficult. I took another swipe through, kicking aside leaves as I went.

He wasn’t dead after all. There, nestled among the brown leaves, was his signature crumpled Marlboro pack. Thank goodness. I thought I was going to have to call the police with a missing person report. Granted, it was only one pack instead of the three I was expecting. But at least I knew he was alive and coughing—er, kicking.

Monday, October 04, 2010


(Disclaimer: This blog entry in no way, shape, or form means that I suddenly want to discuss politics.)

The yards around my town are full of campaign signs: “Larson for County Attorney,” “Olson for County Commissioner,” “Westrom for State Representative,” “Wyatt Earp for Sheriff” . . .

As the Five Man Electric Band sang back in 1971, “Signs, signs, everywhere there's signs. Blocking up the scenery, breaking my mind . . .”

The political signs make me nervous because I know that in November, I’ll have to go vote again. And to tell you the truth, every single candidate on the ballot, regardless of political affiliation, usually makes me as nervous as a long-tailed cat in a roomful of rocking chairs.

When people ask me whom I support or whom I am going to vote for, I usually truthfully reply, “Whichever candidate that I believe will do the least amount of damage.” And I mean it—I really don't have a lot of faith in any of them.

Recently I was directed to a website called The Political Compass . By taking an opinion poll, you can compare your own political views to current or past politicians, national or global. The test doesn’t neatly slot you in as a Republican or a Democrat, a Conservative or a Liberal, a Socialist or a Communist. Instead it plots your views on a graph to give you a general idea of where you fit in the political spectrum.

After I took the test, I had a personal epiphany.

No wonder I can’t find anybody to vote for on the ballots in November. No wonder I walk away from most political discussions with my hands over my ears. No wonder I don’t particularly trust Obama or Palin or McCain or Biden or Clinton or Huckabee or anybody else on the ballot.

No wonder I’m equally skeptical of Chris Matthews with his Hardball show and Michael Moore with his Roger and Me or Sicko. Because according to the test I took, the political figures my views most closely align with are . . . get this (drum roll, please) . . .

Mahatma Gandhi

Nelson Mandella

The Dalai Lama

You could have knocked me over with an organic feather from a vegan dove.

I just answered the questions according to my heart-felt opinions, and that’s what came up. I’m not a Republican. I’m not a Democrat. I’m not even an Independent. I’m a member of the Party of Universal Responsibility, Love, Compassion, Kindness, Human Rights, Equality of All People, and Nonviolence.

I wonder what I did with my old tie-dyed t-shirt and love beads. They’ve got to be around somewhere. Probably in a closet, right under my Bob Dylan albums. I think I’ll wear them to the poll on Election Day in November when I write in Mother Theresa’s successor, Sister Nirmala, for attorney general.

Sunday, October 03, 2010


I decided to take one last drive down to Glenwood, the little lake-front town about ten miles south of Alexandria. It's October 3--summer is over, and who knows when I'll have time to get down there again for my 2 to 4 mile walk. Probably not until next spring.

What I didn't realize when I got in my car and drove down there was that I would have the entire town to myself.

There was nobody at the beach where I parked my car . . .

A few stray geese down by the shore didn't even fluff a feather when I walked by. I guess they figured there were more of them than there were of me, so they had no fear.

There wasn't another soul on the walking path. Not a soul.

I hadn't expected to see sunbathers, but nobody?? Not a beach comber looking for shells or a couple of 10-year-old boys looking for frogs? No, just me.

Most of the summer residents had taken out their docks after Labor Day, but a few hardy locals still had their boats or pontoons tethered in the water. However, not a single boater was on board.

A flock of mudhens bobbed unconcerned several yards from shore. But they didn't make a sound--they just bobbed and floated.

More beached docks, ready for winter.

Nobody fishing off the public fishing pier . . . it was a safe day to be a crappie or a walleye on Lake Minnewaska.

Not a single kid was playing at the public playground . . . It was like the Pied Piper had been through town and lured all the kids away.

Lakeside restaurant's parking lot, which is usually jam-packed in the summer, was empty. E-M-P-T-Y, even though the neon sign in the window said "Open."

We usually have to fight to get a table in the outdoor seating on the front of Lakeside--but today I could have had any chair, any table, I wanted.

The streets were empty . . .

Nobody stood admiring the yellow-leaved trees against the blue sky background except me.

Me, myself, and I. All alone in Glenwood. Where was everybody? Even the inlet was deserted.
It was a perfectly beautiful October day along the shores of Lake Minnewaska in Glenwood, Minnesota. Sixty degrees, blue sky, gentle south wind rippling the water, fall colors abounding.

And I had the entire place to myself.

Friday, October 01, 2010


It’s so quiet around here.

At the moment, all I can hear is the sound of the washing machine in the laundry room, sloshing away on a load of sheets. I can hear Tom out in the kitchen, turning the pages of the newspaper with an occasional thump of a coffee cup hitting the tabletop.

Once in awhile, a car drives by, the occupant no doubt on the way to work. But all in all, it’s quiet.

The last of our kids and grandkids left yesterday to go back to Arizona after Grandpa’s funeral. The kitchen counters are tidy once again—no bottles or formula or car seats or rice cereal boxes adorn them.

The kitchen table is small again. We took out the extra table leaf and put the booster chair down in the laundry room.

The basement stairs are once again accessible. I don’t have to do any more risky feats of Derry-do, leaping over the kiddie gate that we had set up to prevent Colbie from going headfirst down the steps. The giant shoe collection by the garage door is back down to one pair of old-lady walking shoes.

The living room no longer looks like a giant changing table. The diapers and wipers and other poop paraphernalia are gone. Go Dog Go and the puzzles are back in their cupboard in the basement.

The laundry room is a mini mountain range of sheets and towels from every bedroom and bathroom in the house.

The refrigerator is looking a little empty after days of being crammed with sippy cups and gallons of whole milk and Junior hotdogs.

Yes, it’s quiet again. No more grandbabies to clutter up our neat ‘n’ tidy little old-people world. Neat and tidy, everything in its place, quiet.

Too quiet.

I miss the mess.