Thursday, December 26, 2013

Christmas quotes and other delights

There are many meaningful, thoughtful, and poignant Christmas quotes from all kinds of literate people. Many try to find a deeper meaning for humanity and its treatment of the world and its inhabitants. There are many lessons to be learned, even at this age. However, I have thought those thoughts only to be let down by so much of humanity. Even after watching the violent throngs at Walmart and other shopping venues I know there is some redemption in the holiday season going back to its pre-pagan roots. To get a respite from all this deep thought and heavy thinking I have preferred the lighter side of holiday thought. 

Did Joseph really believe Mary when she told him who the father of the baby was?  How naive was the guy?
If Santa would have said Yo Ho Ho instead of Ho Ho Ho, would everyone dress up as pirates on Christmas?
"The main reason Santa is so jolly is because he knows where all the bad girls live." -George Carlin
“My parents always said that knowledge was the best gift they could give me, probably because they were too cheap to buy me Christmas or Birthday presents.”- Jarod Kintz
“Money's scarce
Times are hard
Here's your fucking
Xmas card.” -Phyllis Diller
 “What kind of Christmas present would Jesus ask Santa for?”- Salman Rushdie
“Everyone wants a Christmas tree. If you had a Christmas tree Santa would bring you stuff! Like hair curlers and slut shoes.”-Janet Evanovich
 “The worst gift I was given is when I got out of rehab that Christmas; a bottle of wine. It was delicious.”-Craig Ferguson
“A severed foot is the ultimate stocking stuffer.”- Mitch Hedberg
 “The Little Drummer Boy" was playing in the background for what seemed like the third time in a row. I fought off an urge to beat that Little Drummer Boy seneless with his own drumsticks.”-Dana Reinhardt
“The real Santa Claus is at the mall.”- Lemony Snicket

Let's hope we don't forget the really important stuff.

Sunday, December 15, 2013

Iceland vs. Minnesota

Seems like an interesting comparison at this dark and frozen time of year.  The most obvious is that Minnesota is much colder. At least where there are people trying to survive. In Iceland, most people live around the edge of the country and the sea keeps them warmer. Maybe the Icelanders are smarter in that respect. I mean why go looking for trouble when there is a simple solution? I live by Lake Superior which is a huge lake, but it's no ocean. It does moderate the temperature somewhat if you stay close enough to it. Of course, if you do that you tend to stay a little more damp.

Wind chill. Today the wind chill was approaching -40 as the winds were 25 to 30 mph and the temperature was well below zero. While the edge of Iceland is warmer than us it sometimes (sort of regularly) gets hit by gale force winds which sometimes reach hurricane strength. It has been known to bend automobile doors totally the wrong way. I have no idea if there are serious calculations for wind chill when it gets going that fast.

Yesterday afternoon we had about 5 inches of snow. By this morning it had blown away. I suspect it went across the lake to Michigan, but I haven't called anyone over there to verify that that's where it went.

Darkness. Iceland is darker since it is farther north. But that means they get Northern Lights more often and that may offset some of the lack of sunshine. The good news is that in a week the days start getting longer for all of us in the Northern Hemisphere.

Food. We have Lutefisk (made from cod) here in Minnesota. It is an acquired taste, but if you take a piece of lefse, stuff it with mashed potatoes and butter, and then throw on a little Lutefisk it can be tolerated. Sort of like a Norwegian taco.

O Lutefisk, O Lutefisk, how fragrant your aroma,
O Lutefisk, O Lutefisk, you put me in a coma.
You smell so strong, you look like glue,
You taste just like an overshoe,
But lutefisk, come Saturday,
I tink I eat you anyvay

Iceland has Hákarl which is fermented Greenland shark. Fermented is a nice way of saying "rotten" or "putrefied". The taste is apparently something like ammonia. I say apparently because I have never tried it. Maybe next time in Iceland. Maybe. This is also supposed to be an acquired taste, although I cannot imagine how or why anyone would want to acquire it.

Both of these "delicacies" require long periods of time to make. Burial, fermentation, sitting on the floor in the corner of the outhouse may be things they have in common. I suspect that is why the occasional stray dog gets a chance to urinate on them for that "special" flavor. Both are meant to be eaten with traditional beverages like Aquavit or Brennevin. These drinks can be referred to as "Water of Life" or "Black Death" again depending on whether or not the taste for them has been "acquired". I'll have to admit acquiring the taste for them, but not the food with which they are used to chase.

Minnesota has Cold Spring, Spring Valley, Pine Spring, Glennwood Springs, and numerous others. These are cold, but good to drink. Iceland has many hot springs because of the volcanic nature of the country. Most of these taste like sulfur. So the question here is, do you want to quench your thirst or warm up? This time of year "warm up" wins. You can always melt snow if you are thirsty or have one of the aforementioned beverages. 

Ways to stay warm. In Minnesota we have trees. We turn them into firewood and burn them in stoves to keep us toasty warm. In Iceland they have no trees. Why they don't is subject to debate, but that is usually done halfway through the Brennevin. They do, however, have sheep. Lots and lots of sheep. I suppose you could cuddle up with a bunch of them for warmth (be careful of rumors) or sheer them in the spring and make warm clothes out of the wool. Often the wool is made into a Lopapeysa, or traditional Icelandic sweater which is warm and somewhat water repellant. The preferred method of using sheep for warmth is probably different from the country to the city, but I don't want to start any rumors. What happens in Iceland stays in Iceland.

Those of you in warmer climes probably don't understand why anyone would live in such a place, but sometimes you need the painful feelings of your extremities thawing just to let you know that you are alive. Screaming, "I want to go to Miami," as this thawing occurs is permissable.

Saturday, December 7, 2013

Sea Smoke or Winter comes to Lake Superior

The change from late autumn to early winter is often abrupt. Basically, overnight in fact. There I was, minding my own business, spacing out the entire month of November, when all of a sudden it's December and I am up to my eyeballs in snow. When it falls horizontally that isn't saying much, but we really did get a foot or two over a few days. Now the ground is covered and the frost probably won't penetrate down more than a few feet.
Late November:
A few days later in Early December:

Sea smoke is an interesting phenomenon. When the cold air from the arctic whooshes down upon us like a (insert clever analogy), the "heat " from the not quite frozen Lake Superior rises causing a mist or even a small spinning vortex of steam to be seen rising into the air. The temperature needs to be close to 0F (-17C) for this to occur in a noticeable way. This morning it was -10F (-24C) so it is definitely noticeable. In fact it gets so high over the lake that sunrise is delayed by about a half hour. But it makes for some interesting light. Sometimes you start to see things in the mist, but what?
Then you keep scanning the mist and there! I'm sure that is something. Look closely and you will see a ship plying through the cold inland sea.
Do you see it now?
Someday I may think I see the Flying Dutchman plying through the cold and dangerous waters of the big lake. The more likely thing, considering this area is sometimes referred to as the Scandinavian Riviera, might be to see the Flying Norwegian or the Flying Swede. If a person believes in ghosts or ghost ships Lake Superior would be a good place to see them. There are over 350 shipwrecks with more than a thousand lives lost in the relatively brief history of sailing on this lake. It demands respect from those who ply its waters.

Thursday, November 14, 2013

I'm a little behind ( ! )

The deed is done and I am recuperating at home. Staples come out tomorrow and I can walk using a cane instead of a walker now. I am not sure I should try and write anything just yet, as the medications and general discomfort may be having an effect on my thinking-thingy. My ability to concentrate and sit in any one position for even a short length of time has been seriously compromised, but it gets better every day.

I have only been able to read one book. Last Rituals by Yrsa Sigurðardóttir. I got through it in a day as my sleeping habits are pretty screwed up and I had little else to do other than physical therapy exercises (which I will have to do for most of the winter). It was her debut crime novel and while not supposed to be her best, I found it enjoyable and really wanted to learn about her character Thóra. I intend to read the rest of that series and like to get in on the ground floor. Just like Arnaldur Indriðason's Inspector Erlendur there are always interesting back stories in the main character's life.
Thóra is a much different character than the dark and broody Erlendur. Both have their appeal to me, but if both were real I would much rather spend time with Thóra than go down into the depths with Erlendur.

For those of you who like crime novels and would like to try a different setting, these are good reads. There are a handful of other Scandinavian crime-fiction writers who are also very talented and deserve some time to read. So many books, so little time.

Needless to say I haven't been out to take any pictures, but right before I went in for surgery I got these on the way to work.

Then, of course, I need to remind myself of the reason for getting a new knee. I really love to walk. Here is a return to July and a day walking along the Thames. Taking a moment to strike a relaxed pose as Andie and I take in the touristy, but quite wonderful, sights of London.

Sunday, October 27, 2013

Feed me some random thoughts

When I open up Google Dashboard to write down an idea I get to look at my feed which I hardly ever remember to look at. Then I get sidetracked by all the great stuff people are writing and my train of thought jumps the tracks. I had a really pleasant surprise to see one of my all-time favorites come back to life after a year of having been put to rest.  Iceland Eyes is back and Maria's photos and words are as wonderful as ever.

Scrambling toward winter, I have been trying to get all the preparations done on the farm. Winter water, working light bulbs, feed supplies, faucet washers, and other details need to be tended to. Most of this is anticipation of my new bionic knee that I am supposed to have installed on Friday. Procrastination is a luxury I can't afford at the moment, but will be happy to return to when the time is appropriate. Effective procrastination takes a lot of procrastination to perfect, but I keep putting it off.

Did I mention that the PBR finals are going on now? No, it's not beer (Pabst Blue Ribbon) in this case (or keg), but Professional Bull Riding. Who in their right mind would do such a thing? Young guys with more testosterone than brains, but it makes for some great entertainment. The bulls live a pampered life and the cowboys, or in this case bullboys, try to keep from getting seriously hurt while staying on the back of a specially raised and trained bull. It is only for eight seconds, but so much can happen in that time. These are the best bulls and riders in the world and more often than not the bulls win. Mostly Brazilians and Americans compete with a few Aussies, Mexicans, and Canadians thrown in for a little variety.  

The last time (and first time) I had surgery was on Halloween two years ago. I was taken aback when they rolled me into the OR and everyone was wearing masks, but then realized what day it was before they put me in lala land. This time it is on the day after Halloween, so I wonder if they will still be wearing masks. What is it they are trying to hide anyway? 
 I think of my horses missing my twice a day company, but Stitch will take on most of those duties. When they stare at the house before feeding time I wonder if they will think like this? 

'Knee replacement huh? I'm pretty sure Thunder wasn't told that was an option.' by Gruhn, Mike
I hope stitch is up to it. If she holds up physically to the rigors of hay-flinging and water-hosing she won't have to do this anymore to stretch her back. At least I think that is what she was doing at this moment.
Maybe I'll get a chance to finish reading a few books before I have to go back to work.

Tuesday, October 15, 2013

Foxes climbing trees

A long time ago, the Cooker made a Chinese dinner called Ants Climbing Trees. I don't remember much other than the name and that it was very tasty. The Chinese apparently use a lot of descriptive ways to name food, but the only other one I remember is their name for Coca Cola when it was introduced to them some years ago. Are you ready? They called it "Bite the wax tadpole". If I ever named a drink that would not be what I would call it, but I live in a much more bland (food descriptively wise) culture.

After my step mother died my father, Otto, and my brother and I went out to a local Chinese restaurant for some dinner. My step mother wasn't real fond of Chinese cuisine and my father, therefore, hadn't been to a Chinese restaurant in many years. That didn't really surprise me, but what did was my father addressing the woman who owned and ran the restaurant in Mandarin! Hell, I didn't know he spoke Mandarin and I had known him for fifty some years! In his first years in the U.S., following WW2, he had a good friend, and fellow foreign student,  by the name of Steve Yang. I vaguely remembered Steve from my early years, but that was so long ago. I wonder if Otto taught Steve any Norwegian or a handful of other languages that he spoke?

But I digress. Things climbing trees. The raccoon goes up the tree...

    The raccoon goes down the tree...
And the deer just keep looking for any more apples that the 'coons missed.
Then there was something I had heard of, but never seen, until now. I had no idea that foxes climb trees. It is obvious now that they can, but I also didn't know that foxes might like apples. Since this was taken at 5:04 AM, I must assume that the fox was getting some fruit to put on its otherwise bland breakfast. Maybe.
These are things that go on in the 'hood when I am not looking.

Sunday, October 13, 2013


"If I fell in love with you
Would you promise to be true
And help me understand.
'Cause I've been in love before
And I found that love is more
Than just holding hands."

No shit! Aah, naivete. We had it! From the Beatles "If I Fell".

The leaves are falling, the temperature is falling, the day length is falling, and soon snow will be falling. Last week was still warm (above freezing) and not too rainy, but the last vestiges of autumn are showing.
 The wind kicked up, but the sound was different. The rustling of leaves was replaced by a whistling over the bare branches and the crisp, cool mornings were a reason to put on a jacket.

The Cooker made a pot roast last night with veggies that Stitch harvested from her gardens. It was all our home grown except the meat. It was delicious!

The rearranging that the beavers did last fall has had some postponed results, like this tree they didn't finish dropping.
I sometimes think that their long-term strategy for water control may reach out many generations ahead. It will be interesting to see what they do on their way through this fall.

I set up the critter cam near the apple tree and left it for two weeks. There were 1170 pictures of mostly deer. There were a few bucks, a fawn nursing on its mother, raccoons, bunnies (snowshoe hares), a coyote, a fox, and some unidentifiable things, but it showed the flurry of feeding activity that is Fall. Maybe that's why I am so hungry. I am probably genetically programmed to fatten up in the fall for a sparse winter. How deep a role does genetics play? I wonder about this when the billboards on the way to the Big City show messages from happy babies. You know, the ones that say, "when I was a twelve week old fetus I had fingerprints!" I always think, "you also had gills and a tail!" Just things I wonder about.

In this picture of the middle pasture last week, there are still leaves on the Aspen trees. This week, not so much.

Our horse Gyllen Aften (Golden Evening in Norwegian), call name "Pookie" left this week to take a job as a therapeutic riding horse in central Minnesota. She was born here on the farm in June of 1996. She came home a couple of years ago after retiring from the Kentucky Horse Park where she was a driving horse for seven years. She is short, wide, strong, not easily bothered by things and she likes to work. I doubt if she'll come back here, but I may stop in to visit her on occasion just to see how she is doing. Here she is with Vedas in a light snowfall.

  Pookie is the wide one on the left. I was able to pick her up during the first few days of her life. Now she can carry my 200 pound carcass with no problem. Funny how things change with time and chapters seem to close in the Fall.

Friday, October 4, 2013

Broderick Crawford and Cheese

Broderick Crawford, "10-4" in Highway Patrol

Today is October 4th, or as my old friends and I referred to it, Broderick Crawford Day.  Our greatest recollection of the actor was his special way of barking "10-4" into the microphone of his police radio in the TV series "Highway Patrol".

He played many other parts on the stage and in Hollywood winning an Oscar for Best Actor in 1949 for All the Kings Men. He played in many roles and formats for over 50 years everything from vaudeville and radio, to drama, and even an episode of Saturday Night Live back in the 70's.  "Twenty-One-Fifty to Headquarters!" was perhaps better known than our "10-4" for his Highway Patrol years.

 Mr. Crawford had one of those faces you don't forget. Probably not handsome, but one that had seen a lot of living.


Cheese! Fellow blogger Pearl inspired me with one of her bus/bus stop stories. This one was about finding string cheese in her purse. Ah, the things hunger will drive you to looking for. The story reminded me that I have seen string cheese come out of many Minnesota purses over the years. Is this one of those mysteries about what women, especially Midwestern ones, carry in their purse? About half of Minnesotans (generally the ones with deeper voices) wonder about this except maybe the ones that carry "European Shoulder Bags". I imagined that women carry a basic survival kit in there that can include, depending on age and musical preferences, things like food, drink, a change of underwear, various prescription and OTC meds, writing utensils, phones, ipad, ipod, money, first aid items, keys to all kinds of things, and in Pearl's case, string cheese. Being from just south of Philadelphia I imagined women there keeping Cream Cheese in reserve for emergencies. In Upstate New York you might find a wedge of Herkimer County Cheddar or in a  Vermont purse, some delicious Jersey or goat milk cheese.

Personally, I will carry a more masculine purse. It's actually a 1981 vintage Igloo cooler that has most of the above mentioned items, less the ipad and iphone, along with some old grocery lists and receipts for stuff I don't remember buying. And my lunch on most days.

And on the way into work this morning... 
The sunsets, when we actually have them, have been pretty nice, too.


Wednesday, October 2, 2013


Normally I don't discuss politics very much here, not that I don't have strong opinions and have never missed a chance to vote since I was old enough. However, even I will open my mouth and speak up when the morons in Washington D.C. can't do their jobs. I'm sorry, did I say morons? I don't mean to offend actual morons out there as they are much more useful than the human sludge that is our "leadership" in our nation's capital.

I feel responsible for voting for these idiots all these years as I have watched our country slowly go down the road to third world status. We used to be great and show the world what was possible with our ingenuity. We had all kinds of people with great ideas and aspirations and the will to implement great things. We would all get on the bandwagon and get things done. We had skilled labor that was paid enough to feed their families well and an educational system that brought people in from all over the world to participate in it and either stay and help or take things back to the rest of the world to make it a better place.

We have become the bully on the block that everyone laughs at. He is big, strong, and obnoxious, but unbelievably stupid and short sighted and has no idea how to make it in the real world.

The Capital is full of self-serving, egotistical, puffed up bozos (no offense to the real Bozo)  who couldn't decide whether or not to change a diaper full of poop even if it was curling their nose hairs. I almost died from laughing when I heard a politician in the state next door say how difficult it was to raise a family on a $174,000 salary! He was totally serious! "Whadda maroon!" as Bugs Bunny would say. Even that "wascally wabbit" and his nemesis Elmer Fudd could at least resolve a situation.

I want to apologize for helping to elect some of these impotent blowhards in expensive suits. As a person responsible for this situation (all of us that vote are at least partly responsible) I call for an end to this broken system and look for fresh ideas that will live up to the ideals of our founders. The current system is in "Fail" mode and I know we the people can do better. I think the time is right to throw the bums out before they do any more harm.

As there are more talented and smart people all around the blogosphere this little rant will be lost in the melee and I hope something better comes of it all. It's time to join forces and end the idiocracy that governs this nation.

Thank you, I'll go now and I will be back with more of the usual stuff (unless I get swept up in the new revolution).

P.S. I'll bet you can't even get a copy of this from the NSA until congress gets up off its collective ass.

Saturday, September 28, 2013

Who do you represent?

On the way to work this morning I heard the radio host ask a question of the interviewee, "Who do you represent?" I don't know what the answer was because in my head (that scary place, again) I heard "We represent the Lullaby League, the Lullaby League...", and then "We represent the Lollipop Guild, the Lollipop Guild.... which took me right to Munchkin Land.
I started thinking about The Wizard of Oz (the 1939 Judy Garland movie version) and thought about how pervasive it has become in our culture. For example, when our dog Mandy sticks to me like glue and when  the ladies refer to something I should do they often add "and your little dog, too" in that Wicked Witch of the West voice we all know and love.

There are other lines from that movie that I hear from time to time like "Pay no attention to that man behind the curtain" or "Lions and tigers and bears, oh, my!" often with different subjects. "Follow the yellow brick road" is another great adaptable piece of advice.  "Toto, I have a feeling we're not in Kansas anymore" My personal favorite is this,
I could wile away the hours
Conferrin' with the flowers
Consultin' with the rain
And my head I'd be scratchin'
While my thoughts were busy hatchin'
If I only had a brain

I'd unravel any riddle
For any individ'le
In trouble or in pain

With the thoughts you'd be thinkin'
You could be another Lincoln
If you only had a brain

Oh, I would tell you why
The ocean's near the shore
I could think of things I never thunk before
And then I'd sit and think some more

I would not be just a nuffin'
My head all full of stuffin'
My heart all full of pain
I would dance and be merry
Life would be a ding-a-derry
If I only had a brain

I saw two of the pikes carried by the Winkies (O-Ee-Yoh! Eoh-ho!" or something like that), the wicked witch's guards, be appraised for $15,000 each on Antiques Roadshow the other day. The flying monkeys scared the crap out of me when I was 5 and it was probably 10 years before I could watch that part again.

This year was the 75th anniversary of the movie and hopefully, there was a special celebration at the Judy Garland Museum in Grand Rapids, Minnesota. It is Judy's (Francis Gumm) childhood home, and I am ashamed to say I have never been there. And then this evening what should I see?

At least there was no tornado.

Tuesday, September 24, 2013

Songs in the head

I knew it was going to be a strange day when I start out with Simon and Garfunkel's "The Boxer"  and a few minutes later the theme song from the George of the Jungle cartoon show.
DisneySites!! Clipart > Characters > George of the Jungle

What makes that happen? They weren't "ear worms" as I understand those. To me an ear worm can't be easily gotten rid of except to sing it to someone and thereby passing it on.

And then there are the misheard lyrics. Most are pretty well known like Hendrix "'scuse me while I kiss this guy" or CCR's "there's a bathroom on the right". There are more obscure ones like the Association's "Windy". The real lyric is "Who's sweepin' down to capture a moment" but sometimes heard as, " Who's creepin' out to capture a Mormon."

Or The Allman Brothers "Whippin Post" heard as "Sometimes I feel, sometimes I feel, Like I been tied to the fishin' pole".

David Bowie's Space Oddity, "And the papers want to know who shot you where." " Clown control to Mao Tse Tung".

Fleetwood Mac's Landslide, "I took my love, and I took it down", or was it " I took my love and I milked a cow". Or Bill Clinton's favorite, "Don't stop thinkin' about tomorrow" to "Don't stop thinkin' about your mama."

Back to Simon and Garfunkel. "And here's to you Mrs. Robinson, She's a slut, that's more than you should know."

There must be hundreds or thousands of these that are heard by everyone. After all it is better to make something up than just mumble your way through lyrics you just don't know. And what about all the foreign languages? They must have these, too!  Imagine a group like Led Zeppelin writing lyrics in Gaelic or Swahili.

Or maybe the Three Stooges "Swingin' The Alphabet".  Just a musical interlude for your listening pleasure. Really!

Yes, it's true I sometimes slip back into something less mature and childish than most people are used to seeing, but even I enjoy a good fart joke now and then. I am not always the worldly intellectual scholar that you see before you (Don't read that with a mouthful of coffee...Ooops! Too late!). Maybe I'll pass for normal by the weekend.

Sunday, September 22, 2013

Summer slowly slips away

The ships on the big lake are starting to hug the shore, more than before, in anticipation of the North Wind. The slowly setting sun gleams on the forecastle (fo'c'sle) as the ship is upbound for Duluth. Pardon my alliteration. Must be reading too much poetry lately.
Another sign of impending winter is the hot rods and classic cars getting out for one last joy ride before the highway departments start salting the roads. One of the reps that calls on us at work brought his Cadillac up the shore a few days ago.
Speaking of work, I got to take a drive up the Gunflint Trail (one of the three or so paved roads in the county) to fix a minor problem and stopped on the way down to take a look at the change of colors.
In another week or so we will be at the peak of change.

Yesterday the Cooker and I took a stroll through the woods looking for any mushrooms that might have made themselves available after the recent rains. We found woods sculpture that we had left behind at another time. I call this "Bolt on a Stump" because it's a bolt on a stump. Clever, eh?
And then the Cooker left her implements in a pile on the trail while she went to peruse a wooded hillside for some fungal treasure. I call this still life "Basket and Walking Stick". Pretty clever again, don't you think?
We never did find any edibles, but did see some interesting 'shrooms like this on the butt of an old log. These are tiny as the log is only about 6" (15.24cm) in diameter. Cool colors complete the composition. Click on it to see the variety.
 Something this past week brought to mind a poem from T.S. Eliot called "Dry Salvages". It was the death of an old friend with whom I had reconnected with a few years ago and got to see at my college reunion a few months ago. There were a few lines toward the end of that poem that took me back to our college days.

For most of us, there is only the unattended
Moment, the moment in and out of time,
The distraction fit, lost in a shaft of sunlight,
The wild thyme unseen, or the winter lightning
Or the waterfall, or music heard so deeply
That it is not heard at all, but you are the music
While the music lasts.

Saturday, September 7, 2013

Fall Fair

It’s Fair time around much of North America. Some were earlier in the summer and some just finished.  In Minnesota the state fair is a big thing. I have been a few times, but it is far away and I have gotten just a little agoraphobic in my later years. I can handle being in the vicinity of large crowds, but when the crowd picks you up like a leaf on a river you just have to go along for the ride. I don’t like that part. In recent years I have opted for smaller venues. I am much more likely to attend the Hymers Fall Fair located west of Thunder Bay, Ontario in the village of (wait for it…) Hymers. 

 It is a quaint little agricultural fair with no midway or beer garden. There is some good food available as well as junk food, but no deep fried anything-on-a-stick.   
We usually go for the first of the two day fair. That is when they have the light horse events. The heavy horse events are the second day. It is fun to watch the kids do some amazing things on their trusty steeds. It is a fairly low key competition, but a good practice experience for those who want to go on to bigger and better things. 
It is the stuff of dreams for a lot of young girls. If young boys knew more about the girl/horse thing there would be a lot more boys out in the arena waiting for their future “buckle bunnies” to get old enough to date. 

One of my favorite displays is from the "Tired Iron Club". They find, salvage, and restore old engines of all sorts. Everything from pumps to chainsaws and generators, some of which are over a hundred years old. The noises the engines make are from the past and are often a bit comical by today's standards of mechanical sounds.

 They tend to put a smile on your face or cause you to think back and contemplate.

There are two stages for your entertainment and the bands are pretty good for the most part. About ten or fifteen years ago I could hear some very familiar instrumentals coming from the main stage. They were playing a bunch of songs from Herb Alpert and the Tijuana Brass. Guess what? It WAS the Tijuana Brass sans Alpert. They were older than I remember (Gee, so am I), but damn they were good! Here is that stage with one of the local bands.

There is a dog show of sorts and there are the usual cows, pigs, chickens, geese, goats, sheep, ducks, etc., for everyone, but some would rather just eat.

We came home with Canadian maple syrup which is better even than our local home brew, homemade cookies, and three pairs of really soft handmade wool socks for really cheap! 

Don't forget your Passport!

Saturday, August 24, 2013

Geography is Destiny

A few days ago I went on a road trip south to Duluth to consult about a knee replacement. On the way I was listening to MPR when "Talking Volumes" came on the radio. I don't often get to listen to the radio during normal working hours and if I do it is just background noise. The speaker/interviewee was  Dr. Abraham Verghese and the interview was done at the Fitzgerald Theater in St.Paul (that bastion of culture) last October. Mostly they discussed his book "Cutting for Stone" which is a wonderful and best selling novel, but I am more impressed by the man himself. I would love to have him as a friend.

One of the points he brought up and getting from his own background is that geography is destiny. He mentions that Freud said "anatomy is destiny" and segued that into geography is destiny by mentioning all the important stuff near the birth canal and then to Napoleon's "geography is destiny" attribution. I may not have that exactly right as I am doing this from memory of a few days ago, but that was the gist of it in my mind. His changes in geography led him to where he is now and he used that journey as a basis for some of "Cutting for Stone". I listened intently, but kept wandering off to my own thoughts about this.

As the son of immigrants I have always been drawn back to "the old country" and wonder what life would have been like if I had grown up there.
My mother died about the time I turned three so I don't know much of what her life was like in the U.K. I never got the details my father was able to give me throughout my life. The bedtime stories he told me as a child were full of adventure with a little fantasy thrown in much as the stories of Iceland and Norway are often related. The characters were Per and Odd, boys not much older than myself so that I could relate. The plots I don't remember well, but the scenery and pictures he painted in my mind always took me to beautiful and rugged place.
Sometimes the stories would take me to ancient settlements in the viking age and voyages across the North Atlantic where fish was always plentiful. This is across the fjord from where my grandfather was born in Iceland.
Years later I would hear Led Zeppelin play "The Immigrant Song" and it would take me back to some of the places in the stories.

"We come from the land of the ice and snow,
From the midnight sun where the hot springs flow.
The hammer of the gods will drive our ships to new lands,"

And so I have often wondered what my life would have been like if my father had returned to Norway after my mother died. But he had carved out a life here and Norway was devastated from the War. His younger brothers returned after getting an advanced education and my father would return to his homeland every couple of years to visit his family.

Of course, the questions from my own life like what if I had stayed in Delaware or Minneapolis? How would my life have been different. I will never know because my geographical destiny brought me here to a beautiful place along the North Shore of Lake Superior and life has turned out the way it has because of where I am. At least I think so.
If you get a chance to read or hear Abraham Verghese, do take the time. He is a great believer in "Geography is Destiny" and he has certainly given me a reason to think about it. As Mr.Spock would have said, "Fascinating."

Sunday, August 4, 2013


As I drift back into my mundane world of getting by on a day to day basis, I have to take stock of my surroundings and see where to start. The cooler days remind me that autumn is in the air and that I need to think about getting ready for winter. But it’s only early August! It takes me a while to wrap both of my brain cells around the fact that winter is coming and, as I am the King of Denial, I need to start early. No more gallivanting around Europe, no more schmoozing with my wonderful cousins, no more sitting on the deck with a guitar and a beer (well maybe just a little). Nope, it’s time to get back to work and quit being a man of leisure. If it weren’t for my pesky day job I might have enough time. The barn aisle is a bit scary and needs to be cleaned up, things put away and some kind of organization needs to take place.

Weeds need to be whacked as the plant growth slows down. Pastures need to be mowed and all sorts of other work needs to be done, but I find myself unmotivated. I'd rather take pictures of things around the farm. Like this grate. It's a great grate.
My thoughts drift like a message bottle upon the sea. Maybe someone will find it on a distant shore and read it because I'll be damned if I know what it says. Maybe it's good to write these thoughts so they don't die of loneliness in the cavernous space between my ears. The cool thing about that space is that it sometimes sounds like a reverb chamber.

See what happens if I don't focus? Speaking of focus we have an interesting arrangement in a pot on the deck.
 Then nearly forgotten lyrics pop into my head.

Golden rose, the color of the dream I had
Not too long ago
misty blue and the lilac too
never to grow old.

It's Rodgers and Hart, but I remember the Hendrix version. I am distracted and called to another dream world.

It's time for that beer and guitar. Gotta go now.