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Thursday, February 15, 2024

Mistress Day?


 



Years ago when I worked second shift, coworker Jerry and I would stop by for lunch before our 2:00 shift.  Always a good time.  One such lunch outing we decided to splurge on ribeyes and dined at Jaxx Cafe in NE Minneapolis.  


We sat eating our ribeye and spuds.  When we noticed we were the only peeps dressed in blue jeans and work shirts.  We also noticed all the other tables were couples dressed up in their finest artire, suits and skirts.  


Thats when it hit Jerry.  He laughed and said to me, “do you know what day it is?  Its February 13th, Mistress Day!”  Sheesh, the day before Valentines Day.  I looked around and sure enough, some of the suits were older men while the skirted females were younger.


We laughed and caused a scene.  I then asked Jerry, “who is the mistess in our situation?”


Hope you all had a great Valentines Day and/ or Mistress Day.  🤣

Friday, September 22, 2023

A New Path




I watched kids walking to the bus stop as I drove by on my way to work.  I got to thinking; those kids do not comprehend their next 40 years of listening to corporate managers and CEOs drone on about maximizing profitability, mission statements and virtue signaling.  

To be young, carefree and innocent again and not bear witness to all that corporate nonsense.  Then I thought, sheesh, this coming May will mark my 40th anniversary graduating from high school.  I can still remember that last year of exuberant excitement to graduate and choose my life’s path.  And leaving high school with no comprehension of the reality that lies ahead.

Much the same way I now feel of leaving the corporate world for a small taste of freedom on this new life path.  More time to learn and explore a more suitable path.  A path less rigidly defined.


However, I will still be working; my new full time career as house husband.  I better start honing my skills as trophy husband, now.

 

Wednesday, August 9, 2023

Monday morning blues

Weekly stress and anxiety

Recycle repeat



Thursday, February 16, 2023

Family Snowman




Today we said our goodbyes to Aunt Ellen.  Her funeral was in Carlton, MN; just under a two hour drive from home.  We reminisced, we cried, we laughed, we ate, and we came together as a family. 


There were no hiccups on the drive north on Interstate 35.  We passed Terry driving Aunt Alma as they took an exit to the rest area.  My sister drove my folks and Aunt Mary.  Karen and my Pop kept texting to report on our travel progress stating we were ten miles behind them.  I sure wish he had warned me of the highway patrols in the center median of I35.  Thankfully, there were no speeding tickets.  Though that would have added hilarity to the day in honor of Aunt Ellen.  We, or I should say I, set the left lane pace with three vehicles keeping pace behind me.  In the center median a few short miles south of our highway 210 exit, I noticed the familiar maroon and white patrol car facing towards the southbound lanes.  Our eyes meet as we flew by him.  Thats when I noted my speed set at eleven over posted.  


Whats funny about this you may be thinking?  Well, Aunt Ellen’s hobby was listening to the Carlton County police scanner.  And about twenty years ago, I ended up being gifted a speeding ticket for ten miles per hour over the posted speed limit.  As we sat there on the highway, my cousin Colleen was laughing stating, “yep, mom is listening to this right now.”  Sure enough, not only did my Aunt Ellen hear of my speeding ticket adventure on the Carlton County police scanner, so did my folks and probably the rest of our relatives.  Aunt Ellen no doubt had a laugh about this close call up there in heaven.  


One time about the same era, Karen and I stopped in to visit Ellen and Lloyd.  We knocked on their door.  The TV was on, but nobody answered.  Perhaps they didn’t hear our knock.  We stepped in; nobody home.  So we left to get something to eat at the truck stop. We met Ellen and Lloyd telling them we stopped by.  Aunt Ellen said if we were hungry, we should have just taken something out of the fridge.  Thats the way it was with family hospitality.  Family was the center.  


It was a joy to see this inflatable snowman by Aunt Ellen’s casket.  You see, this snowman was set in the upper corner of our Grandparent’s farm house.  Its been there since the mid 1960’s where their house was the center of the family.  Everyone simply dropped in to visit.  Food was somehow always involved.  We all stayed at the farm house for weddings in the area.  The living room floor was littered with sleeping bags where many of us cousins slept.  The snowman kept us company watching over us.  None of us could remember a time the snowman wasn’t there.  Amazingly, it never deflated.  Its still the original air Grandpa blew into it.  When Grandma and Grandpa passed on, Aunt Ellen inherited the snowman keeping the tradition of a family gathering place.  It was good to see my family and reminisce our shared memories. 





Wednesday, February 15, 2023

Wednesday, January 18, 2023

Morning Soar



 

Rising mist signals damp chill in air.

Lake gently caressing granite shore.

Cedar and Pine aromas wafting winds share.

Sun’s rising warmth beacons Eagles to soar.

Friday, December 23, 2022

The Misfit Toy Caper




I’ve always wondered about the Island of Misfit Toys in the adventures of Rudolph the Red Nosed Reindeer.   Who made these low quality toys?  Certainly these unwanted misfit toys had to be built in Santa’s workshop.  His quality control personal must have been on vacation to let so many misfits slip through.  No child wants such misfits as a Charlie in the Box.  Or a doll that cries and has no nose, a water pistol that only shoots jelly, a polka dotted elephant, a swimming bird, a Cowboy riding an ostrich.   A sinking boat, a flightless airplane, a train with square wheels on it’s caboose.  How did they get onto the island?  Were they kidnapped by King Moonracer?   

 

Early on we see Santa’s elves busily making toys and singing their silly elven songs.  Heck even Santa wasn’t impressed by their singing.  Hermey the elf seemed all too preoccupied with Dentistry rather than toy making.  Strangely, he tries fixing doll’s teeth with a hammer and pliers.  Not to sound anti dentite but what kind of Dentist uses a hammer and pliers to fix teeth?  Could it be that Hermey the Dentist wanna’-be is the original quiet quitter?  All the other elves cherish their toy making tasks and choir practice.   All but Hermey, his painting skills and singing ability are lacking.  Was Hermey responsible for all the toy misfits?

 

As the story unfolds, Rudolph the red nosed reindeer, a district outcast from the reindeer games, meets up with our pre-Dentistry elf Hermey.  They begin their adventures together playing keep away from the Abominable Snowmonster.   Only Rudolph’s bright red nose always gives them away.   Prospector and North Pole Expedition guide Yukon Cornelius guides them directly to the Island of Misfit Toys.  Hermey seems all to aloof and the misfit toys give him little attention.  Something seems not too right there as though the misfit toys know, and Heremy doesn’t wish to draw attention to his poor toy making skills.  Even King Moonracer wanted to be rid of this crew, as if he were plotting something.

 

It stands plausible that these misfit toys were created by Hermey the elf.  His mind was not in the toy making business.  Instead of working, he constantly read the book of dentite.  Between reading dentistry skills and using a hammer improperly on doll’s teeth and toys, we see an elf in phycological distress.  An elf clearly unsuited for toy making.  Why wasn’t HR involved?  Clearly this elf has no toy making skills.  His manager in the green coat should have nurtured this hapless pre-dentite elf into a different position more suited to his skill level. 

 

Was Santa’s work shop a Union Shop?  Union rules were never brought forth, but its plausible.  That may explain why Hermey was never fired.  However, a Union shop would never allow cross job work.  A dentist making toys?  Never.  Was this an independent shop?  Possibly.  Early on Hermey and Rudolph set out to be independent together.  This foreshadowing may explain this not to be a Union shop.   And the misfit toys a simple write off by Santa to King Moonracer who stands to profit by taking the misfits off Santa’s hands.   


It seems Rudolph got his revenge by guiding Santa’s sleigh through a raging blizzard while earning kickbacks from King Moonracer by convincing Santa to pick up these misfit toys.  Santa unwittingly redistributed his shoddy toys at his own expense.  A win win for the island king.  But do the good little children actually receive these unwanted toys?  One of Santa’s elves hands an umbrella to the toys and carpet bombs the world with unwanted misfits.  We do not see where these toys end up.  Do they find their ways into children’s homes, the landfill, or, back on King Moonracer’s Island?  More investigation is needed.


Thursday, December 8, 2022

So many birds




 On my commute home from work, the radio was airing that silly Twelve Days of Christmas song.   It got me thinking I need to add seed to the bird feeders.  Somehow, it also got me thinking how many birds we’re to recieve from our true love.   

Day 1 - we’re given a partridge in a pear tree.  In twelve days, thats 12 partridges!  I’ll take that!  I haven’t been out in the woods partridge hunting in years.

Day 2 - we get two turtle doves.  Well, thats fine I guess, can you cook up a turtle dove?  In eleven days we get 22 of these doves.

Day 3 - French hens, 3 of them.  Thats a heckuva’ lot of coq au vin to prepare and cook.  In ten days, thats 30 French hens into the  Le Creuset dutch oven.  

Day 4 - we’re now stuck with 4 calling birds.  With my luck they’re probably cawing crows or squawking bluejays.  In nine days thats 36 of these noisy birds.  Wow!

Day 5 - golden rings well ain’t that nice.  Eight days of five golden rings for a total of 40 rings.

Day 6 - now we’re to get six geese a laying.  In seven days, thats 42 geese a laying eggs.  Well, thats gonna’ be a crapful of eggs.  I suppose we could sell all them eggs.

Day 7 - seven swans a swimming for six days, 42 more aquatic birds.  I sure hope they don’t lay eggs, we’re overflowing with eggs.

Thats 184 birds in total.  Why the hell would our true love give us that many birds?!  Never mind how this is even possible; what are we supposed to do with that many birds?  I guess I better buy more bird seed, eh.

Tuesday, November 22, 2022

Bob Cratchited



 

FirstDataFiserv, day 4 without heat; 
its 59 degrees in the office and Scrooge still has not repaired the office furnace.  We now know what Bob Cratchit was dealing with.  Instead of a candle, I’m using my Zippo lighter to warm my hands.  At least we’ll get a Christmas goose after the three influencers prance about Ebenezer.  A Christmas miracle, Right?  Poor Tiny Tim…

Saturday, October 1, 2022

Thursday, July 28, 2022

Crossroads

 


Standing at the crossroads.  I did not see the devil.  
But he did try to persuade me to keep walking and not go back to the office.

Wednesday, May 11, 2022

Glinda’s Goal


Imagery from the googles




 I finally caught on to what was going down on that movie “The Wonderful Wizard of Oz”.  Glinda the Good Witch of the North manipulated Dorothy and her crew to whack the Wicked Witch of the East by dropping Auntie Em’s house on her.  And later by whacking Wicked Witch of the West by melting her with a pail of water.  

Dorothy, Toto and her crew created an  insurrection coup d’Etat against the Wonderful Wizard of Oz exposing his sham of an corporate operation.  He self banished himself in a balloon after awarding Dorothy’s crew with meager trinkets.  Oz got the last laugh by leaving Dorothy behind when Toto chased after the conjured up cat.  A just reward for ruining is phony wizardship.

Afterward, Glinda then traded Dorothy’s return to Auntie Em in Kansas for the coveted ruby slippers.  Which no doubt was Glinda the Good Witch of the North’s goal all along.  With all the Witches whacked, the entire empire, Munchkinland et all, is now ruled over by Glinda the Good Witch of the North. 
 
Glinda the “Good” Witch of the North is badass.

Wednesday, May 4, 2022

Spinach Pie

 


Early in our marriage, we lived on the third floor in an apartment. It was across the hall and to the right of the stairs.  Next to us was a storage room, on the other side was a guy who was never around.  Directly across the hall from our apartment was the laundry room, stairs to the right and a flight attendant whos’ mail complete with Victoria’s secret catalog was usually mixed up with our mail.  It was a very convenient apartment.


We decided to spend a day at  the Renaissance Festival.  A day of time period themed festivities.  Basically, a rural state fair where Cosplay actors went around calling everyone me lady, me lord and whatnot.  Some vendors dressed in costumes accosted festival goers by hawking stuff.  “Buy a stick, the pickle is free!”  Clever.  But I digress. 


We found a booth selling individual sized spinach pies.  They were delicious, and we each enjoyed a second.  My new bride asked if she could get the recipe.  And sure enough withing ten minutes she had the recipe in hand!  It would be weeks later before we tried making our own spinach pie back in the apartment.


We looked forward to this day in making our spinach pies.  It seemed straight forward and easy enough.  Though getting the garlic out of the peeling was time consuming and putzy.  We did have a debate on what is meant by one clove of garlic.  Being young in our twenties, newly married and not worldly in the know, we took a guess.  

One clove of garlic must surely mean the garlic in hand.  How wrong we were.
Almost immediately we could smell garlic wafting out of the oven.  Soon, our apartment was heavy and thick with the aroma of garlic. When the pies were done and ready for tasting, we could not abide the taste.  Now, we enjoy garlic.  Probably more so than most.  But this was too too much.  She spit and tossed her individual pie out.  Not wanting to disappoint my new bride, I said it was kinda’ good, but heavy on the garlic and finished it. 


She asked me to take it all out in the garbage.  I happily obliged.  I grabbed a beer and the garbage bag and headed downstairs.  The garbage bins were across the parking lot, behind the garages in the back lot.  I took my time washing down the garlic treatment with my beer.  Which never really tasted good.  The beer was too garlicky.  I believe I even was sweating garlic.  Opening

 the building’s door, I hit headstrong into a wall of garlic aroma.   This wall was difficult to penetrate, and I debated in leaving for my folk’s place for the night.  No, I must be strong for her.  The higher I climbed the staircase, the stronger the pungency of garlic became.  It was all but unbearable opening our apartment door.  Garlic was so strong my eyes watered.  

It took weeks to rid the building of garlic.  And we learned a few things.  One clove of garlic does not equal the entire bulb.  And a good way to rid the building of inhabitants, cook lots of garlic.  It was a long time before we enjoyed anything with garlic.   Even the spinach pies.


Saturday, April 9, 2022

Trees

 

Red Pine standing tall,
Winds whispering through needles,
A tree’s secret told.




Wednesday, January 19, 2022

High School Carting

 


(Image from the googles)

During our high school days on Friday nights, we’d pile in to one or two cars and head down to Burnsville to the go cart place.  We never bothered to learn the actual name of the business.  We just called it The Go Cart Place which was located west of I35 on Highway 13.  The place had a go cart track, bumper boats and I think mini golf.  I’m not sure.  We only went later in the evenings to go cart.  We’d buy tickets and stand in line waiting to race.  We would pay close attention to see which were the faster carts.  Then as it was our turn, we’d run toward to cart we picked out.  More often than not, someone else took our targeted cart before we could get there.

The track had only one straight away where the pit was to get seated in the cart.  It had only a few overhead lights to illuminate the track.  Once the attendant moved out of the way and said go; we were off!  Turn one was 90 degrees to the left.  A short straightaway led to turn 2, about 180 degrees turn. Then another 180 degrees turn, It was more or less an “S” shape curve back there.  Then a 90 degree turn to the left followed by another leading to the long straightaway with the pit.  Early on, the blacktop track was lined with old tires on the dirt as some sort of makeshift guard rail to keep us on the track.  But, quite often, the attendants had to run onto the track and replace the wayward tires after being bumped into the track.  The carts were low to the ground with a 5-horsepower gasoline engine behind the seat.  The carts reeked of burnt oil, exhaust, and gasoline.  These were set up for smaller kids.  Us that were taller felt cramped.  Obviously, there was a gas and brake pedal.  But we only used the brakes for stopping in the pit when our race was done.  Usually, we’d get back in line to buy another ticket and race again.

We learned the hard way to only purchase one ticket at a time. Occasionally we would get kicked out of there and not allowed to race the rest of the evening.  And yes, we did get kicked out a few times for such infractions as too much bumping or flat out causing an accident.  No, these carts weren’t all that fast.  Thus, we never used the brakes.  We’d jamb our foot down on the accelerator pedal and wedge our toe up under the front frame rail bending the bracket to get a little more speed.  Also, so we wouldn’t lose full open throttle.  The accidents usually happened in the “S” curve.  We were all bunched up at the start of the race and nobody broke away until after this “S” curve.  More spin outs happened there than the rest of the track. With ten competitive people racing into the “S” curve chaos always ensued.  That’s where the tires lining the track managed to bounce onto the track.  One of the guys somehow got his cart on top of the tire unable to proceed.  The attendants had to help the airlifted cart off the tire and restart the engine.

We’d jockey for position on the straightway, usually cutting or bumping into each other for the best line into the first turn.  Somehow, I got bumped and delayed bouncing off the tires watching the group serge ahead.  A buddy got bumped between turns 2 and 3, into and through the tires, he cut a clear straight path over the dirt mound pushing tires out of the way eliminating turns 3 and 4 setting himself up nicely ahead of the pack.  A few others spun out facing me as I zipped by them.  The attendants ran out to replace the tires and help the others get their stalled carts started again and going in the right way yelling at us, “no bumping!”  Of course, we ignored their warnings.  Yet too much bumping caused us to get kicked out. One of the guys was reprimanded for taking an extra lap.

The next autumn school year The Go Cart Place got rid of the tires and installed metal guard rails lining both sides of the track.  No doubt it was the tire misplacement shenanigans of our group that prompted the decision.  Of course this metal guard rail led to other difficulties.  Somehow a few of us managed to get the cart stuck up on top of this ten inch tall guard rail.  Which again led to us getting yelled at by the attendants.  They also installed a drag strip of go cart drag races.  We tried it once.  The carts were slower than the other track.  And there was not enough attendants to keep that going.

Despite helmets not being available, and all our crashing, nobody got hurt.  Well, except perhaps for our thwarted teenage NASCAR ego.  Fun times!  We just don’t see this type of activity anymore.  I guess everyone is racing on video games and cell phones, now.

 

Friday, January 14, 2022

Seventeen Months

  
 (MNDOT photo from the googles)

Seventeen months.  That was a good run.  Seventeen months of easy going carefree rush hour commute; the Covid commute.  In April of 2020, government shut down businesses for the Covid19 pandemic.  “Essential” workers had the freeway system all to ourselves.  It was quite strange not riding the brake pedal, stop and go fashion while creeping along at 20 miles per hour on the freeway.  The lanes were virtually empty!   No more accidents, people did not fall off the freeways.  It was awesome!
 
Admittedly, there were issues at first.  Just like kids let loose at the opening gates at the amusement park; traffic was pretty chaotic in those early days of the pandemic.  Speed limits were ignored.  In the first few weeks, lanes changes were made abruptly and without warning.  Traffic weaved in an out with each other across all lanes.  Some fell off the freeways.  Others had a horrific meet and greet.  Oddly enough, there lacked a highway patrol presence as the chaos unfolded.  It was getting out of hand.
 
On about the third month into our pace care-free rush hour commute, we covid commuters fell into a NASCAR groove.  We all lined up in the left lane drafting each other in a seamless pack.  Right lanes were for entering and exiting to merge into the middle or left lanes to join the NASCAR draft.  Merging traffic speeds matched that of the covid NASCAR drivers.  Exiting, nobody slowed down in the right freeway lane.  Nobody fell off the freeway system.  Traffic flowed quite smoothly at an average of ten mile over posted limits.  My 45 minute commute was reduced to hassle free 15 minutes.  It was even more awesome!
 
But now workers are coming back into the office.  Traffic is building.  We’re now stuck behind timid drivers entering the freeway system right lane 15 to 20 miles per hour below posted.  Some of these halfwit dullards merge to the left lane keeping pace car speeds under the posted speed limit.  These Citiots drive like speed limit vigilantes in their own small world oblivious to surrounding vehicles.  We’re back to slack jawed yokels riding the brakes - slowing down in the right lane to exit.  More accidents are occurring, and more are falling off the freeway.  Ugh, I miss my Covid NASCAR commute.
 
 

 

Thursday, December 23, 2021

Red Owl Courtesy Clerks


 (Photo courtesy of the googles of The Country Store on York Ave in Edina, MN)



I walked into my manager’s office at the Burger King I worked at on 90th and Penn in Bloomington.  I was feeling good about my first annual review.  I had worked extra hours when they were shorthanded and came in on my days off to help close the store for the night.  I was sitting there listening to the glowing remarks with a big smile contemplating my raise amount for my whopper grilling job.  Then I heard it; five cents.  My efforts paid off increasing my minimum wage part time job from $3.35 to $3.40 per hour.  Three days later I put in my two weeks notice without really complying to those two weeks.  I was a teenager afterall.

A good friend of mine helped me get a job to work with him at Red Owl Country Store on York Ave in Edina.  Starting pay was $4.00 per hour!  Sometimes quitting a job pays off.  And I would no longer come home smelling like a whopper with cheese and fries.  We were hired as Courtesy Clerks; you know, the underlings who run around doing price checks for cashiers, keeping the store in general cleanliness, sorting and stacking returnable glass bottles, corralling carts from the lot and other managerial specified tasks.  

The group of us Courtesy Clerks were of similar age, a few went to the same school as my friend and I.  I’m not sure this was entirely a good idea as we all bonded and had a great time working there.  Three of us were on staggered shifts overlapping by an hour and a half.  Each shift had a particular duty.  The morning Courtesy Clerks were older than us.  They ranked higher than us for obvious reasons.  Our shifts only overlapped a few hours.  I discovered a good napping area looking for the floor buffing discs.  I found an older Courtesy Clerk was napping behind the shelf.  I promptly warned him of Mr. Polson was in the building.  This for the rest of my Country Store career put me on his good side.

I found the most fun shift to be corralling shopping carts from the lot. In summer, anyway.  Back in those days, there were no motorized cart to help.  It was all done by pure brute force.  What a great time to roam around outside especially in the evenings around 10 pm.  I remember many beautiful evenings slowly meandering under the illumination of overhead parking lot lights searching for wayward carts.  Key Cadillac was 100 yards away.  My buddy said he once found a cart there.  So obviously, a nice summer evening stroll over to Key Cadillac to find no Red Owl shopping cart.  But darned if I didn’t look every time.  Loafing outside became a fun working activity.  Though Corralling carts was sometimes harrowing.  Pushing a long train of carts that would not curve properly going down an incline proved nearly disastrous.  The front of the cart train got away from me and was speeding toward a 1973 corvette.  Leaping into action, I put myself in front and took the hit, diverting the errant train back on course down the lot. 

Newbie Courtesy Clerks learned the hard way of our Mr. Polson keep away games.  Mr. Polson, a manager, always had some extra busywork that usually took entirely too long to accomplish.  This resulted in less screwing around in the store with fellow Courtesy clerk friends.  He would approach one of us and begin to say, “I have a special task that needs to be…”  seasoned Courtesy Clerks who knew the Keep Away From Polson Game would frantically say, “um, sorry Mr. Polson, I’m price checking right now.  I saw Alan over in aisle 2.”  We’d make look good by grabbing something off the shelf and run toward the cashiers.  Mr. Polson would make his way toward Alan in aisle 2 where he had heard our conversation and darted the other way to aisle 8.  All night we’d play this cat and mouse game with Mr. Polson running around the store trying to chase down three wily Courtesy Clerks.  It was usually the unwary newbies who would get stuck doing Mr. Polson’s dumbass tasks.  That’s when they quickly learned our game.  The trick was to look as busy as possible with doing as little as possible. 

Sorting and stacking the glass returnable bottles was a fun task.  We had to separate the Coke products from the Pepsi and 7-Up products in the back bailer room behind the grocery warehouse.  It was the morning Courtesy Clerks who tended the beginning stages of the stacks.  After about a week, we evening shift Courtesy Clerks realized what the morning Courtesy Clerks were up too.  On the back corner wall in the bailer room where we stacked the bottles, they made a tight gap from wall to stack.  It was a tight squeeze, but once through, there was a small sitting area in the center of the stack complete with folding chair.  A perfect get away to hide from all managers.  You could not see through the bottles but you certainly could hear when fellow co-workers or managers came into the aera.  This glass fort was a guarded secret between just a few of us Courtesy Clerks.  We all took turns using this glass menagerie to hide form Mr. Polson.  Countless times we heard his voice in the room asking about our whereabouts.  Nobody fessed up.  To do so would foil our glass fort.  The beauty of it was there was a door leading outside near the narrow passageway.  One could feign coming in through the door to divert being caught mysteriously appearing in the bailer room.  The Coke driver was really cool about our glass fort.  He laughed and thought it ingenious.  It was a Pepsi driver collecting the bottles that gave it away to management.  The bastard. 

Emptying trash and collecting cardboard was fun as this allowed us to play with the bailer machines.  We’d make our rounds to collect the various garbage bins.  A few were in the break room.  We never really took breaks; our entire shift was more or less a break.  Though visiting with the pretty high school/college cashiers on break was always the added bonus.  Heck, some cashiers were in on our Keep Away from Mr. Polson games.  He caught me in the break room with the cashiers.  I thought I was doomed for one of his dumbass tasks.  But an older cashier announced I needed to hurry up and mop up under register 3 where she spilled a leaking milk carton.  A quick wink from her and I was off to fake mop register 3 as Mr. Polson left to find Alan.

Sadly, I later learned my working career was nothing like Red Owl Country Store.  Its more -  less fun work pushing a mouse around while staring at two monitors in a cube farm.  There’s no screwing around outside, no glass forts, no bailers, and no Mr. Polson to hide from.  I guess fun is reserved for our youth.

 

Wednesday, December 8, 2021

Radio


 


I have enjoyed radio listening for much of my life.  My yearly memories were in the car listening to Twins baseball and afterwards, Mystery Theater on AM 830 WCCO.  We listened at night on the way to Grandma and Grandpa’s traveling north on Interstate 35.  I can still hear the creaking door as it opened to start the radio show.  Sadly, though, we usually arrived before we could hear the story’s conclusion.  

 

In grade school I discovered North Stars hockey on AM 1500.  I was hooked on hockey listening to Al Shaver announce the games.  I miss listening to Al as much as I miss the North Stars. To this day I hold a deep disrespect/hatred toward then owner Norm Green for moving the North Stars to Dallas.  Which led to a deep resentment toward the Dallas Stars.  But I digress.  In my high school days, my fellow high school friends would gather before home room and discuss the games we heard the night before.  We’d recap Al Shaver’s play by play, each goal and missed opportunities.  We were usually late to home room but North Star hockey on the radio was that important.  

 

Another high school friend had an enormous radio, a Zenith transoceanic shortwave radio complete with fold up flap of a world map with time zones and a compass.  He tuned it to 10.000 MHz for the universal time station.  Then we found Radio Havana, Voice of America, the BBC….I was hooked.  But these radios are not cheap.  It was years later before I could afford my own shortwave radio.

 

With cash burning a hole in my pocket demanding to be spent, I found myself at a local radio shop.  The selection was large and varied.  My shortwave radio knowledge was small.  I asked a plethora of questions.  The sales rep asked me if I needed Side Band.  Not knowing what that was, he explained with Lower and Upper Side Bands I could listen in on HAM amateur radio operators.  Neat!  Then he explained all about HAM radio and showed me some beautiful desktop HAM radios that equaled in the four digit price range.  Oof, that’s much more than I can afford.  Plus in those days, Morse Code was required on the HAM radio license tests.  I’m still interested, but the radio price…I’ll never convince her.  I can see the response, “so you want to spend a thousand on a radio to talk to strangers but not me?”  I best avoid this for now, eh?

 

With guidance from the shop owner I bought a Sangean ATS 909.  A beautiful mid gray radio with buttons galore.  It was fun tuning around to see what I could get.  The radio came with a reel up 22 foot long antenna to plug into the external antenna port.  This was the beginning of many late nights tuning in.  I found a soccer match broadcast from Australia at 2 am.  Radio Havana, Radio Moscow, the BBC.  Radio stations to listen to in all languages throughout the world.  And countless HAM operators on the Side Bands around the states, it was awesome!

 

Fast forward 30 years.  Still have an interest in HAM amateur radio.  No more morse code requirement.  Still the radio price keeps me away.  Facebook has made radio DXing more simple these days with many facebook groups, youtube videos, etc.  Like minded people gather in the groups to discus radio and antenna technology, reviews, how sunspots affect radio wave propagations, and frequency reports.  Many discussions about mitigating electrical noise inside our homes and in surrounding community generating noise that affects reception.

 

Shortwave radio has changed a lot since the end of the Cold War.  Countless stations have closed shop or transmitted to other world regions.  Its no longer the same with empty frequencies.  However, the Side Bands are loaded with HAM operators.  Every evening around 8 PM Central Time, HAMs on 3.916 MHZ Lower Side Band Play trivia.  It reminds me of listening to WCCO at night with Al Malmberg’s Full Contact Trivia.  There are Pirate stations to find; illegal radio broadcasts.  Military weather forecasts from Trenton Canada, Atlantic Ocean wave forecasts from Virginia and many other interesting things to hear.

 

Medium Wave, or AM radio has become interesting with 100 feet of speaker wire draped on my trees in the back yard connected to my radio.  I regularly receive AM 990 from Winnipeg, AM 940 from Toronto for Big Band music.  AM 650 from Nashville – Grand Ole Opry show.  AM 670 from Chicago for Blackhawk hockey!  And Bulls basketball.  I once received AM 1200 from San Antonio.

 

It’s a fun hobby for sure.  I still use my 30 plus year old portable AM FM Shortwave radio.  And I have a new tabletop AM FM shortwave radio on the way.  Now my desire is to lengthen that outdoor 100 feet of speaker wire to 400 feet.  Maybe I’ll try the aluminum raingutter as an antenna.  The fun is in the trying.




 

 

Tuesday, November 9, 2021

Saturday, November 6, 2021

The Old Dock

The old dock
Standing strong for summers past
Now alone guarding memories



Wednesday, October 27, 2021

A Walk in the Woods

 



Grouse hunting for me was more about a nice walk in the woods than actually hunting for grouse.  Though bagging a grouse or two was always a bonus.  We had 40 acres of woods to explore and hunt grouse.  Yet it was not enough.  Our neighbor at our woodland cabin had a 40 acre section behind ours to the east.  Beyond that 40 acre section was the Superior National Forest. 

Many times I headed towards our eastern fence line.  Beyond the barbed wire fence lay about thirty to forty yards of grass separating our woodland from a thick young stand of aspen and birch.  I knew grouse to be in there.  The trouble was swinging the shotgun around to get off a shot.  It was so tight in there that the grouse simply ran ahead of me.  At times, I managed to “push” the grouse eastwards to the next fence line to get off a shot or two.

The trouble with that forty yards of grass area was the bulls.  Our neighbors kept their bulls in that back forty east of us.  I typically crossed our fence line in silence and briskly and quietly and made my way into the aspen thicket.  Yet, on one occasion, halfway through the grass, I heard a snort, then hooves beating the ground.  I hightailed it as fast as I could wishing I would instantly evolve wings.  I heard him grunting, snorting and trashing through the aspens behind me.  Grouse were popping up like popcorn.  I’d never seen so many grouse take to the air as the bull and I crashed through the thick aspen.  Damn, I could have gotten a few if it weren’t for my Mr. Death chasing me. 

He quickly gave up the chase, but I kept running.  My being considerably more thin and my three years of High School Cross Country was my salvation.  I made it across that forty acre parcel in record time.  I rested after I crossed the final fence line where I was safe in the Superior National Forest.  I then pondered a new strategy to hunt grouse in that aspen thicket; run like hell, stop, shoot, run again.   If only that would work.

It was always a nice walk through this mature forest in the SNF.  There were a few potholes of water and wetland I used to cross between.  There were old remnants of roads.  Further eastward lay the old gravel Mooseline Road.  This day I was hampered again.  The little potholes were now some sort of lake.  Beavers must have been busy and created a larger lake.  I noted this thinking this may be a nice private duck hunting area.  But getting a canoe/boat back there would be impossible.  

I have always enjoyed my walks back there.  The National Forest seemed so calm and peaceful.  It was much easier to see longer distances through the mature pines than in our 40 acres or the Aspen tangle.  I knew there would be no ruffed grouse back there.  But perhaps there were spruce grouse to see.  Anyway, it was always an enjoyable walk.

After much procrastinating, it was getting late. More late than I had realized as sunlight was dimming fast.  Reluctantly, yet, enthusiastically, I headed back.  I needed to head west.  Our cabin was on the North West corner.  Rather than run the bull gauntlet, I followed the fence line to the South East corner and followed it West to our South East property line.  That’s where I hopped the corner fence to our forty in twilight.  

 Regrettably, I left my flashlight in the cabin as well as my compass.  The darkening shadows played tricks on me and I found myself in the Alder Swamp.  At least that’s what I called it.  Its more of a low wetland than swamp tangled with Alder.  I kinda’ knew where I was and needed to go.  And I wanted no part of being in the Alder Swamp.  I got turned around an found myself surrounded by the Alder and started to panic.  Trying to retrace my steps, I somehow got out but could not decipher where I was.  I decided I was heading south or so I thought.  The shadows moved mysteriously, our woods seemed more eerie.

I stood there in our woods trying to get my bearings as to where I was.  I had a pretty good idea when to my left I heard a woman scream maybe fifty yards away.  My heart stopped.  Childhood Fairy Tails popped into my head.  I stood there frozen with fright.  One does not recover quickly when alone deep in the woods in darkness when one hears a woman scream.  My mind raced, why was there a lone woman in our woods screaming. Then I thought Witches and scenes from Salem Witch Trials.

I heard it again, but behind me and closer.  Images of Halloween horror movies danced through my mind.  Then I heard it’s guttural growl.  I ran.  I ran straight forward, not really knowing where too.  Knowing the layout where the Alder Swamp was after getting out of it, I figured I’d run to our road, the east fence line or the south fence line. Not caring which; one would tell me where I was.  Yet I did not wish to tangle with that bull that may or may not have sent this witch to haunt me.  Nor did I wish to stay put and be turned into a toad, or worse.

I crashed out of our woods onto our road south of where I needed to be.  I kept my cross country pace to the cabin only to rest once safe inside.  It’s a strange sound hearing a Bobcat.  Especially deep in the woods in the dark. Yet, it was rather an awesome experience despite my pantywaisted fright.   Though I only wish it were more light in order to see the Bobcat in the woods.