Baboons and Blooms

Back row: Bill Nelson, Robin Nelson, Lisa Sinclair, Krista Wilkowski, Margaret Mazzaferro
Front row: Edith Carlson, Barbara Hassing, Linda Ruecker, Sherrilee Carter

Here at the end of April, we see evidence everywhere that winter is in full retreat and summer is on the way. Occasionally there is a Very Serious bit of hand wringing over the Possibility Of Snow in the forecast, but when the most recent alert came for Saturday, the result was less than impressive.

Let’s face it, tomorrow is May Day and Old Man Winter is kaput – he has Thrown In The Trowel.

And yes, I mean Trowel. A group of kind baboons got together yesterday morning to put an exclamation point on O.M.W.’s demise. We who do yard work are naturally hesitant to get out there to start roughing up the soil too early. Most people I’ve talked to enjoyed our mild March but were too suspicious to take the bait. April is always a beautiful liar – things might be OK but April’s moods can change quickly. There’s really no sense in doing too much garden work when she’s around. But May … That’s the time when the work you do stands a chance of NOT being undone.

Baboons at work in the garden.

So the Baboon crew headed out to Plain Jane’s place to do a good deed for a comrade who suffered a nasty fall last February. She had fractures in her pelvic bone and pain galore, plus a stern admonition from the doctors to not overdo it during recovery.

How does a person who can’t garden get the gardening done? Steve takes it from here:

We met from 9 AM until 2 PM on a semi-overcast, brisk but beautiful day. PJ has made wonderful progress recovering from her accident, and yet she isn’t yet ready to garden. The gardening crew raked, cut out unwanted plants, pulled weeds, and hauled away a lot of refuse. It was all light, rewarding work that went quickly because there was so much good conversation.

After the work was over, about noon, Margaret served a luncheon buffet starring a broccoli soup and smoked trout. Various baboons brought cupcakes, sweet bread, cheeses, crackers, and plenty of red wine. Everyone seemed pleased with the quality, quantity, and variety of food . . . including Margaret’s dog, Pablo, who approved of any leftover he could reach. It was a party from start to end, and we all had a great time.

PJ’s fall happened on February 23rd. Less than a day before she tumbled, she told this story in the comments section of our ongoing conversation.

I have been blessed with numerous angels in my life. One stands out, mainly because his unexpected gift allowed me to go to college. When Bob, who I had met only six or seven times when I was 18 years old, but with whom I had remained in contact via letters, heard that wasband and I had moved to Carbondale, he sent me a check for $2,500.00. His accompanying letter said: “Please accept this loan, to be paid back, at no interest, whenever you can. Apply to the university, you will not be able to find a decent job unless you do. I’ll send you another $2,500.00 in six months. Love, Bob.” I followed Bob’s advice, got a scholarship and a student job, and made it through four years at SIU without any incurring any debt.

When I graduated and we were about to leave Carbondale, I wrote Bob to tell him that I would soon be able to begin repaying the loan. A couple of weeks later I received a letter from Bob’s attorney informing me that Bob had passed away. There was also a note from Bob’s wife stating that Bob had made no mention of, nor any record of this loan; she was sure he intended it to be a gift, and to please pay it forward.

Bob’s gift has enabled me to help two different friends avoid foreclosures, and other small gifts to people who have been in a tight spot. It is a gift that keeps giving forty years after Bob’s death.

Clearly PJ found inspiration in Bob’s gift and faithfully paid it forward, just as our Baboonish Garden Crew was inspired by PJ’s calamity to commit a random act of kindness yesterday.

When have you “paid it forward” or been on the receiving end of someone else’s kindness?

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130 thoughts on “Baboons and Blooms”

  1. Slightly OT: I plan to make a goat-watching trip to Blackhoof before very long. I believe I have one passenger tentatively lined up. Another one or two would be nice for conservation and cheap travel.

    Barb in Blackhoof says a good time to come would be May 20 or May 27, both Sundays. Anyone interested can contact me at mnstorytelr (at) comcast.net

    You can make the pictures in today’s blog bigger by clicking on them.

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    1. Would have love to go Steve, but that week my mother will be here and I will have to “supervise.” Normally I would bring her along for such a venture, but she gets too nervous now around people she does not know. Unknown goats are probably OK, though. Next time!

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    2. Steve – teenager and I are working on our schedule…. right now I think either of these days would be fine. If teenager comes though, we might drive separately!

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      1. Hey, we have a trip. It will be the 27th. I’ll be extremely lucky to have Linda and Lisa as guests, with room for one more. We can talk later about exact meeting times and food. This will be great!

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        1. Barb actually makes wonderful goat soap. You’ll want to make sure you make at least one trip to the bathroom to try it out!

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  2. Years ago a nice guy who honestly plugged in a philosophy showed me how to apply the spirit in a daily use test. When you grab two pieces of pie for your friend and you, figure out which one is Bette and give that one to them. 20 years and 5 kids plugging it in us proof to me it is that simple. Works in all areas of life

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    1. “figure out which one is Bette?” Is this an autocorrect for best?–I’m struggling with this one and usually can figure them out.

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        1. What’s the pie place up by Duluth; isn’t that ‘Bette’s Pies’? That’s what I was trying to fit in….

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        2. I’m a little loopy this AM. Linda’s reply (clever as ever) brought to mind the image of tim in a pirate’s costume, bouncing on the sidelines like a bimbo cheerleader, begging the sports fans to “GIVE ME AN AAARRRRRRRRR!”

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    2. I’m sort of tickled with the idea that, in any two pieces of pie, one is always the Bette. It’s your job to figure out which.

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        1. Linda, just how do you find all these obscure video? I’m intrigued by how your mind works, and the connections it makes between things. A wonder to me for sure. I can just see you, sitting there with a wistful smile on your lips, and thinking: She’ll never know.”

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        1. It was great meeting you as well, PJ, and it was fun working with the group. Being able to put faces to the names of people you’ve come to know… it’s kind of like meeting celebrities!

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  3. Rise and Shine Baboons!

    OOOHHH! I’m jealous. I purposely did not sign up for the Bloomfest because I’ve had allergies and a flu bug all week, so I rested most of the weekend trying to get well. But now I regret not being at the party–Krista I have not seen you since Steve’s cabin weekend, and I would have loved to catch up and show you our second puppy!

    Who wrote the post and took the pictures?

    In my childhood we had neighbors, Harry and LaVonne Thompson, who tended our family from time to time. Another set of angels, Uncle Jim and Aunt Donna were also steadying presences. Harry was a retired Methodist minister and his wife, LaVonne, was simply a loving soul. They would suddenly show up at the door to give my mom a hand. Harry would be at our house most days after school to meet us, keeping my very sick dad company and teaching us all to play cribbage. Then our second angel, my Uncle Jim who was the High School history teacher, would arrive after work to play a few hands of cribbage with us, too. They developed a system of sound effects which would indicated how rich a hand would be in pegging points.

    This was the Cribbage Method of tending a family in need. I still play cribbage whenever possible. And when I have an opportunity to take part in a child’s life in a positive way, I do that to pay it forward.

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    1. Love the “Cribbage Method of tending”, Jacque – I’ll have to learn more some time about the sound effects. :)

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  4. I’ve got a couple of angel rescue stories, both as the one who was angeled and the one who tried to be an angel for a friend. They’re just too intimate to tell in a place like this. Of course, people like Jacque do this daily as their work. That’s holy stuff. A really good therapist is a gift from God.

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  5. Once several years ago, 30 or so, in a year of bad local economy, four families in our church all took big economic hits in early November, job loss, business loss, two jobs lost, large medical expenses. All had at least two elementary school age kids. About a dozen couples or individuals (I don’t know exactly, as you will see) each gave as much as we could to a common fund run by a friend keeping it all secret in every way as much as possible. Sandy and I gave up all gifts to each other and extra Christmas expenses except for our kids plus some extra we dug out. I do not think any of the givers was very well off really. Each of the four families received 895 dollars, more money then remember. We left the money with a note to use it on themselves and their kids for Christmas and to never say a word to anyone. I got to drop it at the doors and watch to see them come out and look for it as directed by a voice they would not know. I watched to make sure they did in fact pick it up. Saw them all get it, which I will not describe.

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  6. Good morning. My grandfather made a loan to my father to help him pay for his college education. When my father was in a position to pay back the loan, I believe my grandfather told my father to keep the money and I think that money was used to help my brother and I. My father was also very generous with financial help for my wife and I when we were a young married couple and had very little money. Both my grandfather and my father were very thrifty people who worked hard for the money they had and didn’t have much extra money themselves until later in life. I’m sure it was not easy for them to provide extra financial help to their children.

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  7. Being chronically short of resources, I have been on the receiving side far more often than the paying side of forward.

    A post about angels makes me think of one of those Masterpiece Theatre dramas – The Fortsyte Saga, I think it was – in which the father, because of some violation of Victorian upper class British manners, is compelled to disinherit his son. The son goes off to make his living as an artist, and raises his family on steady sales of his paintings out of a gallery. It turns out eventually that the father has bought all the paintings. Supplying the money was a kindness, but allowing the artist to believe he was earning it was an even greater kindness.

    Lisa – I have your sweatshirt – will get it back to you at some future baboon gathering, or perhaps via VS.

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    1. Linda, your gifts are wonderful, quietly given, and sincere. Your smile, your wisdom and your ability to always come up with the perfect quotation from a song or poetry are gifts that I will always treasure. You pay it forward every day.

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    2. Linda, knowing that gardening is something you do for a living, I am overwhelmed that you donated your time in may garden, especially when I know how precarious your financial situation is. I also appreciate your willingness over the last couple of weeks to help me with tasks that I simply could not do myself; it meant a lot to me. Thank you, my friend.

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    3. Linda, or anyone, was there a set of large wood-handled clippers and some gardening gloves with the sweatshirt?
      I managed to leave behind the bleeding heart that I was planning to take. I hope they found a home. I infer from a couple of comments that most of the rest of the plants were claimed. It’s nice to think that plants are crossing from one baboon garden to another.

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      1. We gathered up the unclaimed tools and gloves – I believe they are in PJ’s garage. I think we can form a plan to get these back to you by and by.

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  8. In this instance, I truly believe the favor went both ways–a chance to finally meet some fellow Baboons, breathe fresh air, and share a meal was not to be missed. I don’t know about you, Margaret, but I went home and took a little midday nap which felt decadent and utterly luxurious and a gift to myself for a weed well pulled.

    Thank you and everyone else for the delicious meal, too. Lisa showed up in her stunning lime green bridesmaid dress–can’t believe I had forgotten my double dog dare!–bringing a delicious Danish rhubarb concoction which only Margaret can pronounce or spell. Margaret whipped up a delicious broccoli soup, Sherrilee made fancy cupcakes iced with lavender flowers, and Krista’s lemon bars were melt-in-your mouth good. After hoisting 80 pound bags of compost around, Bill noted: “Memo to self not to gain 80 pounds.” Memo to all: “Job well done!”

    Subtext has to be: Nature abhors a vacuum and weeds will return. See you in a couple of weeks, Margaret :-)

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    1. I did get a couple of photos before all were present, and one is of Lisa in the lime green bridesmaid dress. Alas, I think I left the camera at PJ’s…

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      1. BiR, I’ll have to look for it. I crashed immediately after everyone left, physically spent but in high spirits and not due to the wine. (preemptive strike lest Steve should feel tempted to make a smart ass comment!).

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  9. That looks like a great gathering of Babooners. Very nice pictures. I wish that I could have made it to that gathering.

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  10. I may have told this before, OT at the time. Forgive me if this is a repeat. One day a few months ago I was at the grocery store and the woman in front of me was using a food stamps card to pay. It was the end of the month, and she had to keep putting things back to get the total under her remaining balance. When it was my turn and the woman was bagging her groceries, I asked the cashier to put the rest of her stuff on my bill and let her have it. Both the cashier and the woman were surprised and grateful and I felt warm and fuzzy.

    The next day the insurance company representing the other guy in a car accident I had been involved in nearly two years before, called and asked about my treatment for minor injuries etc. and wondered if I was ready to conclude the settlement. I had thought the settlement was complete. My car was fixed, I’d had over a year of chiropractic treatments and I’d assumed we were done. She said, “I’m able to offer you $800.” I suppose I could have countered with a bigger number, but as I said, anything was a windfall in my mind. I said something like, “Sure, that would be fine.” and a week or so later got the check.

    Coincidence? Maybe. I have some money tucked away now to pay forward whenever the opportunity arises.

    Looked like a great day in the garden!

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  11. I have one friend here in Waterville. She’s a fellow nurse from the state hospital days. She called me one day several years ago and asked if I would take care of her dog, a Lhasa-poo, for a week or two while she was on vacation. I said, “Sure,” without much expectation. When I arrived to pick up her dog, she gave me an envelope with instructions for Misty’s care written in a long letter taped to the outside of the envelope. I brought the letter and envelope home and read the detailed instructions. Misty and Bailey (my Cavalier who has since died) were getting acquainted and playing so I went to spend some time with them and opened the envelope later. Inside was $160. (!!!!)

    I was astounded, really, by this. I hadn’t expected any payment and certainly not that much. I’d been having trouble with my cash flow (still do) and it was nice, but seemed far too much. Since that time I’ve taken care of Misty for two months every winter and a few weeks each summer. All I ever wanted out of the deal is reciprosity but that wasn’t Pam’s plan. I have felt at times like a charity case for her but she has plenty of cash from working two nursing jobs for over thirty years. I have objected but it makes her cry. She wants to pay me, as well as give me gifts: household items, a necklace, a jacket. She says she appreciates knowing that Misty is safe with me and she can enjoy her trips. Last winter she gave me $600 for taking Misty for a month straight. She came home and bought me a recliner. I guess you could say I have a sugar mama but it’s not like it sounds. I’ve noticed that I’m not the only one who has been the recipient of her enormous generosity. We finally talked about it one day while shopping and she explained her own mother and her upbringing to me. The only thing she knows is to give. She says her mother would have given me two recliners. She’s a friend and an angel.

    The nurses I worked with in Faribault helped each other out like family. It was the norm for us. We helped fellow nurses who had been sick or injured, or had family problems. We gave each other rides and transportation. We cooked meals for each other and sheltered each other when one of us was in need. I remember giving food and clothing, as well as furniture when I bought my first house, an estate, in Faribault. I miss that give and take with them so much. (Except for vacation and holidays – there were some spats about that.)

    It was a strange new culture for me to come to work in the DNR. I thought people would be the same sharing way, but I was wrong. It’s especially strange here in Waterville. My neighbors have been nasty, downright hostile, at times. As I said earlier, Pam is my only friend here. She continues to represent the kind of person I can only aspire to be. She recently had neck surgery and continues to be on workman’s comp. She has to learn to type and to use a computer now that she can’t work as a nurse anymore. Now THAT I can do!

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    1. Krista, I’m so very confident that your relationship with your friends balances out very nicely. A symbiotic relationship, if you will, where both parties benefit from it.

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  12. When our son Joel died (2007), we were surprised to receive a payment from an insurance company with which he had a policy. Who knew?! We decided we didn’t need it, and we thought long and hard about who he would want to have it. Ended up giving parts of it to friends and cousins of his who could use it. Felt really good to do that.

    I’ve also been on the receiving end a number of times. My dad helped me buy a car back when I could hardly come up with the down payment on, say, a stereo. But sometimes kindness has come in other forms than financial. It seems that there is always someone to lean on when the going gets rough – the right angel shows up.

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  13. Wish I’d joined the garden crew–it would have been much more cheerful that what Roommate and I did, which was go to the Walker Art Center. We remember too well the old building and the old collection (as well as the old Guthrie of blessed memory), so the new addition is both depressing and infuriating (we call it the “angry robot” because of its profile coming from the north). And the piece we hoped to see wasn’t even on display, so it was a lot of sore feet and lost wandering for nothing.

    I received a lot of support from a lot of people throughout my parents’ illnesses and deaths and my recovery period, and I’ve had the opportunity to be supportive in turn as many of the same friends have dealt with illnesses (their own and others’), deaths, unemployment and financial hardship. The vegetable garden I plan to plant this year will be shared with friends who’ve had financial hard times ever since she became chronically ill and had to quit working but was denied disability. If it thrives, they’ll be able to eat more healthily than they have in years. I’ve also been giving financial support to my roommate, who was laid off last year and is still on unemployment. She’s trying to write a book, and has an idea for starting her own business. It’s possible either the business or the book will take off and I’ll get that rent and food money back, but if neither does I’ve still had the satisfaction of helping someone try to realize her dreams, and a truckload of good karma as well.

    Along a parallel mental track, I figure the true measure of friendship is how much they’re willing to help when you move. Some friends of mine helped every fan in the Twin Cities move for several years in order to build up enough obligations so they could get a big group to move their book collections (20,000 volumes, I think?) once they bought a house big enough to hold them. But, people who show up to sling boxes of books without owing you a move? Now, those are REAL friends!

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      1. Story of our life, too. We’re the friends with a pick up truck. But no regrets at all! Just the occasional sore back :-) I did get mad at Bill once for singlehandedly moving a refrigerator into the house. Asking for help can be difficult as well.

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      2. You said that right, PJ! I helped friends move out of a home they’d lived in for many years, and they were pack rats who had stuff stashed all over the house. They had not managed to get their belongings in boxes when we arrived to help move them. By the end of the move, I wasn’t sure we were still friends!

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      3. I can’t recall who now but someone (might have even been on the radio – maybe one of the folks on Wait Wait Don’t Tell Me?) was just recently talking about that they will do anything else for a friend but help them move. He has learned that he does not deal well with moving in general, so if he wants to stay friends with a person he will not help them move. Gladly loan his truck, but not actually tote or carry.

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    1. OT, but I’m sort of gratified to know that I’m not the only one who dislikes the new addition to the Walker. I was, at one time, a member. Now I generally avoid going there at all. I can’t think of another piece of architecture that invariably puts me in as irritable mood as does the Walker. I remember both the old building and also the original, with its long staircase at the entrance leading up to open galleries. In my opinion, each iteration has gone downhill from the previous.

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  14. Wonderful and productive garden crew! As is often the case, I’m on my way to meet with a mentee. About 25 years ago, I started mentoring adolescents through two scholarship foundations. Mentoring took on a life of its own and has contributed a richness to my life. When I had money, I’d buy winter coats, college books, meals—they are always hungry. Now I get calls from friends of friends of mentees and their families. There is a Mr. Mohamed, somewhere on Franklin Avenue, who has referred troubled students to me for help with financial aid or tutoring. I don’t know who he is, the kids are vague and it has never been as important as their problems but one day I want to meet him. When I retired with little money, somehow, I was nominated and won an award for my work—it came with $10,000!!! I was waiting for a bus on my way to meet a mentee when I was notified, cried all the way to my appointment. I was crying because I thought I’d been nominated, I’d misunderstood the phone call—I knew that there was no way I would ever get the award. But, I did. The rewards of what the students have done/are doing in their lives is my main source of satisfaction and give me hope for the future when the headlines tell tales of destruction.

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    1. Mentoring is another gift that keeps on giving. It is also as you point out, Nan, a gift that rewards both the mentor and the mentee. Bless you for having incorporated that in your life in a big way.

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    2. What a wonderful story, Nan! Teachers touch so many lives and get way too little positive recognition, only the blame lately. Clyde, I know you wrote that you felt burned out when you left the profession, but I’d be willing to bet that there are many ex-students out there who remember you fondly. And I hope at least some of them have told you.

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  15. There’s a fun site/blog called Shorpy (“May Contain Nuts”)

    http://www.shorpy.com/

    which digs out, posts, and sells old photos, many of which capture a moment in time so well. Fun to study them The recent young women in swim suits says so much more about the time and the eternities of young women than 1000 words would describe. The group photo will speak to a new generation in 100 years.

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  16. Morning all. Thanks Steve for sending the photo off to Dale. It was a grand time and now I have raspberry canes for my south garden! It also gave me the chance to use the phrase “surfeit of comestibles” as all the food was being laid out. Not too many groups that can handle that kind of language – thanks Baboons.

    I feel as if I am always on the receiving end of forward payment. I live in a fabulous neighborhood and twice in the last ten years I have been waylaid in January/February — once by a tonsilectemy gone bad and once to a never-ending cold/allergic infection. During both those time periods, two of my neighbors took on all my snowblowing – no mean feat since my garage is at the back of my long, narrow property. To this day whenever I hear snowblowers in the early hours, it reminds me of those years and how nice it was to take that worry off my list!

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  17. I once referred obliquely in a post about receiving help about two years ago when I was impoverished. I was finally reduced to eating strange stuff in boxes that had been sitting in my cupboards for years. What really hurt was not being able to pay for dog food for Katie. I had to feed her some stuff no dog had ever been fed before. In an email to a baboon friend, I joked about how Katie and I were still eating, but we were “eating weird.”

    Days later I opened my front door and found a bag of dog food plus a big bag of groceries. I think there was a note to the effect that “friends don’t let friends eat weird.” The food helped tide Katie and me over until I solved my financial problems.

    At about the same time, I was talking to a friend I hadn’t seen in about 25 years. She later dropped by to buy a copy of my wolf book, although I tried hard to give it to her. When she left I discovered that she had written the check for $200 more than the value of the book.

    If you have ever been down so far you weren’t able to buy food or pay bills, you know what it is like to be humiliated and scared. At such times, an angel’s unexpected kindness will trigger tears.

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    1. I’ve been down that far, Steve, or close to it. I’m so glad you had someone show you unexpected kindness during that time.

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  18. Where do I even begin? Yesterday was such a treat for me, and I am so grateful that Robin arranged this get-together, and that her husband, Bill, decided to tag along and do much of the heavy lifting. It just dawned on me this morning that I failed to reimburse the two of you for the bags of dirt/compost you brought. I’ll take care of it when I see Robin in a few weeks.

    Every single person deserves be singled out for some specific contribution to yesterday’s garden project, but truth be told, one delectable contribution after the other just magically appeared as we sat down to eat, that I’d probably get something wrong. Lisa’s Rødgrød med Fløde, was an extra little nod to my Danishnes (even though her recipe attributed it to Norway); thank you Lisa. And, that lime green dress, what a hoot. I do hope we find Barb’s camera with the picture.

    Krista, I am moved that you’d drive all that way and bring those delicious lemon bars, thank you. I hope that next time we get together there’ll be more time so that you can play for us.

    Toward the end, Sherrilee got a little bossy with me; thanks Sherrilee. I have a hard time sitting and watching while others are tending to what I should be doing myself, but by the time everyone left, I could barely stand. I had to resort to some heavy duty painkillers to quiet things down a bit so I could get some rest. Those cupcakes were works of art. Pablo shows no ill effects of having eaten Steve’s cupcake wrapper.

    Linda, Barb and Edith, what a team! Thanks for really digging in. During the plant exchange at the end of the end of our project, I was amazed to see the amount of plants that emerged from the various vehicles; Linda alone, had a forest of raspberry plants. How the heck did they all fit in her station wagon? Barb, thanks for the chunky pear compote, Edith (I think?) for the very nice bottle of wine, and Lisa for the cheese log. Have no idea where the tin of cookies and the sliced melon came from, but thanks to everyone who so generously contributed to a memorable day.

    Last, but not least, thank you, Steve, for capturing a little of this event for posterity, I’m sure everyone present appreciates that. I hadn’t seen Steve since late January early February, and he looks to be in better shape than I have ever seen him. Good work, Steve.

    Sorry for such a lengthy post, but I just want the world to know how wonderful these baboons are.

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    1. After all that, you would think that I had said it all, no? But I wanted to mention one other thing. As Robin and Bill were leaving, Bill commented that yesterday’s garden party came about as an indirect result of the demise of TLGMS. Without the Trail Baboon, most of us would have never gotten together; the silver lining to a demise that still pains many of us.

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      1. This group is a silver lining, isn’t it? Sorry I wasn’t able to join in yesterday – though it sounds like you had plenty of great help!

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    2. I can take no credit for the bottle of wine – I use wine and liqueur in cooking and baking but don’t drink much straight except for the occasional bottle of Mike’s or homemade lemonade or limeade spiked with rum or other spiked drinks. It’s not a virtue – I just never developed a taste for it….I only brought some gardening tools, and a few plants, including the poor clump of chives that nobody wanted.

      I had so much fun yesterday (of course, what do you expect from someone who “doesn’t get out much”). My body was free of aches and pains so it felt good to use it cleaning up the garden and the weather was spectacular. And the food! The soup! The trout! The rhubarb stuff! (I could have eaten all of it). My resolution to exercise portion control and eat less dessert was sorely tested.

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      1. Sorry about the chives, Edith, but as you probably noticed, I have a big clump myself, not to mention those wandering Egyptian onions that are in competition with the arugula to take over one whole plant bed.

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        1. My ribbon grass was similarly unloved, so it came home again and is now potted in two pots on the front steps. The plan is to tuck a little verbena into the pots with the grass and see what develops.

          Krista brought the wine – was it Morgan Creek? – from a winery in New Ulm.

          And as to the cargo carrying capacity of the station wagon, PJ, that’s what roof racks were invented for.

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        2. An irony that especially Edith will appreciate: I fixed a frittata for a light dinner tonight. When I went to snip off a small bunch of chives, I discovered that my chives have disappeared! Had to make do with some tops from those wandering Egyptian onions.

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        3. goodness, the Egyptian onions are on the march here too! As soon as the 1st babies arrive, I am digging up the parents.

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        4. Oh-oh, I hope somebody didn’t accidentally dig your chives up. Well, I could pot up my clump and get it to you somehow if you decide you want it.

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  19. I have had a few angels in my life – some family and friends, some strangers. One stranger angel was my knight in shining Jeep; I may have mentioned him here before. I was just out of college, driving a ten year old Honda with an oil leak. On my way out to work a weekend of Renaissance Festival the car started running quite hot (Africa hot – on an Africa hot day). Did I mention traffic was stop and go through Eden Prairie? Oh, and as we passed Flying Cloud Airport I realized my little Civic sounded not unlike a small engine plane – not how a car should sound. About 2 miles out of Shakopee proper (this is way before the new 169, think old 169 where it shared road with 212, just after the split where 169 went into Shakopee and 212 continued on to Chaska), I threw a rod in the engine. Big noise, lots of steam and smoke. I pulled over and got out of the car fast. No more than 2 or 3 cars behind me, there was a nice man in a Jeep who pulled over, made sure first that I was okay, asked if the car had done this before (um, no…), asked about what it had been doing and figured I had thrown a rod (he was right – he knew because he had just gotten his car back from fixing the same issue). He stopped at his apartment in town so I could use his phone to call my mechanic and my mom (this was pre-cell phone), then drove me out to my destination. Would only take a “thank you” for his pains. Thank you nice man in the green Jeep back in 1988 on his way to Mankato…you were wonderful.

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    1. It’s so easy to picture that heat and gridlock waiting to get into Renfest and how desperate one would feel at having major car problems. I’m glad Mr Jeep man came to your rescue.

      My car-related savior story happened in late fall ’81. I had been with my toddler to a party in Bloomington. On the way home on a bitter cold night, I ran out of gas. I managed to roll the car onto an off ramp on 35W. Again, no cell phones and I with a toddler and 7 months pregnant. And, apparently we dressed up for a simple parents/kids gathering in those days because I was wearing a dress and heels.
      I got myself and #1 son out of the car because there seemed to be no choice but to walk and try to find a house where I could make a phone call. Within a couple of minutes, a woman stopped and picked us up. She took us to a gas station (not any too close) to get a can of gas and back to the car to put it in the car. She waited to be sure that all was well and then took off. I’ll be forever grateful.
      I don’t think I’ve let myself run out of gas since.

      I’d like to think I would do the same but times are different and it’s harder to think about stopping to help someone by the side of the road without risking personal danger.

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  20. Afternoon.
    What a great deed you all did. Nice work all around!

    We’ve been on the receiving end often. As a kid, I remember a group from church coming out to paint one of our barns. I don’t think we were ‘poor’ or ‘needy’, I think it was just a gesture of good will. Not sure what my folks thought of it… I think it’s hard to be on that receiving end sometimes. My wife had an aunt and uncle I mentioned here before. They are both deceased, but they were able to financially help us out when we first married and made ways to continue financially even now.

    Last week I was talking with a student here. She mentioned how much she enjoyed helping me on a small project about two months ago. A simple project that I had already forgotten about but clearly it was important to her.
    And another student often brings her 5 yr old son to class with her. He and I have become ‘buddies’ in that sort of brief, passing way. But I’m pretty careful how I treat him; I mean he seems to be a pretty cool kid, but I don’t know the impact of my actions either, you know? So I always high-five him and answer his questions and just try to be a positive influence for him.

    Sometimes I’ll get some random glimpse into a students life and I really think ‘I have no idea what you’re dealing with’… and I try to cut them some slack.
    I / we really shouldn’t be too quick to judge, eh?

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  21. I swear, I’m not just trying to pad my posting statistics, but these stories underscore the essence of good karma, or expressed in more American terms: “What goes around, comes around.”

    Some years ago, a neighbor who lived at block away from me, and who I knew only very casually as an occasional customer to my Watkins business, was diagnosed with ovarian cancer. As her health quickly declined, I’d stop in to chat with her after work. During one of our conversations it came up that she longed for poached eggs and a slice of toast with orange marmalade for breakfast, so I started bringing her breakfast every morning before heading off to work. I hadn’t intended this to be a long-term proposition, I barely knew her, but as she lingered on, I kept going. I don’t think I missed a single morning in almost two years before she succumbed to that dreadful disease, in fact, the breakfast run soon expanded to include dinner as well. Whatever we had for dinner, I’d bring some of to Elaine as well. To her credit, she’d eat everything that I cooked.

    During our hours of conversation I learned about her remarkable life. About heartbreaks and tragedies; a son she had given up for adoption and who had refused to have anything to do with her when she contacted him as an adult. About her daughter who was sexually assaulted by her own husband, not the child’s father, and the turmoil that ensued when she discovered it.

    Elaine’s career had been remarkable. A nurse, she had been one of the founders of the West Side Clinic on whose board she served for years; she ended her career teaching. In her final months it was former students who spent hours at her bedside, giving her massages, and simply keeping her company. Despite all the intimate talks we had over those two years, I was surprised to discover at Elaine’s memorial service, how many lives she had touched. Another huge surprise, though perhaps it shouldn’t have been considering the mess her house always was in, very few of these people had ever been to Elaine’s house, she’d meet everyone for coffee and a doughnut at Perkins.

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  22. We were on the receiving side so many times, especially in grad school when our son was born 10 weeks early and we were as poor as could be. The faculty, friends, and our Italian landlords helped out with a car seat, cash, and genuine concern and attention; I admit it was a little hard to know what to say when my adviser, Seymour Opochinksy, arrived on our door step with an electric breast pump. We try to give back as we can. One thing I can’t give, after Dale’s sage words of wisdom, are prom pictures, since they are all group pictures and I need everyone’s permission to share them. I have a plan for a guest post with allowable photos.

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  23. As a substitute teacher I felt that I was offering a service to the school district where I live. I did get fairly good pay for this part time work so it wasn’t completly an act 0f good will. I tried to treat the students in a fair manner and give them as much freedom as I could. I knew that I had to keep the students more or less under control because that was expected. My classes often were a little louder than they should have been, but that was because I was trying be good to the students and not use a “heavy hand” to keep them under control. The students appreciated my approach and didn’t usually get too far out of control.

    In the end a school principal, who was very “heavy handed”, had me taken off the list of substitutes because she thought I was not maintaining enough control over the students. I had plenty of things to do at home and was ready to stop subbing at that point any way. There were some other principals that gave me good feedback on my subbing and were willing to put up with my failure, at times, to keep the noise down in the classes I taught.

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  24. As the parent of a child with a disability I was so often the recipient of generosity that I can never begin to pay back. I remember once when Scott broke his leg and the pharmacy was out of the liquid pain medicine so I returned home without it. They got some in and said that I could come pick it up. Unfortunately every time I moved my son he screamed so I couldn’t justify the trip. I didn’t know a lot of folks in my community, but I called one family thinking that either the parents or the teeage drivers would be available. As luck would have it all 4 of them were out according to the younger sister. A few minutes later a woman I never met called to say she had called the family and the daughter had told her I needed help. She drove to the drug store and then to my house I was flabbergasted. When she died all too young I sent her family a note saying how much it meant to me. They responded saying that it meant a lot to them that I could hold onto her memory with them.

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  25. Evening.

    I was remembering today when I was pen pals with a 1st grade classroom from Roosevelt School in South St. Paul. The local chapter of the Farm Bureau put it together and I was pen pals with Mrs Ylvisaker’s (sp?) class. I wrote them letters and sent pictures about what was happening on the farm at that time of the year and in the spring they would make a field trip down to visit ‘Farmer Ben’. I was still milking cows so they all came in the barn and complained about the smells and saw the bulk tank and I milked a cow for them. We’d finish up with a ride on a wagon out to the fields where the teachers would have a picnic lunch for the kids and I’d make them run from this field to that field.
    For a lot of these kids they’d never been on a farm before or seen a cow. They wrote me letters back that would arrive in a big envelope and we’d spend a night reading through them.
    Great fun.
    I remember one little girl asking about the tags in the cows ears. I said it was like getting their ears pierced– and I clearly remember this: she looked to my ears (pierced) and I looked to hers – (not pierced).

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    1. I worked for a few summers with a summer high school program that was hosted on college campuses. A couple of years we were at Mankato State, and during those same years we would rent a bus to bring kids to the program from Patrick Henry HS (north side of Mpls). The awe in those kids voices when the talked about the amount of space and farms…and cows man! I saw cows!…it kind of took your breath away. For more than a few of those students this was their first experience in 15 or 16 years outside of the urban core of the Twin Cities (heck, St. Paul was foreign to some of them).

      I can totally see how much fun you would have with a group of kids at your farm, Ben. You seem to be in touch with your own inner child in a way that touches other kids. I’m sure you created many lasting memories for those first graders. Good on you.

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  26. Awake, awake to love and work, The lark is in the sky,
    The fields are wet with diamond dew, The worlds awake to cry
    Their blessings on the Lord of life, As he goes meekly by.

    Come let thy voice be one with theirs, Shout with their shout of praise;
    See how the giant sun soars up, Great lord of years and days!
    So let the love of Jesus come, And set thy soul ablaze.

    To give and give and give again
    What God has given thee, To spend thyself nor count the cost, To serve right gloriously
    The God who gave all worlds that are
    And all that are to be.

    (Geoffrey Anketell Studdert-Kennedy (1883-1929)

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    1. I was just going to demand your post–time to make lunch for tomorrow and coffee for the morning. Where is it asked I? Then there it was. I will add my own tune.

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    2. Thanks, Holly. I especially love the “To give and give again” part. A lesson to be learned over and over again. And,to those who learn it, a gift passed forward forever.

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  27. My best friend in the whole world since Grade one, who has no family to speak of, and who hasn’t had the best luck in life and who really has nothing to retire on, will come to live with us, if she wants to and needs to, when we are all too old to work and need companionship and mutual care. We have room and we have let her know this, and we will welcome her if she needs us. If she came I would feel I would receive more than I was giving.

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    1. Renee, that’s the kind of gift few of us will ever receive. Your friend is lucky to have a friend like you in her life, though I suspect you’d counter, that luck had nothing to with it. Friendships like that are rare treasures indeed.

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  28. Nothing we did intentionally–just how things happened–but we have about five extra children and our kids have two extra grandparents. My son had a friend who lived at our house much of the time, and our daughter had a friend who also lived with us much of the time. Both of those two had over-controlling emotionally unstable mothers. Both of them were brought to our home by our kids. and they just sort of blended in. It was an odd Thanksgiving or Christmas that did not include an extra person or two.

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    1. All children need such safe havens. I consider myself lucky to have had several such homes during my childhood. Where would I be without them? Don’t know, but I do know they made a huge difference in my life when so few options seemed available to me. I’m sure those relationships, Clyde, made a huge difference in the lives of those kids.

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      1. Not sure about that: he boy married a mother image, except even nuttier, who drove a big wedge between our son and her husband. They have not spoken in years, even though our son is the godfather of their first two children. The girl married a fundamentalist, like her mother. For awhile she sent hate mail to our daughter for becoming a pastor but now they do not speak.

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        1. Yes, there are the difficult ones but one doesn’t know how much worse it could have been if they had not been shown kindness. In their heart of hearts, they can never say that no one ever cared.

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        2. Clyde, never doubt that you made a difference. I’m so sure you did. In my own experience I’ve fortunately grown wise enough to let some of the people know that they did. In other cases, they died before I gained that insight. Yet, I still trust they knew.

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        3. That last statement of mine is possibly the most profound. We need to forgive ourselves for our trespasses, for what we did when we didn’t know better. I know I have a lot of forgiving to do, not at least for myself. On good days, I can do that quite readily, on other days it’s a struggle.

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        4. My point here really was musing about how often we cannot escape our parents, which I am writing about right now in regard to myself and my parents’ attitude towards practicality. That was actually reminded my about these two, about whom I have not thought in a long time.

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    2. My step-son was lucky enough to have a family like yours, Clyde, when he needed it. In his case, they stayed close, and we’ve become friends with them too. Bless them, and bless your family for doing that.

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  29. Great story of work and fun for PJ’s work crew and wonderful and inspiring stories of giving and receiving. thank you Dale for the daily question.

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  30. PJ – I’ve got plenty of chives that we can replenish your garden with… :) plain, garlic, or both?

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    1. Bold person that I am, I’ll take some of both. I can just hear the garlic chives faction of baboon snicker at this, but remember we have inadvertently eradicated horseradish! Anyone have horseradish to share?

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