Truth and Consequences

Today’s post comes from Renee in North Dakota.

There has been lots of discussion in the media lately about truth-the truth behind Donald’s tax returns, the truth in Hilary’s emails. Truth can vary depending on your viewpoint and your experience. I have my own struggle with truth, and I hope the Baboons can offer me some advice.

I have written before about a terrible conflict between my maternal grandmother and her only sister.  I heard the “truth” from my grandmother’s perspective. I never heard the conflict described from my great aunt’s perspective, and I am worried that time is running out for me to hear that side of the story.

My great aunt’s youngest daughter was my mom’s favorite cousin, and they kept in touch through all the years of their mothers’ conflict. The cousin is still alive, and since my mom’s death, she and I have maintained a cordial relationship. She is the last one from my great aunt’s family who knows what happened to cause the conflict, and she is the last one for me to ask. In telling me the other side of the story, she would have to divulge some pretty painful secrets concerning her parents and siblings, secrets we have some inkling about but don’t know about for certain. Her side of the family has a tendency to cut themselves off from family members who offend them. I risk losing her friendship if I ask. I risk not knowing about something that has been a puzzle to me since I was a child.

I like to know how people and families function. I like making sense out of behavior. Husband tells me that this is one of those times when I need to keep my mouth shut and accept that I can’t find out the “truth” as it relates to this situation. What do you think, dear Baboons? How far should I go to find out the truth?

State Fair!

Today’s post comes from Verily Sherrilee

I love the Fair.

I’m unapologetic about my love of the State Fair. I know that it’s not everyone’s cup of tea but from the first time I walked through the arches on Snelling, I was hooked.  I love the animals, I love all the educational buildings, I love the butter heads, I love the art, I love the parade.  But most of all I love the people-watching.


This year I went to the Fair three times: once all by myself, once with Young Adult and once with friends for Garrison Keillor’s show. I have a fun memory from each day.

On opening day, as I was sitting on the curb, waiting for the parade to start, a father and son came to sit in the space next to me. As they sat, the son (probably 11 or 12) let out a huge groan.  I couldn’t help but laugh and so did the dad.  I said to him “I expect to hear that kind of groan from myself or from your dad, but not from someone your age.”  Without missing a beat, the kid leaned over and said “I’m a catcher.  I have old knees.”  I almost snorted by water up my nose.


On the day with Young Adult, we did the Bunny Barn first. I call the Young Adult “The Bunny Whisperer” because she has a way with the rabbits. Most of the rabbits sit near the back of their cages so that they can’t be reached.  Young Adult slips her hand into the cage and then waits.  One after another, the bunnies move to her side of the cage and let her pet them.  She probably has an 80% success rate.  It’s amazing.   Of course this means that we spend A LOT of time in the Bunny Barn and she usually suggests that we go home with a rabbit.  At one point I turned to her and said again “No, we can’t have a bunny.”  She replied, “I know, it would just be fodder for Guinevere.”  I was so excited that she knew the word “fodder” that I almost wept!


On Friday I got to the fair in time for the parade. As the little kids’ farm train went by, in the last car I noticed a little boy (probably 8 or 9) doing the Vulcan salute.  I quickly flashed the salute in return; his face lit up and he gave me a huge thumb’s up.  Finally my ability to do “live long and prosper” has come in handy!

It was the best fair ever!

 Are you a fair person or not?

Ah, the Produce is In

Today’s post comes from Barbara in Rivertown

For not getting most our garden in till late June, we are having some luck. I’ve frozen some tomato sauce, and we’ve been keeping up with the zucchini by that old late summer standby, giving some away to our neighbors. I found a chilled cucumber smoothie recipe that has helped use up LOTS of those big honkin’ cukes, and which was delightful on some of those hot days.

But I’m feeling a little overwhelmed this week, as there are cukes AND tomatoes AND zucchini to process in some way. Also some windfall pears we found on a corner a couple of blocks from here, and our friend Walken’s kohlrabi… Knowing how Babooners mostly know these things, I thought I’d ask here for recipes.

Specifically, does anyone have an outstanding Zucchini Bread recipe? (The one I remember is nowhere to be found.)

Anyone have a good recipe for an offbeat tomato-based Salsa?

And how about a cucumber raita, or some other cooling cucumber salad recipe?

Oh, I know I can find these things online if I look, but it seems friendlier to get them from baboons – they taste better somehow – and we haven’t had a recipe day for a while.

What’s your favorite Harvest Recipe, whether you’ve actually made it or not?

Out of Steam

Today’s post comes from Clyde in Mankato

My mother took this picture in about 1954 or 5. It shows yellowstone mallets, among the largest steam engines ever built, right before they were replaced by diesels. This is in the railroad yards in Two Harbors. The ore docks would be behind my mother and me as she took this picture. I remember being there when she took it.

The end of the daily rain of soot on the town was appreciated after they were gone. But I missed their pulsing throb as I went to sleep at night, on those summer nights when the wind was right and my bedroom window was open.

Very few of these engines are left, none working. One sits just to the right of this picture. If you have been to Two Harbors, you have likely seen it. Another is in the wonderful train museum at the old depot in Duluth.

Are you a lover of trains?

A Deeply Cathected Kitten

Today’s post comes from Renee in North Dakota

I received a phone call from my son one evening at the end of July.”Mom,  we found an abandoned kitten on our walk tonight. Can you keep her?”  He and his wife can have only two pets in their town home, and thought that since we were down to only one cat and an elderly dog who might die any day in her sleep, we could provide a great home for the foundling. I agreed, with husband’s blessing. Son lives in Brookings, SD., so getting her to western ND might be a problem. Our daughter was going to visit in Brookings the next day, however, and could transport the kitten to Moorhead for a couple of weeks before she came to us for a visit. Kitten’s travel plans were set.

Son set to work caring for kitten. He wasn’t sure how old she was, so he whipped up a concoction of evaporated milk, Karo syrup, and egg yolk for her. He took her to the vet, where he learned that she was about 9 weeks old and free of parasites and disease.There were no reports to animal control about a missing kitten. She was officially ours.

20160828_114851I assumed that since I had agreed to take the kitten, I owned her and could make decisions about her. Daughter met kitten in Brookings and texted me that it would be a great idea if we fostered the kitten for a year until she graduated from college and got her own pet-friendly apartment. I agreed with her. Daughter announced to her brother what he had agreed to. He was furious.

I received a blistering phone call from him, accusing me of abandoning the kitten only 12 hours after agreeing to take her, and said he intended this to be a family cat, and that he didn’t want the kitten moved from our home without consulting him first. Daughter told me he railed at her  “Mom plays favorites and you always get everything you want. You never have any expectations put on you. This is supposed to be a family cat”! Daughter was pretty upset about this and texted me “Why are all the men in our family so overly sensitive”? I shared this with her father, who surprised me by having hurt feelings for being accused of being overly sensitive.

I apologized to son for not acknowledging his role in this situation, and that I would certainly consult with him about the kitten in the future. He had, after all, rescued  her, fed her, worried about her, and did his best to make her healthy. He graciously accepted my apology and remarked with some incredulity “All this fuss over a kitten!”

Cathexis is a psychoanalytic term that means “to invest emotion or feeling in an idea, object, or person.”  I don’t subscribe to a psychoanalytic view of behavior, but this kitten is an unmistakable cathected object. I am trying to figure out just what this all means. I wonder if kitten is aware of all the emotions invested in her. The same sort of conflict occurred between my grandmother and her sister over a set of china canisters. The canisters took on some deep meaning about their relationship that I doubt I will ever understand.

Daughter decided after two weeks of caring for kitten that she was too busy to provide a cat with all the care it needed and that we probably should keep her. I suggested to her that since her brother and his wife would probably buy a house in the next year, perhaps they could take the kitten then. She was upset with me and said “No way Mom. This is a family cat and she’s staying with you and Dad!”  She named the kitten “Luna”, a pretty fitting name for a cat that had us all behaving like lunatics.

What is a deeply cathected idea, person, or object in your family?

The Three Minute Summary

Today’s post comes from Barbara in Rivertown

When working at my first bookstore job at the (now defunct) Bookstore of Edina in 1987, one of our novelty items was a set of audio tapes: (something like) “Eight-minute Classics”.  I have not yet found the exact title online, but they were very much like this.

I am reminded of them by an email received today from a reading friend in California, who sends this gem:

“39 popular books summarized in 3 sentences or less”
by James Clear

In short, James Clear states “This page shares a full list of book summaries I have compiled during my reading and research… ¶ I have tried to summarize each book on this page in just three sentences, which I think is a fun way to distill the main ideas of the book. If a particular book sounds interesting to you, click on the full book summary and you can browse all of my notes on it. Enjoy!”

I’ve looked through his book list and found one or two that I have actually read. One is Bird by Bird by Anne Lamott, which James Clear summarizes thusly:

“To become a better writer, you have to write more. Writing reveals the story because you have to write to figure out what you’re writing about. Don’t judge your initial work too harshly because every writer has terrible first drafts.”

He also provides quite an extensive book list, which I have not yet had time to peruse, but what I’ve seen so far is impressive.

I have been inspired to summarize one of my favorite books, Jane Eyre (but the sentences will not be quite so thorough as his):

“A mistreated orphan becomes a governess. She falls in love with a married man, who is also her employer. She flees a difficult situation, but eventually returns and marries him.”

Give us a summary of a favorite book, or one you’ve recently read, in about three sentences.

Fishing the Big Water

Shoreline of Lake Sakakawea by David Becker CC BY 2.0  via Wikimedia Commons

Today’s post comes from Renee in North Dakota

I have little experience with lakes, despite being born and raised in Minnesota. Rock County is one of about three counties in Minnesota with no natural lakes. We have gravel pits south of Luverne that have been turned into fishing holes, and where I caught my first sunfish with my dad. My dad loved going up to Lake of the Woods to visit his uncle and catch walleye, but I was seldom involved on those trips, so I had very little opportunity to enjoy the delights of lake life. In my imagination, a real lake is one surrounded by trees and quaint summer homes with docks leading down to blue water and little boats.

I now live in a part of the country with no natural lakes. We have dams out here, little ponds on dammed up little rivers that have been stocked with fish. People love to go fishing on them, except now that the blue-green algae season is upon us. They also have “lake homes” on some of them, which usually turn out of to be mobile homes set on grassy plots with no trees for miles. Many of these dams were built  by the Corps of Engineers and the Bureau of Reclamation  in efforts to control flooding and improve agricultural irrigation and water supply. The grand example of our “lake” here is Lake Sakakawea, formed by the Garrison Dam.  According to Wikipedia:

” In order to construct the dam, the US government needed to purchase 152,360 acres  in the Fort Berthold Reservation that would be flooded by the creation of Lake Sakakawea. These lands were owned by the Three Affiliated Tribes, who had been living there for perhaps more than a millennium. Threatened by confiscation under eminent domain the tribes protested. The tribes achieved remuneration, but lost 94% of their agricultural land. in 1947, when they were forced to accept $5,105,625, increased to $7.5 million in 1949. The final settlement legislation denied tribes’ right to use the reservoir shoreline for grazing, hunting, fishing, or other purposes, including irrigation development and royalty rights on all subsurface minerals within the reservoir area.  About 1700 residents were forcibly relocated, some to New Town, North Dakota. Thus Garrison Dam almost totally destroyed the traditional way of life for the Three Affiliated Tribes.”

The lake is big and butt ugly.  There are no natural beaches. The 1300 miles of shoreline  are rough and abrupt. The depth can change suddenly  from 10 feet to 70 feet. Sometimes when the water is low you can see the roofs of buildings that were submerged when water filled the dam.  It is the largest fish hatchery in the world. I was fishing there a couple of weeks ago with fishing-fanatic friends. All I caught was a tiny perch and the trolling motor.  My line was wrapped so tightly around the motor we had to head back to shore and go home. People here think this “lake” is just wonderful. They call it “the Big Water”. I want to yell at them “That is not a lake. It is a big tub of water with fish in it”!

The Corps of Engineers recently decided to give many thousands of acres of shoreline back to the Three Affiliated Tribes. These are the tribes husband works for, and the families of many of our native friends were displaced and lost land when the Dam was built. There is a certain amount of anxiety in the campers and fishers about this. The Tribes are trying to reassure everyone, saying that people will still have the same access to the lake.  It interests me how differently people see the lake. Some see it as a sportsman’s paradise. Others see it as a constant reminder of trauma and loss. People in communities down stream depend on the dam to keep the Missouri River from flooding their homes. I see it as a fake, a sham. I admit I also depend on it, as it is our city’s source of really good water. The lake leaves me conflicted. 

What is your favorite lake (or fish) story?


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