I have had an intermittent  buildup of fluid behind my left ear drum for a couple of months, and tried using decongestants get rid of it, as well as having one of my colleagues box my ears in a special way that somehow is supposed to realign the eustachian tubes so they drain. It didn’t work. I couldn’t hear much out of my left ear, and couldn’t even listen to the phone with the receiver to my left ear.  I finally went to the doctor this week when both ears were water logged, since I couldn’t hear much out of either ear.  Why did I wait to get medical attention for this? I knew how it would be treated, and the treatment would render me goofy.

Prednisone it the treatment of choice for this condition, and I get giddy when I take it. I start telling jokes. I get expansive. It is embarrassing. I warned my coworkers about it. They were less than supportive and just laughed and  said they probably wouldn’t notice much since they found me goofy most of the time anyway.  Rat finks!

On Thursday night at the Maundy Thursday service, we have a tradition of people washing one another’s hands. The two women serving as assisting ministers went back and forth with large white china pitchers of clean water for the hand washing ewers. They wore their typical white assisting minister robes. That they reminded me of Grecian nymphs bearing water pitchers was probably not such a strange thought, but did I really have to mention it to one of them (my attorney, in fact ) when she came over to me in the choir to share the Peace? Probably not.  She told me, after she said “Peace be with you ” that I must be psychotic.

I only have a seven days worth of pills. I hope I don’t get goofier. I also hope the water drains.


Tell about times you were goofy.

Name That Breed

Today’s post is from NorthShorer

His name was Lucky. My father acquired him when we lived north of Isabella where my father was lumberjacking after WWII. A man in the lumber camp was leaving and did not want to take the dog. My father took him before the man shot him. It was that kind of age. My father was not objecting; he simply wanted a dog. We then moved down to our farm near Two Harbors. I suppose my father had in mind to have a farm dog.I remember him but have no visual image of him, except for these pictures. Every time I see these and other photos I am surprised by two things. First, how big and rough looking a dog he was. Second, that the only images of him are with me. Apparently we were buddies, which makes sense because of all the time I spent playing in the woods. He lasted with us for a couple years. I can guess what happened to him. He certainly does not look like a cattle dog. I used Lucky as the image for a short story about a half wild dog living on the edge of northern town in 1908.

He was replaced by a collie, who was beautiful, an image of Lassie. She played with the deer in our garden in the snow in the winter time. She was not around very long. Next we briefly had a female mixed breed, mostly border collie. Then we acquired a full breed border collie from a neighbor who did not want the dog anymore. He was THE DOG of my childhood.

What breeds do you see in Lucky?

My only companions of my pre-school years were two older nasty cousins up in the forest, my sister, and various animals.

What do you remember of your companions of your pre-school years?

High School

Today’s post come from Steve Grooms

I was listening recently to the funny, evocative song “High School” by Pat Donohue. Readers probably know it. The song played often on the Late Great Morning Show.  Here are a few lines:

Full of wise guys and zeros and basketball heroes

Who taunt me

That was my school

Full of cheerleader cuties and homecoming beauties

Who haunt me

With tough guys who fright me and girls who don’t like me

Just that I’m not their sort

Back in high school

I’m glad I’m not there any more


sg on high school date


The song was a reminder of how high school was nightmarish for me. I was shy. In my eyes, I didn’t fit in with my classmates. I loved outdoor recreation partly because it didn’t involve the social interactions I found so troubling at school.

I have worked out a story to describe my high school years, a story that I share with friends and family members. In short form, my story has been that only two kinds of kids at school scared me: the boys and the girls. I feared the boys because I wasn’t an athlete and some of the kids were pretty scary. I feared the girls because I was so unsure of myself with them. Given the choice of trying to talk to a girl or going fishing, I strongly preferred fishing. My story goes on to say I was too shy to date anyone. My experience of high school was a lot like the story Pat Donohue told in his song.

Recently, however, I’ve experienced an uncomfortable clash between my story and evidence that I wasn’t such a misfit after all. When I attended the 50th reunion of my class, a lot of people remembered me and acted as if they had liked me. Before I lost my box of old family photos, several of them showed me dressed up for dates. I must not have been as shy as I have been claiming, for I was photographed dating on several different occasions.

Now I struggle to resolve these clashing images. I considered my high school years a botch, a time when I hid from other kids and lived almost entirely inside my head. Evidence now says I was actually fairly popular and could have been more so if I hadn’t spent so much time fishing. Now I feel about high school the way I feel about most of my life: it sure could have been better, and I’d like a second chance at it to do it better, but on the whole it wasn’t so bad.

How do you remember your experience of high school?

Tumbling Socialists

Husband and I attended a family wedding in Milwaukee, WI recently. The ceremony and reception were held in the ballroom at Turner Hall, a historic building constructed in 1882. It takes its name from the German word “turnen” which means gymnastics or physical fitness. It was built for the members of Milwaukee’s Turners, a German-American gymnastic and political association. The photo at the top is of actual Milwaukee Turners.  The building was quite ornate, but under restoration, with murals and photographs all over the walls and stairwells. The hall boasts of a ballroom, beer hall, and theatre, as well as a gymnasium where gymnastics is still taught.

The Turners began in Germany in 1811 to train young men in physical fitness and to resist Napoleon and anti-democratic forms of government.  It was a nationalistic gymnastic organization, usually quite liberal in philosophy.  Men tumbled and planned revolutions.  The Turners were very active in the revolution of 1848. They didn’t do so well in that revolution, and many fled to the US, with a great number serving in the Union Army during the Civil War.  Turners provided an honor guard at Abe Lincoln’s inauguration as well as at his funeral. There were Turner Halls all over the US in the 19th Century in areas where there were concentrations of German immigrants. The Milwaukee chapter was founded in 1853 with the name “Socialist Turnverein”.  All three of Milwaukee’s Socialist mayors were Turners.

The Turners held gymnastic competitions and provided social, political, and cultural support to German immigrants. The Turners are the reason we have physical education in our schools.  They supported women’s suffrage, and, by the 1920’s, girls were also getting gymnastic training at the Milwaukee hall. My sister in law’s 90 year old mother tumbled and did rings and uneven bars there, under the direction of a male coach who would wack her with a stick if she messed up.  They often espoused the motto  “A Sound Mind in a Sound Body”,  but I really like the more explicit motto below:

Liberty against all oppression

Tolerance against all fanaticism

Reason against all superstition

Justice against all exploitation

If you started an organization, what would your motto be?

National Library Week

Today’s post comes to us from Barbara in Rivertown

This week, April 9 through 15, is National Library Week. Because Husband and I will be on the road, I have already celebrated our wonderful Winona Public Library by returning three books and renewing two others, and writing this piece. We have here in Winona a beautiful old 1890s vintage library built by a donation from William H. Laird and furnished by the library association; it is now listed on the National Register of Historic Places. (For more info: )

I have been impressed for months at all the many programs this small town library offers. And now, in the spirit of National Library Week, there is even more:

– Food for Fines – you can have $1 removed from your library fine for every food shelf item you bring in.

– Library Resource class will be held on Thursday at 6 p.m.

– Staff will be dressed to the nines or, on some days, in crazy outfits (Wacky Wednesday) as part of various games.

– The first movie of The Librarian Trilogy featuring “everyone’s favorite librarian, Noah Wyle” will be shown on Friday.

– Monthly Book Bingo will yield prizes of books about libraries, librarians, or books: “The Shadow of the Wind” by Carlos Ruiz Zafon, “The Time Traveler’s Wife” by Audrey Niffenegger, “The World’s Strongest Librarian: A book Lover’s Adventures” by Josh Hanagarne, “The Ice Queen” by Alice Hoffman, and “This Book is Overdue: How Librarians and Cybararians Can Save Us All” by Marilyn Johnson.

How will you celebrate National Library Week?

I Can Resist Everything Except Temptation

I stopped at Bachmans early on Saturday morning to get a few tomato cages, in a hopefully not vain effort to keep Guinevere out of my lily garden. It took me quite some time to find a parking spot; it was amazing to me that so many people were there with so many uncertain weather weeks ahead of us. I made an offhand remark about how crowded it was when I was checking out.  The cashier nodded and said “People were lined up outside this morning when we opened.  It’s the Lily Society weekend.”

I purposed don’t keep track of this weekend because goodness knows I have enough lilies. In the looks department, irises are my favorite but in all the other departments (sturdiness, variety of color, quickness to spread), lilies take the cake.  And I have plenty.  Last summer my neighbor said “it looks like the lilies are having a color war in your yard”.

I almost turned back twice before I got to my car, thinking of the varieties, the colors, the low price.   Bachmans was in my rear-view mirror before long and I breathed a sigh of relief.

But I still have to get through Sunday!

What tempts you?


Today’s post comes from Jacque

On March 16 I started my new job one day per week.  I will gradually build my time there to 3 days per week by June 1, while at the same time reducing my time at the other job.  Most of my clients will follow me to the new job, which gives me a nice head start building a caseload and an income.

Every new job starts with The Orientation.  This one is no different.  I will be working with a colleague and friend who I met at a previous job at a Chemical Dependency Treatment Center in 1993.  We know each other well.  She showed me around her office, identifying where I find supplies and where I find the coffee.   I noticed an item sitting on the top of a file cabinet next to the refrigerator.  A chocolate man, a la chocolate Easter Bunny, packaged in plastic and labeled as follows:

“He’s sweet and decadently rich!  Just how a man ought to be!”

I barked a startled laugh, asking, “Where’d you get that?”

She replied, “A friend sent me that recently.”

I was surprised.  I find such a limited view of a man objectionable.  I am surprised she has this.  And I find it wildly funny!  Especially when ensconced in chocolate.  And I am a woman who has nearly always challenged limiting assumptions of what a woman can or should do.  Don’t men get equal treatment?

Several inches away from the Chocolate Man, hanging on the wall,  is a sign. The sign says, “Get the facts and reject false beliefs.”  This phrase would reflect a techniques of the kind of psychotherapy we practice:    Challenge cognitions which are somehow limiting and faulty.  Describe consequences and refrain from judgments.  I teach this technique at work daily.  And concurrently,  I hold fast to some false beliefs of my own.  And I must add I am completely unwilling to let go of those beliefs.  These are best left unwritten.

But back to the topic.  There the two items sat together, awash in judgments and assumptions about the gender role of a man.  What a combo.   I moved the man next to the sign to take this picture, thinking, “Now this is a Baboon topic!”

This combination of items created ambivalence in me.  I think the Chocolate Man is funny.  And politically incorrect.  And offensive.  That is a dynamic that humor experts say often occurs in humor—two opposite statements juxtaposed, creating cognitive dissonance. Many of the jokes we told on joke day last week have the similar dynamic that is what makes the jokes funny.

I think the Chocolate Man is perjorative to men, and I think it is funny.  It says boldly the unspeakable belief held by some women towards men. I am ambivalent—holding two conflicting emotions in the same breath.  And I am still laughing.


What creates ambivalence in you?

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