Grandpa Bob

Header image of buckthorn by Mason Brock (Masebrock) [Public domain], via Wikimedia Commons

Today’s post comes from tim

grandpa bob was my first wifes dad

salt of the earth

high school teacher in milwaulkee

he grew up building houses with his dad in the 50’s and ended up getting a job as a school  teacher where he could just show up for work and not worry about business. he kind of trudged through his day.

somewhere in his career he got hooked up to be the guy to look after the field trips for the school kids in the milwauklee school district. he got to take them for walks in the parks and discover how to tell the trees by the bark and the leaves he got to be the guy who did the planetarium show and push the buttons and recite the planets and stars

he got to do lake michigan and the brewery tours he loved life.

then someone asked how bob got that job? did he go through the proper protocol? he got thrown under the bus. after years of loving his work he got put back in the classroom and he was so sad. because he was low man on the totem pole in teacher land ( i guess seniority didnt enter in) he got the class of underachievers from the toughest neighborhoods in milwaukee (milwaulkee has some really tough neighborhoods)   he was not a politically correct guy and the stuff that would come out of his mouth was alarming. he believed that the community he was asked to teach was unreachable. they didnt get breakfast so their brains didnt work.

his last remaining joy was walking in the parks around milwaukee that he had come to know taking the kids on field trips. that and going to high school plays. he loved going and went to 200 plays a year in school auditoriums all over the milwaukee area.

he had property all over northern wisconsin, 5 acres here 5 acres there. he had a favorite place around ladysmith where he had a spot on the flambeau river with white pines and  a natural beauty hard to beat. he would mow and tweak and groom the property. there was a small cabin next door with an owner who inherited it and didnt ever come and on the other side was a good ol boy who wold come up from new orleans every summer to be bobs buddy. they would sit and discuss the world and the woods and the good old days and every summer was better than the one before.

bob lived out of a pop up tent trailer that he would haul up in may and haul home in october every year. a stove, a bed and walls, who could ask for anything more.  his last year up there he decided to leave it up in october and simply come back in april and set up camp. when he came he found his neighbor in the cabin who had some mental illness issues has sold the tent trailer. he simply threw p his hands and walked away. too bad.  a bad way to end a chapter but the way it went.

when i divorced his daughter he was called on to winterize her house every year (putting on the plastic over the porch screens and raking the leaves and and to open it up again in the spring. he would stop over to borrow a wheelbarrow, a shovel   a hammer and chat for a while. i will always remember his response to a statement it way ‘yeah , yeah , yeah, ” kind of like he was going down stairs. descending  tones of yeahs in a row. he used his mantra to mull over his response and let you know he was listening and was aware it was his turn to speak in the conversation.

he comes to mind at this time of year as the leaves turn brown and fall off. and all thats left is the green egg shaped leaves of the hated intruder the buckthorn that takes over and chokes everything out. it is very sad to realize that the natural plants are being killed and choked out by the early coming out and the late departure of the buckthorn. i wuuld like to see a way to stop the takeover of the buckthorn and i think of bob everytime it comes up.

linda has the tree wrench for pulling the buckthorn up but it is hard work. i would like to find a way to clear an acre or a chunk of the woods in a weekend with a crew of volunteers to see what the difference between maintained and non maintained natural woodlands would be. ill bet it would make an impact. maybe in my sparetime

is there a trigger that reminds you of a time or place every time you see /hear/smell/taste it?


91 thoughts on “Grandpa Bob”

  1. an odd blog for the most important day in history.
    grandpa bob was the opposite of our two candidates, slow and focused very non in your face
    heres to he big day baboons


  2. Rise and Shine Baboons!

    The smell of mildew reminds me of Grandma and Grandpa’s old, mouse infested farmhouse. Eden Prairie has the farmhouse/now coffeehouse on CR 4–used to be Dunn Brothers and now is Cafe Rustica–which smells just the same as Grandma’s house with baked goods and mildew.

    Meanwhile, I am voting today, midmorning. Then I go to work to the practice which I no longer own and run. It changed hands last Tuesday. Later that day I lost my cell phone–poof, it just disappeared. That became the disruptive symbol of the life change and my own disorientation as I move to a different role and edge my way to a slower pace.

    I now must reshape my life and return to interests which are not driven by a therapy practice (like writing blog posts!). However, I still feel kind of stunned that the tiny practice I started 13 years ago with the intention of being simple, found a niche that was unexpectedly complicated and successful. And what happened to that 13 years? Another “Poof” experience. This should all be topics for Trail Baboon.

    Liked by 6 people

  3. I wish we could burn leaves, as that smell takes me back to temperate autumns as a child when the yards would get raked, leaves would get jumped in, and then would get slowly smoldered and the aroma would permeate the neighborhood.

    Liked by 4 people

  4. Tuna salad. When I was a kid, my father traveled a lot for work (he was an attorney for the state highway department). Since he didn’t like tuna, the only time we had it was on nights when he wasn’t home for dinner. In the summer my mom would make tuna salad and then scoop it into tomatoes that were sliced open at the top. To this day, the smell of tuna salad takes me back to those childhood summer days when it was “just us girls” at the table!

    Liked by 4 people

  5. Our family went through a period of romance with our queer little Cornucopia cabin and all the delights of northern Bayfield County. One of the most distinctive of those delights was the Chautauqua tent between Bayfield and Washburn. We fell in love with that place’s historical dramas, the “house shows” of that place. That Chautauqua group had a magical way of using old slides, catchy tunes, clever song writing and appealing musicianship to tell the story of such things as the history of Madeline Island, the role of lighthouses and the influence of logging and commercial fishing. It was a thrill to experience those house shows the first time, and after that it was delightful to experience them again and again. I probably sat through more than a dozen performances of “Riding the Wind.” Our family would laugh, weep and sing along with those beloved house shows. They were the most emotionally satisfying experiences that went along with owning that cabin.

    And, yes, there were specific sounds and sights and smells that can suddenly evoke all of that extremely special time and place. When something happens to cause those memories to come rushing back, it is like remembering an old lover.

    Liked by 3 people

  6. Nice character sketch, tim, and a good distraction today.

    Certain opera arias take me back to being a little girl in Storm Lake, IA, listening to my mom practice with the old upright we had, crammed into her and dad’s bedroom. She and other members of Melody Club would rehearse for a program they put on… something like that. I can hear the tunes, but probably can’t come up with the names…


      1. Bill, your comment reminds me of an odd moment on television. One of my childhood heroes was Walt Kelly, the creator of the Pogo comic strip. Many, many years ago Walt Kelly appeared on The Night Show, which was then hosted by Steve Allen. Kelly was on the show because he had just published a book called The Songs of Pogo. I remember that appearance vividly because it is the only time I saw a drunk person on TV. Kelly was stumbling drunk and slurring his lines. Desperate to get through the bit, Allen said, “Walt, let’s go through a few bars of these songs.” Walt Kelly grinned and said, “I WENT through a few bars on the way here!” Allen turned to the camera with a pained expression and agreed, “He did!”

        Liked by 2 people

  7. Car pine fresheners.That aroma…! For many years our family spent Labor Day and Fourth of July weekends at Itasca State Park. We were able to get reservations year after year at one or the other cabins at Douglas Lodge or Bert’s Cabins. The Headwaters was always a treat for us and the kids. Crossing and falling into the Mississippi remain some of my best memories ever. It makes me weep thinking about it. Let me go back and relive it!

    Liked by 2 people

  8. OT, but I just tried to request “The Beans of Egypt, Maine” (one of the selections for the December edition of Blevins Book Club) from the Dakota County Library. They don’t have it. Neither does St. Paul. It’s not that it has been checked out by other Baboons or non-baboon library patrons, it is not in either of their collections. Hennepin county has seven copies and I will get it from them, but what the heck? Have I made some ridiculously stupid error in my search technique? Am I looking for the wrong book entirely? Has anyone else read it yet? Has it been banned East of the Mississippi?


  9. OT: “Don’t it always seem to go that you don’t know what you’ve got ’til it’s gone?”

    I used to be mildly annoyed about getting out to vote. I reflected on how much easier it would be to vote by mail. Well, that’s the way everyone votes in Oregon. And today myself really missing the experience of going to a polling place, voting and coming out of it feeling good.

    Liked by 1 person

        1. A pal who lives in Rochester tells me this has become an annual event. One of the local TV stations had a live stream at her grave showing folks adding to the headstone. It made me weep watching all those people pay tribute.


  10. Smells are everything for me in memory triggers. Too many to list. I have noticed the absence of one important defining smell from our culture. Medical places no longer reek of isopropyl alcohol and have not for many years. Which is nice for me because alcohol smells trigger pain. I had medical tests today that would be defined as tortured: shocks and needles in my arms and shoulders.

    The smell of wood being sawed in the tree or in a workshop is one of my most evocative triggers. New plowed earth, root cellar. Barns, hay loft, a musty old car interior, popcorn, wet dog, an outdoor fire in the winter, horse, many others. How many of the smells of my childhood had disappeared.

    Liked by 1 person

    1. Freshly sawed wood brings me back to happy memories of building in a scene shop. Even more than the smell of paint – that smell of a fresh cut lumber will transport me to friends and creative challenges and late nights.


  11. Pine scent (not the artificial kind) takes me back to the Rockies.
    Wood sawed on a buzz saw – I’m in the woodshop where my dad taught for his first job.
    Leaf bonfire – Homecoming game rally
    Salty, misty sea air – El Granada where I lived ’72-’74

    Liked by 1 person

    1. I’ve lived through defeat before. Mondale, Dukakis, Gore. Each time it was hard to take but I was sure there would be no danger from the Republican elected. This time is different. It’s not just Trump himself who frightens me; it’s the cast of characters with whom he has surrounded himself. Being ruled by Breitbartians and conspiracy nuts is very troubling. So let the Twitter gloating period begin. That will be the easy part and what Trumpeteers do best.

      Liked by 2 people

  12. I, too, have tasted political defeat before. I’ve experienced victories by Nixon, Reagan and GW Bush. And yet the nation survived. The humiliating demise of Richard Nixon even gave me the sense that this country could discover its errors and reject a leader who was a threat to our most treasured values. I’ve seen my candidates defeated many times before.

    But this . . . this is worse.

    Maybe the most painful part of all this is the loss of faith in my country. I didn’t think we were capable of this. I wasn’t cocky or delusional. But, having studied the matter, I didn’t think my country could misjudge leaders so badly.

    The most pressing issue for me now is to decide what stance I and people who share my values need to take in the future. Or, to put it another way, how can we now minimize the damage? This extremely dangerous man has control of the presidency, the House and the Senate. He will try to put at least one jackass on the Supreme Court.

    Let’s say this will only last four years. How can we survive these four years while defending those things that are right in our government?

    Liked by 3 people

    1. we are screwed
      its not him its the world
      we have no idea what hides behind or neighbors doors
      they wouldnt put up a yard sign but they voted for him
      thats the world of today
      good bye health care
      good bye personal choice
      good bye personal rights and religious freedom
      america was a good idea thats time is no longer popular
      i got mine and i dont want you to get any of it i want you to go away
      i feel awfl but what if i was black, hispanic, muslem, arabic… sad day

      Liked by 1 person

  13. my 18 year old was crying as she left for school
    my 22 year old came to look pleadingly for an answer at 230 am when hillary called donald to concede.
    his world is upside down. all that is true is suspect.


  14. My confidence in my fellow Americans is shaken. How can I respect those people who are giddy after throwing a rock through a window? It’s political vandalism.

    Liked by 4 people

    1. I’ll relate a how things are working out for me. I’ve just now finished break. There were five of us in the room. One guy was particularly gloating over Trump’s victory. He said and I quote, ” At last we can get the African- American out of the White House.” I sensed that laughter was just about to start but i cut it off by saying, “Well, there it is. Trumpism at it’s worst.” Billy retorted, “I said “African-American”. I’m not racist.” To which I responded, “Well, you’re doing a great imitation of one.” Now there is silence. One guy pipes up and says, “you’ll have to forgive Billy. He’s from the south.” “No. I won’t.” And I walked out. I am telling the gospel truth.

      Liked by 3 people

  15. from a friend of mine

    honestly I think this could wind up to be very constructive

    it’s four years; he won’t be able to do even half what he says he’ll do

    Anyway, we’ve spent decades ignoring and/or disrespecting a significant number of people in our country who might have been swayed in a completely different direction, if anybody on the Dem side was paying any attention. Hillary Clinton referred to them as “deplorables” I wonder if she thought that was going to help her or us win the election. Poor and middle class voters largely left the Dems for a reason; the party didn’t address their problems, or dismissed them as based in bigotry, racism, fear, etc. etc. Any maybe they are, but we still have to deal with it, not pretend we can sweep it under the rug.

    I just think there’s a major class divide in our country and it’s been coming for so long and we ignored it. This is what comes of it.

    Our leaders’ arrogance and elitism overwhelms me (and I voted for Obama and Hillary and every Dem before them) – and I believe that it is what brought out all the votes for Trump.

    We should not be feeling bad about the election. But we should be feeling pretty miserable about what we all did to contribute to Trump’s win, whether intended or not. And we need to begin to listen up and be one nation, not a bunch of factions fighting over table scraps while the rich and big corporate America steal us all blind.

    But of course, tell that to Congress.

    Liked by 4 people

  16. I take no responsibility for what happened. I’ve listened with respect all along to the angry voices. I didn’t dismiss this man as a hollow threat, nor did I deny the legitimate fears of his supporters. I’ve been seriously scared about this man, and with good reason. Even if he can’t accomplish half of what he thinks he can, he can do terrible damage.

    This is a shattering event for me personally, and I’ll need time to work out my response to it. In the short run, the pain I feel now reminds me of how badly I need my friends, especially my friends on this blog. Do you guys know how important you are to me? I need you now as never before.

    Liked by 3 people

    1. It is an intriguing question, to say the least: how much damage can one man do in four years? We’re about to find out. There will be immediate bad things, like the destruction of Obamacare. I’m most concerned about some of the “big picture” issues like global warming and race relations.

      Liked by 4 people

      1. This may be hopelessly optimistic, but maybe there are enough republicans in the house and senate that are aware of the permanent damage Trump could do to the republican brand if they don’t act to keep a tight leash on him. After all, the demographics aren’t trending their way and if the disillusionment with Trump’s unfulfilled promises is high enough, perhaps things will readjust in two years.

        Liked by 4 people

        1. That is a good point. Trump is known to carry grudges and has quarrels already going against many of his party. If he tries to seize power by encouraging voters to throw out the people he doesn’t like, and putting Trump clones in their place, he may just shoot himself in the foot. He has no experience with leading by consensus, and that may limit his effectiveness.

          Liked by 2 people

  17. I have spent a large amount of tax dollars in the last few months b way of Medicare. I heard Tim Penny talking about this recently, how we just cannot afford the Entitlements. I respect Penny (BTW Tim Walz the Congressman for Barbara and me was reelected but barely.) and do believe he is right. I suppose this fact will be addressed but the results will be bad, and may have to be. But I am not an economist.
    In all this money spent I do have some answers, the way to address them is not clear to me. I have what they call the pain sensitvity gene. The point the report makes is that drs need to see that some people do have real pain issues which need serious medication. Yesterday proved why I cannot type. I have badly pinched nerves in my neck which reduce feeling and control of my hands and cause large pain from my neck down to my shoulders. I guess when you add that to the genetic issues, it all adds up. The gene is much more common in women. The report I read says that drs. just have to start seeing the high pain many women feel is real and needs serious attention.
    Right now the pain of yesterday is too high.


      1. I do not know that. Monday I go to Edina to have shots out under the first and second vertabra to reduce pain on the right side of my neck. The tendon is the focus there. The surgeon showed me how they do the shots. You don;t want to know. Sorry I know. Not sure what they do about pinched nerves. The pain gene seems to be addressed only by drugs and any PT that may help the place of pain.


  18. The election results came as a complete shock to me. After arriving home from my polling place around 9 o’clock, I was greeted by nothing but bad news, which I salved with a couple of glasses of wine (thanks for suggesting that strategy, BiR) and then went to bed, deciding not to stay up for the final decision. I thought I’d sleep better if I didn’t know for sure.

    As with all bad news, though, there is something of a silver lining – the election itself. I’m very encouraged that I haven’t heard stories of violence, guns, fights breaking out in polling places, widespread voter fraud, voter suppression, or hacking accusations. Although it’s still early, it seems that our imperfect electoral system has some resilience.

    Liked by 1 person

  19. Morning all. I’ve made the decision to stay off social media for a bit with the exception of you guys. I have been on edge for weeks now but having it as reality instead of just fear is gut-wrenching. The part of all this that hurts the most is not even worrying about what damage he can do but that there are so many Americans who have bought into his legacy of hate and fear-mongering. It actually makes me feel a little unsafe.

    In working through how I will personally begin my own healing I’ve decided that I can only change myself so I’m going to try to always be the opposite of Donald Trump. As of this morning I found two more places that want donations of greeting cards and I signed up for FeedMyStarvingChildren AND Loaves & Fishes in the next two weeks. The hard part will be trying to be supportive and kind and inclusive in our current atmosphere, but I figure I don’t have to be perfect this week.

    Thanks to all of you for listening.

    Liked by 4 people

    1. I would rather not think, and don’t really think, that Trump’s voters are primarily driven by hate and fear-mongering. There is an element, to be sure, but overall it’s a mixed bag, from what I can tell. For many people, the election was not so much about voting for someone as voting against someone. If they tend to lean right, they get their news from different sources than most who lean left, and may have a different impression of him. People hear what they want to hear and tune out what they don’t.

      Among the comments I have heard this morning: Some voted Trump as a protest vote, against the status quo, and didn’t even really expect him to win. Some just won’t vote for a woman, and perhaps didn’t vote at all. Many voters stick to party and chose Trump despite not liking him. Some voted to keep the Supreme Court from becoming liberal.

      I would give people the benefit of the doubt. They didn’t all intend to endorse all his opinions.

      Liked by 1 person

      1. You’re right, Linda. I personally know of a few people that are Trump supporters and they are definitely not driven by hate. (In fact, I am still surprised that they are Trump supporters – they seem fairly intelligent and nice.) What worries me, though, is how gradually and unconsciously people can get sucked into a certain kind of mindset that develops into hate and fear-mongering. Or they are personally not in touch with the kinds of people that Trump and his followers target and so can convince themselves that it’s really not that bad. And I am also very concerned about the intolerance, violence, and just plain nastiness that has already been unleashed by Trump and will no doubt increase in the future.

        Liked by 2 people

  20. I just watched both Hillary and Obama speak – what a class act, each of them. The pundits I heard afterward missed what I consider to be a key sentence from Obama about the pres-elect:
    “We are all now rooting for his success.”

    I have my own definition of what I conside his success: I don’t think that I can get there today, perhaps, but I think the only way I can ultimately go forward here is to hold out out the hope that the Office of the Presidency is bigger than any one person, and changes, improves the man – and the man rises to the occasion. History has shown this to happen before.

    If we just didn’t have to hear that voice (but that was true for W as well).

    Liked by 1 person

    1. In elementary school behavior management language, we hope he ‘models up’ by virtue of those who served before him, and doesn’t ‘model down’ due to the behavior of those around him.

      Liked by 2 people

  21. The drywall crew on this construction site are entirely Hispanic. They are a good bunch of people. All American citizens. Their boss has told them not to speak Spanish for the remainder of the project. Looks like I’ll not be able to practice my very elementary Spanish. Horrible.

    Liked by 4 people

    1. new i can add that feeling of sick in the gut like i was last night to recall the memory of the election of our president.

      it will be our time sometime when the world can be fixed and healed and nurtred and focused on the solution instead of fear of the potential disaster by enemies who make the masses rally round the flag.

      Liked by 2 people

  22. I was hoping that this morning I could report that 8 years ago my dad, in his last presidential ballot, voted for our first black President and that this year his youngest grandchild (my youngest daughter) voted for our first woman President in her first time voting in a presidential election. But we know how that turned out – no woman President this time. Instead, we will have…well, I can find no words that adequately describe Mr. Trump and what his presidency will be like. I am scared, upset, and a host of other negative emotions. I also find myself wishing very much that I could emigrate to Canada or some place where I could avoid all this, even though I know that tRump’s presidency will have ramifications beyond just the U.S. borders. Cape Breton is looking good right now, but it’s not realistic for me.

    Liked by 1 person

  23. As election judges, we’re not supposed to allow people to wear campaign buttons, T-shirts etc. in the polling place. Nor is it appropriate to announce who you are voting for. The polling place is to be as neutral as possible. Yesterday, though, a woman walked up to the ballot counter, fed in her ballot, then turned to me, smiling, and said “I’ve been waiting all my life to do that.”

    She didn’t really violate the letter of the law. Still, I’m betting she did not wait all her life to vote for a reality TV celebrity.

    Liked by 3 people

    1. I bet you’re right, Linda.

      I didn’t know that about campaign buttons, t-shirts, etc. How do you enforce that? I don’t suppose you can ask someone to remove their shirt.


      1. Buttons are easy to remove. If it’s a shirt, you can ask them to step into the restroom and turn the shirt inside out. Or offer them someone’s jacket to cover up the shirt while they’re voting.


  24. With another 24 hours under my belt I find I am still feeling angry, sad, despondent…not even so much today that Hillary didn’t win, but about how this election lays bare in a truly ugly way things that have been under the surface for a long time. Most especially that there is a large portion of our population that “had it good” in the post-war 1950s when manufacturing and related industries paid a living wage and you could start to move up the economic ladder. That ladder was never strong and has been broken for a long time – and never really existed for some. The frustration and anger of those feeling left out is as real and visceral as my anger and frustration that we haven’t yet reached a place in this country where equity and inclusion are the better answer than blame and marginalization. My fellow liberals are not always great at doing more than providing policy-heavy wonkish responses to the harsh realities of the rust belt and rural economies. We pay attention to the economics of our cities and those disparities, but we haven’t found a good way to truly acknowledge the pain and neglect that a large portion of our population has endured as our economy and markets have shifted away from the union, manufacturing and trades-related jobs that no longer are valued or exist. Am I scared myself? Yes. Terrified that the economy will tank – both because of the potential to what it will do for my household that is barely back to even after our back to back layoffs 8 years ago and for how that tanking economy will play out in this atmosphere of heightened paranoia, fear, and hate. I am scared for my GLBTQ, Muslim, and non-white neighbors, friends and loved ones. I am terrified for some of them – internment camps, hate crimes, and everyday micro-aggressions are far too easy to imagine for them. I do hold out hope that our country is better than that, that the half of the country that voted for Hillary will stand up and not be silent, that while damage will be done we can minimize that damage and change course at the mid-term elections. And work locally, both in the political arena and with those you see every day, to provide hope, inclusion, and equity for everyone. Listen. Hold a hand. And fight like hell for the living.

    Liked by 3 people

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