The Frog Prince

I have a cousin who I find astonishing. I think he is my second cousin. His mom and my mom were first cousins. Our grandfathers were brothers. We are the same age and graduated from Luverne High School together.  We used to chase each other around the grade school play ground. He always had a fascination with reptiles and amphibians. Baboon Krista knew him from his work with the Minnesota DNR  as well as the Rock Bend Music Festival (Free, Free,  Free). He used to examine frogs to see if they were missing legs.  PJ knows him from their Danish Heritage Society. His  dad was Danish.

His recent Facebook posts reveal that he doesn’t work for the DNR  now, but for some reason  he is travelling around Madelia conducting field surveys trying to find and count Great Plains Toads.  I wonder how you count toads? How do you know you haven’t counted them twice? They jump around!

My cousin is also a luthier, and creates the most beautiful mandolins, Hardanger fiddles, nyckelharpas, and Viola D’ Amores.  What a range of interests. How on earth does this happen?

Who are some of the most astonishing and fascinating people you know?

41 thoughts on “The Frog Prince”

  1. A friend I met while teaching in California decided not to have children early on, and put all her energies into being a “career teacher”. When she taught 4th and/or 5th grade, she brought in an old clawfoot but cut out on one side she’d come upon somewhere, and stuffed it with pillows for a reading den. She’d make popcorn on Friday afternoons, and could tell the most outrageous stories – had the kids practically eating out of her hand. She grew roses at home, sang in the church choir; volunteers in a little bookstore there now that she’s retired, and organizes retired teacher gatherings.

    A childhood friend “had to get married”, so had her kids young, then went back to school in social work, worked for a while in corrections, but then divorced her husband, went to medical school (her dad had come into $ and funded this) and became a psychiatrist. To be near a son, she moved to Folly Beach, SC (outside Charleston), and has gradually acquired more and more pets – she now has 4 great danes, whom she takes to shows, and at least 3 little tiny things, maybe schnauzers. She keeps a house in Ames, IA, where she grew up, and has a small RV to transport everyone between the two locations.

    These people fascinate me – where do they get their energy? They do things I’d never be interested in doing myself, but I enjoy visiting and seeing these lives from the periphery.

    Liked by 4 people

  2. Before leaving Minnesota, I “counted” amphibians for Hamline U in conjunction with DNR. That is done by learning all the calls frogs and toads make. They provided the tapes to learn the sounds made by the species native to Minnesota. From there you counted by groupings. Single. Several. Scads.
    My route noted habitat and other features to the north of Moorhead.

    Liked by 2 people

  3. My friend Anne, who lives in Bellingham, WA is a fascinating person. She grew up in Anoka in a large eccentric family. Her father was a lawyer and an avid pilot, who insisted that each of his eight kids get a pilot’s license once they were old enough. He mysteriously disappeared while on a solo fishing trip to Alaska when Anne was seventeen. He was presumed killed in a plane crash though neither his plane nor his remains were ever found. Anne’s mother, who until her husband’s death had never worked outside the home, suddenly found herself the sole provider for her brood. She was a good cook, so she opened a restaurant. Some years later, after the youngest kids had left home, she moved to France and became the cooking partner/assistant to Simone Beck.

    Anne is also a French trained chef; meals at her house are always exquisite. She ran the restaurant at the Minnetonka Art Center for several years. She has written a cook book, and published three other books, one of which is a memoir. During her late husband’s battle with Parkinson’s, she enrolled in a program to become a hospice volunteer, and she cared for Mike at home until he died.

    About a year after Mike’s death, she hiked a leg of the El Camino trail through parts of France and Spain. She is currently enrolled in a zen chaplaincy program.

    Anne’s oldest son is married to a woman from India, and Anne and her d-i-l have visited India several times together. She has visited Nepal and Japan several times. Anne and Mike were the owners of the small house on the beach in Mexico where Hans and I visited them several times. When they lived in Northfield, she ran a small bed and breakfast in a small log cabin on their property that Mike had restored. Mike was a potter, painter, sculptor and a world class tinkerer. There was never a dull moment at their house. Two of the most creative and hard working people I ever met.

    Liked by 3 people

  4. My outdoor buddy Bill is highly accomplished. His favorite recreation has long been hunting and fishing. As a fisherman he is good at open water fishing, ice fishing and fly fishing. He is a wilderness camper and fishing boat captain. Bill has mastered sailing and has toured the Apostle Islands on a sailboat. He is a highly skilled navigator on water, land or in the air. A fitness freak, Bill has run several half-marathons. He used to be a musher. For a while Bill maintained about 60 sled dogs and ran a business taking people on sled dog trips through the Rockies. Bill finished the Iditarod three or four times. An airplane pilot, he and his wife own two planes that they fly all over the country. Bill graduated second in his class at the uber-competitive School of Medicine at the U of MN. He was a family physician but switched to emergency room medicine, a field in which he is a national leader. He recently completed a stint as the head of Montana’s emergency medicine board.

    Are their things he cannot do well? Actually, yes. When Bill has adventures he cannot later remember them in any detail. And he cannot tell stories. Remembering and telling stories are the only things I can do, which is one big reason he likes doing things with me.

    Liked by 2 people

  5. Rise and Shine Baboons,

    My paternal grandmother, Fern Hoel Stratton, is a person I only have one memory of when I was very young. But she and Grandpa seemed to have been people who caused others to feel valued and loved. Grandma died when I was almost 3 years old, but I grew up feeling I knew her. My parents were devastated when she died at age 56 of colon cancer. Grandma’s sisters stepped in as grandmothers. But then, she and Grandpa raised them through their teens after their mother died when they were early teens. Grandpa lived 10 years after that and I knew him well. He was, of course, just wonderful.

    When I would go visit these aunts, they would talk about Grandma, how much they missed her, how much she helped them. Then we would go out to eat where we would run into their friends. I was treated like royalty by these folks, too, and they would say how much they missed my grandparents and how much they liked them.

    I can’t say that I have known anyone else who had such a positive impact on those around them, and whose memory stayed with these people.

    Liked by 3 people

  6. My first thought was actually Renee. I am always astounded by how much she does; I’ve always assumed that there are more hours and a day in Dakota than there are here. That’s the only explanation I can think of.

    Liked by 3 people

      1. Me too – but probably because I drive the wrong way on one way roads. And have no sense of space so I park 6′ away from the curb (makes it easy to find my car at Target, though), and have grown anxious entering freeways.


      2. That does make a difference. With the new protected bike lanes replacing driving lanes around here and the 35W reconstruction project taking out street (and pedestrian) bridges over 35, it takes me a heck of a long time to get anywhere now. For instance, the last time I drove to Jaque’s house, I think that google maps told me that it would be a 25 minute drive. It took me about 30 minutes to just get onto the freeway and then 15-20 minutes from there. I now double my estimated time of travel, even for short errands.


  7. Each Peach, Pear, Plum, I feel real dumb. Tim wanted grape jelly. I thought I had tons of grape jelly. I was wrong. I have none. So, I sent strawberry jelly from our own strawberries, along with plum jam and peach jam.

    Liked by 2 people

        1. I must have missed the discussion on jam. I don’t remember reading anything about it until now.


  8. OT – tim, are you going to watch Denmark vs Croatia in the World Cup tomorrow. May the best team win, and may it be the Danish team. 🙂

    Liked by 3 people

  9. I’m amazed at my 47-year old son who’s created four successful businesses from ground up, is unbelievably personable, funnier than hell, a gifted writer, the best dad I’ve ever seen, plays the 12-string guitar so well that it makes me cry, and runs to the aide of his sister and mom in every time of crisis.

    Liked by 4 people

  10. If I meet the criteria of the question, it is only in the bush leagues. Bill is in the premier leagues.
    My pain was very high today, worse than I have ever had. So my body shut me down, put me to sleep. Sandy is weak and not fully lucid, maybe her new permanent status, a notch worse than before. But otherwise she is fine. Sees her gp tomorrow morning whil I am at pt
    I see Denmark lost.


    1. Yep! Not much rejoicing in Denmark today. On the other hand, this is shaping up to be an interesting tournament.


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