Category Archives: books

Pohjala’s Daughter

About 15 years ago, we planted two rhododendrons named Pohjola’s Daughter. They were  Finnish cultivars said to be cold hardy. They were sort of root bound, and I remember thinking that I could have done a better job freeing the roots when I planted them.  Well, I was right, since they didn’t get appreciably bigger or bloom until this May, despite my constant fertilizing and fussing.  The flowers were so pretty.  It was a long wait, though, and I thought they were aptly named when I researched the story of Pohjola’s Daughter, and how she kept suitors away by giving them impossible tasks to complete before she would marry them. The story comes from the Finnish epic The Kalevala.  Sibelius used the story for a tone poem.  According to Wikipedia:

The tone poem depicts the “steadfast, old,” white-bearded Väinämöinen who spots the beautiful “daughter of the North (Pohjola)”, seated on a rainbow, weaving a cloth of gold while he is riding a sleigh through the dusky landscape. Väinämöinen asks her to join him, but she replies that she will only leave with a man who can perform a number of challenging tasks, such as tying an egg into invisible knots and, most notably, building a boat from fragments of her distaff. Väinämöinen attempts to fulfill these tasks through his own expertise in magic; in many of the tasks he succeeds but he is eventually thwarted by evil spirits when attempting to build the boat and injures himself with an axe. He gives up, abandons the tasks and continues on his journey alone.

I find  our translation of The Kalevala pretty tedious to read, and I think I need to find a new one, since the stories are so interesting. I also find it interesting when life imitates art the way our rhododendrons did.

What is your favorite epic poem or story to read?  When have you seen life imitate art?

Literary Bust

As I was reading this morning (Career of Evil by Robert Galbraith [aka JK Rowlings]), the narrator casually mentions watching a show about art and the camera pans the room, to include a bust of Beethoven.  There is a smidge of discussion about how the protagonist looks a bit like Beethoven and then the story moves on.

But as the story continued, I was distracted by the thought of the Beethoven bust. Hadn’t a bust of Beethoven just been a book I finished last week?  And wasn’t there a bust of Beethoven in a book I read a couple of months ago.  Time to backtrack in my reading history.

There was indeed a bust of Beethoven in Transcription by Kate Atkinson.  It was included in a description of a room and then later was used by a Nazi sympathizer to try to escape from the MI5 agents who had uncovered her treachery.

The previous literary bust turned out to be Baudelaire, not Beethoven, in The Alice Network by Kate Quinn.  In that book, the Nazi (yeah, I know you ‘ve all heard me say I’m sick of WWII books, but apparently not that sick) uses a bust of Baudelaire to break the fingers of the young spy.  Gruesome.

I have no idea what this means to the larger world, that busts of Beethoven and Baudelaire have shown up repeatedly in my reading the last few months, but it’s fascinating to me.

Pick a bust for your living room… any composer, artist, writer or super hero. Living or dead.  Who is it?

The Last Bookstore

Daughter found a wonderful bookstore when we were in LA. It is downtown, and is called The Last Bookstore. It boasts 250,000 volumes in 22,000 sq. ft. of space, including new, used, rare and antique  books, vinyl  LP’s, and graphic novels. It is in an old bank. The mystery novels are shelved in the vault. It claims to be the biggest bookstore in California.

There are overstuffed chairs all over, and a small stage area for poetry readings and lectures. People came in with bags of books to sell, and left with bags of books to read. It was a wonderful place. I especially liked the used book sculptures.

What kind of bookstore would you like to own?

Decade on the Trail – Pictorial

Today’s post is Part Two from Barbara in Rivertown

Today we have a pictorial history to go with Tuesday’s written one. Thanks to all baboons who sent me photos – I’ve used only those that have two or more baboons in them.

I think this is the earliest one in my collection – taken with Dale Connelly at the MPR booth at the State Fair (in 2009? 2010?) Not all in it became baboons, but I do see Sherrilee, Beth-Anne, and Linda in the middle row, and Jim and thigh (that guy in the hat) in the back.
The above is a smaller group in the Seed Art room, maybe 2011
Below was taken at our first meeting, at a picnic table in Wabun Park, by Minnehaha Falls in S. Mpls. BiR, Jacque, and Anna in the background. Also present were Sherrilee, Linda, and Steve.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

I don’t know whose idea it was to start going to museums – the first one I attended was, I think, the Russian Art Museum in S. Mpls – Anna, tim, Joanne, BiR, VS
Then there was the Swedish Museum circa 2012… extra points if you can remember what the exhibit was. VS, tim, Linda, Lisa, BiR, PJ
There have been gardening adventures – at PJ’s yard.  The group shows Bill, Robin, Lisa, Krista, PJ in back; ljb (Edith), BiR, Linda, VS

 

…. and in PJ’s kitchen, where Lisa modeled her prom dress
At Steve’s – well, at Steve’s we took down a tree limb in the back yard of his darling bungalow.
Chain Saw Gan – madislandgirl and S&H(son & heir), Lisa, tim, YA (VS’ young adult), Bill, Robin, BiR, Linda, Michael, and Ben!

 

 

 

 

 

 

We had Steve’s surprise birthday party, also at Wabun Park – tim managed to get him there after some ball game, I think. VS, Steve, tim
There have been several trips to Rock Bend Folk Festival. Here’s City Mouse, with the Morning Show’s producer Mike Pengra on the drums.
It’s a dirty job but somebody’s gotta do it… And admission is still FREE!

 

 

 

 

 

 

Linda, BiR, Krista, and I think Holly, at Rock Bend – not sure which year…?

There have been a number of events that didn’t get photographed: PJ organized a Guthrie outing for, was it? H.M.S. Pinafore? There have been game nights at tim’s, a painting party at Steve’s before he moved, Pi Day at Sherrilee’s.

But we do have one of a Solstice Parties at Sherrilee’s – Steve, Linda, tim
A few made a weekend trip to Steve’s cabin, up by Cornucopia, WI: Linda, Steve, tim, Krista, Jacque

 

 

 

 

 

 

and a few went south to Donna’s cabin at Spirit Lake, IA – but no photo!

North Dakota Renee made it to a BBC at tim’s when she was in town, of which we have no photo. But Steve provided one of her and husband Chris, taken when they were visiting near Steve’s place in Portland.

There have also been sad times… not only the ending of The Late Great Morning Show, but also the memorial after

Jim Ed Poole’s (aka Tom Keith) death in 2011. This proves that you can get baboons to smile for anything: TGith?, PJ, tim, Joanne, Anna, mig’s S&H in back; Linda, VS, madislandgirl.
A quick meet-up of Barbara and Joanne of Big Lake after the 100-Mile Garage Sale.

 

 

 

 

 

 

And I didn’t have my camera back in April when I met another baboon Linda at baboon Chris’ book signing at the lovely Fair Trade Books in Red Wing. But here’s a photo taken at another of Chris’ signings:
And here is from Chris’ FIRST book signing!

And we even had a congratulations gathering when Beth Ann won the Kemps State Fair Ice Cream contest

No baboons in this shot, but here are the fixins!

 

 

 

 

 

 

What’s been your favorite Baboon gathering or outing? What/who got left out here? (I’m sure I’ve left out some baboons…)

What field trip shall we do next??

A Decade on the Trail

This is Part 1 of a two part trip down memory lane from Barbara in River Town.

We’ve been blogging here for (are you ready?) 10 years. For anyone new to the Trail, this group started when we were still listening to a beloved (Minnesota Public Radio) Morning Show that aired from 6 – 9 a.m. in the 80s, 90s and aughts (2000s). It was an eclectic music extravaganza peppered with cleaver (see Glossary above) ads, zany characters and radio plays put together by Dale Connelly (a master of parody and verse) and Jim Ed Pool (aka Tom Keith, the super sound effects guy for Garrison Keillor’s Prairie Home Companion). When Jim Ed retired at end of 2008, Dale stayed on, and the program morphed into an online streaming station called Radio Heartland https://www.thecurrent.org/heartland/ . Dale also created a blog in early 2009 called the Trial Balloon, in which he’d write an introductory piece about anything under the sun, talk about it on the radio, and ask a question at the end to get an online conversation going.

Dale, our Alpha Baboon, hung in there posting 6 days a week for most of the next 5 years. By the time he decided it was time for a sabbatical, he had written 1,166 of the 1,397 posts (231 of them being guest posts provided by the Baboon Congress when he was away). Here is his June 3, 2015 entry:   https://trailbaboon.com/2015/06/03/five-year-plan/  at the end of that phase.

The Baboons rose to the challenge, and kept the blog going with a wide-ranging collection of guest posts for the next 18 months or so, with Dale chiming in from time to time with a post. In early 2017, Dale “cut the umbilical cord”, and we got our own url: www.trailbaboon.com/ , with Verily Sherrilee and Renee in North Dakota taking the reins of the blog, on alternating months. (This statement doesn’t begin to cover the work and commitment involved – I don’t even know how to describe it – and how grateful we are that they’ve taken this on.) Other baboons provide guest posts that we send to them by email (though not as often as we should).

At some point early on, we started also gathering in the space-and-time realm… I believe the first book club meeting was in June of 2010. (Go to above left under Blogroll: Blevens’ Book Club – there are even minutes to the first meetings!) And we started doing “field trips” – anyone know what year the Russian Art Museum trip was?

Over the years various baboons have come and gone, and occasionally come back – life happens, and some months or years work better for blogging than others. A core group of us are still here, several of whom have been posting and commenting almost from the beginning. Old-timers check in occasionally, and we love it when they do. We’ve found we just enjoy connecting most mornings (and sometimes late in the evening) in this mysterious place in cyberspace, to exchange thoughts, experiences, recipes, songs, book/movie recommendations, health info, travel or garden tips, musings on the English language…

What’s the strangest group you’ve ever hung out with? (…besides this one)

A Perfect Weekend

I try not to let my anticipation get the better of me. It’s been my habit to keep my expectations down so it was a little worrisome how much I was looking forward to this past weekend.  What if it wasn’t up to snuff?

I got up early on Saturday and went to Great Harvest Bakery for three-cheese bread and monster cookies. Gym and then coffee and some reading until it was time for a stamping workshop.  Then some serious yardwork, doing clean up all along the south side of the house and the front with YA.  Chinese take-out for dinner.

More sleeping in on Sunday, Brueggers for heart-shaped bagels, gym and then once home, made peanut butter cheesecake brownies while watching James Bond. Then more yard clean up and the planting of the bales and flower baskets.  More time with YA.  Then a funny card and cookbook from YA for Mother’s Day.

In between all this, some assorted chores also got done and now I’m reading while I wait for Colombo to come on at 7.   I can’t think of what could be added to make a more perfect weekend, although it would be nice to not have all scratches on my arms from cutting back the raspberry canes or the splinter in my finger that I haven’t been able to get at yet.

What would be your favorite weekend? (Two days only however money and physics are no object!)

Hero Cult?

In this world of super heroes and avengers, it seems as if everyone needs to get on the band wagon. I see in the news that an actor has been named for a re-make of “He-Man”.  I didn’t realize there had even been an original movie, although I do remember the original tv cartoon series.

Apparently the first movie was a flop (or as they say in Hollywood “a commercial failure”) which leads me to wonder why anyone feels the need to try again. But then I see that the latest Avengers movie completed Sherman-tanked its way over box office records last weekend, so who am I to say that people don’t want more super hero movies.

I guess in a anxiety-filled world, imagining that there are super beings who can control a little more of their destiny is somehow comforting?

Tell me about the worst film you’ve ever seen. (Or worst book you’ve ever read.)