Category Archives: News

Surviving 2020

Last Friday here on the Trail, right after it was learned that a hero named Ruth Bader Ginsburg has died, the comments shifted, from musicals and the fires out West, to her passing:

Ruth Bader Ginsburg died. That is so difficult to accept.

Now it all gets surreal.

I was so sure she would simply refuse to die with 45 in office.

…I feel just hollowed out by this.

This news comes on the heels of the devastating fires in (mostly) California and Oregon; the crippled economy and school system; continued protests, violence, and looting in some cities following several instances of police brutality and murder, particularly to people of color – all this as we still struggle with the isolation and loss of life from Covid 19.

The next comment pretty much sums up how I’ve been feeling as this 2020 election approaches:

…Someone close to me is having such a bad time with political events she is seeking medical help. I’m struggling too, relatively speaking. These are difficult times.

The anniversary of our son’s death was last Sunday, 9/13, and I hardly acknowledged it. Then I felt guilty for not feeling the usual grief, not doing something special to mark the day, and suddenly realized – I’m already feeling so much of a different kind of grief, it didn’t occur to me to pile any more on.

Mostly, I’ve been grieving for the country and culture I thought I knew, and thought I was living in… the place where people can feel strongly about something, but can agree to disagree, and still live and work side by side. The place where we can still respect each other and treat other civilly even when we’re totally at odds.

The level of vitriol and hateful speech that has come out, for example, over whether or not masks are worn leaves me speechless. I’ve found myself shying away from Facebook because of what I might find there. (I’ve refrained from Unfriending a couple of acquaintances from “the other side”, to see if I can figure out how they think.) I frequently run into something so nasty it makes me want to cry, for the person who posted it as much as for those of us liberals or Demon-crats it’s aimed at. I don’t want to totally give up FB because I also, at times, find very beautiful or funny things there.

So I hang out with like-minded people or baboons whenever possible. I’d like to pick your brains a bit – could be in your own words or someone else’s, could be poetry, jokes, stories, music, art … anything: 

Do you have any words of wisdom about how we all hang on till we’re through it, whatever “it” is?

A Return to Normal

The weather guy in the Fargo Forum announced this week that we were soon to return to our “normal” weather  pattern of ten months of wind.  July and August are typically the least windy months here on the northern Plains. Oh yay! I can hardly wait for the wind to start blowing!

Our weather shifted abruptly on Thursday morning when we had a torrential rain storm with no wind or hail. It had been hot and dry for weeks. Now it is muddy. Tonight, lows in the 40’s are expected.  The birds are flocking.  Autumn is coming. It seemed like summer would never end. Now I wonder where it went so quickly.

I wonder what we will return to, weather-wise and society-wise, when things return to “normal”. The header photo is of the normal or Gaussian curve.

What are the typical weather patterns you remember when you were growing up?  What do you want “normal” to be like in your life come January?

 

 

How’s That Again?

The most informative sections of our local newspaper are the District Court record and the obituaries. When you live in a small community  it is important  to know who died and who got convicted of what.

Yesterday I was hastily scanning an obituary of an 86 year old farm wife from a tiny village south of our town when I ran across this sentence: “Lorraine loved doing the polka with Christ.”  That sure stopped me in my reading! What a wonderful image!  I never knew Jesus did the polka. I wondered if he did the Fox Trot and the Lindy, too.  More careful scrutiny of the obituary reveled that her husband’s name was Christ, as in Christoph,  and it was he with whom she loved to polka.   I was sort of disappointed,  but it sure brightened my day.

When have you misread  or misheard something? What are some funny misprints you have read lately.  What is your experience with the polka?

 

 

 

For Sale?

I’m not sure what motivated me but last night I clicked on CNN.com.  I know, I know… what was I thinking?  It went against my ostrich imitation of the last couple of months (head in the sand), but something drove me to it.

But amid all the bad news, there was an interesting bit.  Apparently when asked a direct question about whether the U.S. is still interested in buying Greenland (despite it definitely NOT being on the market), a straight answer was not to be had from the Secretary of State.  Here’s a link to the story, which is kinda funny:  https://www.cnn.com/2020/07/22/politics/trump-buy-greenland-pompeo/index.html

I don’t really have much to say about this (since it is so beyond absurd that “absurd” isn’t a good enough word) except that I think I might prefer for us to get a tropical island instead.

What do you think?  If we have to buy an island, which one to you think we should put in our shopping cart?  

Raspberry Gratitude

I’ve been picking raspberries every afternoon for the past week.  About a cup each time; the first day they hardly made it into the house.  Now I have a few in the freezer and few in the fridge.  Whipped some cream yesterday.  Yum-O!   Picking raspberries always makes me think about my baboon community.  I’ve told the story before of how Linda brought me two raspberry canes on the day we gathered at PJs to help out with her spring gardening while she was recuperating.  I had always thought having raspberries would be fun, but left on my own, I doubt I would have ever done anything about it without Linda’s encouragement.  The canes have now taken over the south garden with vigor and we really enjoy the berries.

As much as I’m grateful for the raspberries, I’m more grateful for this community.  Spring gardening at PJs, Museum of Russian Art, Rock Bend, Liberty Custard, spring bales and chicken poo, Swedish American Institute, Jim Ed’s memorial service, St. Agnes Bakery, chainsaw party at Steve’s, LJB’s memorial and, of course, Blevin’s book Club.  I’m sure I’m missing some.  I love that we’ve built friendships and support systems in our ten+ years together.

Last week when I ran Dale’s initial Trail offering, I ran his question… but the question I really wanted to ask was:

What fond memories to you have of our ten years on the Trail?

 

What Party Do You Belong To?

Husband started volunteering  at the local food bank on Thursdays, and was asked rather pointedly by another volunteer what political party he belonged to.  The questioner was a disabled Gulf War Veteran who was rather unhappy with the possibility of a George Floyd protest march at the local mall, and who was supportive of the local bikers who surrounded our mall to make sure there wasn’t any destruction or looting. (It was the most peaceful, non-eventful happening our town has seen.)  Husband answered, quite brilliantly I thought, that he was a member of the Lutheran Party and Lutheran Tribe. That seemed to puzzle the questioner, but ended the discussion. If asked the same question, I suppose I would say I was a New Deal Democrat, but I don’t know how many younger people would know what that meant. I am so proud of the questioner to be volunteering at the food bank, no matter what his political persuasion. I am dismayed to think that he would judge someone on the basis of their answer.

What party do you belong to?  Be creative.

Hilling Up the Potatoes

We decided to try something different in the garden this year, and are mounding dirt up to almost the top inches of the potato  plants. I don’t remember any of my relatives doing this, but we have seen others do it, and decided to give it a try.  It is supposed to increase your potato  yield. The guys in husband’s Friday morning Bible study were pretty skeptical when he told them about it, but just the other day I drove past a garden where someone had done it. I suppose it would be difficult  to do if you had a whole lot of potato plants, but we only have eight hills, so it is doable.

The garden is coming along pretty well, although it has been battered by the relentless southeast winds we had lately. We need rain.  There are a couple of errant bunnies who are leaving all the greens alone.  I keep my eye on them, as do the dogs who live in the  on three sides of our house.

Given all the recent weirdness, stress, and uproar in the world, I would rather stay home and  pull weeds all day instead of go to work. Gardening is a refuge right now

How is your garden coming along? How are you coping?

The Rock County Crucible

Husband grew up in Sheboygan, Wisconsin, where there are lots of people with German,  Dutch,  and Eastern European names. That does not help him for my challenge to try and pronounce names in the Rock County Star Herald. This week the paper listed all the high school graduates in the county, and he again marveled at the weird and contrary ways names are pronounced in southwest Minnesota.

There are a lot of people of Dutch and German heritage in the area, yet the rules for name pronunciation  are different than in Sheboygan.  Why, for example, is Stenenga pronounced “sten en gay”, yet Steensma is pronouced just like it is spelled?  Other vowel combinations with “ui” also are also different than in Wisconsin.   He finds the pronunciation of “ue” even more vexing.  In Sheboygan, the “u” would invariably be silent, and the pronunciation would be the same as long e.   In Rock County, the  “e” would typically be silent, with a long  “u”.  Names with two identical vowels, like “aa” and “oo” are pronounced the same in both places.  I think one reason is Rock County’s settlement by immigrants from Ostfriesland, in northern Germany/Netherlands, where the language is a mixture of Dutch, German,  and old English, and where  Plattdeutsch is a popular dialect.  There are also lots of people of Norwegian heritage in Rock County, unlike in Sheboygan. Husband grew up with people who had names like Hopfensberger and whose ancestors came from Bavaria. I find the lingering linguistic differences fascinating.

Husband noticed, too, that many of the graduates had East Asian, South Asian,  and Hispanic names, and he described Rock County as  a crucible in which disparate peoples are all mixed up together to make something good.  He just wants to make sure that if we move there, he will know how to pronounce the names.

Tell about your linguistic challenges and the linguistic oddities you notice.

Driving Miss Daisy

I saw a news story about a high-speed chase in the Seattle yesterday.  The owner of the car struck two vehicles before he headed onto the interstate, where he hit speeds as high as 109 mph.  At one point he drove on a popular pedestrian trail (luckily nobody was on the trail right then).  The police ended up throwing down spikes to end the chase.

During the chase, one officer thought he saw a dog in the driver’s seat and this was confirmed when they finally got the car stopped.  A “sweet” pit bull was in the driver’s seat and the car owner was steering from the passenger seat.  The news story didn’t say who was controlling the gas pedal.  The owner of the car said he was “trying to teach the dog to drive.”  The charges filed against him include DUI, reckless driving, hit-and-run and felony eluding.

Personally I would rather teach my dog something a little more useful – like changing the sheets on my bed every Saturday or how to mop the kitchen floor.

What would you like your pets to do for YOU?

Where in the World is VS?

William and Kate say the kids are out of control.  Kurt and Goldie are fighting in public and have called off the wedding.  Mutant wasps have arrived in the country via Washington – the same as Covid-19.  Hillary has just six months to live.  Ted Cruz’s father linked to JFK assassination.

Where was I?