Ring Christmas Bells..Please?

Posted: Tuesday, December 16, 2014 at 12:32 pm
By: Doug Lund

(From Santa’s vault)

I was awakened early this morning by a thumping noise coming from the basement followed by a faint sound that reminded me of the bell teacher’s ring to call kids in from recess.

There has been a little criminal activity in our part of town lately and my first thought was, “there’s a burglar in the basement. My second thought was “what am I going to do about it?” My third thought was, “where’s Linda?”

That’s when I realized that the Christmas season had officially arrived at our house.

She’s the one making all the noise as she drags out boxes full of decorations that have been stored in the closet under the stairs since last January 1st.

Now, I know what you’re thinking; why aren’t you down there helping her ya lazy lug?

Well, she doesn’t want my help., at least that’s what she says.

Linda really gets focused on the task at hand and it’s best to stay out of her way until I’m called in to give final approval to what she’s done.

“The front window looks great, Honey. Yes, I like the candle sticks on either side of the red bow and tiny twinkling tree.” No, Honey, I can’t see the electrical cords that you’ve neatly camouflaged in green garland. You’ve really outdone yourself again, Honey.”

Occasionally I’ll hear an un-Christmas-like curse come from her sweet lips as she steps back to admire her handiwork and a suction cup holding one of the little wreaths lets go for lack of spit and comes crashing down.

Linda always says she’s not going to put as much stuff up this year..but, like lovin’ her man, once she gets started it’s awfully hard to stop.

I did try to help one year.

Over her objections, I bought a string of bells that played over 90 Christmas songs. My plan was to string them around  the inside patio door and fill our house with the joyful sounds of the season.

xmas bells

It seemed easy enough until I discovered that most of the little electronically-operated clappers needed to be bent a bit so they’d strike the bell properly.

But the biggest problem was trying to keep the bells from touching the curtain which prevented them from having a peal.(sorry)

“We three kings of Orient (thunk).”

After doing much holiday cursing of my own, and to Linda’s great relief, I finally took the bells out to the garage and strung them up above my work bench where they could hang free.

Well, I thought. Our Christmas Eve guests will still be impressed when they arrive to the sound of familiar carols chiming away by the back door.

But what I didn’t realize is that the bell’s computer chip was never designed to operate in the cold and before long, “Silent Night” was being played at lightening speed with a lot of the important notes missing.

I figured out what might be wrong and went in to get something out of the house to fix it.

“What have you got in your hand?” Linda asked.

“Nothing.”

“Yes you do, what is it.”

“A hair dryer.”

“A hair dryer..what in the world do you need a hair dryer in the garage for?”

“Um, to warm up the bell controller.”

“Are you going to be running in and out of here all night shooting hot air onto those damn bells while your family is in here having Christmas?”

It was a rhetorical question..and I almost blurted out, “well, as hot as you are right now, maybe you could just stand out here and that would do the trick.”  But I didn’t.

xmas bells 006

Those Christmas bells are still hanging in the garage right where I strung them up years ago.

I sometimes plug them in on a 90 degree day in August.

They work great!

My Date With Joan

Posted: Friday, December 5, 2014 at 2:45 pm
By: Doug Lund

I probably will never require carpel tunnel surgery because of too much time spent at the keyboard writing blogs. But my digits do get a serious..perhaps syndrome-inducing work-out pushing buttons on the remote control changing TV channels or utilizing the DVR to its maximum capabilities.

It’s one of the reasons..well, okay, the MAIN reason.. Linda and I rarely watch television together; she’ll put up with commercials.  I just can’t. I pre-record just about everything.  Occasionally, though, late at night..I’ll be rolling through channels and see “Johnny Carson” in the program guide and can’t help myself. I always stop to watch..even though I realize it’s nothing more than a half hour commercial featuring  “best of” clips from “The Tonight Show with Johnny Carson” that have been compiled and  being offered for sale on video. I’ve watched this infomercial a dozen times and still can’t resist ogling again and again.

My gosh, it’s been 22 years since the king of late night television, Johnny Carson, retired but just hearing his Tonight Show theme song and seeing some of those highlights makes me laugh and feel young again. I, like millions of others, especially got a kick out of the shows which featured wildlife experts, Jim Flowler or Joan Embrey who would bring  exotic animals on for Johnny to play with; often with hilarious results.

YouTube Preview Image

 

 

Early on during my long TV career my bosses knew I was better suited for puff pieces rather than covering politics, cops or courts. I wasn’t as interested in hard news as  Hemmingsen, Bjerke, Ertz or any one of a number of young Woodward/Bernstein wanna-be’s in our newsroom..so when feature stores came up..I’d get the assignment and loved it. Which brings me to my encounter with Joan Embery..the wildlife specialist from the San Diego Zoo who would eventually make 75 memorable appearances on The Tonight Show with both Johnny Carson and Jay Leno.

I can’t recall exactly what year it was..but sometime in the late 70’s or early 80’s Joan was a guest at Sioux Falls’ Great Plain’s Zoo and available for interviews. A Keloland promotion photographer caught this shot of us in the act. That’s Vince Dave in the yellow KELO jacket and Bob Fischnich operating the camera. I’m not sure but I think that’s a spider monkey Joan is holding.

kelo doug and joan embry

Looking at the picture I’m trying to remember some of the things discussed and am coming up empty. I do recall that, as I suspected, she relied heavily on make-up..but then, I was probably wearing some too. I also deduced quickly that she was the real deal; genuinely nice which made me feel a bit awkward when I decided to ask a “hard news” question to impress my colleagues back at the station. “Joan. How do you justify your concern for the well being of wild animals when you work for a place that keeps them penned up..not wild and free at all?”

Embery just smiled and gave the answer she’s given a thousand times before that some zoos are bad but most have become actively involved in conservation through inter-zoo breeding programs and work with wild populations. Zoo animals are advocates for those in the wild and inspire people to care about threatened wildlife.

Embrey has been good to her word. Now in her mid 60’s she continues to work as an ambassador and advocate for animals and the environment including television appearances with exotic creatures; most recently on the Christian Broadcast Network.

But I’ll never forget those gut-busting moments with Johnny like this.

YouTube Preview Image

Or this.

YouTube Preview Image

 

Speaking of late night TV talk shows, my favorite, “The Late Late Show With Craig Ferguson” ends its ten year run at the end of December.

I am really going to miss this quirky Scotsman and his gay robot sidekick, Geoff Peterson (Played by the brilliant Josh Robert Thompson) who never..ever..failed to make me laugh out loud even while watching alone.

late night craig and geoff

CBS is replacing Ferguson with another British actor-comedian, James Corden. He comes with some pretty impressive credentials including a Broadway Toni. He’s only 36 though and I’m afraid that instead of making me laugh out loud..his humor might make me feel out of touch.

James Corden New Late Late Show Host

James Corden New Late Late Show Host

Oh, well..there’s always YouTube and that stack of Johnny Carson and Dean Martin Celebrity Roast videos I ordered in the middle of the night.

 

The Only Good Reporter Is An Argus Reporter

Posted: Friday, November 21, 2014 at 1:08 pm
By: Doug Lund

I haven’t written a blog for awhile and after this one..it might just be my last..but here goes.

This past week, as I discovered the names of many talented journalists at the Argus Leader who were getting canned in the company’s latest strategy move to keep afloat or relevant..or whatever… I also learned that the former senior editor..now elevated to the obscure title of “content strategist” was taking pot shots at every news reporter in town except the two guys sitting next to him on his appropriately named “100 Eyes Webcast.” ( So named because I doubt if it is seen by more than 50 people a week.)

I get angry when people I know in the broadcast news business, who work every bit as hard at their craft and are as dedicated to journalistic excellence as anyone at the Argus..get blindsided by this guy who thinks he has a finger on the pulse of Sioux Falls area residents and figures they (using the obvious “bicycle” metaphor here) need to “Roll with the changes” the Argus is offering at nine bucks a month to go digital with him.

Here’s an excerpt from his webcast. I want you to note in particular the lack of any feeling whatsoever by he or his toadies after having just had so many of their long time colleagues like Joel  Brown, Janna Farley, Jon Walker, Peter Harriman, Ron Hoffman, Doreen Weinstein and others  unceremoniously “streamlined” right out the door. But, hell..that’s their business not mine. I want you to watch this video to the end where he lays into broadcast reporters..wherein lies my beef.

http://www.argusleader.com/videos/news/local/2014/11/19/19277671/

 

What Mr. Strategist knows and isn’t saying is that when his two pet reporters need more time for investigative reporting or to read Cory Heidelberger’s blog for ideas, they will have it and all the page space they need.

He also knows that stations like Keloland turn out five newscasts and one web newscast a day..while maintaining the top web site in the state. Reporters, including anchors, are expected to contribute daily packages that tell the story with facts and interviews while fitting  it into the newscast time restraints..or going live from the scene when a situation warrants.

 

I like getting my Argus Leader in the morning. I think it’s gotten better since adding the USA Today section.  I like a lot of the people who work there..although many of them and their paychecks..have been sent packing.

My computer says I’ve used up my limit of free time on the Argus web page without paying the nine bucks.

Think I’ll pass.

A Promise Remembered

Posted: Sunday, November 2, 2014 at 12:53 pm
By: Doug Lund

It’s true that us old farts have glommed on to Facebook making it uncool for kids to hang around much anymore  but I don’t give a rip. I’ve had great joy reconnecting socially with people from the past..especially those who passed through the Keloland newsroom on their way to bigger and better things. Many came just to chalk up some broadcasting cred and didn’t leave much of a footprint but others really enjoyed their experience here and left with more than just news knowledge.steve boyd

That was Steve Boyd; a tall, dark handsome lad from Buffalo, New York who we all figured would come in having a big city attitude. He had an attitude all right; one of respect, good humor and a thirst for learning all he could about the business.  Steve went on to work a few more years in television news before going to law school. He’s been a successful attorney in his hometown of Buffalo for many years but never forgot his time in Keloland as is evidenced by this memory he wrote and shared on Facebook.   I, in turn, want you to read it in hopes you will be as moved as I.  Again, the following are words written by Steve Boyd which he posted on Facebook Sunday morning.   (At the end of his story, I’ve put a link to a blog I did about Jan Peterson shortly after her death.)

In November 1988 I was anchoring the weekend news at KELOLAND News in Sioux Falls, South Dakota. Despite the size of the market, KELO-TV was one of the best local TV news rooms in the country. Reporters had expense accounts back then. We were expected to use them to develop relationships with sources for future stories. We were the smallest market in the country to own a satellite truck (new technology in the 1980’s). When big news broke, money was no object. We covered five states and we were stacked with talented Journalists.

One of them was a short curly haired bespectacled Executive Producer named Jan Peterson, Jan started at KELO as an intern and over time she became our leader. She had a passion for Journalism (yes that’s a capital “J”). She set high standards and she was involved in countless community charitable endeavors. As our former anchorman Steve Hemmingsen described in a 2004 Christmas post:

“She was one of those balls of fire that with her little red pickup (before that was cool) was involved in everything, every project at the station and projects that helped others who faced challenges, banging nails for Habitat for Humanity, taking blind people skiing in the Black Hills, using her summer vacation to be counselor at a church camp.”

I had arrived at KELO in the fall of 1987. I’m pretty sure Executive Producer Jan Peterson had little regard for some A-hole (yes capital “A”) from Buffalo who was looking to make a quick stop in Sioux Falls before moving on in his career. But over time, with Jan at the helm, along with Mark Millage, Steve Hemmingsen and others, I began to really learn what it meant to be a Journalist.

One night when staff was particularly short, Jan produced our weekend news. Between shows, she wanted to show me and fellow Anchor/Reporter Julie Francavilla a little diner where we would allegedly experience the best apple pie of our lives. I don’t remember if the pie was any good, I’ll never forget the conversation.

Big fat white snow flakes were slowly wandering to the ground outside the window as we sat there. It was pitch black outside and only the lights from the diner illuminated the sparse flakes. It was the first snowfall of 1988. Jan from Boone, Iowa, Julie from Boulder, Colorado and this Buffalonian laughed as we discussed and debated our expertise on the topic of what it took to make a “perfect” snowfall. Was it the big fat gentle flakes we were witnessing? Did the perfect snow leave the kind of powder that western skiers love so much? Or was it heavier for good packing in a snowball fight? This discussion lasted a long time and we laughed, agreed and disagreed. As we paid the bill I made a promise to Jan. No matter where I was in the world I would always think of her and that conversation when the first snow fell.

I left Sioux Falls for Buffalo in 1989. Two years later at age of 32 Jan Peterson suffered a major stroke. She was paralyzed from the eyes down. The stroke robbed her of every bodily function except her sight, her hearing and her brilliant mind. Jan lived inside the prison of her body for fifteen years until she passed and was buried in Boone, Iowa on May 3rd, 2008.

Yesterday, as I walked out to my car I saw flurries in the air. They didn’t stick to the ground. They left no covering, no powder to blow, nothing to pack. This year’s first snowfall was not at all perfect. Still, for the 28th time the first flakes of the year took me back to an old diner in Sioux Falls, South Dakota and a promise to my old friend Jan Peterson. Long gone. Never forgotten.

http://blog.keloland.com/lund/blog/2008/05/02/j-says-goodbye/

Dark On Halloween

Posted: Wednesday, October 29, 2014 at 8:45 am
By: Doug Lund

Sorry kids..the Lund house will probably be dark on Halloween night.

It’s not that we don’t love you, it’s just we’re too cheap to spring for candy.  Nah..that’s not really it either.  I suppose the main reason, for me anyway, is that Halloween hasn’t been the same without kids or grandkids around to take trick or treating. I’ve been doing it since my own daughters were little and the tradition continued with my kid’s kids and Linda’s kid’s kids. I loved walking the neighborhood with those excited little souls all dressed up in costume..usually of their own choosing…waiting on the walk as they ran up to the door…first explaining why we only go to houses with the porch lights on.

I fondly remember the joy of hearing their tiny voices either whisper or yell “Trick or Treat” depending on the precociousness of my grandkid’s varied personalities. It was also fun to fake being totally frustrated by having to remind them to say “Thank You” after receiving a sweet reward from the nice person bent over in the lighted doorway. Eventually, their containers would either get full or their little feet would grow tired so  I’d plan the shortest route back to our house to show Grandma Linda the big haul.  I loved trying to negotiate with the kids  for my share of the loot which provided me an opportunity to teach another life lesson; this one about sharing. None of them bought-in to my flimsy threats to paddle their behinds if I didn’t get a few Tootsie Rolls. Oh, what fun it was and oh, how I miss it.

Our youngest grandchild just turned 13 and I suspect considers herself too old for playing the traditional door to door extortion game. Besides, she lives too far away in Lincoln.

We have a great grandchild..but she likely already has a line of high priority chaperones anxious to canvass the neighborhoods on Friday night.

There is another great grandchild on the way. I’m going to put in a request now for the okay to tag along on his first night of meaningful Trick or Treating in three or four years.

Treasure the moments, folks.

Happy Halloween.

Granddaughter Tara and stepdaughter Christy  mid 80's.

Granddaughter Tara and stepdaughter Christy mid 80′s.

 

Tara as Pocahontas a couple years later.

Tara as Pocahontas a couple years later.

 

 

 

 

 

 

I

Sioux Falls Duck Dynasty

Posted: Thursday, October 16, 2014 at 1:13 pm
By: Doug Lund

Every time I see or hear somebody going gaga over the puzzlingly popular “Duck Dynasty” TV reality series, I think back to an interview I did over 20 years ago with a Sioux Falls gentleman named Frank Heidelbauer who was in the same business as Phil Robertson (creator of Duck Commander duck calls) only he didn’t have a beard or a bazillion dollar business. He simply made, arguably the finest duck and goose calls in the world.   vlcsnap-2014-10-15-13h03m26s202

 

Frank Heidelbauer grew up on an Iowa farm and loved hunting..especially ducks. As a boy he studied waterfowl sounds and leaned to call them out of the sky using nothing but his voice. Unfortunately, that talent disappeared one night when he was 12 or 13 when he awoke to find puberty had arrived and, like a thief, stole his natural duck calling voice so he would quack no more.

But Frank never forgot the sound he knew could get a duck’s attention and was determined to someday come up with a call to recreate it.

That would have to wait, though. His country needed him and after the Japanese attack on Pearl Harbor,  Frank joined the U.S. Army Air Corps; serving the entire length of World War II from 1941 to 1945  receiving two distinguished flying cross medals and two air medals. Frank would continue to make aviation his life career retiring in 1981 after over 20 years as Chief Pilot and safety director for Raven Industries.

After the war, Frank also got back on track toward his lofty goal of building the finest waterfowl calls in the world. His regular hunting trips became research and development missions.

With the skills of a fine wood craftsman, the mind of a scientist, the discipline and confidence of a military leader along with the faith and fairness of a prophet, Heidelbauer eventually found a combination of Bird’s Eye Maple wood and plastic along with the proper dimensions and assembly techniques that made for the perfect call.vlcsnap-2014-10-15-13h01m41s161

Frank was not a braggart by any means but after demonstrating the call for me; first leaning into it loud enough to get the attention of a flock flying a thousand feet over head or a not-so-understanding neighbor….then softly clucking as if ducks were having a quiet conversation on the pond…Frank smiled at me and said, “There’s no other single reed call that can do that.”

vlcsnap-2014-10-15-13h07m37s134

Not only did Frank once win world championships with his own calls, his reputation quickly outgrew his ability to keep up with demand..especially after write-ups in Field and Stream and other outdoors magazines.

vlcsnap-2014-10-15-13h02m02s91

The thing about Frank was he just wouldn’t settle for anything less than perfection.  I remember him telling me after he stopped making Goose calls for a while because the sheet plastic he’d been using for reeds was discontinued, “Most people wouldn’t know the difference but I would.” He said.vlcsnap-2014-10-15-13h06m23s179

At the time of our visit in 1991, the Heidelbauer Mallard Toller duck call was priced at $275.00. That’s an enormous amount of money for a duck call..probably the most expensive in the world but every Heidelbauer call was personally handcrafted by Frank himself who spent an average of  14 hours on each one and guaranteed them to be perfect upon leaving his shop and bring in ducks for the hunter.   I remember him saying, “You couldn’t hire a plumber in Sioux Falls for 14 hours for 275 dollars.”

vlcsnap-2014-10-15-13h00m08s0

That was the wonderful thing I took from our time together. He wasn’t interested so much in achieving big money or fame.(Although, many of the country’s top guides are on record as using Heidelbauer calls. One, Frank joked, told him he’d part with his wife before giving up his Heidelbauer call.) He was more interested in having people get outdoors and enjoy the hunting experience and if he could help you invite some ducks to the party…well, that’s reward enough.

About four years after our interview, Frank Heidelbauer, who had turned down lots of offers to sell his shop, tools and all his secrets, decided to turn everything over to his young protégé, Todd..his grandson. Todd had not only loved going hunting with Frank but been like a sponge hanging around the shop helping grandpa and learning the master’s skills..both as a craftsman and a gentleman.

Todd is still carrying on the Heidelbauer duck and goose calls tradition: http://www.heidelbauer.com/

As for Frank, he was 73 at the time of our story. I recall him saying he hoped the good Lord would let him keep going until at least  80. It turns out he was still calling in Mallards, Mergansers, Red Heads and Canvas Backs until age 84 when God decided to give the ducks a break.

I don’t know what Frank might have thought about a show like Duck Dynasty..or if he’d ever heard of Duck Commander calls. I can almost guarantee, though, that any duck hunter worth his buckshot..including the bewiskered Phil Robertson.. has heard of Frank Heidelbauer.

Frank Heidelbauer and Grandson Todd after calling in some geese in 1994.

Frank Heidelbauer and Grandson Todd after calling in some waterfowl in 1994.

I’ll Never Forget Ol What’s Her Name

Posted: Friday, October 10, 2014 at 12:26 pm
By: Doug Lund

I had quite a scare the other day.

After waking up from, what has become my regular afternoon siesta, I couldn’t remember the president’s first name.  I don’t know why I wanted to remember the president’s first name but apparently I did and  couldn’t.  (Please don’t read anything political into this.) Obama was no problem. I also had no trouble recalling the name of Obama’s wife, Michelle, but..what the hell?? This is the President of the United States and I’m drawing a blank.

I’ve had these..what I call brain farts..before. I’ve gone into rooms on a mission only to completely forget what that mission is once I get there. I’ve had to call my own cell phone more times than I can count in order to hear the ring and disclose its location. I go to the store and forget one or more of the main items I went to the store for in the first place. I think these are pretty common episodes in most people’s lives no matter how far advanced in age they are.

But this was a doozy for me because it lasted for several minutes; almost to the point of where I was going to check Google on the computer under U.S. Presidents.   Then, as mysteriously as the name “Barack” left my mind, it popped back in.

The incident upset me so much that I started wondering if this was an early warning sign of Alzheimer’s which claimed my cousin Bob’s life last spring.  So, back to Google. Turns out, It could be…but most likely, according to a recent report on National Public Radio,  it’s nothing to be terribly concerned about.  If you start forgetting the names of close friends and family members or get lost in familiar places or words that used to be important no longer have meaning..well, then get yourself checked post haste.

I think (hope) this couple is just kidding around.

I think (hope) this couple is just kidding around.

Dr. Kirk Daffner, a Harvard Brain Specialist, says What’s common as people age, is that the speed at which information can be retrieved on demand is slowed. Through much of our lives, it was this wonderful gift; we wanted information and bang, it came to us.”   He says there are lots of reasons why our brains get sluggish.  High blood pressure damages the wiring that connects different parts of the brain. Poor sleep or excess alcohol are enemies of a nimble brain. And many medicines — including common drugs to reduce stomach acid, control asthma or treat depression — can slow the brain down. Hmmm, I take meds for high blood pressure, have goofy sleep habits and have been on Prozac for many years.  Strike one, two and three right? Well..not necessarily.  It turns out you can reduce the risk of losing your marbles by keeping the old brain ACTIVE and CHALLENGED.

So now, I can consider those hours spent in the porcelain reading room doing crosswords as a healthy time of both physical AND mental multi-tasking. Research has also found that social networks (having lots of friends) and stimulating activities are also vital to good cognitive function.   I have that covered; 825 friends on Facebook where I spend so much of my time. It’s  not a waste of time, It’s brain therapy.   And for stimulating activities..what can be more stimulating than watching the Minnesota Vikings or “Blue Bloods” “Hell on Wheels” “Downton Abbey”or any one of a hundred favorite television programs?    “I’ve gotta watch TV, honey. Doctor’s orders.”

“There is one other thing people can do,” Dr Daffner says, “physical exercise.” “Some of the best converging data about successful memory or cognition is linked to exercise.”

Damn. I was almost in the clear.

Neighborhood Mystery

Posted: Thursday, September 25, 2014 at 7:15 pm
By: Doug Lund

Well, some interesting things since we last visited.  A potpourri of items to follow:

First, I suppose, was the wake-up call/reality check from the Minnesota Vikings reminding me that they will always squish my foolish early optimism with humiliating defeats..and,  to make matters much worse, the team’s biggest star, Adrian Peterson, has fallen from the sky and come crashing to earth in a big ball of idiotic behavior and bad publicity all because he has some antiquated ideas about how to discipline his little kids.

adrian

Peterson obviously has no rules of discipline for himself, though,  making regular withdrawals from his unprotected sperm bank all over the country resulting in at least seven kids from five different moms.  Now, he’s getting his full pay while sidelined until the whole child abuse case is settled. Oy Vey.

Which reminds me; Happy New Year ( Rosh Hashanah) to my Jewish friends. I have two.

Fall has arrived without a lot of trumpets blaring. I suppose the lack of fanfare is because Summer has been a bit stubborn about getting out of the way which is fine by me.

sumac

I do find it puzzling that so many people I know proudly proclaim Autumn to be their favorite season when it means so many fun outdoorsy things of our short Summer;  swimming, boating, baseball, picnics, patio parties, golf and gardening are all over.  Oh, sure. The Autumn leaves (especially the sumac bushes) turn pretty colors, the air is crisp and cool, apple and pumpkin picking with the kids is nice so are homecoming parades and football games. Plus, it won’t be long before great armies of guys and gals outfitted in orange and armed with shotguns  will partake in their annual passion for Pheasant hunting.  Thousands will gather on opening day at the edge of fields, shelterbelts and sloughs…then at the stroke of twelve noon, with excited dogs sniffing the air, unleashed and leading the way, will all pile out of their pickups and march forward hoping to blast the beaks off as many of our pretty state birds as the limits will allow.  I hear pheasant numbers are up this year. Hope so.

I see the value of houses in our Ronning Estates neighborhood (an older Sioux Falls subdivision) has about maxed out meaning our ride on the real estate inflation train has pulled into the station. Linda and I have seen it coming for years, of course. These houses were built for first time home buyers back in the early seventies..most of them sold for about 18 thousand dollars but it didn’t take long for excited young families to make them look like a million bucks; adding garages, planting trees, grooming yards and demonstrating a real pride of ownership.  I’m happy to say that still exists out here.…..with a few exceptions. And it’s those exceptions that have us  checking the Real Estate ads for the first time ever. The other night around 10:45, I was in my lair watching TV when the doorbell rang followed by a loud knock on the door.  I’d like to say I raced to investigate but, like the true chicken I am, waited for Linda to join me in the hall before getting up on my tip toes  to peek out the small door window to see what creature might be lurking on the other side who would dare interrupt our slumber so late at night. I flicked on the porch light expecting..I don’t know..one of the grandkids.. a tipsy friend..we had no idea. But there was no one.  Whoever it was had disappeared into the darkness. A mystery that will likely remain unsolved.

Oh, wait. What’s this? A note left by the door with a simple instruction.

notes 001

 

So I open it up and discover this:

note two

I blacked out the phallic symbol.

A stupid prank by a bunch of kids is all we can figure..but it has really unnerved Linda to the point where the window blinds are now shut tight and the porch light is left on all night.  (It turns out several of our neighbors got similar “notes” and late night knock and runs too.)

So..would we ever really consider pulling up stakes and moving into a condo?  Well, who wants to live in a neighborhood where you have to worry about who might be roaming the streets and banging on your door in the middle of the night?

Then something else happened that is nearly as mysterious as the note. Three different windy days have caused huge branches to come crashing down from our front yard Maple tree which was severely damaged in the April ice storm and, despite a trimming, continues to give up limbs every time a brisk breeze blows. One I managed to drag to the driveway intending to chop into garbage acceptable size pieces. The other two lay in the yard  awaiting my indecision on disposal. But before that could happen they VANISHED.

We have suspicions about which one of our neighbors may actually be our branch Good Samaritan..loading them up and hauling them away on three separate occasions .. but have decided to take our time figuring it out.

It could take years.

 

 

Early Purple Passion

Posted: Monday, September 8, 2014 at 12:52 pm
By: Doug Lund

I finally got our yard mowed for the first time since my brother…..

Nope, not going down that path again. It’s just that nearly everything that crosses my mind..while awake or asleep..has this common denominator of BD or AD (before Denny/after Denny) and I know it has to end..especially since I have been given pretty good evidence that all is well.  (No further Cardinal sightings to report, though.)

My dear Linda, in our 30 years of marriage, has never once nagged me about anything but in the past couple weeks, she’s rightfully and cleverly found ways to help me “just snap out of it.”  She’s tried to get and keep me moving..which is nearly an impossible task even when not in mourning.

So, I thank her but also..and especially.. THANK YOU for all the expressions of sympathy and encouragement.

Okay, then. Let’s move on.

Vikings Win! Vikings Win!

Cordarrelle Patterson #84 of the Minnesota Vikings runs up field after slipping a tackle. Vikings win 34 to 6

Cordarrelle Patterson #84 of the Minnesota Vikings runs up field after slipping a tackle. Vikings win 34 to 6

Usually winning during the pre-season doesn’t mean a blasted thing because it’s..well..pre-season. But when the Vikings emerged victorious from all four of those dress rehearsals, we long-suffering fans couldn’t help but get a tiny bit worked up and, dare I say, feel optimistic? Then, along comes Sunday and right from the get-go it’s clear there’s a new sideline sheriff in town and we’re gonna do things a bit different from now on. Jared Allen is long gone and now enduring the heartbreak of defeat with the Bears while the defense on his old team looked excited, fresh and effective allowing just two field goals. Okay, it was against the Rams, but still, a pretty impressive performance for a Vikings defense which let everyone score…and score a lot.. just last season.  Quarterback, Matt Cassel continued to look sharp..getting rid of the ball quickly and decisively unlike his bewildered predecessor who oozed lack of confidence at the position. I suppose every Viking fan’s favorite Norwegian player, Adrian Peterson, was the day’s biggest disappointment and he was. At least new head coach, Mike Zimmer and legendary football guru, Norv Turner (calling the plays) got so tired of seeing Peterson ramming his helmet into the Ram’s defensive line for no gain that they decided to put the ball into the hands of the guy who is fast becoming fan’s NEW favorite Norwegian Viking, Cordarrelle Patterson.  It is such a joy to watch him scamper down the field with the ball and into the end zone. Patterson, it seems to me, can only inspire Peterson to do everything possible to regain his top dog status. Oh, I know..it’s a team sport but I’ll bet Adrian notices the growing number of fan jerseys with the number 84 instead of 28.

With a fine couple of kickers in Walsh and Locke along with Teddy Bridgewater learning more and more each week about quarterbacking in the NFL, I feel rather optimistic about Minnesota’s chances in 2014. Perhaps not as optimistic as my friend, Myron Lee who somehow always manages to see silver linings in the darkest of Vikings clouds..including the Les Steckle fiasco of 1984.

Oh, boy..this whole thing could change after next week, though, when Bill Belichick and Tom Brady bring the New England Patriots to the University of Minnesota campus where they’ll try use the Vikings as a means of atonement for their humiliating loss to Miami.

Few things would bring greater pleasure than to have another stellar performance by our defense keeping Mr. Brady’s heels lifted high toward the sunny September Minnesota sky most of the afternoon while my Norwegian brothers take turns romping across that pretend prairie grass running up score after score.

Well, a guy can dream can’t he?

Better than those I’ve been having…

No..said I wasn’t going there.

By the way, The Arizona “Cardinals” play tonight. I expect to see them.

Bird Of Paradise?

Posted: Saturday, August 23, 2014 at 1:48 pm
By: Doug Lund

People die.

That’s the law.

I just wasn’t ready for my brother to die and that’s the truth.

I suppose it’s because he’s bounced back from adversity so many times during his 72 years, we..his family and friends..just figured he wouldn’t let Parkinson’s, COPD, a heart that wouldn’t stay in rhythm, CREST Syndrome and a few other physical ailments stand in his way of recovery this time.

It was too much, of course, and it turned out that Saturday August 16th would be Dennis Lund’s last day on earth. He tried to hang on so everyone could be there but he was hurting and breathing was such a chore. Totally aware of everything going on, Denny accepted our expressions of love and offered his to all of us in the room, then gave the green light for nurse Charlie to administer the morphine and  end his agony.

As requested, Denny’s memorial service at Boom’s wasn’t real traditional. Pastor, Dennis Ellingson..a family friend..agreed to come out of retirement to lead the proceedings that included a memorable eulogy from Denny’s wife, Judy who recounted that final day in the hospital and some of the wonderful and witty things my brother said before dying. Judy was well aware that her husband loved the game of golf almost as much as he loved her yet she made sure there was a definite golf theme to his service; the most obvious being my brother’s ashes contained in a golf-ball shaped urn.  

denny funeral

I got up next trying to keep the mood light telling tales of growing up together..sharing a bed..me wetting that bed and he accidentally rolling into the puddle. That haunted me through the years when Denny would bring it up in front of people who’d recognize me from TV. I also got some chuckles talking about my brother’s various business adventures..especially raising Llamas and how I’d cringe when people would ask me to explain what in the world he was doing that for.  My younger brother, Tom was next and, again, with humor through the pauses for swallowing, talked of Denny’s influence on our lives; his bravado, his lightening-fast wit and his surprising tender side. Then Denny and Judy’s son, Jay summoned up the emotional stamina to tell one of the funniest stories I’ve ever heard about he and his dad digging fence posts at the Llama farm on a cold autumn day.

There was actually applause after it was over and, as the overflow crowd slowly exited from the room to the music of Blood, Sweat and Tears “When I Die,”  I couldn’t help overhear many people saying it was one of the best funerals they’d ever attended. Others said the weirdest. Still others mentioned an hour long roller coaster ride of emotions.

In keeping with the theme of celebration over melancholy, everyone gathered at the VFW where a special room was set aside for us to meet and enjoy pizza from Denny and Judy’s favorite place, Tomacelli’s, along with beverages and an open mic for sharing Denny stories.

Denny and Judy’s first born son, Mitchell, along with his wife, Jodi, hardly left his dad’s side throughout the entire stay in the hospital and Good Sam.  But, being even more emotional than the rest of us, Mitch chose not to speak at the service. But later at the VFW gathering, he absolutely brought hysterical laughter telling the story of once running into his dad at one of Mitchell, South Dakota’s more notorious night spots.  Father and son used to joke about the incident with Mitch suggesting he was named after the city to our west. But there was no kidding around on the Saturday of Denny’s passing, though, when..for the first time ever,  he called his eldest boy..”sweetheart.”

The next day was going through sympathy cards and sending “Thank-you’s.”

The last two days I haven’t left the house except to pick up a few essentials. It’s been mostly sleeping and feeling sorry for myself.

My brother’s passing isn’t about me and yet he was such a part of who I am, the reality of what’s transpired seems unacceptable. We didn’t see each other every “month” much less every day yet I always knew he was there to answer a question or offer advice; my one true blood source that I trusted.

As I stood over him last Saturday, I told him again how much I’ve loved and  idolized him all my life and what an influence he’s been on nearly everything I’ve done. What I didn’t ask, though, is about dying itself. I selfishly wanted to know what he’s experiencing…if he could lead the way again and let me know that he sees the light and everything would be okay on the other side.

But it wouldn’t have made a difference anyway; morphine, by that time, had  numbed his reality and within a short time a single tear slid down his cheek and, with a room full of sobbing loved ones looking on, Denny drew his last breath.

 

Okay, this next part might be what journalists call “burying the lead” but then most journalists probably wouldn’t accept what I’m about to relate as anything but pure fiction anyway but here goes.

Facebook is not everybody’s cup of tea but I like it. Of course you have to overlook the  political rambling, silly game requests and other hooey, but it has allowed me to hook up with old friends and new who have been fun to play and celebrate with as well as offer council and sympathy to. Lord knows I’ve been on the receiving end of that a lot lately for which I’m profoundly grateful.

One of those friends is a woman I’ve never met; Greg Latza’s mom, Carol. She posted this on her timeline just as I sat down to my computer feeling very depressed.

 

A cardinal is a representative of a loved one who has passed. When you see one, it means they are visiting you. They usually show up when you most need them or miss them. They also make an appearance during times of celebration as well as despair to let you know they will always be with you. Look for them, they'll appear.

A cardinal is a representative of a loved one who has passed. When you see one, it means they are visiting you. They usually show up when you most need them or miss them. They also make an appearance during times of celebration as well as despair to let you know they will always be with you. Look for them, they’ll appear.

My first thought was chain letter or one of those religious ultimatum sayings that pop up now and again on social media but, there were no demands here. Just a declarative statement that says look for them..they’ll appear. So I said, “Oh yeah?” “Appear then!” and looked out my window at the tree.

Within 5 seconds a beautiful red cardinal landed and paraded around on the branch not 15 feet from the window! I’ve seen them in my tree before..maybe a couple times a year..usually hidden in the leaves. This beautiful representative hopped proudly in full view. When my heart finally left my throat, I hollered for Linda to come quick. But by the time she got here, the scarlet messenger had taken flight.

I only hope that the passage of time and the inevitable skepticism that haunts my being will not dilute this experience..this reassurance I’ve been given..expressed best in words from a favorite hymn:  “It is well…it is well..with my soul.”