Skiing Cars

Posted: Friday, January 29, 2016 at 1:35 pm
By: Doug Lund

I’m Norwegian.

100% Norsky which means I should have a genetic disposition for seafood, hard work and winter sports.

Perhaps a DNA check is in order because I really don’t care for any of those things..except for maybe shrimp if it’s breaded or part of a Chinese stir-fry.

I also don’t ski.

Not a lot of slopey  terrain to hone one’s skills in the flat part of South Dakota where I grew up. Oh, we did have Bertelsen’s Hill; Bertelsen’s “bump” really. It’s located about a quarter mile South of our house and is part of the golf course now, I believe.

ski blog wonderful lifeAnyway, I think about Bertelsen’s Hill every time I see “It’s a Wonderful Life.”  In the opening winter scene where George Bailey, and his kid pals are sliding down a hill on scoop shovels turned around backwards. George’s little brother, Harry, slips down the slope a little too fast and ends up sailing past the ice and into some frigid open water. Harry is saved by George but the rescue cost him the hearing in one ear.

ski blog sledBertelsen’s Hill also had a little creek (we may have called it “crick”) at the bottom but I don’t ever recall the “Lund brothers” family sled (one for all three boys to share)  mustering up enough momentum to carry us far enough to reach the ice; and it was always ICE..no open water to swallow up little kids..some of whom had gotten saucers for Christmas. I think we were the first generation to experience those metal death discs which gave the rider zero control; just a hunk of meat spinning around in circles accelerating all the way.  The aluminum on those things was so soft it became more dented with each run-in with a frozen cow pie.ski blog saucer

I was pretty proficient at one form of skiing, however; skiing cars.

Unfortunately, I don’t think this form of small town entertainment registers with many geezers my age who refuse to admit or simply can’t recall this bit of bravado carried out by boys in the fifties and sixties as a means of transportation and exciting yet dangerous fun.

Linda, who grew up in little Alcester, doesn’t remember any of the local boys grabbing onto the bumpers of slow-moving cars and skiing along the snow covered slippery streets like a water skier..only really close to the boat.

Maybe this was a local phenomenon..but nearly every male child in Volga wouldn’t hesitate to risk life and limb by running out onto the road and grabbing the bumper of some unsuspecting driver to sneak a free ride.

We never gave a thought to the possibility that a quick stop might send us scooting under the vehicle to be run over by the back wheels.

Nah, we skied cars just like Marty Mcfly did with his skateboard in “Back to the Future” only we had to rely on icy roadways and the soles of our shoes for success. Volga didn’t have trucks that drove around sprinkling salt on the streets after every snowfall, so they remained pretty slick until the temperatures got high enough for natural melting.

One of our easiest targets was Pal Evenson. He was an old guy who earned a living delivering coal to homes and business places pulling a trailer with his little grey Ford tractor. The coal business really tapered off by the 60’s but Pal held onto that tractor and used it for his only means of transportation summer AND winter.  He lived about a block from our house and could be counted on for transportation downtown about the same time every evening. Dixon Hoberg, Bernie Nissen and I would wait for Pal to come out of his house heading for the pool hall. As soon as he took off on that tractor, we’d run up behind and grab the tow bar. We’d like to believe he never knew we were back there but in retrospect he probably was well aware and glad for the clandestine company.

Once we got on Main Street..a bunch of us boys would wait for cars to back out of Tupper’s Drug Store..latch on to their bumper, skid around town inhaling noxious carbon monoxide exhaust fumes and laughing about how we’d pulled off the crime of the century with no one the wiser.

I think my mom caught on, though, when she wondered aloud how I could be going through the soles of my new shoes so fast.

Ah, youth.  You couldn’t ski cars these days. None of them have bumpers anymore. Plus, kids today have been weaned on parental worry and likely would never attempt such a stunt.

But, I’m glad we did it and really glad we didn’t get killed in the process.

 

UPDATE:  My cataract surgery went so well and improved my vision so much that I’m having the other eye done on February 8th.

Highly recommended.

Cutting Out The Cataract..Oh My.

Posted: Monday, January 18, 2016 at 11:03 pm
By: Doug Lund

A few weeks ago, I blogged about a trip to the optometrist which confirmed my suspicions that the cloudiness of vision in my left eye wasn’t due to dirty glasses but a cataract.  Well, I’m writing this on the eve of surgery to correct the problem and don’t mind telling you that the idea of having my eyeball sliced open has me a tad on edge. Oh, I know it’s no big deal, I won’t feel a thing and the end result will be a much clearer view of the world; even though I’m not so sure that’s such a good thing considering the condition our world is in.

Eye-keyrumba!

Eye-keyrumba!

I certainly feel as though I’m in good and capable hands, though, with the noted Dr. Vance Thompson, himself, performing the operation. He is a delightful fellow who does dozens of eye surgeries a week yet still find time to council each of his patients..answering their questions and easing concerns.

During our consult, his first words to me were what a privilege it was to have a celebrity TV guy and fellow musician in the exam room. Normally, I’d say he was blowin’ smoke except he cited my many years on the Keloland airwaves..how happy he was that I’m still there as staff announcer. Dr. Thompson also said how much he enjoyed listening to me playing drums with Mogen’s Heroes for so many years. He’s a drummer too and would probably play lots of gigs if he wasn’t so busy with this eye fixing business which has grown by leaps and bounds to the point where he’s gone from a relatively small office in one of Sanford’s medical buildings to a huge shiny new glass covered building of his own off  57th Street that houses a sizeable staff and all the latest technology for performing eye examinations and surgeries.

I was just reading up on what to expect and how to prepare for the procedure. Apparently all I have to do is show up freshly showered and in clean clothes. Good news since I don’t do hospital gowns well. It also advised me not to eat anything for 6 hours prior and nothing but clear liquids to drink up to two hours prior.

Vodka is a clear liquid but I’m guessing it’s probably off limits.

I may already be in trouble on that score since one of the pamphlets says no alcohol for 24 hours before surgery. I read that this evening just after consuming a cocktail to ease my anxiety. It will have to be our little secret.

Post surgery I’m not to be on my hands and knees for at least a week. I don’t remember the last time I was on my hands and knees for anything except to unplug the cable TV box to reset it. I think Linda had to help me back up.

I’m also not to lift anything heavier than 20 pounds for a week out of concern it will put strain on the incision. I wonder  what kind of strain my just standing up will cause.

Oh, well. Soon it will be over and there are no restrictions on watching TV or using the computer so I’ll let you know how it all turns out as soon as I’m allowed to remove my Stevie Wonder glasses after Linda drives me home.

UPDATE: Well, it’s all over and I’ve been assured that the surgery went perfect. Contrary to what I thought, I was fully awake and aware through the entire procedure even though I quite literally drank the Kool-Aid..which is a fruity syrupy concoction that you let float around under the tongue for a while before swallowing and is supposed to have the same effect as an I.V. anesthetic only faster. It wasn’t quite like what I had for my colonoscopy last summer though. The only thing I remember about that procedure was being wheeled back to my room after it was all over and unable to check out until the nurse confirmed the sound of my flatulation.   But everything went swimmingly and relatively painless.  It was about 10:30 this morning when Dr. Vance Thompson began on me. Even already his 14th patient of the day, he made me feel like I was the first and only.  In fact everybody that works at the place is just genuinely nice and exceptionally accommodating. I return Wednesday morning for a follow-up check and then do eye drops for a month.  I certainly hope it doesn’t take long for everything in my left eye to clear up and for those black floaty things that look like the evil spirits in the movie “Ghost” to fly away.  All normal, I’m assured. Hope so.

As is tradition whenever I’m in a vulnerable position medically speaking, I snap a selfie apparently because I don’t give a rip how I look any more. Anyway, Linda says I look very fetching in my hair net.  Oh, and that mark above my eye is from Dr. Vance’s “Sharpie” pen..just so everybody is on the same page as to which one is getting the operation. Can’t be too careful, I guess. IMG_20160119_102209_156

Fighting Over Money

Posted: Thursday, January 7, 2016 at 9:39 am
By: Doug Lund

powerball

Sometimes when I have a hard time falling asleep, I close my eyes and imagine that I had just won the Powerball Lottery Jackpot and over 600 million dollars.
Oh, man…what would I do with all that money?
I know it’s not very Christian to have such fantasies, “the love of money being the root of all evil” and all that.
We may not want to be..and most churches say we shouldn’t be..but the majority of us are, by nature, materialistic and measure success  by the amount of “stuff” we have or the size of the amount in our checkbook.

Anyway, back to my fantasy.

I’ve just won over a half billion dollars.
Linda and I are jumping around in our now too small house screaming for joy.
“What’s the first thing we’ll do with our riches?”
“We’ll give 10 percent to the church.”
“Which church?”
“I don’t know pick one.”
“Don’t you suppose churches might have a problem receiving money that came from  gambling?”
“Not the Catholics..didn’t they invent bingo?”
“Shut-up..you’ve always had a problem with my religion.”

“Okay, let’s forget that for now. How about the kids?., we’ll set them up financially for life, of course.”
“Who should get how much? Some need it more than others..do they all get the same?” Will there be hard feelings? What about inheritance taxes they’d have to pay?”
“I don’t know, we’ll work it out..stop fretting about it.”
“I’m not fretting, I just don’t want the kids to be hurt by our attempts at generosity.”
Maybe we better call a lawyer.”” How much will that cost? Won’t they try rip us off?” ” I don’t know. Who cares? We’re loaded.”

“Well, I suppose we should probably build a mansion somewhere in town and fill it with the finest furniture, a pool and plasma TV’s for every room”.
“Yeah, like you don’t watch enough TV already!” Sorry…I guess you’re right..we should get a nice new place but I wonder if our friends will think we’re just showing off and maybe not want to be our friends anymore?”
“Who cares..we’ll find new friends.”
“Don’t be ridiculous.”
“Cars..I want lots of cars. Oh, and motorcycles. I’ve always wanted a Harley. Now I can have as many as I like.”
“Why.. you can’t drive more than one vehicle at a time.”
“You just don’t get it do you?” “Heck, we can even buy a private jet airplane and fly anywhere we want.”
“Who’s going to fly it?”
“We’ll hire a pilot.”
“Wouldn’t it be kind of stupid to hire a personal pilot that we’d probably only use a couple times a year?” Besides, where would we go?”
“I dunno..Europe, I suppose.” We could buy a fully-staffed yacht and sail to all the fancy ports along the Mediterranean.”
“Oh sure, I can just see the two of us pasty-white overweight Midwesterners roaming around by ourselves on that big boat in our swimming trunks.”
Besides, I’m scared of the water, caviar makes me gag, champagne is overrated  and I sure wouldn’t feel very comfortable being waited-on hand and foot by strangers in white pants.”
“Well, for cryin’ out loud, we’ve suddenly got this fortune and there’s nothing you want to spend it on.”
“You don’t have to yell.”
“Sorry..we have never argued about anything like this before.”
“I know. Everything was fine until we got all this money.”
“How would you feel about just giving it back?”

“Doug…Doug..wake up!
You were having that bad dream again weren’t you?”

A Bit Callus Over The Holidays

Posted: Wednesday, December 30, 2015 at 1:48 pm
By: Doug Lund

And..how was your Christmas?

Ours was filled with cheer and challenges but..in the words of Yoda..survive we did.

One of the major challenges for me was to make good on my promise to learn the guitar chords to “Ashokan Farewell” so that I could accompany my granddaughter, Zoey, when she made her annual holiday command family performance. I love that melody, written by Jay Unger and Molly Mason for the TV series, “The Civil War.”  I thought it would be really fun and memorable if we could perform it together.

Now, even though I own a “Washburn” flattop, I haven’t played guitar in years and realized it would take considerable rehearsal time to get the music down. But what I’d forgotten is how painful the learning process can be.

Back in our youth, my cousin Grouse and I..dreaming of becoming Rock and Roll stars..would practice for hours on end in the bedroom I shared with two brothers. We’d spin 45 RPM records by The Everly Brothers, Duane Eddy, Elvis and Buddy Holly on my little phonograph..learning the progressions and lyrics so we could perform their hit songs in public.couriers bedroom

Before we talked our parents into letting us buy electric guitars, we struggled along on a pair of Stella acoustic models in which the strings were way too high off the fret-board resulting in agonizing pain in our fingertips trying to press down hard enough to make the chord. Eventually, thick calluses formed on our fingers..which not only eased the pain of practice but impressed others (girls) who, with one look at our hands, could see how dedicated we were to Rock and Roll.

Performing for a high school event in the Volga gym. Denny Johnson, Grouse and me. 1962 or 63,

Performing for a high school event in the Volga gym. Denny Johnson, Grouse and me. 1962 or 63.

In the hayday of our band "The Couriers" from 1963 and 64. (L-to-R) Jerry Hoffman, drums. Grouse, rhythm guitar and vocals, Dave Austin, Bass guitar and Me, lead guitar and vocals.

In the hayday of our band “The Couriers” from 1963 and 64. (L-to-R) Jerry Hoffman, drums. Grouse, rhythm guitar and vocals, Dave Austin, Bass guitar and Me, lead guitar and vocals.

I eventually gave up the guitar after realizing..once The Beatles came along..Rock and Roll was evolving to more than knowing three or four chords in a few keys. So, I took up drums and never looked back. Well, not until this past month.

Thanks to the internet, I was able to not only find the music..but use an on-line tuner and listen to and practice with, several versions of the song on YouTube.

Then I thought of granddaughter Allison. Could she maybe join in on clarinet? She had one day to transpose the notes. The end result of our effort is far from perfect..mostly because I couldn’t see my chord chart for the tears in my eyes at the sublime joy of a grandfather’s pride.

Can't upload the video here but you can watch by checking out my Facebook page.

Can’t upload the video here but you can watch by checking out my Facebook page.

Aside from Linda saying “Yes” 31 years ago, performing this little song with my granddaughters was the greatest Christmas present I’ve ever received.

Now that calluses have formed on my fingertips, I’ve decided to keep the old Washburn guitar upstairs in my man cave and take it out of the case more often.

I doubt if I’ll be ready to sing and play in night clubs anytime soon..but I have another granddaughter, Ella, who has taken up saxophone. I’m already thinking of a tune or two so she can join our little band next Christmas.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Seeing Red Over Mispronunciation

Posted: Wednesday, December 16, 2015 at 12:30 pm
By: Doug Lund

poinsettias_top

Bless her.

Linda has, once again, managed to give our little house a cozy..festive welcoming feel as we await the arrival of family and friends home for the Christmas holiday.  Notably missing this year, though, are poinsettia plants. They were usually provided by our daughter who worked in the floral department of Lewis.
I don’t know about you but both Linda and I have always pronounced the name of that flower Poin-setta..three syllables.  It turns out, though, that much of the world prefers the proper (read that snooty) four syllable pronunciation; Poin-set-ee-ah.
My co-workers at Kelo were always correcting me until I showed them a dictionary that says either pronunciation is acceptable much like Cara-BEE-un and Cah-RIB-ee-un or Feb-YOU-ary and Feb-ROO-ary. Hemmingsen always teased me about saying Feb-YOU-ary until I pointed out that if it was good enough for Walter Cronkite, it was good enough for me.
Some say that mispronouncing words is a reflection on one’s intelligence. I don’t know if that’s true especially after seeing a story on NOVA recently in which an atomic scientist repeatedly said nuke-YOU-lur energy instead of the correct nuke-LEE-ur.
Some of my best friends and family members say Nuke-YOU-lur or Real-AH-tor instead of REAL-tor or Pros-STRATE instead of pros-TATE when referring to that little gland that only men have and is so prone to cancer.
I do cringe when hearing such language abuses as, “I Could care less,” which is opposite of what you mean. Or, Anyways..with an unnecessary “s” at the end. Calvary is where Christ was crucified. Cavalry is what Custer was leading when he ran into all those Indians.
Mispronunciations likely have more to do with where you’re from and how your parents and grandparents spoke..than how bright you are. Both Linda and her friend, Joanie, came from different Midwest towns but were taught to say WARSH instead of WASH. I don’t know where the extra “R” comes from..probably from people in Maine or Massachusetts who often don’t bother using their “R’s” at all. “The Hahvad professah sat down to dinnah with his sistah and brothah eating food from the gahden.”
Me, I grew up believing that the place where mom kept my socks and underpants was a “chester drawers” and those flowers she had growing alongside the house were Pee-YO-nees and my dad wore over-HAULS to work every day.
When I first started in TV I was assigned to do a commercial in which I said that Ben Hur Ford was having a CLARANCE sale.  The director yelled, “Whoa..did you just call it a “clarance” sale..like the cross-eyed lion?”  That’s when I first discovered that stores have a CLEARance sale because they’re CLEARing out their inventory not just offering bargains to guys named Clarance.
I spent over 30 years in a profession in which proper pronunciation is not only expected, it’s mandatory. Yet those inaccurate utterances that were planted in my head as a child continued to pop out of my mouth right up until retirement.
I was recording a promo for a Keloland special sponsored by a furniture company. I kept saying SlumberLUND until promotional director Paul Farmer’s quiet voice came over the studio loudspeaker, “Uh, Doug..I believe that’s SlumberLAND.”
One of my most notable on-air faux pas came during a newscast when, after a story, I turned to Angela Kennecke and said something about it having “grammarical” errors.  She looked at me and said, “Do you mean grammatical, Doug?”
Well, I turned as red as a baboon’s butt as we went to commercial.
When we returned from the break I tried to make light of my blunder blaming everyone from my parents, aunts and uncles to the English teachers at Volga High School.
After the newscast I got word that the general manager, Mark Antonitis,  would like to see me in his office. As I entered, he just shook his head and said, “Well, at least you covered yourself nicely.” And that was it.
He’s the one responsible for getting all KELO reporters and anchors to be consistent in the pronunciation of IRAQ. “It’s not EYE-RACK,”he said. (Although that’s how a majority of people, including soldiers, say it) It’s either EAR-RACK or EAR-ROCK. After consulting with Qadir Aware of Sioux Falls, a native of the country in question, we settled on EAR-ROCK.
In researching for this blog I’ve come across words and phrases that I continue to screw up such as: Card SHARKS instead of the correct card SHARPS. Tijuana has just three syllables..not four. Silicon is the valley where computers are made. Silicone is what surgeons implant in woman to create bigger valleys.
Oh, well I guess you can teach an old pundent new tricks. Wait a minute..it’s PUNDIT isn’t it?

Eye Hear You Have Some Weighty Issues, Lund

Posted: Thursday, December 3, 2015 at 11:06 am
By: Doug Lund

It was the middle of last summer when, after seeing so many full-page ads in the paper for hearing aids, I thought those companies must really be raking in the dough to afford such expensive self promotion. Then I did some checking on the high cost of today’s high tech devices for cranking up the audio portion of our five senses program to levels that have been turned  down by advancing age or excessive exposure to loud noise.

Holy Tinnitus!

A recent survey published by the Hearing Review found that mid-range hearing aids average around $4,000 a pair and most insurance providers do not cover this cost. Lord, I thought, I’m glad all those decades playing drums right next to the PA speaker didn’t cause any damage.

Just a few weeks later, I got the sensation in my right ear that felt just like when you’re flying and ears plug up because of the altitude change.  Some chew gum to get rid of it  I’ve always been able to open my canal with a yawn. So that’s what I was doing most of the day when I encountered sudden partial deafness. But it didn’t help.

Oh No..I thought while constantly testing the severity of my loss by rubbing two fingers together in front of each ear; loud and clear in my left..barely a sound in the right.  Well, that does it, I thought. Next stop Ryerson’s..and then to Home Federal to try float a loan.

But, procrastinator that I am..I kept putting it off until one day recently, I repeated the finger rubbing test and I’ll be darned if my right ear hearing hadn’t markedly improved. Thanks Lord..auditory and financial crisis averted.

Oh, Linda and I still can’t hear each other when trying to communicate in our little house but it’s usually because I’m in my man cave with the TV on too loud.

A recent check-up with the doctor revealed no health issues of consequence other than the familiar request for me to shed pounds; lots of them. I finally concluded that he might have a point and have embarked on the last diet of whatever life I have left. It has been 8 weeks of joy and frustration but, as of this morning, I’m no longer lugging around 23 pounds. Only another hundred or so to go.

So..the hearing issue has apparently healed on its own; the obesity is a work in progress but determination to succeed has not wavered. So everything is hunky dory. “Hunky Dory”..I wonder where that phrase came from. Googleing : Ugh..no real help:

There’s no agreed derivation of the expression ‘hunky-dory’.

It is American and the earliest example of it in print that I have found is from a collection of US songs, George Christy’s Essence of Old Kentucky, 1862.We do know that ‘hunky-dory’ wasn’t conjured from nowhere but was preceded by earlier words, i.e. ‘hunkey’, meaning ‘fit and healthy’ and ‘hunkum-bunkum’, which had the same meaning as ‘hunky-dory’. ‘Hunkey’ was in use in the USA by 1861, when it was used in the title of the Civil War song A Hunkey Boy Is Yankee Doodle.

See..this is why I can’t get anything done. Too many diversions when on the computer.

The real reason I started this blog was to tell you about my latest physical malady. I’m going blind.

Okay, slight exaggeration.

I was in our bright family room watching football on a recent Sunday when I noticed that my glasses..at least one of the lenses..wasn’t clean even though I’d just used a lens wipe on them. After closer inspection, the glass on both sides appeared free of smudge. So I performed my own  exam which turned out to be a real eye opener. Closing my left eye..all was well; bright and clear. Closing my right eye..not so much; like looking through a sheer curtain. Just some leftover sleep in my eye, I thought..a bit of rubbing and blinking will take care of it. Nope. Eye drops; (I hate those) no help.  Now, I’m a little scared.  What’s going on?

Monday morning I’m in Dr. Haiar’s optometrist office seeking an explanation and resolution. After several tests, I was relieved to hear that I don’t have glaucoma and my eyes are in real good health for a fella of my advanced age. One problem, though…and it’s another side effect of being older than dirt; Cataracts…or more specifically, a cataract that has decided to take up residence in my left eye clouding my view of the world.

My immediate thought was, no problem, I’ll wait it out and just like my right ear..it will heal itself.  “Doesn’t work that way, Doug” said the sympathetic but firm Dr. Haiar. Your choices are living with the fog or have cataract surgery which is not a major deal anymore and Medicare covers the cost.

So what to do? What to do?  I’d almost prefer dealing with a little visual cloudiness than somebody slicing into my eyeball.

I’ll let you know.

I’m going to give this self-healing thing a few more months.

The Other Lund Theater

Posted: Friday, November 20, 2015 at 8:57 am
By: Doug Lund

Do you have trouble falling asleep at night?
I have the answer; my dad’s home movies of Yellowstone National Park.
Trouble is, I haven’t figured out how to market them to all you insomniacs out there yet.

We made that family trip to Yellowstone in the summer of 1953, I believe.
I just remember being car-sick most of the time from riding in the backseat sandwiched between my two brothers. It was especially bad when we arrived in geyser country.Yellowstone sign
Now, there’s a place where the devil has provided people with  a little preview of what Hell will be like; hot gases boiling up from the bowels of the earth causing water to shoot high into the sky or just ooze to the surface creating little burps of slimy mud… like a thick spaghetti sauce bubbling on the stove.
The whole place stinks of Beelzebub too..a sulfuric stench not unlike rotten eggs.
One of Yellowstone’s million or so mud pots..pewwyellowstone steam
It didn’t seem to bother anyone else in the family but me.  So, while they explored this steaming wonderland on foot, I stayed in our ’53 Mercury..miserable from a combination of heat, car sickness and that awful odor.
I remember being afraid to cough or sneeze for fear that I would erupt like Old Faithful from both ends.

Waiting for Old Faithful to erupt.

Waiting for Old Faithful to erupt.

Anyway, that’s my memory of Yellowstone National Park.
But my Dad loved it there and took reel after reel of film..much of it while he was driving the car.
For some reason, he didn’t trust my mom or any of us boys with the camera.
So a lot of the footage is shot through the windshield and shows his left hand gripping the steering wheel with a Camel cigarette between his fingers.
After we got home, it wasn’t long before Dad had the film developed and spliced together on one big brown reel.

The Lunds about the time of our Yellowstone journey. (L to R)  Me, Mom, Tommy, Denny and Dad.

The Lunds about the time of our Yellowstone journey. (L to R) Me, Mom, Tommy, Denny and Dad.

My Mom was a great cook and she loved to have company come over for supper.
But those delicious meals usually came at a price; an after-dinner show that we should have called the “Wonders of Yellowstone” narrated by Harry Lund.
“You haven’t seen these have you?” he’d say to our well-fed guests. Before anyone could answer, though, the lights were shut off, the projector was switched on and..there we were…back at that hell hole he was so fond of.

But after a few minutes of watching Dad’s long rolling shots of mountain highways, trees and Yellowstone Falls, people’s heads around the living room would begin to bob backward and forward as if Mom had slipped a Mickey into their roast beef.
Children, including my normally hyperactive cousins, would crumple on the carpet and doze off out of boredom.

It never seemed to bother Dad, though. Showing those home movies always gave him great pleasure even without an attentive audience.

I think of my folks a lot during the month of November. Mom would have been 107 on the 13th, Dad 109 on the 27th. I would give anything to taste her fried chicken again and to sit in our darkened living room listening to the hum of that projector and hear Dad’s voice describing..one more time..the joys and dangers of feeding bears from right out of our car window and the unforgettable aroma of Yellowstone’s geysers.
I would stay awake this time.yellowstone bears

Another Grand Blog

Posted: Friday, November 13, 2015 at 10:15 am
By: Doug Lund

Do you realize how close we came to experiencing a major old fashioned school-closing travel-banning blizzard this past week?  Had the temperature been five or six degrees colder Wednesday, all that rain would have been all that snow pushed around by two days of 50 mile an hour window-rattling winds. Never sure whether or not to say wind..singular..or winds..plural. Trobec says winds, I believe, but there is only one wind right? Oh, wait what about that old folk song, “Four strong winds that blow lonely”? Does it matter? No it does not. The point is, I’m awfully glad not to be shoveling.

It was a grand week for Linda and me. (Or is it I?)  We attended daughter Suzan’s 50th birthday party in Lincoln and it was just marvelous. It wasn’t a surprise party but I was certainly surprised when we walked in..pleasantly surprised. Shocked really. Granddaughter, Zoey..who’s 14..has been involved in music for the last several years..choosing to play oboe and viola. It’s been so much fun to watch her progress on each. We’re always treated to a private concert whenever they come for a vist.  She has shown lots of promise..especially on the viola.

But getting back to the surprise.

As we entered the big party room, I heard music coming through the crowd ..sweet music with sweet young voices singing “Over the rainbow.”  As I made my way over to find who was responsible, this is what I saw.

grandpa blog zoey

It was Zoey and two of her school mates. Not only was she singing like Judy Garland, she was playing the ukulele. The UKULELE?  When in the heck did she learn to play that? And she was Good too..real good fingering and strumming complicated chords with ease. I was stunned to learn that she’d been taking lessons at school since Easter..the last time we’d seen her.  I couldn’t help but remember the little plastic ukulele I received for Christmas when I was about ten. After learning how to properly tune the four strings (My Dog Has Fleas) I practiced and practiced discovering a love for making music that changed my life and continues to this day.

But the evening held another musical surprise.

Zoey’s mom eventually asked her to bring out the viola.

Now, Suzan has sent me short clips of Zoey’s recital performances and it was fun to hear that she had advanced to more difficult pieces and started incorporating vibrato with her left hand on the strings. But I wasn’t prepared for what I heard next.

After  her last private concert in our living room Easter Sunday, I requested that she learn a favorite tune for grandpa; “Ashokan Farewell”..the hauntingly beautiful violin theme written by Jay Unger and Molly Mason used extensively throughout Ken Burns marvelous PBS documentary, “The Civil War.”  I even found the music on-line and sent it to her.

Well, I was enjoying (marveling really) at how good she had gotten in the past six months as she played a couple of complicated pieces. Then my jaw dropped. I knew from the first three notes what was coming. “Ashokan Farewell!”  I can’t tell you how amazing it was. As her bow crossed the strings and her left hand coaxed out every note perfectly, she swayed and her eyebrows lifted just like all great fiddlers do when they actually feel the music.

I was so delighted and proud at what I was hearing, I giggled and wept simultaneously.

She has kindly consented to playing that song again and again when they’re home for Christmas and thought it would be okay if grandpa accompanied her on guitar. So the pressure is on for me to learn the chords and adjust to the pain in my fingertips until calluses develop. It’ll be worth it, though and I can’t wait.

Move ahead a few days. We’re at the new Susan B. Anthony elementary school to see and hear great granddaughter, Ella perform in concert..both with the band (she’s just taken up tenor saxophone) and in the honor chorus. I remember when my own girls played and sang in those early school concerts and, like the band in “Music Man” parents have a way of filtering out any sour notes..hearing only the unbelievable talent of their own kids.  Such it was for Ella the other night as the band played their three or four two and three- note songs.

But there was no need for imagining when she joined her peers in song.

Best photo I could get with my dumb phone cam. Ella is in the center just right of the director's head.

Best photo I could get with my dumb phone cam. Ella is in the center just right of the director’s head.

They were just wonderful.

Seeing Ella up there singing “You’ve got a friend in me” from “Toy Story” I lost it again.

She is such a remarkable kid.  I can’t help bragging on her.

Finally, if you’ll indulge me for one more.

There was music surrounding our other great grandchild this past week. The birthday song for Jack..who turned a year old on Wednesday.

Jack realizing that he can take all the cake he wants and eat all he takes.

Jack realizing that he can take all the cake he wants and eat all he takes.

Both Linda and I are holding back tears here as well..not over the song but because he and his parents, Tucker and Julia, will be moving to Colorado soon.

Before leaving, though, they gave US a wonderful birthday present.

Jack was baptized during a special ceremony at Hartford Methodist Church.

Yay, God. I'm in.

Yay, God. I’m in.

A Perfect Storm Of Sports

Posted: Monday, November 2, 2015 at 1:47 pm
By: Doug Lund

One of the reasons that Linda and I have, what most people would consider, a secure stress-free  relationship ( for the most part) is because we’re a multi-TV couple.

I’m afraid if we had to watch the programs each of us like, there would be less harmony and more harrumphs.

As it is, with three flat screen TV’s at our disposal..( I know that seems extravagant but..) she can watch her Lifetime movies while I tune-in to some obscure program on the History or Discovery channel..maybe even a car auction on Velocity.  We do pair up for a few programs like Big Bang Theory, Antiques Roadshow or a Minnesota Vikings game.

Which brings me to this past weekend; a perfect storm of must see TV.

We both got caught up in horse racing a few years ago. Well, the Derby, Preakness and Belmont anyway. Like much of the country we made it a point to follow the exciting “California Chrome” nearly win it all last year and then, this season, we’ve made it a point to cheer on “American Pharaoh” all through his Triple Crown victories. Then on Saturday, Pharaoh lived up to everybody’s expectations and handily won his final race; the Breeder’s Cup in championship fashion.

American Pharaoh gallops to his final victory. One of the greatest thoroughbreds ever.

American Pharaoh gallops to his final victory. One of the greatest thoroughbreds ever.

I haven’t gotten that excited about horse racing since the amazing performances by “Secretariat” in 1973 when he won it all.

Saturday night we went to the VFW to hear the terrific “Chute Rooster” band but every few minutes I had to go check the bar TV for a World Series score.

I have two DVR’s at home  but Sunday that didn’t seem like enough.

It was our turn to serve refreshments after church so I had to record CBS Sunday Morning..then NFL football. Our Vikings played the Bears at the same time  the NASCAR  race was getting rolling in Martinsville. I hit the record button for that with lots of extended time in case there were lots of wrecks. (I can usually zap through a 4 hour race in half that time by fast forwarding through commercials and long cautions.)

Once again, Linda and I did everything within our power to avoid shouting unfortunate expletives at the TV but when you’re Vikings fans it’s a nearly impossible cross to bear. So, we could hardly believe it when,  like “American Pharaoh” Minnesota came through to win on the very last play.

After the game, Linda and I went to our separate lairs while I rewound and watched the NASCAR race which also ended in spectacular fashion with my favorite driver, Jeff Gordon, in his final season behind the wheel, taking home the checkered flag and increasing his odds of winning a fifth series championship in three weeks.

One of the good guys of racing, Jeff Gordon overjoyed at another win during his final year racing.

One of the good guys of racing, Jeff Gordon overjoyed at another win during his final year as a NASCAR driver.

That’s three major sporting events that went our way; rare, indeed for me.

Now could the Royals possibly make it four by winning the World Series and beat the Mets on their home turf?

But wait, that game is on at the same time as the Packers-Broncos. And that’s on at the same time as “The Good Wife” and “Madam Secretary.” And they’re all on at the same time as the PBS Masterpiece series, “Home Fires” that I’ve gotten hooked on.

My DVR’s had better not fail.

They did not.  It was early Monday morning by the time I got to celebrate the Royals come from behind victory.

Kansas City Royals World Series champions 2015

Kansas City Royals World Series champions 2015

Then  to see Payton Manning silence all the naysayers by taking it to Aaron Rodgers and the Packers in a game of the unbeatens.

It was just the icing on an unbelievably satisfying and joyous weekend of sports television for me.  One in which everything went just as I’d hoped and will likely never happen again.

If I’d  had a third DVR I might have been able to record everything and gotten out to enjoy one of the last really nice days of the year. But Trobec shouldn’t forecast such lovely weather when there’s a Perfect Storm of sports and entertainment on the air.

Sports will be taking a back seat to other important matters next weekend, however, as daughter Suzan will be celebrating a milestone special birthday November 6th in Lincoln.

She is simply a remarkable daughter, wife, mother and loyal friend; wise, giving and compassionate, she is loved by all who really know her especially me.

Daddy's little girl.

Daddy’s little girl.

Happy Birthday Suzan Lund and may God bless you as you have blessed us all.

suzan europe  toast

Keeping The Home Fires Burning

Posted: Wednesday, October 21, 2015 at 4:26 pm
By: Doug Lund

Well, it’s going to be interesting again over the next couple weeks trying to figure out which day our humungous backyard maple tree will decide to let its leaves turn from green to yellow and then drop them all at once like a clumsy waiter. It happens just that quickly as if our maple is showing off to the hundreds of other maples in the neighborhood that it can hold on to its leaves longer and shed them faster than all the rest.BURNING LEAVES

Seeing those leaves stack up each autumn always takes me back to the home town of my youth when leaf disposal was a whole lot different..and memorable. There was no having to cram them into expensive paper bags and pay admission to a  leaf drop-off site. You simply put a match to the pile and torched  ‘em. Soon, bright orange flames would appear and the air would be filled with blue smoke rising to the sky and a wonderfully sweet aroma like no other that makes this nostalgic old sap’s knees go weak just thinking about it.

Everyone in Volga during the fifties burned their leaves with the exception of a few who had figured out the value of them as mulch for their spring gardens. My mother gardened too but she wasn’t a mulcher. I remember her referring to those stacks of decaying leaves and other waste, which some people had in their back yards, as rodent apartments. My mom wasn’t afraid of much but she had a passionate dislike for mice.

The job of getting the leaves picked up fell to my big brother and me. We did not volunteer nor did we accept the assignment without considerable whining.  I was particularly reluctant because we had two rakes at home; one of those springy fan-shaped jobs and the other a heavy iron garden rake and there was no doubt as to who would be stuck with it.  That thing may have been fine for moving black dirt around…but was worthless for leaves. Every few swipes would require stopping to remove clogs of leaves that had become impaled on the tines.

Eventually, though, they all ended up in a huge stack on the gravel street at the end of our front walk.   Exhausted, my brother and I would both let ourselves fall backwards onto the soft yet crunchy pile and just lie there for a few minutes wishing, perhaps, that we could be so lucky as our two big elm trees and just shed all burdens till spring. But there wasn’t time for day dreaming. Before long, dad would be turning the corner in his old panel truck coming home to supper only to find a huge brown heap where his parking spot is supposed to be. Later, we’d all gather around that pile as the old man struck a match and ignited our very own bonfire. Then, mom would emerge from the house with a bag of marshmallows which we stuck on sticks and poked over the flames until the puffy white confection either came up golden brown or a black gob of char.  Either way, they were sticky, oozy, delicious and a memory forever etched in my brain.

I recall looking up the street and seeing the orange glow of many other fires with neighborhood families enjoying the same autumn ritual. No worries about destroying the ozone or inhaling cancer causing carcinogens or people complaining they couldn’t breathe from the smoke or setting the town ablaze. We were too dumb to know back then, I guess.

But I do feel sorry for my grandkids who’ve never gotten a whiff of the ambrosia that burning leaves provide. I have a Weber grill on the back patio, maybe I’ll take the grate out and stuff the thing with leaves then invite the young ones over for a lighting ceremony and a bit of aroma therapy.

I wonder if Linda has any marshmallows in the cupboard.

My great nephew, Torin applying his marshmallow roasting technique at the Lund Black Hills reunion bonfire last summer.

My great nephew, Torin applying his marshmallow roasting technique at the Lund Black Hills reunion bonfire last summer.