The Best Part Of Waking Up

Posted: Monday, October 5, 2015 at 12:36 pm
By: Doug Lund

 coffee in coffee

(Coffee blog update:)

I love coffee. I love the aroma of a fresh pot brewing in the morning. I can hardly wait for that sound our Mr.Coffee pot makes when it’s nearly done. (Sort of like the noise from several people all at once trying to suck the last delicious drop of a milkshake through a straw.)

I must have at least two cups of coffee each morning in order to function at all, but then so do 150 million other Americans over the age of 18. Coffee consumption in this country has soared in the last 25 years which, I suppose, can be traced back to specialty coffee shops, led by Starbucks, that began springing up everywhere offering espressos, lattes and cappuccinos as well as brewed coffees made from freshly roasted magic beans just in from South America, Hawaii or some other tropical climate country.

I’ve never gotten into the fancy foamy stuff but my taste buds have become a whole lot fussier since first sampling some of the exotic blends offered at those shops.  I’m a cheapskate, though, and cringe at the prices they charge so I’ve been on a quest for several years to come up with that rich coffee-shop flavor AT HOME for a fraction of the cost. I think I’ve found it but am open to suggestions. First, let me retrace my long journey.  I come from Scandinavian stock and Norskies are notorious for seemingly excessive coffee consumption. My mother was such a coffee junkie that she’d usually skip the electric percolator opting instead for a plain old coffee pot on top of the stove,  tossing  a few scoops of Hills Brothers right into the boiling water. She enjoyed chewing on the coffee grounds that wound up in the bottom of her cup..main-lining the caffeine right into her system.

I had no idea what it tasted like back then. You see, I was one of those who swore I’d never drink the stuff. It was an attitude that remained until I reached high school and got a part time job right across the street from our house washing bottles for a dairy testing lab set up in the basement. On Saturday’s, the lady of the house invited employees up to her kitchen for coffee..which meant a big plate of freshly baked frosting-covered cinnamon rolls the size of a Frisbee. To drink, she offered milk or coffee. Now, the bottles I had to wash contained milk samples from dairy herds across the area. If a box of samples sat around for more than a day or two, the contents turned all sorts of rotten; sometimes just a gelatinous glob that would burp a little as I dumped it down the drain. Other times it had turned to the consistency of a yellowish green moldy cheese with a Limburger essence. Anyway, after cleaning a few hundred of those I was in no mood for a glass of milk with my roll so that’s how and why I first became a coffee drinker.

At Keloland, my desk was just a few steps away from the coffee machine and I consumed it by the gallon. The only time it tasted worth a hoot, though, was in the first ten minutes after brewing and even then it suffered from flavor deprivation because the grounds were meted out in those stingy little pre-measured pillow packets. Never enough coffee in some people, while making a pot, would just toss that bundle into the basket not caring if it ended up wadded in a corner. The end result was a rust colored hot water concoction that some..not knowing the difference…would gleefully drink anyway.

Most church basement coffee is like that; pale and tasteless. I’ve also never had a good cup of coffee from the little machines in motel rooms..never. Yet, when we go down the hall for the free continental breakfasts the coffee out of the big brewer can be pretty good. I’ve also found that coffee at large banquets tends to be very good. I think it has to do with the time it steeps in those Thermos- pot-type carafes they put on your table.

A lot of restaurants, too, seem bent on saving money by serving up cheap bland coffee. Maybe they intend it that way so customers won’t loiter around all day and night taking up valuable booth space  gulping down free refills.

Anyway, as I was saying earlier, I’ve searched for years trying to come up with a consistently delicious cup of rich..never bitter..full bodied coffee that I can make at home without a lot of fuss. We have tried just about every commercial and exotic brand. We’ve ground our own beans, used distilled water, even unbleached filters but the results have been..well.. erratic and labor intensive..not to mention expensive.

coffee juanWe’ve finally decided that 100% Colombian coffee delivers most of what we’re looking for. It has the fewest number of quakers which in the world of coffee are those underdeveloped beans that make the brew bitter.   We also are more generous with the amount of grounds used in our Mr. Coffee machine: 3 heaping tablespoons per pot. (ten cups)

We have been using Folgers brand for some time but when the price jumped to 12 DOLLARS A CAN, I decided to try the HyVee brand of Colombian instead and save a few bucks. To be honest, we couldn’t  tell much difference but it was just enough for us to go back.  Now, I’ve been experimenting again since Folgers and other main line commercial brands have decided to put their 100% Colombian grinds in much smaller plastic cans..reducing the contents by at least a fourth. Oh, the price is a little lower but I’m feeling gouged and open to suggestion on other brands. (NOTE: I’m looking for convenience as well as good taste so if you think I’m a lost cause unless I grind the beans, use a French Press or crack eggs into the’re probably right because I’ve tried those things and found the result not stunning enough to justify the effort in our house.)

Linda is usually up before me and makes the coffee and it’s always fine. If I don’t like it the way she brews know what I can do. If I get up first, I make it the same way. If I were to fire up an electric bean grinder it would be the same as pull-starting a 30 horsepower Evinrude over the kitchen sink.  The steaming cup I bring to her bedside could have the aroma of an angel’s breath and taste of Valhalla mahogany creme but could never compensate for the stink eye I’d receive for disturbing my beloved’s slumber.

So, I’m interested in your comments about coffee. Do you have any tips on making a really good brew? Contrary to what I had thought, In Hawaii, they say darker roast is not’s burnt. Do you prefer light, medium or dark? Have you ever found a truly rich tasting  decaf coffee?  Right now all this coffee talk has me feeling the need for caffeine.

“Linda, I’m finishing up a blog here. Would you mind putting a pot on? Thanks, hon. You’re a peach.”


coffee lady three

I’ll Give You A Ring Sometime

Posted: Tuesday, September 22, 2015 at 3:03 pm
By: Doug Lund


It’s the color of money..envy..Ireland..Kremit THE frog..Robin Hood’s face during a cruise without Dramamine AND the waters of Lake Hendricks 90% of the time.ring lake

Okay Okay..the locals might dispute that..but it’s been my experience and an important reason for making what I’m about to report even more incredible.  But, let’s begin at the beginning.

As most of you know, Steve Hemmingsen is a longtime resident of Hendricks, Minnesota having built his own cabin along the North Shore back in the 80’s which he’s been adding on to ever since.

Much like Douglas Fairbanks and Mary Pickford, Randolph Hearst and Marian Davies..Steve and Betty Hemmingsen were quite well known for the summer lakeside parties they threw for celebrities.

Well, okay people who worked at Keloland TV.  An invitation to one of these soirees was considered rather special coming from the top dog Anchorman/News Director so everybody fortunate enough to receive one showed up with food, booze, bathing suits and a party attitude.

It was toward the conclusion of just such a party involving plenty of carousing on land and in the water that Jaine Andrews noticed something missing from the left hand of her husband, Gary. A circle of white skin now surrounded the tanned finger where five years ago she had placed a gold and diamond  wedding band. “ Honey..where’s your ring?” she shrieked. His poor jaw dropped and a pathetic posse was rounded up.

All, who could still navigate in the twilight, joined in the futile search of Hendricks’ murky waters but the only clear water that night was running down the cheeks of the young couple. It could have slipped off anywhere…swimming..water skiing..running around on the beach. But it was a foregone conclusion that it was gone forever and they both knew why. Gary had been battling a troublesome appendix which led to surgery. He’d lost a lot of weight. The wedding ring had gotten pretty loose. He meant to take it off. Forgot. Damn..Dog House.

Oh yeah..Green.

Hendricks residents don’t like you to talk about it..but most of the time the lake that bears the town’s name is just That’s one of the reasons residents are fighting so hard to keep a big cattle operation from being built upstream from the lake in Brookings County; aggravating an already annoying problem.

But it’s not ALWAYS green and on Labor Day, Darice Huber..who lives right next door to Hemmingsen.. was taking advantage of the beautiful weather and wading with her grandson  in the crystal clear waters of the lake when she looked down and saw what gold miners used to call a “flash in the pan.”  Glistening about 8 inches below the surface was a gold ring. She snatched it up wondering who it could belong to. She decided to wait until Hemmingsen returned home to help in the investigation.

Darice Huber  who found the ring.

Darice Huber who found the ring.


The beach area where the ring was found. That's Steve Hemmingsen's place just visible on the far right.

The beach area where the ring was found. That’s Steve Hemmingsen’s place just visible on the far right.

“It was the craziest thing when Steve first said he didn’t know of anybody except..maybe 25 years or so ago, a co-worker lost a ring at a party here.” Darice Huber told me. “ I asked Steve if he’d do some checking.  “I mean, what are the odds of it turning up right here on the shore after so long?” Huber said.”

After Steve sent Jaine an e-mail photo of the ring, she had to think a bit trying to remember what the band looked like.  “There was an engraving inside..did you find an engraving?”  Jaine asked.   Sure enough when Steve and Darice checked with a magnifying glass there it was;  the couple’s initials and wedding date etched by the jeweler way back when.

“Steve and I were flabbergasted,” Huber said.

And here it is after a quarter century underwater being scraped around by ice, sand and time. No wonder gold is so precious.

And here it is after a quarter century underwater being scraped around by ice, sand and time. No wonder gold is so precious.

It takes quite a bit to impress my old curmudgeon pal Hemmingsen but when we talked he had to admit what an “Incredible long shot” this was. “When you consider how every spring the ice shoves the shoreline all over the place. I have to have a guy with a skid loader come in most years to straighten it out.  There’s just no way that ring hasn’t been on a long journey and to end up just a few feet from my place in plain sight. Well,  God works in mysterious ways.” No, Steve never mentioned God but he was every bit as astounded as Darice and Jaine who, by the way has long since forgiven Gary for losing the original. In fact,  Jaine actually did buy Gary a new band a few years later and another on their 25th anniversary. Now he has three.

This was Jaine and Gary's wedding day. You can tell they took photos before the ceremony rings yet.

This was Jaine and Gary’s wedding day. You can tell they took photos before the ceremony rings yet.

So what’s to become of this miracle ring that has returned from the depths in time for their 30th anniversary?

“I don’t know” she says. “I’m sure it won’t fit anymore but after all the trouble it’s gone to getting home we better have it enlarged so Gary can wear it on his right ring finger.

Jaine Andrews Goldade models Gary's long lost wedding band.

Jaine Andrews Goldade models Gary’s long lost wedding band.

“But you know there’s another bonus to all this. It’s been way too long since we’ve had a Kelo party at Hemmingsen’s cabin and high time for another.”

We’ll just either leave the rings home or stay on the deck and sip wine all evening. The water’s probably too green anyway.

Bye Bye Becky

Posted: Friday, September 4, 2015 at 1:19 pm
By: Doug Lund

becky in front of poster


Becky Otto is retiring from Keloland Television after 43 years of faithful service and I, for one, am not quite sure how the place is going to get along  without her.

In fact, if you were to talk to every Keloland General Manager she’s been Administrative Assistant to over the years, you’d be surprised to see that they’re not all missing a limb because I guarantee each will say that Becky Otto was their right arm.

It’s hard to say what Becky’s specific duties have entailed..but whoever inherits her rolodex will find entries from the U.S. Capitol, the Governor’s mansion, the finest eateries to the nearest flower shop and discover that she’s on a first name basis with everybody on the list.

Current G.M., Jay Huizenga told me that when his predecessor, Mark Antonitis, first took over the reins, he was wondering aloud how to get in touch with the Senate Minority leader for something. Becky said, “I’ll give Tom (Daschle) a call.”  And, she did..on his private line..which she had. After that, Mark  knew he was in good and capable hands.

In our conversation, Jay told me how Becky has been so indispensable to the operation of Keloland..especially  during his stint as GM over the past 7 years. “I consider myself the luckiest of all. I don’t know what I’d have done without her there in the beginning.”  “Her institutional knowledge, easy going style and love of our legacy has helped make this station the success it is today.” He said.

“Oh, come on Jay,” I said. “You must have seen Becky lose her temper a time or two.”


“She will disagree..and speak her mind..but smile while  doing it.  Plus, she’s my count-to-ten barometer.

I’ve been known to lose my temper and be ready to lash out in person or via e-mail when Becky basically prescribes a chill pill and snuffs out the flames. A good thing.”

I was curious why Becky Otto, with all her administrative skills, never sought to be the “executive” instead of the “assistant.”

“I think,” Jay told me, “Becky has always loved her role of helping to organize things here and then go home and be a wife and mom. But, don’t kid yourself; Becky has excelled at representing this station at an executive level on several occasions.”


I have no idea why..but over the thirty some years we worked together, Becky always called me “Mr. Lund.”   I think she’s just kidding around  because I’ve never sought and certainly would never expect such formality. I think she did it with Hemmingsen too. (Maybe a respect for your elder’s thing.)

Our relationship has certainly been anything but formal. Don’t get me wrong..Becky worked for the boss, toed the company line and everybody knew that but she was always so doggone cheery and approachable.

She has not only assisted those on the executive wing to keep their ducks in a row, whenever the rest of us needed anything from help with a confusing form..something to be to an event..a guaranteed laugh at the latest joke…advice on how to approach management..or even a shoulder to cry on after an ass chewin’ Becky’s was the office door you knocked on.


So, how do you find a replacement for someone like Becky?

You give the job to Becky.

After going through at least 50 applications, she has found Sheila.

Becky tells me that, after a few weeks of training, Sheila is more than up to the task.

Of course Becky would say that.

I’ve never heard her speak ill of anyone ever.

I  hope she feels more ready to go than some of us are to let her go.

No doubt her husband, Sonny..along with her son..daughter and soon-to-be third grandchild will see to it.

Becky large




Jesus And The Jackalope

Posted: Monday, August 24, 2015 at 1:21 pm
By: Doug Lund

I’ll admit that I’m a pretty poor excuse for a Christian. My faith tends to run hot and cool depending on which family member or friend is sick.

But even though a hypocrite I may be..and openly profess my doubt about “all the things that you’re liable to read in the Bible” not being necessarily so..I would never have the nerve to openly deny Jesus Christ as the Son of God and Savior of the world.

That’s pushin’ it bub.

As Hemmingsen and I sat together on the Big News set, he would occasionally say some outlandish things during commercial breaks regarding religion. I would jokingly slide my chair back away saying I didn’t wish to be caught up as collateral damage from the bolt of lightening that was about to strike him down.

I’ve always been a “I’ll believe what I want to do the same..or don’t believe in anything at all and leave it at that” kind of guy.   But then I saw this big billboard up at Russell and Minnesota in Sioux Falls, paid for..I the atheists to promote their convention in town.jackalope be honest, the sight of seeing Jesus holding a jackalope caught me off guard and a guilty chuckle came over me. But then, so did the thought that hey, that’s not really fair.

That’s my guy up there and you’re suggesting he’s as mythological as a jackrabbit with antlers. He never existed and if He did, certainly never rose from the dead after the Romans had the good sense to torture and kill Him for causing such a stir.

This Man whose short life on earth was devoted to others offering healing and hope has left an eternal legacy that now encompasses 2.2 Billion of the world’s population.

Surly not all 2.2 billion of them have been duped into Christendom by contriving church leaders throughout history, fear mongering Bible beaters, money grubbing televangelists or phony faith healers. Certainly a lot of them have made intelligent decisions regarding their Christian faith and found it to be as fulfilling, rewarding, comforting and inspiring as promised.

Well, you’re never going to convince the atheists, of course. But, “Be not deceived, God is not mocked.” (Atheists love it when you throw a little scripture at ‘em. That’s Gal. the way.)

I don’t even know why they have conventions unless it’s just to walk around patting each other on the back saying how smart they are not to fall for all of that God is Love sh*t.  I see they have quite a line-up of speakers with every diversity..cultural and otherwise..well represented.

I suppose you might think I could be  promoting the event simply by mentioning it here.  Nah. It’s been sold out for a while.

Cory Heidelberger, who’s married to a Lutheran minister, has been promoting the event on his blog.

Boy they must have some interesting conversations around the dinner table.


The Cost Of Curing Cancer

Posted: Wednesday, August 19, 2015 at 1:36 pm
By: Doug Lund


Would somebody somewhere just come up with a cure already?

Two more people I know and admire were diagnosed in the last couple days. Cam Lind and Pastor, Dave Ellingson.

Two others..including my nephew’s wife, Jodi Lund.. who  undergoes a double mastectomy this week. Her breast cancer came back after eleven years. And  popular Sioux Falls radio D.J. “Cade” who will have surgery next week for a recently discovered brain tumor.

I’ll bet everyone reading this also knows of someone going through the same gut wrenching worry and fear after receiving a diagnosis.

I wonder. What’s it going to take?


Is finding a cure for cancer a problem that can be solved by throwing money at it?

Seems like that’s what Jerry Lewis and the Muscular Dystrophy Association have been trying to tell us for decades but there’s still no cure after all those telethons that hinted over and over that we were “this” close.

Maybe there will never be a cure for cancer. It’s like doctors and pharmaceutical companies say there is no one cancer to wage war against. It attacks in so many forms and the success of treatment varies from person to person.

Radiation, Chemotherapy and outrageously expensive cancer drugs appear to be the only effective way to deal with the multi-faceted disease other than a basic regimen of personal good-health and exercise.

Oh, wait..there’s “Immunotherapy” ..said to be the biggest breakthrough since chemotherapy..aimed at stimulating the body’s own immune system to fight invading cancer cells. They’ve even got the guy who plays Cam from “Modern Family” as a spokesman to raise money for

But why do they need celebrities to shill for funds if this is really the breakthrough we’ve been waiting for in the fight against cancer?  Where are you Bill Gates..Warren Buffet..Koch Brothers..Walton Clan? Why not step up with your billions and lets do this thing?

Or how about our own government? Could the cost of a couple battleships or Phantom Jet Fighters be keeping us from eradicating this vile disease?

How about this for a presidential campaign slogan ala J.F.K in 1962 only substitute cancer for moon.  “I choose to find a cure for cancer before my term is out. Not because it’s easy but because it’s hard, because that goal will serve to organize and measure the best of our energies and skills, because that challenge is one that we are willing to accept, one we are not willing to postpone, and one which we intend to win.”

I don’t know about you but I could relate to a campaign promise like that instead of the same old prattle.

Now there are, of course, conspiracy theorists out there convinced that doctors and drug companies are all in cahoots and opposed to anything that would kill the golden goose.

Lord knows programs like 60 Minutes and other investigative news programs have certainly exposed lots of rotten apples in both those fields but even I don’t believe there’s an organized effort to squash efforts at finding a cure for cancer.

Perhaps it’s my personal frustrations that has brought about this blog..but I do believe more could and should be done besides a cancer society fun run or bake sale.

A higher priority needs to be set by this and other civilized countries to make cancer as distant a memory to our grandchildren as polio is to us.

Autumn Rising

Posted: Sunday, August 2, 2015 at 8:03 am
By: Doug Lund

No matter how hard he tries, our old friend and long time Keloland TV anchor, Steve Hemmingsen, just can’t resist sitting down to the nearest keyboard to record his observations…his spin..on things. For years, people figured his vision was focused primarily on news of the day and politics but those of us who’ve known Steve a little more personally..well, as personally, as anybody can know him, have come to appreciate his take on music, art, humor and love of the language. So with Steve’s permission, I’m sharing a recent bit of prose he shared with his e-mail friends this past week.

I wax poetic about fall every year, probably because it’s my favorite season.

The boats and paraphernalia of summer are safely rolled up on the lawn or tucked away in the garage, immune from the occasional savage winds that surround the solstice and the ambiguous rise and fall of lake levels.

As an old farm boy on Public TV describes it, in our part of the country, all seasons are nothing but a build-up to winter survival.  My brother-in-law in the North Woods spends all summer chopping wood to burn all winter until next spring when the whole cycle starts again, the bracing for bracing for another winter in the recliner and 500 channels of mind-wrecking cable TV.

But, I’m ahead of myself.  None of these things have happened yet, except for the chopping of the wood.

I do think fall is ahead of itself this year.  As I write this, and let the record show that it’s July 29, I proclaim this the first day of fall.  It started last night when I noticed the sun fading at 9:30 instead of 10:30 as I read my Kindle on the deck.  And the sun seemed lower this morning, more at eye level. propelled through my windows by a brisk West Northwest wind.  I probably wouldn’t have noted any of the above except for the dry rustle of the cottonwood leaves; a crisp noise I swear wasn’t there yesterday even though we’ve had three inches of rain in the last few days.  At least not audible to the human ear.  Now, a dog’s ear is a different story.

I’m sure Cockleburr, my faithful black Lab (mostly) of 10 years, noticed all this way before I did.cocklebur

She’s been shedding windrows of hair for weeks…and just acting weird, although with her it’s difficult to differentiate between “normal” weird and “seasonal” weird.

Or maybe it’s just because I moved “her” couch to the garage.  Or maybe we are headed for an early fall and winter, but it might not be a bad winter since an El Nino is forming in the Pacific.

And you know what that means for us.  Wait a minute; what does it mean?  I think I’ll go with El Cockleburr and El Cottonwoods and guess at an early fall.

But, I say this every year.  I actually like the rattling of the now-mature leaves that,  just weeks ago, were mint-colored sprigs of spring, semaphoring the coming of our always-too-sort summers here on the 9,999th of Minnesota’s 10,000 lakes, out here on Minnesota’s western frontier

Cecil And Desist

Posted: Wednesday, July 29, 2015 at 4:01 pm
By: Doug Lund

I’m not a hunter.

Oh, in my younger days I gave pheasant hunting a shot.(See what I did there?) But I was really lousy at it and of the few ringnecks I did bring down, most were only wounded which meant I had to wring their neck; a ghastly procedure of spinning the poor creature around in circles like a lariat until they were dead and vomit had formed in my mouth.

My dad, on the other hand, loved to hunt..and not just pheasants and waterfowl.

In his gun cabinet was a lever action 30-30 Winchester rifle he’d bring out whenever his big game hunting buddies would call to go after deer in the Wisconsin woods or Antelope in Western South Dakota.

We have home movies of the big buck the old man bagged on one of those Wisconsin outings. He was so proud that he spent money we probably couldn’t afford to have the head mounted and, I’m sure he planned to display it in the living room of our new house in Volga but that’s the one time I remember mom putting her foot down. No sir. Not by a jug full.” she said.

So, that mangy stag head wound up hanging just inches away from my nose on the wall next to the top bunk in our bedroom which I shared with my two brothers throughout our youth.

Now..I mention this to emphasize that while I don’t understand the joy people get out of hunting…I did love my dad and I do have a lot of good friends and family members who take part in what they consider to be sport.  I’ve always been okay with taking game for food but never understood the “thrill of the kill” or making the kill more challenging with more primitive weaponry.

Well, now, the shooting of an African Lion with a bow and arrow by a Minnesota Dentist on paid safari has..thanks to the internet..gotten people around the world in an absolute uproar calling for his head on a platter. Dr. Walt Palmer claims he had no idea that the lion named Cecil had apparently been lured off the national reserve by his guides and he’s really sorry.

But it’s too late for explanations and apologies, of course. People are in the mood for a hangin’.

Here are just a few LOCAL comments I copied from Facebook:

“He’s in MN somewhere. Let’s go torture him.”

“He needs to be hunted like the boss on 9 to 5.

“Everyone that does this for fun, should be hunted “for fun” by us. Bwahahaha”

“He should be mauled to death by cats, just sayin’”

And there are dozens and dozens more..all of which I find disturbing and so should you I would think.

As I said..I am among those who just don’t get guys like Dr. Palmer or Ted Nugent or Teddy Roosevelt for that matter.  But to wish them to die in the same manner as the animals they kill is beyond justifiable..and frankly, a bit scary.  An old friend and former colleague, Lee Swanson, offered this comment following a string of others openly threatening the dentist: “More than 600 lions are killed by hunters every year. Maybe if they all had names the outrage would be well-placed.”

When my wife and two little girls first moved to Sioux Falls in 1969, about the only entertainment we could afford was to go visit the city parks on Sundays and sometimes head over to West Sioux Hardware to see the amazing collection of exotic animals put on display by the store owner and big game hunter, Henry Brockhouse.

The great white hunter himself..Henry Brockhouse

The great white hunter himself..Henry Brockhouse

There must have been 150 animals of all sizes from all over the world that Brockhouse had not only paid to kill but to have mounted by some of the best taxidermists in the country.

I have lots of memories from our many visits there. One in particular made me laugh. A guy with his son perched on his shoulders said to his toddler with a noticeable note of sarcasm while viewing the menagerie; “Brian..can you say dead as a door-nail?”

I also remember my own daughters being impressed by the ferocious looking big cats and bears but then asking why did the man have to kill the little deer or the giraffe or the ostrich? I didn’t have an answer other than to suppose Henry was just one of those thrill of the kill fellas who liked trophies.

The animals while still at West Sioux

The animals while still at West Sioux

Everybody was wondering what would become of the Brockhouse collection after he died in the late 70’s but that mystery was solved when it was purchased by his attorney, C.J. Delbridge for three quarters of a million dollars and given to the city on condition it be made part of the Great Plains Zoo and his name be attached.

So that’s how the whole Zoo revamping project began and when things really started to change and grow.

Delbridge Museum today.

Delbridge Museum today.

It’s probably safe to say that the Zoo owes much of its success to The Delbridge Museum of Natural History which features the same animals that Ol’ Henry shot on his many safaris years ago.

It’s the first thing you see when you go inside the front door.

I suppose you don’t have to look.

Just head for the door to your left  and enjoy those animals that aren’t dead as a door-nail.

A Not So Empty Nest

Posted: Thursday, July 23, 2015 at 4:24 pm
By: Doug Lund

I have the curtains drawn in my man-cave window which is kind of a pain because I’m used to sitting here at the computer each morning with a clear view as I continue to look for a flash of red in the crab apple tree just outside. But I haven’t laid an eye on that bird in months.

Sadly, as I suspected, the excitement of seeing a cardinal appear on demand last August as a sign from my dead brother, has faded with the passage of time. The logical me is leaning now more towards coincidence than miracle.

But that’s not the reason I’ve chosen to darken my surroundings. It does, however,  have something to do with me and another of God’s fine feathered creatures.

First, some background.

We’re still paying the price for that ice storm that hit a year ago last April; fracturing so many fine trees in town including our two maples.  The one in our front yard was damaged so severely we probably should have just chopped it down. But we didn’t have the heart to see it go so instead, we paid a sizeable sum to have it trimmed to look as presentable as possible which isn’t much. In fact, the tree was so weakened by the storm we expect..and usually do…find a branch or two of various sizes on the front yard after every strong gust of wind.

Well, Miss Maple gave up a doozy the other night. It was all this old fat guy could do to drag it over to the drive-way where it needed to be cut into smaller pieces for the garbage man to accept.

Now, I have a garage full of useless tools including my dad’s old hand saw which is as dull as a set of dollar store steak knives. I also have a saw with a half-moon shaped blade bought at one of the marts for this very purpose. But the teeth are so ragged only a pumped-up lumber jack could muster the strength to just get a cut started much less saw all the way through.

So..what to do?  Our friend, Alona.. just up the street.. has a plug-in chain saw she’s been offering to let me use for years. Says it’s a piece of cake to operate..and she makes this statement knowing my history with most anything mechanical and penchant for turning easy jobs into hard ones; often inducing life and death situations. I.e.: screwdriver into live electrical outlet to remove broken plug pin.  But, I did agree to a quick lesson and headed home with her little buzz saw in the backseat ready to make chips fly where they may.

Alona did have one condition; Linda had to be present during its operation to call 911 in the not-so-remote possibility that I run the chain up my leg opening an important artery.

That didn’t happen and I made quick work of the fallen branch. Next it was on to a lilac tree that has gotten out of control with prickly little limbs low enough to make me duck and curse every time I mow.  I needed to round up enough power cords to make the saw reach but once there those gnarly sprigs were in a pile and no longer a threat to poke an eye out.

That left just one job yet to complete. The crab apple tree. It too has grown spiny branches straight downward that have become a pain to walk under and I was anxious to rid myself of them with this marvelous machine. But as I rounded the corner I let out an “aw s–t” under my breath. I had forgotten that one of the most offending branches contained a nest I’ve been watching this robin building for weeks and weeks.

It’s been quite entertaining to see her tirelessly bringing twigs and other stuff to the work site..cramming it into place..then heading off for more. There have been other birds up there too. I’m not sure if they’re helping or just a bunch of sidewalk superintendents.

I was curious one day last month and decided to try sneak a peek.


Needed a closer look.

Needed a closer look.

This was late June..empty.

This was late June..empty.

I sure don’t want to mess up all her hard work, I said to myself. But I sure want this tree trimmed.

I’ll just clip ahead of it.

Bad idea.

The wood of this tree is apparently a lot harder than the others because instead of a clean easy snip, the chain just churned against the branch shaking it violently. The next thing I know, the nest is on the ground.

Oh, great..what do I do now?

Well, I  managed to coax the saw through all of the other offending low limbs then returned to the fallen nest and wedged it back into the notch from whence it came..certain, of course, that the stories we’ve always heard are true about the how wild things will never return to something soiled by the scent and touch of man.

Well, I thought, I’m sorry to be a home wrecker just for my convenience but at least nobody had moved in yet.

The shortened branch and the nest replaced. I think securely but who knows?

The shortened branch and the nest replaced. I think securely but who knows?

Linda had been watering plants during all this drama and came over to check for any signs of blood on me and to help haul branches to the boulevard. That’s when she looked down and noticed what I hadn’t seen earlier.




As I was carrying the borrowed chainsaw back to the garage, I felt a pair of eyes on me from atop the neighbor’s roof and a mournful chirping sound aimed in my direction. robin 001

robin 006

It continued as she made the short flight to a wire just over my head until I went inside..sat down at my desk, pulled the shade and felt like sobbing.

Oh, come on Lund..what a wuss.  Do you know how few baby robins actually survive to Fall? Not many. You can look it up. You believe birds think? They’re bird brains. Good instincts..pretty to look at..but bird brains.

I know that, of course, but it was my callous impatience that ended any shot this one ever had of taking wing, being the first someone spots to welcome spring or perhaps providing entertainment for some other old fart watching from his window.

Right On Target

Posted: Friday, July 10, 2015 at 5:06 pm
By: Doug Lund


It’s another Lund Travelogue.

But instead of photos and descriptions from far off lands like the missus and I used to visit and post about when hosting tours, we are back to the real world of “Stay-cations” which, as you know, is a made-up word for not having the money for fancy schmancy globe trotting and keeping what you spend close to the vest and where you go close to home. In our case, this time, that was Minneapolis, St. Paul and Stillwater, Minnesota with lots of small town stops along the way and on our return. When I say “our” that means long time friends and traveling companions, Denny and Joanie.

Our usual excuse for these getaways is the close proximity of our anniversaries and Denny’s birthday but this time we had extra incentive. More on that in a bit.

First, of course, is what vehicle do we take..which translates to..whose going to drive?  I, being the baby of the group, feel most qualified being statistically the farthest away from onset dementia. (Ah, boy..I’m gonna catch it for that.)

Actually, I don’t mind driving if for no other reason than to see how far we can push Big Red. He’s 15 now..but doesn’t look it because Lincoln still makes similar models for limos. One reason is because the body style is timeless but the main thing I think, is because the trunk is so dadgummed big. That’s a big deal for us too; loads of room for the girl’s make-up bags (kidding)  our coolers (not kidding)  golf clubs and a few suit cases.

Denny loading up Big Red's big trunk with room to spare..including the spare.

Denny loading up Big Red’s big trunk with room to spare..including the spare which we have left at home before figuring nobody gets a flat tire these days and we need the space.

Big Red now has over 182 thousand miles and has performed admirably and flawlessly both to the Black Hills in June and the Cities this past week. Oh, he decided to blow out a power window motor to the tune of 300 dollars just before departure but it wasn’t quite the dollar figure my insurance company would consider for the vehicle to be totaled so repair him I did.

And..we're off.

And..we’re off.   (please don’t make comments about the 1-SR license plate. Thank god we get new ones next year. Maybe I’ll just go ahead and order those that say geezer.

It was our conversation with Denny and Joan about what a joy it was attending the Lund family reunion in the Black Hills that got us talking about the importance of keeping in touch with the family we have left.

Joan was an only child and Denny has just one brother; Ron..ten years younger who he hasn’t seen in about that many years. They talk by phone occasionally and get along great but just don’t get together. “We really should do something about that.” I said to Denny..with the loss of my own brother still fresh in my mind.  Within, minutes, we were on the phone talking with Ron and his lovely wife Rhonda making plans to head East.

Our first overnight destination was Red Wing. Well, actually, Treasure Island Casino a few miles north of Red Wing. I have no pictures of that place although we left a few pictures of dead presidents there so the tribe could add on another smoker’s wing to the hotel and maybe buy a new bike rack for the school.

Somehow during the night and without my noticing, it managed to rain between four and five inches. Still, we trudged on into Red Wing where we enjoyed a fantastic breakfast and a quick tour of this historic town known for it’s pottery and work boots and then headed for St. Paul.

It turned out, there was still quite a bit of rain left in the clouds above and it came down in rather frightening intermittent torrents until we reached what some consider to be the more civilized of the Twins. Minnesota trip denny and joan 2015 002

Minnesota trip denny and joan 2015 007

Our first stop was the Minnesota State Capitol building which, like our nation’s capitol, is surrounded in scaffolding for repair work.Minnesota trip denny and joan 2015 021

So we drove around the streets of St. Paul for a while and it’s nice. I loved seeing the Fitzgerald Theater where Garrison Keillor does so many “Prairie Home Companion” shows..and the real diner just down the street where a couple scenes from his movie were shot. Then it’s off to the tech heavy metropolitan sports lovin’ happin’ other Twin..Minneapolis where our plan was to see the downtown..find a place to stay..catch the light rail to Target Field for the 7pm game.  I’d heard that our old favorite Nye’s Polynesian Room restaurant and lounge had given in to pressure from customers and fans and decided to remain open until January of 2016 so I thought we’d cross the bridge and have a drink there. luck..closed on Mondays and Tuesdays. So as I was frustratingly headed north looking for a place to turn around we came across a place called “Legends Bar and Grill” where they make Bloody Mary drinks that…well, see for yourself.

Joanie came back from the Lady's room to discover about a quart size jar filled with a delicious Bloody Mary mix that included a rib of celery, a dill pickle a Slim Jim, two large olives, a big shrimp on a stick, celery salt on the rim and a pony beer chaser. We just had one..but boy was it gooood.

Joanie came back from the Lady’s room to discover about a quart size jar filled with a delicious Bloody Mary mix that included a rib of celery, a dill pickle a Slim Jim, two large olives, a big shrimp on a stick, celery salt on the rim and a pony beer chaser. We just had one..but boy was it gooood.

minnesota trip linda bm

Oh..there was a pepper in there too.  We also talked to a nice couple who lived in the area. We asked them for ideas about a place to stay. It turns out he was originally from Sioux Falls and recognized me from TeeVee and she was from Lake Hendricks. We decided their ideas were a little spendy so we stuck with our original plan and drove all the way out to the Mall of America where we got a Super 8 at a reasonable rate then headed over..parked the car and jumped aboard the train for the 40 minute light rail ride to the stadium. I absolutely loved it.


The train drops you just a short walk from the gate. For us..our seats were only a few steps away. In and out was a breeze.

The train drops you just a short walk from the gate. For us..our seats were only a few steps away. In and out was a breeze.

I love everything about Target field from the cleverly hidden lights to the old timey feel of the place where you’re not overwhelmed. It’s just great..even if the cost of refreshments is as high as Dozier’s walk-off home run.IMG_20150706_220006_229



Tuesday, it was off to Stillwater; Minnesota’s oldest city(okay arguably)  located on the shores of the St. Croix River. It’s a beautiful little town filled with “quaintness”… antique shops, cafes, etc which draws summer tourists like mosquitoes but can make less patient people than me slightly aggravated trying to negotiate traffic or parking. Thankfully, Denny’s brother, Ron lives on a beautiful acreage outside of town and was waiting with open arms when we pulled in.  What a joy to see these two..who look alike, talk alike and have nearly identical mannerisms..reconnect before our very eyes. Then Rhonda came home from her job at 3M where she’s worked for some 35 years..which is about how old she looks. Anyway, it was just perfect and so was the evening meal at The Docks in town.

Brothers Ron and Denny Graves. Joan and Rhonda Graves.

Brothers Ron and Denny Graves. Joan and Rhonda Graves.

Ron and Rhonda treated us to some delicious dining at the Docks along the gentle St. Croix.

Ron and Rhonda treated us to some delicious dining at the Docks along the gentle St. Croix.

You won't find a finer gentleman than my longtime pal, Denny Graves.

You won’t find a finer gentleman than my longtime pal, Denny Graves.

As we were finishing our meals, several hot air balloons took off from the Wisconsin side of the river.  Later on the way home..all packed into Ron’s SUV as he was showing us where the famous Stillwater prisons were located..we saw a shadow pass over and several of those balloons were coming in for a landing right next to us. Everybody said wasn’t that something..but nobody thought to take a picture.

Heading home via the backroads on Wednesday, we came across this old truck which once hauled cargo near and dear to the hearts of my cousin Grouse and old friend, Grant Peterson. According to Google, Mike’s Lutefisk sold out to Olsen’s Fish Co. about ten years ago. I do not share their enthusiasm for this traditional Scandinavian cod and even though one probably hadn’t ridden in this truck for many years I wasn’t about to get anywhere close to the truck knowing the offensive effluvia that still might linger from previous seepage.Minnesota trip denny and joan 2015 028Speaking of old friends, we were too close to Hendricks, Minnesota not to pay a call on Steve Hemmingsen. Actually, I had called him early enough so he could run some Bon Ami through the toilet. We arrived shortly after four and Steve was just finishing up the yard aboard his red riding hood mower. I’m not sure of the brand but it looked powerful. It was fun, especially for the girls, to see the results of Steve’s woodworking skills..from furniture to furnishings in and around the house he’s built himself along the lake shore over the last four decades.

Steve's latest chair project.

Steve’s latest chair project.

Then it was off for a ride around the lake aboard the pontoon christened “Stevie” with Captain Hemmingsen at the helm. Oh, what fun.Minnesota trip denny and joan 2015 033

Minnesota trip denny and joan 2015 034The only thing that could make the day or our little staycation any better was a meal at Cedrics on Main..owned by another former Volga guy, Jonathan Lengkeek.  Not only has he created a fine drinking and dining establishment..he’s transformed the upstairs of the building..which was once the Opera House..into his personal living quarters.  Steve asked if he’d give us the tour after dinner and..well..take a look.

That's Jon at his dining room table which sits on the old dance floor or seating area of the theater. The stage is off to his right. It's now where his hi tech kitchen resides.

That’s Jon at his dining room table which sits on the old dance floor or seating area of the theater. The stage is off to his right. Yes, Lawrence Welk did play on that very stage. It’s now where his  modern hi tech kitchen resides.

This is looking the other way. I took a lot of pictures but you'd have to see it for yourself.

This is looking the other way. The dance floor is now divided by this bar and cabinet  I took a lot of pictures but you’d have to see it for yourself.

And so, we’re home. Linda has the bags unpacked and I have a few days trying to sort through the photos taken from my phone and new camera then try figure out how to put them all onto the computer.. download onto a flash drive..or e-mail them in a group.

I’ll tell ya, there’s just no rest for us retired guys.

Fragrance Of The Fourth

Posted: Thursday, July 2, 2015 at 9:09 am
By: Doug Lund

Back by popular request (my own) I’m sharing a favorite blog first written five years ago. Yes, another summer re-run but offered with sincere hopes that you have a grand holiday and a request to be careful out there in your celebrating.

I see that the fireworks stands are open for business again. It’s a pretty short season for those guys to sell their inventories and make a few bucks and I hope they have a bang up year but I’m afraid I won’t be one of their customers. I’ve already seen too much of my money go up in smoke on the stock market.

As a kid, though, I couldn’t wait for this day so I could blow any money I could scrape together on firecrackers.. often by whining to my mother and making promises I wouldn’t keep.

firecracker zebra

I’d peddle my bike up to the Skelly station right across Highway 14 which had laid in a  nifty supply of Roman candles, fountains, rockets, smoke bombs, black snakes, sparklers, lady fingers and fire crackers; LOTS of firecrackers. I can still see them now; piles of colorful packages with bright labels from exotic mysterious China. They came in various sizes and lots of different brand names: Thunder Bomb, Red Devil, Zebra, Wolf Pack and, of course, the more reliable but also more expensive, Black Cats.

I think what I remember most about those days leading up to and including the 4th were the smells.

After the guy at Skelly’s put my purchases, which also included one box each of sparklers and black snakes into a brown paper bag along with a couple free punks, I got my first whiff of black powder compressed into each little tube.

“Don’t you be setting those off anywhere near the building,” the Skelly’s guy said, “This is a gas station. The whole place could go up.”

Mom gave me pretty much the same warning when I got home but I headed straight for the gas stove, turned on a burner and held a punk in the flame until wisps of smoke arose and the aroma of burnt cork filled the kitchen. A couple of quick blows on the end to make sure it was properly lit, then I grabbed my paper bag filled with explosives and out the front door to make some noise.

“You be careful,” mom said, “remember what happened to Denny.”

My older brother had tried to blow his fingers off by holding a Silver Salute too long. It went off about six inches from his hand which caused poor mom to nearly faint when he came home and she saw it wrapped in a blood soaked rag. He sill bears the scars of his foolish bravado.

I sat on the steps opening the first of four firecracker packs; carefully unwinding the strand that weaves around the fuses holding the whole bunch together. I grab one, set it on the sidewalk then touch the punk’s glowing tip to the fuse. Oh, the excitement when it ignites with a hissing sound then eats it’s way back to the business end of the explosive and BANG it  goes off with a report loud enough to draw the attention of neighbor kids who come running over to watch the show.

As my audience grows, I become braver with each firecracker until I hardly run away at all. But then, as quickly as it began, it’s over. All that remain are a few duds so I lay each cylinder flat on the cement, snap them in half until a little powder falls out and light the middle. Sometimes they ignite and twirl around like a runaway water hose and if you slam the heel of your shoe on them just right they still give off a little pop. Most of the time, though, it’s just a fizzle.

I once took one of those duds apart and was amazed to discover that the insides of firecrackers were made from shreds of Chinese newspapers. What an odd thing to see ..printing in a language that uses drawings instead of letters.

fireworks snakeI tried to keep the neighborhood kids interested by setting off a few black snakes that start out looking like a rabbit pellet but when extreme heat is applied will erupt into snaky coils of  carbon that emit a pungent burning tar-like odor. They also leave big black circles on the sidewalk which riled my mother too.

But after dark, I do remember her sitting on the front step watching with delight as my brothers and I lit sparkers that burned so brightly they left a trail of light when we’d swing them around making big circles or writing our names.sparklers

Funny, as I think about it now, she worried about firecrackers but didn’t bat an eye at our holding on to welding rods throwing a shower of red hot sparks inches from our little noses.

I do recall that an ice cube and one of her kisses was a pretty good remedy for the pain of a burned finger.