Archive for December 2008

Reading The Happiness Meter

Posted: Wednesday, December 31, 2008 at 12:00 am
By: Doug Lund
No Comments | Trackback Bookmark and Share

 
I’m not big on making resolutions.  
The times I have vowed to start doing something or stop doing something at the beginning of the New Year usually lead to self loathing by the first of February.
So I simply choose not to set myself up for failure and disappointment.
 
Instead of New Year’s resolutions, I spend a few moments analyzing and reflecting on the year just passed; was it good riddance or not so bad?
It might sound selfish, but I make a judgment based on the reading of my personal happiness meter; have I been generally happy over the last 12 months? 
The answer is yes.
Oh, there are things that have really burned my toast in 2008; the economic collapse and how it has cracked the nest egg of not just Linda and me but most everyone who has dreamed of a worry-free retirement.
There’s the war in Iraq and Afghanistan that keeps draining our country of resources..especially human life.  
Some old friends have died and I keep having January birthdays which means I’m another year closer to joining them. Uffda.
But on the positive side, Linda and I became members of a little country church that’s filled with good people and provides much needed spiritual refreshment.
We continue to have abundant laughs and travel adventures with our good friends, Denny and Joan.
It was a great summer and I managed to improve my golf game playing with my pals two or three times a week at Brandon.
Keloland has also generously allowed me to keep writing this blog which, I have to tell you, brings me joy to no end.
I can’t thank you enough for regularly reading my ramblings here on Keloland.com.
My very best wishes to all of you for a HAPPY 2009!  

Dream Season

Posted: Monday, December 29, 2008 at 12:00 am
By: Doug Lund
No Comments | Trackback Bookmark and Share

In the immortal words of Ronald Reagan, “Well, there you go again.”
After an 0-2 start to the season, I had no illusions that the Minnesota Vikings would have the power to suck me back into the fold, especially with that Jackson guy as quarterback. But little rays of hope did return when he was pulled and replaced by an unlikely hero named Gus who managed to get the talented team back on track with 6 wins in 7 games. Then the excitement disappeared when  he got stomped on the back and Tarvaris was recalled to duty.  But to everyone’s surprise, Jackson started displaying some of the talent that had caught the coach’s eye early on and here the Vikings were on Sunday playing for the NFC North Championship.  Ryan Longwell has time to ponder the kick of a lifetime. Star Tribune photoThey had a chance to clinch it the week before at home against Atlanta and lost so I wasn’t expecting much other than the usual disappointment when they took on the Super Bowl champion New York Giants. The Vikings did jump out to an early lead, but it wasn’t long before they fell behind. Their only chance at victory rested on the toe of Ryan Longwell who needed to make a last second 50 yard field goal.  This is the point where all Vikings fans head for the exits because we know what’s about to happen; the kick will be blocked or hit the goal post or veer way off never having a chance. But wait..no! It sailed right through..Vikings win, Vikings win!   Now, here we are, daring to dream about the possibility of beating Philadelphia next week..then on to the NFC championship and the Super Bowl and VICTORY!!!
“Doug, honey, wake up and come to bed. You were shouting in your sleep. Did you have a bad dream?” Linda asked.   “Yeah,” I said. “It’s the same one I’ve been having since 1961.
Hope you all had a nice Christmas. Aside from the fact that a couple of our kids couldn’t make it home, our grandchildren were all here which helped to make our season bright. Hope you enjoy the pictures. Feel free to send me some of yours. Granddaughters bring the joy of Christmas.(l-r)Tara, Ella, Zoey and AllisonGrandson, Taylor, home on leave from the Marine Corps with fiance Melissa.Grandsons, Tucker (l) and Michael. Good boys and great High School jocks.Our "guitar heroes" Ella and ZoeyHappy New Year from the Lunds.

Grandpa John’s Christmas Homecoming

Posted: Wednesday, December 24, 2008 at 12:00 am
By: Doug Lund
No Comments | Trackback Bookmark and Share

When John Gruseth first stepped off the ship’s gangway onto solid ground once again he still had his sea legs and felt a bit wobbly. It had been a long rough voyage across the Atlantic in late December and he was mighty glad to be standing here at Trondheim Harbor on Christmas Eve day 1906. As he looked out across the city he’d known so well as a boy, John could see a few rays from the sun, so low in the southern sky this time of year, reflecting off the beautiful spires of Nidaros Cathedral..Mecca to Lutherans everywhere.    His mind raced back to the last time he stood on that same spot 24 years earlier, when he was just 17, and about to board another ship; this one bound for America; taking him away from everything and everyone he’d ever known.John had been born with a spirit of adventure.  “No grass growing under that Gruseth boy’s feet,” people used to say.  But, as the oldest of two sons, it looked as if  it was John’s destiny to inherit and stay on the little hillside family farm at Byneset..even though there were already way too many people trying to scratch out an existence from it. By 1882, thousands of  Norwegians had already immigrated to the United States to take advantage of free land being offered to anyone with the gumption to farm and develop it. Not only was it free for the taking but mostly free of rocks and best of all it was FLAT. No more aching ankles from long days standing on steep slopes cutting hay with a scythe.
John was convinced that he must go to America too and was determined to find a way.He pleaded with his parents, Jon Sr. and Jonetta, to let his brother, Anders, take over the farm and allow him seek his fortune and independence in America.(“Behage , behage far , utleie meg bror Anders har den jorbruk og utleie meg gå til USA.”)But the answer was always no. It’s too far, you’re too young, you’re needed here. Then, one day,  Uncle Nels Christopherson stopped for a visit to announce that he was selling out and taking his whole family to the United States. He’d gotten letters from other relatives, already there, who had found success and happiness in Dakota Territory. “Better make hay while the sun shines,” Nels said. “We can take John along and help him get started over there if you say its alright.”
Well, it wasn’t alright with Jonetta who knew once her son stepped aboard that boat.. she’d never see him again.“We’ve got to let the boy go, mother.” Jon Sr. said to his usually stoic wife who, knowing there was no stopping him, allowed a single tear to roll down her ample cheek.  Grandpa John’s Parents, Jon J. Groseth and Jonetta Vevig Groseth both lived to see their son one more time before each passed away in 1908.
Well, mother was wrong, John thought to himself as he began the long walk  through the snow toward the farm at Byneset to surprise the whole family at Christmas.Traveling along the road he’d known so well as a boy,  John reflected on the decision he made to leave so long ago. No regrets, he thought, but it was mighty tough going for awhile. He discovered that America was flat alright but it was also windy all the time, bitter cold in the winter and unbearably hot in the summer. If drought and bugs didn’t ruin the crops, floods and hailstorms would.In those first years, John ached for the mountains of home and the sight of ships sailing on the fjord below Gruseth farm. He was determined to learn and speak English..but it was difficult and made his jaw tired.Eventually, though, through hard work and tenacity, things got better. He met and married a lovely gentle Norwegian girl, Julia Leite, saved enough to buy his own farm just outside of Volga in the brand new state of South Dakota and had become father to four children, two boys and two girls.  John Gruseth family around 1910. My mom, Gladys, the little girl between grandma and grandpa, was born two years after John returned from his trip to Norway and 8 years after her closest sibling. (standing L-R) Alma, Johnny, Clarence and Clara.Yes sir, he’d done alright for himself, well enough to afford this journey back to Norway.It was cold as John trudged along through the blanket of soft snow in the forest and hills..but nothing like the winter of 88 he’d gone through in America when a surprise blizzard blasted across the great plains. It became known as the children’s blizzard because so many kids froze to death trying to walk home from school through the blinding storm. No, by golly, never seen anything like that and don’t ever hope to again, John thought. What a contrast it was to this beautiful night walking along under a canopy of stars.It was midnight by the time John arrived at the front door and began to knock. “God Jul, it’s your brother John," he shouted.” “Stop trying to fool me,"  Anders shouted back from the bedroom, “my brother is in America.” “It IS me,” John repeated, “I’ve come home for Christmas.”  
Anders slowly opened the door and there stood the brothers face to face for the first time in two dozen years. “Velkommen, velkommen,” Anders said, shaking John’s hand up and down as if he wasn’t ever going to let go. “Karen, come here,” Anders called to his wife. “It’s my big brother from the U.S.A. who walked across a mountain in the dark to get here. Go tell Mother and Father and sister Ingeborg. It’s a Christmas miracle!" Gruseth farm as it would have appeared to Grandpa John upon his homecoming in 1906Grandpa John stayed in Norway through late February and had this picture taken with brother Anders(left) and sister Ingeborg before getting back on the boat for the long voyage back to America.Recent picture of Gruseth farm.  It has a wonderful view of the fjord which you can just see on the left. Grandpa John brought some prairie grass seeds along on his trip home to Byneset and planted them on the farm. A patch of that "American" grass still grows there today.

The Best Christmas of My Life

Posted: Monday, December 22, 2008 at 12:00 am
By: Doug Lund
No Comments | Trackback Bookmark and Share

If you’re allergic to corn, or are diabetic, stop reading now!It’s about to get awfully corny and sugary sweet around here.
As I close in on my 62nd Christmas, I got to thinking about which ones have been the most memorable.
The first Christmas I have any recollection of at all was in 1949 when mom brought home a new baby brother from the hospital. At the time, I would have preferred more presents but, as it turned out, he was an okay gift.
The year I got a ukulele was a wonderful Christmas. My cousin, Cliff, showed me how to tune it (“my dog has fleas” C.G.E.A.) and to play a few chords. I strummed those chords non stop for two days and about drove my family nuts but it turned out to be the beginning of a musical career that continues to this day.
One of the saddest Christmases was in 1963..just a month after President Kennedy was assassinated. On Christmas Eve, one of my uncles insisted on playing a phonograph record he’d just bought of Kennedy’s most memorable speeches with the sound track from “Camelot” playing in the background. It was too much and I went for a long cold walk so others in the house wouldn’t see me cry.
In the late 60’s it was a delight to watch my two little girls experience the joys and wonder of  Christmas..only to see it replaced a few years later with sadness and worry as they were left to wonder why their mom and dad had to split up.
Another marriage that began with promise, high hopes, and a few joyful Christmases, ended with a sour separation and divorce. That’s when I vowed never to marry again. I was just no good at it.  Then I met Linda..a recently divorced mother of three who lived in my neighborhood. We got to be friends first..sitting for hours at a time drinking wine and talking.
She had pretty much reached the same conclusion as I; that another marriage just wasn’t in the cards. But as our relationship grew, things changed and we began to consider the possibility.. but not until Christy, her youngest who was only 11 at the time, graduated from high school.This went on for over 3 years. It got to the point where all five of our kids were dropping hints about moving this thing along already.  
So, in December of 1983 when Linda was off shopping, I cornered Brenda, James and Christy and told them what they already knew; that I loved their mother, would never do anything to hurt her and wanted their  blessing to propose marriage. Well, they each started laughing, gave me a hug and said, “It’s about time!”  Three down, two to go.  Considering all that I’d put them through with two previous failures, I figured my girls, Suzan and Patty, might be a tougher sell.  But, as usual, I was wrong.While nerviously trying to find the right words and give assurances that this time it would be different, both my daughter’s eyes fill with tears.  As the three of us embraced, they said, “Dad, we just want you to be happy. Besides, I think we love Linda about as much as you do.”So the big surprise was set.  The seven of us, and grandbaby Tara, would have Christmas Eve dinner at my house..after which I would say “How about some ice for dessert?” At that point, I’d bring out the modest ring, purchased at Vern’s Diamond Shop in the basement of Lewis Drug Store, drop to my knee and ask Linda to marry me. Throughout dinner, I was sure the kids were going to blow it because they kept staring at the both of us and smiling. But the whole thing came off as a total sweet surprise and once Linda saw everyone around the table was in complete agreement and shedding tears of joy, she said “Yes!”Linda, 1984, gets another sparkly surprise for Christmas.
There have been some wonderful Christmases since then as our combined families have continued to grow in size and love. But that night, 25 years ago, with all of us sitting around a candle-lit Holiday table in anticipation of the big question, will always be the happiest and most memorable Christmas of my life. 6 months after Christmas Eve dinner. (L-R) James, Christy, Brenda, Tara, Linda, Me, Patty,Suzan.May God bless you and your family this Holiday season as richly as He has ours!

A Long Night On Holiday Avenue

Posted: Friday, December 19, 2008 at 12:00 am
By: Doug Lund
No Comments | Trackback Bookmark and Share

Call it Karma, fate, coincidence or irony but no sooner do I write about the patience and perseverance of our pioneer ancestors during the long winter of 1880-81 than my own winter survival ability is put to the test.
The story actually began a couple weeks ago when I received a letter from Midcontinent Communications which said they had received a payment "envelope" from me on December 3rd but there was no check inside.  Oh, for cryin’ out loud, I thought, I must have been distracted by something stupid Regis and Kelly were saying on TVwhen I was making out the bills and forgot to write the check. I set the notice on the kitchen counter and went to get my check book. But I must have gotten distracted again by something because a while later Linda asked if I was through with the stuff from Midco and I apparently said yes so she tossed it.
Then, this last Thursday night..right in the middle of a CSI Miami re-run, the screen went blank. Linda came in and asked if my TV was out too. “Yeah, I said, I’ll call the cable company.” I reached for the phone and pressed “talk” but there was no dial tone.  I started to get an uneasy feeling and asked Linda if she’d gotten the mail today and if there was anything from Midcontinent. “Yeah, I think so,” she said, “I put it up with the other bills..why?” I didn’t even take time to answer..just grabbed the letter and ripped it open.  Sure enough, there were red letters at the top saying last month’s payment was not received and, to insure continued service, the new amount was due IMMEDIETLY!  Oh, my God, I’d forgotten to send a check to cover the "other" check I’d forgotten to send.  I’ve got to call them right away and beg their forgiveness..hoping they’ll accept my flimsy excuse that brain farts are quite common among the elderly and I’ll be happy to settle-up by credit card..only, please, don’t take my TV away.
That’s when I remember..the phone isn’t working either. We have the Midco bundle.  The COMPUTER is part of that packagetoo!  Oh, no..you don’t suppose??? Sure enough my laptop says “not connected!”
So, there it is; absolutely cut-off from the outside world. Hey, wait a minute..what about our cell phones? “Honey, did I pay the Verizon bill?” “Look in your check book for cryin’ out loud.”  Yeah, it shows I did. I hope I mailed it in. Now, what’s Midco’s number?I wonder if anyone is working this late at night..God, I hope so or I’m gonna go stir-crazy. It’s ringing…come on..come on.. pick up.A lady with a nice voice answers but before I can blurt out “I’m sorry..please turn us back on,” I realize the lady is a computer and I must wait until she’s done running through all the button-pressing options before getting to the one that will connect me to a real person. When it does, there’s another automatronic voice that says, “We’re sorry, all the lines are currently busy..please hold.”  Ten minutes later, I’m still holding and getting mighty tired of hearing Johnny Mathis singing “Sleigh Ride.” Finally a woman with an interesting accent comes on, asks for my address and Social Security number and I begin to spill my guts with this sad story of stupidity and forgetfulness promising never to be late again and pleading to restore my TV, phone and computer.
“Doug, Doug..calm down.” She said. “We’re having technical problems in your neighborhood.”  “You mean it has nothing to do with me? You didn’t get angry and cut me off?"“Gosh, no,” she said. “ In fact, since our records show you’ve always paid on time before..I’m gonna go ahead and take off that five dollar late fee. Just send us a check at the end of the month…only don’t forget to put it in the envelope this time, okay..ha ha?”   I was so relieved that I forgot to ask when she figured our bundle of communication would be restored. What do we do in the meantime?“Well, we could talk.” Linda said..then realized we would have “lots” of time for talking in the car when its just the two of us alone making our long annual pilgrimage to Arizona and back next month. “I don’t even have a book” she said. “Well, we’ve both been meaning to read the Bible from cover to cover, this might be a good time to get started,” I said..trying to bring a smile.
“I think I’ll just do a puzzle and go to bed.”  “Yeah, maybe I’ll find a couple crosswords myself,” I said.. knowing I probably wouldn’t.
 Linda’s cell phone rings.  It’s our neighbor, Alona..who also is bundled up with Midco. “Isn’t this awful?” she said.  “What are we supposed to do? I’ve run out of things to read and now even my cell battery is dying."
Finally, around 10 O’clock, Linda shouted from the other room. “It’s BACK ON!”  “Praise be!” I thought.Our long winter nightmare is over.
Don’t tell me that we don’t know what the pioneers went through.  

The Long Winter

Posted: Wednesday, December 17, 2008 at 12:00 am
By: Doug Lund
No Comments | Trackback Bookmark and Share

Sorry.It’s been a while since my last entry and I have no excuses other than..well, let’s see, I’ll blame the weather. Nothing dulls my senses or freezes-up the creative juices more than a few days of skin-cracking cold with snow and a 35 mile an hour north wind thrown in for good measure.We’ve been living like shut-ins since Sunday; Linda with her book and me watching television where I’m constantly being reminded by trained meteorologists that venturing out into the elements without a coat, cap and mittens on would turn me into a popsicle within 3 minutes. So here I sit..uninspired and  numb from cold that that I haven’t even felt yet except for going out on the porch in my jammies to get the morning paper..praying the door doesn’t slam shut and lock behind me.  When it does and my shouts for help are drowned out by the wind. I’ll sit down facing west and, like Per Hansa in “Giants in the Earth” accept my frozen fate with my last chilling thought being..why, oh why didn’t I listen to Trobec’s repeated warnings?
A little too dramatic?
Perhaps…but  it’s a good thing I wasn’t among the generation of brave souls who settled this part of the country 130 years ago. I don’t think I’d have made it.   
Back when I was in the 3rd and 4th grade, I always looked forward to each day when Mrs. Prussman would read us a chapter from the Laura Ingalls Wilder series of “Little House” books. Not only were they written so a kid could understand them, they painted a pretty accurate picture of what life was like for Laura’s family and all those early homesteaders who risked everything to stake a claim on a piece of land that had never been touched by a plow before. The Ingalls family. (L-R) Ma, Carrie, Laura, Pa, Grace and MaryI loved all the books..in part, I suppose, because most of them took place in and around DeSmet..just a few miles west of where my own grandparents settled about the same time. 
I was especially fascinated by “The Long Winter,” Laura’s account of the horrific winter of 1880-81 in which blizzards and cold began in early October and didn’t end until May.DeSmet during "The Long Winter" 1880-81I tried to imagine what it would be like to be stuck in the same room with my own parents and brothers for weeks at a time with wind and snow raging outside; heating fuel dangerously low and food running out.  I’m pretty sure we would be at each other’s throats and not like the Ingalls family; passing the time singing songs as Pa played the fiddle or patiently listening while Ma read from the Bible while twisting bundles of hay for the fire to keep from freezing.
One of the chapters in the book was especially meaningful to me because it mentions my home town.
“Pa goes to Volga” describes how Charles Ingalls and hundreds of other starving settlers along the railroad tracks gathered near Volga trying in vain with hand shovels to dig-out a supply train buried in a mountain of hard packed snow.No sooner would workers get it free than another storm would come and close it in tight again.
Somehow, the Ingalls and most everyone else managed to survive “The Long Winter” and maybe I would have too. In fact, I suddenly feel so inspired that I’m going to warm up the car..make sure the heated seats are functioning properly, and venture out into the wilderness that is the Empire Mall to finish Christmas shopping. There’s no time to waste.I just heard  Jay forecasting another Arctic blast is headed our way. Better lay-in enough supplies to last until spring..whenever that comes.

An Evening In The Captain’s Quarters

Posted: Friday, December 12, 2008 at 12:00 am
By: Doug Lund
No Comments | Trackback Bookmark and Share

Whenever I’m out and about (which isn’t that often these days) invariably, someone will ask if I ever see Captain 11 (A.K.A., Dave Dedrick) anymore. 
Well, the answer, I’m ashamed to admit, is “no.”  
Linda and I drove by their house a few times this past summer hoping to spot Dave and Marjean sitting out on their front porch. We don’t mind just “popping in” if they’re outside but figure if it’s going to be a surprise stop with a knock on the door..we need to call first ..so it’s been months.
Then a few weeks ago, a guy asked if I knew that Dave had been treated for bladder cancer and also had back surgery recently.
I was embarrassed to say I didn’t know a thing about it.
Some friend I turned out to be.
I got on the phone to Dave right away to find out how he was doing and to apologize for not keeping closer contact.
We finally got together on Wednesday night and even though both Dave and Marjean have each been in and out of the hospital since we’d last seen them they’re now totally on the mend and looking fantastic.
I’ve said many times what a thrill it has been in my life to have had my childhood hero, the Captain himself, not only as a colleague for 35 years but a dear friend as well.  Marjean and Dave Dedrick. 58 years together on December 2nd.
The hours just flew by the other night as the four of us sat and talked and laughed about everything from our families, and the medications were were on, to the great golden days of local television and working together at KELO.   Dave will be 81 in March and, even though he doesn’t drink anymore, he still mixes a terrific cocktail for those of us who do.
Thursday morning, I received this beautifully written e-mail from him which I’m sure he wouldn’t mind me sharing with you.
 
 
It has been so long that I had forgotten how much fun it is to spend  an evening together with dear,old friends. 
Thank you for coming.
 
We have shared so many years of great memories that offer us a treasure trove of subjects to mull over.  "The GOOD OLD DAYS" fill our diaries with laughter and the satisfaction that WE were there to witness the fruition of our dreams coming true.  Who said that we couldn’t do it?   How wrong could they be? 
 
Not a day goes by where someone on the street won’t recall their first memories of seeing us on television when they were growing up.  I take it as a great compliment that we filled in our own compartment in hundreds of thousands of memory banks that grew up in these four states we dubbed Keloland. 
I love it when they say.."Hi Captain11"
 
"Old wood to burn….old books to read….old friends to trust"
No one can ever take that away from us!  
LIFE is GOOD!……My cup runneth over"
Isn’t that nice? Thanks, pal!
It was such a nice morning I took a drive in the country and brought my camera along. I also had my golf clubs in the trunk..just in case..but even though the pin markers were still on the greens here at Spring Creek, nobody was playing for some reason.
I also drove by our little church in the dale..Springdale Lutheran, where this week it’s “Invite a friend to church Sunday.” So if any of you would care to drop by around 9:30 a.m. I guarantee a warm welcome. Oh, and be sure and tell Pastor Haugrud, you read it here. I need all the heavenly points I can get.Springdale Church 26946 480th av. Just a mile or so North of Spring Creek Golf Course.

The Marlboro Man

Posted: Wednesday, December 10, 2008 at 12:00 am
By: Doug Lund
No Comments | Trackback Bookmark and Share

Oh no!
Barack Obama still sneaks a cigarette from time to time.
Am I one of the few people who had no idea that the President Elect has smoked cigarettes most of his adult life and that recent attempts to quit have, by his own admission, not been entirely successful?
I’ll bet if my golfing buddies, many of whom still puff away like Bogie in Casablanca, knew that, they might have gone easier on Obama and me during the campaign.
I’ve been roving around the internet today and finding no shortage of commentary on BHO’s “dirty little secret.”  Some are saying with all of what’s going on in the world today it’s silly to make a big deal out of Mr. Obama’s occasional backsliding from chewing Nicorett gum to a few drags off a Marlboro.Don’t worry..it’s not really him..but did make me laugh.
Others, though, are reading a lot more into it saying he just plain lied earlier when he told audiences that, at the insistence of his wife, he’d quit..only to reveal later that occasionally he’d  bum a smoke from somebody as a stress reliever during the campaign. Then, Sunday morning, Obama responded to a smoking question from Tom Brokaw saying he has quit but “still falls off the wagon.”  Some Obama critics suggest it’s a sign of weakness when a man needs a nicotine fix to relax or deal with pressure. Imagine, they say, all the pressures a president is under; the oval office will be blue with smoke.
When she was first lady, Hillary Clinton banned smoking in the White House and got rid of all the ash trays. (Bill still kept a few cigars around but apparently not for smoking.)So, after January 20th Mr. Obama might have to buy new ash trays or start saving empty coffee cans.  
Don’t bet on it.He promised his wife there would be no cigarettes at 1600 Pennsylvania Avenue and if Michelle ever catches him with a hint of smoke on his breath he knows there will be hell to pay.  
So now that the story is out..you can bet that the President Elect will do everything he can to put the flames out too..which means giving up the smokes once and for all.  Oh, it’ll be as hard as a woodpecker’s lips but he’ll do it.I just hope he doesn’t put on as much weight as I did after quitting 8 years ago.

Seeing Red at Christmas

Posted: Monday, December 8, 2008 at 12:00 am
By: Doug Lund
No Comments | Trackback Bookmark and Share

Even though I don’t have to punch a clock anymore (figuratively speaking, of course,) I’m still not a big fan of Mondays. Especially Mondays like this one; cold, grey and cloudy with snow in the forecast.
What really got me in a grumpy mood, though, was not so much the weather but discovering that the lights in the new Santa Claus figure that I’d hung on the garage have gone out after less than a week.  I still have the receipt but it means having to drag myself over to  Menards, wait in line at the courtesy desk hoping that the lady there isn’t having as bad a day as I. But how can she not be? After all, she has to get up each morning facing the reality of dealing with complaining customers..many of them like me..cranky. I can also pretty much guarantee that the store won’t have anymore of the luminary waving  Santas like the one I got on sale for 15 bucks so I’ll be stuck roaming around that big place trying to find something else from the remaining picked-over Christmas stuff.  I’m thinking it’s not worth the hassle even though I feel like someone just picked my pocket. So, while I was mulling over what to do, I decided to take refuge at my computer and continue with a Christmas blog I’ve been working on. Really not the appropriate mood for it, though, I thought.   That’s when something out the window caught my eye; a splash of scarlet amongst the bare branches of our berry tree.
‘Linda, come here, you gotta see this,” I said.  And together we stared in awe at a beautiful cardinal as he posed for several minutes..long enough to snap a picture, before flying away..presumably to someplace warmer.“I thought cardinals migrated south for the winter," I said. “Me too,” Linda replied. “But he sure brightens up a dreary day doesn’t he?”
Well, it didn’t take much searching on the computer to learn that cardinals, in fact do stay put in the wintertime as long as they’re comfortable and can find enough to eat. We just have never seen them, I guess.
Anyway, I sure appreciated that red bird’s visit. He improved my temperament so much that I think I will go ahead and take bad Santa back to the store and hope for the best.
How about that?  I’ve suddenly became a fan of cardinals. That will come to an end next Sunday, however, if the Arizona Cardinals beat up on my Minnesota Vikings as they do battle in the desert.

Piece (of lefse) On Earth

Posted: Friday, December 5, 2008 at 12:00 am
By: Doug Lund
1 Comment | Trackback Bookmark and Share

I was getting worried.Just three weeks before Christmas and I still wasn’t in the Christmas Spirit.
Back when I was a kid, all it took was a slight stimulation of any of the 5 senses; “hearing” Gene Autry singing about Rudolph the red nosed reindeer during Ray Loftesness’ Holiday Inn program on KSOO Radio. “Seeing” the decorated tree after it had been put up in the First Lutheran Church sanctuary.  “Tasting the sweet ribbon candy that came, with peanuts, an apple and a movie at the Volga auditorium during Santa Claus Day.  The “smell” of pine boughs that my 7th and 8th grade teacher, Mrs. Lemke, would always hang around her desk before Christmas break. 
 As I’ve gotten older, though, the things that trigger my Christmas Spirit  have become more elusive to the point where I sometimes wonder if it’s going to happen at all.
That was my concern this year.The first showing of “A Christmas Story” or “It’s a Wonderful Life” on TV didn’t do it.  Hanging up a few lights and decorations around the house didn’t do it. Sipping my first taste of Christian Brothers Egg Nog didn’t do it.  Maybe it’s just going to be a “bah humbug” season. But then my old pal, John Mogen gave me a call Tuesday night. “Doug, have you had any lefse yet.? I’ve been making it all day and am bringing some over.”  Almost immediately, I felt like breaking into a chorus of “We Three Kings.”  Linda looked at me as if I’d yust gone nuts when I suddenly gave her a big holiday hug.“It’s here..it’s here,” I yelled. “I have the Christmas spirit at last..and it’s all because of  the lefse!”Not just any lefse, mind you, John makes the good stuff..not the kind that they slap together with potato flakes at some bread factory in Sioux City. His is the best I’ve had since my mom’s who made hers with real red potatoes, Gold Medal Flour, scoops of Crisco and  lots of love.It satisfied all my senses at holiday time; the sound of her mashing great quantities of potatoes in that huge aluminum pot, the sight of her rolling out the floured patties, the smell of them baking on the griddle, the hot touch of a freshly made piece offered to me from her lefse-turning stick as a reward for keeping her company.  And the taste! Oh, what a glorious taste..made even better with butter and sugar rolled up like a magic carpet..a carpet that could fly me to a Nordic homeland I’d only heard about from sentimental relatives with heavy accents.
It all rushed back when I opened the package John had brought over. Perfectly round pieces with just the right amount of brown scorch marks to make it look like your great grandmother’s face.
I love to cook but, for some reason, I’m not interested in actually making lefse myself.  I rely on the charity of others.What’s really odd is that my two brothers..who aren’t as hopelessly nostalgic  as I, are lefse aficionados and fire up their own personal griddles around mid November turning out a few precious batches which, next to Mom and Mogen’s are the finest in the land.
Alas, I have but one slice left and, unless John or my brothers provide me with another fix, there’s a real danger of my slipping out of fa la la la la, la la la la mode and back into seeing ghosts in the night.