Archive for August 2009

Back In The System

Posted: Friday, August 28, 2009 at 12:00 am
By: Doug Lund
No Comments | Trackback Bookmark and Share

Well, here we go..I’m on yet another diet.
This time, it’s one that’s worked better for me than any of the others in the past; Nutrisystem.
I know..that prepackaged stuff ain’t the real world, but I’ve got to do something before that day arrives when I’m standing in the kitchen scooping out a dish of strawberry cheesecake ice cream and plop to the floor clutching my chest.
I probably wouldn’t have tried Nutrisystem again had it not been for my step daughter Brenda having a couple months supply of food left over which she was willing to part with from her own successful experience on the diet.Linda was kind enough to clear a couple shelves in the hall closet for part of my diet food stash.
Back in the early 80’s, Dave Dedrick and I managed to keep our weight sort of under control by holding contests in which we’d bet five dollars for every pound we’d lose each week. We held regular weigh-ins on a scale that was kept in the same Keloland prop room where he changed into his Captain 11 uniform every day. Sometime in the 80′s when the Big News team wasn’t so big.(L to R) Jim Burt, Me, Steve Hemmingsen and Dave Dedrick
Money, as it turned out, was a great motivation and I recall winning a few bucks each week until Dave decided we were thin enough. 
I was only about 20 pounds overweight back then and my metabolism was still in high gear but within a few months of calling off our bet, the pounds started piling back on..for Dave too. 
That’s when Nutrisystem came calling..approaching Dedrick first.
 If he would agree to do some commercials for Nutrisystem, they would give him the food for free. 
Back then, the bosses at Kelo were all in favor of letting their on-air personalities shill spots especially when it meant raking in lots of extra  advertising revenue which these ads certainly did! 
The pounds just fell off the Captain and within a few weeks he was recording commercials which featured the famous line, “Have you seen me lately?” It showed a before picture of big fat Dave followed by the smiling handsome svelte guy he had become thanks to this magic diet.  It was one of the most effective ad campaigns that ever ran on Keloland and business at Nutrisystem soared. 
 I was never asked to do any commercials..but Nutrisystem invited me to try the program for free anyway..twice!
Unlike today where you just order your food over the phone or on-line and it’s delivered to your house….back in the 80’s Nutrisystem had little clinics set up in strip malls all over the country. I think they each had to have at least one nurse on staff..plus a doctor’s okay was required to start the diet.
You picked up your food right there at the store after your weekly weigh-in and counseling session. They presented you with a glass marble for each pound you lost which you then plopped into a big fish bowl on the reception counter in front of everybody. Kind of childish, I suppose, but effective. (The most marbles I ever got in one week was six and I made sure they made plenty of noise when I slowly dropped each one into that bowl.)
Nutrisysystem Customers were also required to go into the restroom and pee on one of those urine testing strips then hand it to the nurse to see if all the colors were kosher. After a while you learned to make darn sure you “had to go before you went” to avoid long embarrassing stays in the toilet trying to muster up a significant amount of moisture to at least dampen the strip enough for an accurate reading.
I lost about 20 pounds the first time I was on the program. After a couple of years, that was all back plus a lot more so I took it more seriously on the second go-round and dropped 46 pounds.
It’s taken me 20 years to gain that all back plus 40 more..so before Linda finds me tipped over in my soup one day, I’m giving it another try.
It’s going to be a tough go, though, since we’re leaving on our 10 day tour of Canada in a couple weeks. I’m really going to try minding my P’s and Q’s during the trip so I can get right back on the program when we return.
I sure wish those Nutrisystem commercials featuring Dave Dedrick were still around for motivation.
Come to think of it, I haven’t “seen him lately.”

Yea Or Nay On ELCA Gay

Posted: Monday, August 24, 2009 at 12:00 am
By: Doug Lund
No Comments | Trackback Bookmark and Share

Sure..no sooner do Linda and I come back into the fold by joining the Evangelical Lutheran Church of America after many years absence..than the church gets itself all boiled up in controversy as big wigs of the ELCA get together in Minneapoils..take a vote and  decide it’s okay for homosexuals to become Lutheran ministers..just so long as they’re in a loving relationship and don’t fool around with other members of the same sex.
I wasn’t aware of this but apparently up to now, it’s been okay for gays to belong to the Lutheran clergy IF they promised not to exercise their gayness in the bedroom or anyplace else for that matter.
 
Will somebody please explain to me why THIS incredibly divisive issue has become such a pressing one in Lutherndom right now?  Have gays and lesbians been banging on the doors of Lutheran Bishops all across America demanding their god-given right to come out of the cloak closet and preach in the pulpit if they want to?
I, like most everyone of my generation, never really knew any homosexuals growing up..none that I was aware of anyway.  In fact, the subject was rarely if ever a part of our conversation unless as a punch line to an off-color joke. Biblical chapters dealing with it certainly weren’t discussed in Sunday school or church.
It wasn’t until after my stepson, James, officially “came out” many years ago, that I began opening my mind and realized that  homosexuality is usually not a lifestyle choice but a genetic disposition; something you have no more control over than the color of your eyes.  
James is happy in his skin and we all love, respect and admire him.
So, does that mean my old homophobic prejudices and attitudes have disappeared?
I must confess they have not.
I still feel uncomfortable at the site of gay couples holding hands or kissing in public or the idea of same sex marriage. I tend to smirk at female athletes who are just a little too butch or of men who act flamboyantly feminine.   
So, can I learn to be as accepting as my church appears to be?  I don’t know.
How can I ignore biblical scriptures that seem to indisputedly condemn same sex relationships?
Well, I supposed it’s possible since I and a lot of other Christians have managed to ignore many biblical teachings including all of the Ten Commandments. 
We cling to the Genesis version of creation but can’t bring ourselves to deny the scientific reality of evolution.We accept the idea that you can’t get into heaven unless your baptized and believe in Jesus Christ yet while attending the funerals of sinners and non believers we pray that God’s grace will be enough to allow admittance.
The scriptures are filled with discrepancies leaving plenty of latitude for interpretation which is why we have a gazillion different Christian church denominations all clinging to what they believe the bible “clearly” says when, in fact, the bible isn’t clear on a lot of things.
During the Sermon on the Mount, Jesus told of the blessings that await those who are poor, meek, vigilant, forgiving and righteous and talked about various degrees of rewards in heaven for those who strive to do good deeds and be perfect like God.
But he also said that we’re guilty of violating commandments even if we just “think” about breaking them. Anger and hatred are ranked right in there with murder… and adultery is committed simply with a lustful glance at a woman not your wife. He goes so far as to say that if certain body parts cause us to sin we should lop them off or pluck them out and throw them away rather than having our whole body burn in hell. Did he REALLY mean for us to do that or was it hyperbole for effect? Such questions don’t get brought up or preached about on Sunday mornings these days.
 
So, what does God really think about openly gay people being ordained Lutheran ministers?
Can we ignore the many biblical passages that call homosexual acts detestable, shameful, indecent and perverted ..much like we brush aside those scriptures condemning greed, gluttony, and the judgment of others?
It just seems to me that if we take everything that’s written in the bible literally..especially the Old Testament..we’re all goners.
I’m just hoping that,  like the thief on the cross discovered,  paradise can be still be ours if we have a little faith.
 I expect many of you have strong feelings on this issue and invite your comments..but please let us be civil. I have the power of deletion and am not afraid to use it.  
 
 
 
 

A Couple Old Anchors’ Reunion

Posted: Tuesday, August 18, 2009 at 12:00 am
By: Doug Lund
No Comments | Trackback Bookmark and Share

Jolted awake again this morning by loud noises and roaring engines coming from outside the house.
Not garbage trucks this time, though.
It’s our neighborhood’s turn to have the streets resurfaced..so the big contraption that dispenses little waterfalls of tar (or whatever that black sticky stuff is) mixed with sand on our avenue..got fired up bright and early.
It’s an all-day job so, we’ve been getting notices from the city for a couple weeks that if we wanted to go anywhere today, we should move our cars to a side street.
I saw one of my neighbors, who either overslept or didn’t get the notice, pleading with a  crewman to let her get her car out..but “ vonce you haf been varned..zer iss no escape.”
Ah, just one of the inconveniences of city life.
As I mentioned in my earlier blog, I got the heck out of the city last weekend for a nostalgic trip to my hometown of Volga.  By early afternoon I was ready to head back..but thought, hey, as long as I’m this far North, maybe I should give my old colleague and chum, Steve Hemmingsen a call and maybe drive over to his Lake Hendricks chateau and see if the lord of the manor was up for a drink.
“Hell yes, by all means, come on over,” he said. The Hemmingsen Manor built by the lord and master himself.
Now, I know in his own blog, Steve writes plenty about retired life in the little town by the lake..but sometimes you have to separate truth from fiction in his ramblings so here are the facts as I saw them.
TRUE: Hendricks has more golf carts  buzzing  around the streets of town than on the golf course.I followed this elderly gent upon arrival to town. That’s a walker..not golf clubs in the back.In fact, last year, Steve himself sold his convertible and bought one..in part because he’s frugal but mostly, I think, to fit in.
FALSE: Steve’s claim that even after having his cabin at the lake for over 30 years..and living there pretty much full time for the last 9..he’s still considered an “outsider” by the locals; a lone Italian adrift in a sea of Norwegians.
Fact is, Steve became an accepted (tolerated?) member of the community long ago..participating in most city wide events from emceeing parades to writing scripts for the community Christmas program.
He loves to write about Hendricks and its residents..often humorously pointing out their foibles..but he always does so with a respect for their character and traditions..and, from what I can determine, they love the teasing and attention.
FALSE:  Steve has about had it up to here with his carp-eating, fur-flying dog, Cockleburr.That’s Cockleburr right there about to take a roll in the mud last Spring.
On the contrary, he loves that big lummox of an animal even though she sheds about three pounds of black hair a day and will sniff all visitors in embarrassing places after she’s done scaring you to death with a few loud barks.
Like most labs, though..once you get to know her.. Cockleburr is a loyal friendly companion who’ll do just about anything to please you. All she asks in return is a few table scraps and an occasional boat ride.  I’d have one like her in a minute if Linda would let me.
TRUE: Steve enjoys good food…and plenty of it. He loves shopping for it..preparing it..eating it and..as I have discovered..sharing it with friends.
We both fancy ourselves to be cooks..and even though his culinary curiosity reaches far beyond mine..he agreed to a kitchen collaboration for dinner at the villa.
It began with the selection of fresh vegetables we picked up from the Hendricks’ farmer’s market; sweet corn, tomatoes, sweet onions, carrots and green peppers. Hendricks’ farmer’s market..open FridaysWhile I sliced the peppers, onions and carrots to be sautéed with olive oil in a cast iron pan, Steve prepared a couple pork loins..seasoning each differently with a variety of herbs before placing them on the grill.
It all tasted  “mahvelous!”
I suppose there should have been a photo of us..but who wants to see a couple of fat former anchormen bouncing around the kitchen like we were Iron Chefs on the food network?
It sure was a fun day though and, ya know..we didn’t talk about television news once!   

You Can Go Home Again

Posted: Saturday, August 15, 2009 at 12:00 am
By: Doug Lund
No Comments | Trackback Bookmark and Share

I started feeling a little homesick on Friday which is odd since I haven’t lived in my ancestral home since 1965.
I’ve been back to Volga many times since then, of course, but I’ve never really made time to check out some of the places that were such a major part of my life as a kid…so I jumped in the car..told Linda I’d be back in a few hours..and headed north to satisfy my curiosity.
I got off the interstate at the Elkton/Sinai exit and drove west five miles to the farm place my brother Denny and his wife, Judy, fixed up back in the 80’s when they decided to leave the rat race of Sioux Falls and raise llamas. They did pretty well too..but then the popularity and profitability of llama farming ended as quickly as it had begun and they ended up selling out and moving back to the city.
I headed north on the oil road five miles into Volga..but first a stop at First Lutheran Cemetery. I can hardly believe the way it looks today from when I was young. It used to be like a city park with so many stately trees. Now most of them, like the underground inhabitants of this place, have died off from disease and old age leaving a once picturesque place of solemn serenity..rather bare and open to the elements. 
 A few stubborn spruces..planted about the same time as the first dead Norwegians,.still remain though..making that melancholy melody whenever the prairie wind whistles through the pine needles.
It seems like there’s more clover than grass around the folk’s headstone which is listing east.
Entering town from the South I drive past First Lutheran Church looking as majestic as ever. So many memories here and not all having to do with church services and Sunday School. It was here where we had our pre-high school prom banquets. It was here I, and hundreds of other kids, received our polio shots and it was here I used to embarrass my cousin in the choir loft during Sunday sermons making fart sounds with my hands.
Driving up Kasan Avenue (our main street) it’s comforting to know that the city Auditorium is still there after 71 years..proving that some WPA projects have stood the test of time.
It could sure use a scrape down and a new paint job, though. Maybe there’s some government stimulus money for that somewhere.
Across the street is the oldest building in town..or at least the oldest front façade. 
E.C. Lee and Brothers was your one stop shopping center for farm equipment, furniture and funerals.  My uncle, Conrad Lee was the "brother" that operated the funeral end of the business.
I first learned to put catsup on French fries at the Silver Bell Café.  It’s also where I picked up a bundle of Argus Leader newspapers every evening to be delivered around town. The café is long gone except for the faded sign.
The water tower is the tallest structure in town. It was built when I was in high school and, on a dare one night, I climbed to the top and stood with the beacon light blinking between my feet. I shudder now just thinking about what a dangerous and dumb thing that was to do.
Before driving by our old house, I stopped at the local tavern and bumped into an old classmate.. which, I suppose, is redundant. Anyway we shared a beverage a memory or two and some laughs..then it was time to visit the home place.
I took a few pictures but only one turned out..a shot from the alley.
Just as well because it doesn’t look the same and that’s depressing.
But it’s somebody else’s house now.
I just wish they’d have kept mom’s garden out back that she was so proud of.Oh, yeah..I spent the afternoon visiting with Steve Hemmingsen at his Lake Hendricks mansion. More about that later this week.

Lester

Posted: Thursday, August 13, 2009 at 12:00 am
By: Doug Lund
No Comments | Trackback Bookmark and Share

Dang! Les Paul has died.  Okay, he was 94 and in pretty good health and playing music right up to the end..but it’s still sad to have yet another legend leave us. My personal connection to Les Paul is in a guitar that bears his name which I’ve had for over 40 years.  There’s quite a story behind this instrument and, in keeping with the tradition of summer reruns, I’ve reposted the blog I wrote a little over a year ago. DLJune, 2008Les Paul turned 93 this week.
I’m guessing a lot of you..especially those of you under 40..haven’t the remotest idea of who Les Paul is. That’s too bad because he changed music forever.
In 1941, Les Paul pioneered development of the solid body electric guitar which made rock and roll possible. He also invented the 8 track recording machine which revolutionized the industry by making it possible to record on one track..listen to it played back and record more voices or instruments on each additional track.
With his wife, Mary Ford, Les Paul rolled out hit after hit in the fifties using this multiple dubbing technique. Songs like How High the Moon, Bye Bye Blues and The World is Waiting for the Sunrise sounded like a big band when it was just Les and Mary overdubbing harmonies.
In the early 50’s Les signed a deal with the Gibson Company and lent his name to a few models of guitars which he helped design. Les Paul still wowing audiences with his guitar magic at age 93
A couple years ago, I noticed an early Les Paul Gibson Guitar being appraised on the Antiques Road Show. It was a solid body from the late 50’s and it was valued at something like 20 to 30 thousand dollars!
That got me to thinking that I might  just have a treasure tucked away in a dusty beat- up case that’s been sitting in the garage for over 30 years!  
In 1963, I needed a guitar upgrade from the Sears model "Silvertone" I’d been playing in our band. I’d heard about a guy in Aurora who had a Gibson electric for sale so I gave him a call. Oh, it was beautiful.A Les Paul Special cherry red solid body double cutaway duel pick-up guitar in its original fake alligator-skin case. I had to have it and somehow came up with the hundred bucks he was asking. It was a dream to play and sounded great.We had worked a dance job up in Selby, South Dakota. It was a bitter cold night and when we finally got home, I went right to bed and left my guitar in the cold car. Next morning when I opened the case, I couldn’t believe what I was seeing; the neck on my red beauty had snapped right at the heel. Words can’t describe my devastation. I was so distraught that even my dad took pity and me and didn’t chew my butt for leaving it out in the cold. Instead, Dad..a pretty darn good cabinet maker..offered to try fix it with a couple of wooden dowels. It worked. Or at least I thought it did until I tried to play the thing. Tears rolled down my cheeks when I discovered that the least bit of pressure on the neck sent the strings out of tune. My Gibson Les Paul Special The guitar was hardly played at all and is in pretty good shape considering.    The serial number is branded into the rosewood neck. The first number (9) means that the guitar was made in 1959The Gibson went into the case until sometime in the 70’s when a guitar-playing friend said he’d take a look at it. Three years later, I finally got it back only to find a few parts, like the bridge, one pick-up, back plate and a tone control knob were missing. And that’s the way it’s been ever since until the Antiques Road Show appraisal. I started doing some research and discovered that mine is a rare 1959 model and that it was only made for a few months because it had a major flaw. The necks broke on nearly ALL of them. Gibson solved the problem by moving the top electrical pick-up a couple inches lower. So it wasn’t the cold weather that caused the break and my fault after all!Here’s the busted neck that shows my Dad’s valiant attempt at repairing the damage with a couple dowels.
What is it worth..even in its present condition?  I’m not sure but I do know that guitar collectors and players absolutely love these old rock and roll axes..so maybe I’ll try find the missing pieces..put it on E-Bay and hope someone is willing to pay enough to make Linda and my retirement less dependent on our monthly social security checks.
A guy can dream can’t he?

The Tastes Of Summer

Posted: Monday, August 10, 2009 at 12:00 am
By: Doug Lund
No Comments | Trackback Bookmark and Share

Saturday  afternoon and the summer everybody’s been waiting for finally showed up.. along with humidity high enough to bring on flop sweats by simply bending over to tie your shoes.
Linda and I along with our friends, the Graves, had planned to have a picnic where we could enjoy a bit of wine..cheese and a slice of heavily buttered French bread.  But it was just too hot so after a couple of beverages at their house I suggested we splurge and pig out on sweet corn.
I was surprised that our friends were just as excited at that prospect as I..so off I went to pick up a few fresh ears.
“Sorry, Doug,” said the lady at the Hoekness produce stand at 10th and Cleveland, (myfavorite) “we won’t have any local sweet corn for ten days or so..the weather’s been too cold.”
“Dang,” I thought to myself..I’ll have to go to that other stand on Sycamore Avenue a few blocks away.  It’s run by some nice kids but they tend to leave the ears stacked up on tables in the heat too long.
As all corn connoisseurs know..the sugars that make sweet corn sweet begin turning to starch the moment it’s picked from the mother stalk. Only proper refrigeration can delay this process.
Anyway, I bought a dozen ears..took them home and got ‘em cookin’ as fast as I could.
We managed to wolf them down without much comment other than to say, “ these aren’t half bad..pass the salt please.”
Speaking of corn..Linda and I traveled to her sister and brother-in-law’s cattle farm near Sioux Center, Iowa over the weekend and, I have to say that in all my years on this good earth, I’ve never seen fields so full of tall corn and soybeans. I hope they all turn into bountiful profits for farmers at harvest time.
This is also the time of year our hobby farm daughter, Brenda, seeks out all the cucumbers, Ball jars and lids she can lay her hands on so she can begin another season of canning pickles.
I don’t know quite how to explain just how popular her pickles are but family members have been known to fight over whose turn it is to receive a jar from her latest batch..be they the hot ones, crispy dills or tangy garlic. Brenda never has to buy birthday or Christmas presents..just stick a bow on a bottle of spicy dills and it’s better than a gift certificate from Macy’s.Brenda Smith..queen of canningI’m not much of a pickle guy, myself, its Brenda’s canned “tomatoes” that I wait for. There’s just no way to describe how exceptionally delicious they are compared to store bought and how giddy I get when in the middle of January, she’ll pop over and surprise me with a jar of her tomatoes that she’s been saving. I can’t wait to use them for brewing up a batch of genuine home made tomato soup or a pot of chili. Here they are..pantry treasures; Brenda’s pickles and canned tomatoes. yummm!
Of course several of us have suggested she could make a fortune marketing her canned pickles and tomatoes..but I don’t think that’s in the cards. It’s a lot of hard..time consuming.. work and I think she considers it payment enough just to have everyone falling over themselves piling on the compliments.
Oh, did I mention that Brenda’s salsa (mild-medium or hot) also puts any store bought band to shame.
Hmmm..ya know..If I just move out a couple of cars, we could turn our garage into a canning factory.  I wonder if she’d consider it.
How does this sound?
BRENDA’S BEST  crunchy dills. 

Facebook, Clinton & Fine Art

Posted: Wednesday, August 5, 2009 at 12:00 am
By: Doug Lund
No Comments | Trackback Bookmark and Share

Just ask Linda; the last thing I need is an excuse to spend more time at the computer. But, thanks to Facebook, that’s just what I’m doing. 
I know, I know..Facebook is nothing new but I figured it was mostly for kids to interact on the internet until my daughter got me hooked up a couple months ago and, all of a sudden, I’m hearing from loads of people from my past; relatives, old friends and former colleagues.
 
For those who don’t know…Facebook is sort of like a pyramid scheme only the objective is to acquire friends not a boatload of cash.  It’s a social networking website in which users can create profiles including photos and lists of personal interests, exchange private or public messages, and join groups of friends…well, acquaintances really.
Facebook is kind of like the old party-line telephones in that you can snoop around people’s sites, finding out what they’re up to, reading their conversations and looking at their pictures.
Anyway, it has been an entertaining diversion and a help in dealing with my recent struggles with moodiness and unproductivity.   Someone the other day suggested I learn to twitter. But I can only absorb just so much technology per decade.
 
I like to assume the best in folks..I really do. That’s why I’m not going to say anything negative about former president Bill Clinton’s mission to North Korea to free those two young American journalists who strayed across the border and were sentenced to 12 years hard labor. Of course many will wonder what, if any, side deals were made with that pip squeak dictator in order to gain their release. 
For now, though, you can’t help but be touched by the site of the former hostages’ emotional reunion with their families and outpouring of gratitude to Bill Clinton and their country for getting them home after nearly five months of captivity.
 
I’ve always felt that South Dakota has a disproportionate number of really gifted artists. I’ve done stories with a lot of them over the years..including Joshua Spies of Watertown who just keeps getting better and more popular. Joshua Spies putting the finishing touches on another magnificent wildlife painting.Josh’s latest accomplishment was having his entry win the coveted Federal Duck Stamp. Josh is not only a wonderful painter but he’s also a terrific guy. Check out his web site here.
 
There is another young artist from Aberdeen whom I’ve never met but..it seems to me..is destined for greatness.
His name is Benjamin Victor. To my eye, he has the talent of a Michelangelo only he uses clay instead of marble to create his masterpieces. Benjamin Victor working on the statue of a World War II Army Air Corps pilot. Still in his twenties, Victor has already had many prestigious commissions from all over the world. One of his pieces, a bonze statue of an Indian woman, is on display in Statuary Hall at the U.S. Capitol building.
Not only are his pieces painstakingly detailed but, like all great artists, Victor manages to breathe life into his subjects.
His art is simply astounding. Think I’m exaggerating? Check out his website here.
 
Well, that’s all for today..except that I’ve got to make a decision on Ol’ White Lightnin’ my 19 year old Lincoln Town Car.  
She’s a perfect candidate for the “cash for clunker’s” program but then what would I use to haul leaves to the drop-off site this fall?She holds 16 bags..and wadda I get?….a traded-in Lincoln and a another car debt.