Archive for February 2011

The Boys Of Summer

Posted: Monday, February 28, 2011 at 11:40 am
By: Doug Lund
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I received another jolt of reality over the weekend; a not so gentle reminder that time travels at warp speed once you reach a certain age..like mine. 

When I heard that Duke Snider, one of the greatest major league baseball players in history and key member of my beloved Dodgers, had died, my mind  immediately transported me back to Gruseth Field in the days of my youth. It was a make-shift ball diamond located on my cousin, Grouse’s farmyard just outside Volga. Most summer days we’d get enough guys together for an all-day game..breaking only for a glass of nectar and a few freshly baked cookies from Aunt Esther’s oven. The field’s dimensions were rather quirky to say the least; 200 feet to the home run fence in straight-away center..over 300 feet to the barn roof in left but right field was considerably shorter because of a big granary building and hog house in the way. We were all discouraged from hitting in that direction because nobody wanted to climb over the wooden fence into the pig yard to retrieve a ball which more often than not had landed in a pile of swine scat. Another old storage building served as a backstop. A sure way to bring more groans from the players was when the batter would hit a foul tip back over the roof and into the trees behind. Since we usually had but one baseball we all had to go hunt for it. Our our day was done if it wasn’t found lying amongst the leaves and branches.  Anyway, Grouse and I were die hard Dodger fans. I wanted to be just like Gil Hodges and he was “The Duke.” 

The Boys of Summer..Duke Snider, Gil Hodges and Jackie Robinson

The Boys of Summer..Duke Snider, Gil Hodges and Jackie Robinson

 I’m not quite sure how such devotion developed other than through collecting baseball cards and watching the Saturday game of the week on TV which often featured either the Yankees or Dodgers. Unlike a lot of broken hearted fans in New York, our loyalty continued through the Dodgers controversial move from Brooklyn to Los Angeles in 1958. Grouse and I both loved the new L.A. Dodger logo and were delighted with the replicas which my Aunt Leila cut out from a piece of felt and sewed on our caps. Unfortunately, neither of us developed into the kind of hitters that would lead to Hall of Fame careers like our heroes Gil and Duke but there were a few times when all the planets were in alignment; we’d get a perfect pitch right in the strike zone, make an equally perfect swing and “CRACK” the ball would meet the bat exactly on the barrel sending it soaring toward the barn and off the silo’s metal roof. There is no feeling in the world like it!

The other boys of summer. That's me on the motorcycle, cousin Bob is on the left holding what I believe is a chicken.Next to bob is friend, Dixon Hoberg and that's Grouse on the right.

The other boys of summer. That's me on the motorcycle, cousin Bob is on the left holding what I believe is a chicken.Next to bob is friend, Dixon Hoberg and that's Grouse on the right.

Gil Hodges was sill in his forties when he died of a heart attack in 1972 but ol’ Duke made it to age 84. 

Linda asked me what I was blogging about today and I said the death of Duke Snider… to which she replied..who?  Sigh.  I’ll bet she doesn’t even know that they’ve started playing actual games at spring training in Florida and Arizona meaning the beginning of another season is so close you can almost smell the brats and expensive beer. Hard to imagine, though, when there’s still mountains of snow piled high on so many home fields including the most memorable one of my childhood.

North To Alaska (Again)

Posted: Wednesday, February 23, 2011 at 12:49 pm
By: Doug Lund
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I’m sitting in a quiet little corner of Ponds Bakery and Café just across the street from the newly renovated Goss Opera House in Watertown. I chose this little out of the way eatery because it said free WIFI in the window. Dining in the same place is a group of elderly ladies (some kind of club I would guess and  expect the cards or mahjong tiles to appear as soon as they’ve finished dessert.)  It’s Wednesday so I chose the house special of the day; cheese burger and a cup of homemade tomato soup.  After placing my order the waitress came back to say that if I wanted lettuce, tomato and mayo on my sandwich, they’d have to charge a little extra  because their produce prices just went sky high this morning.  So this is how unrest in the Middle East filters down. Oil hits a 100 dollars a barrel..gas goes up 20 cents a gallon overnight, it costs more for vegetable growers to ship their products to grocery stores around the country including Watertown, that increase gets passed down to customers like the lady who owns Ponds Cafe and the help has to tell diners the price of a delux burger is a few cents more than what it says on the menu.  That’s okay, I said, don’t want any of that stuff anyway. The soup was out of this world and I wished I’d ordered a big bowl of it. The cheeseburger was equally delicious with a real toasted bun. There must not be a shortage of butter because she slathered lots of it on the bun before it hit the griddle. Oh, what a great taste difference when you bite into that crunchy buttery hot bun compared to that wad of dough you get at burger chains.

I’m in Watertown attending the travel shows for our upcoming Holiday Vacations return trip to Alaska in August.

alaska cruise shop

The turnout last year was so good that Kelo and Holiday thought they’d offer it again. Well, clearly a lot of Keloland viewers are still interested in going because they’ve already sold out one tour and are taking reservations for a second. When I told Linda we were heading back to Alaska she was excited for the chance but is going to have to psyche herself up again for some of the mountain crossings. She doesn’t do too well looking out the motor coach window into deep canyons and drop-offs. But, she says, the three day cruise aboard a Holland America ship makes up for her fear of heights. To find out more about the tour click on this web address: http://www.holidayvacations.net/tours/pdfs/KELOKN11.pdf

I’m certainly hoping that the sun has worked its magic and improved the highway for my journey back to Sioux Falls. It was very intense..read that slippery..from Brookings to Watertown on the way here.  I didn’t realize how intense until I took my hands off the steering wheel after coming to a stop and thought I’d suddenly had an acute case of arthritis. Both hands looked like the letter C because I’d been gripping the wheel so tight. Anyway, there’s going to be a couple more opportunities to attend these Alaska Travel Shows. They’ll be at the hotel connected to the Arena in Sioux Falls on Thursday February 24th at 10am, 2pm and 7pm. I’ll be at the morning and afternoon shows. Hope to see you there.

Now, I’ve got to get out of here before I order another big bowl of tomato soup. Did I mention it was delicious?

Talent To The Max

Posted: Saturday, February 19, 2011 at 1:20 pm
By: Doug Lund
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Can you stand one more blog about piano players?  This one is not about my feeble attempts as a kid to emulate Liberace. No, this time I’d like you to tell you about a South Dakota kid who really could be the next Liberace if he wanted..or President of the United States for that matter.

It was about ten years ago, I think, when my Keloland colleague, John Miller, and I were talking..okay BRAGGING..about our grandchildren. 

We weren’t intentionally trying to one-up each other but when he mentioned that his 11 year old grandson, Maxwell Meyer, was the house piano player at Roma’s Italian Restaurant in his hometown of Spearfish, he got my full attention.  I told John that I gotta meet this kid and do a story on him. John said that Max was coming to stay with them in Sioux Falls for a few days the following week, so we made arraignments to meet at their church which had a very nice grand piano. When the cameraman and I showed up for the interview and to hear the boy play, I confess to having the feeling that grandpa John may have been exaggerating just a tad.

He wasn’t!

This was how Max looked when we first met.

This was how Max looked when we first met.

After saying hello, the polite young man sat down to the keyboard and my jaw dropped as he began to play a song he’d written himself! I was dumbfounded  to see and hear such grown-up music flow from the touch of his little 11 year old fingers. I looked at John and he was smiling as if to say, “See I told ya.” Max continued to play as the camera rolled. Like a seasoned pro, he went from classical to pop to gospel and jazz without missing a note.

 When Max was 6, his parents, Clint and Deb Meyer, bought him an electronic keyboard for Christmas and were more than a little shocked when almost immediately he began picking out melodies on his own.  Suspecting they had a prodigy on their hands, Clint and Deb arranged for music lessons and a bigger piano.Max soaked up songs like a sponge and by the age of ten had released his first CD and was working on a second when we met.

“I assume that you plan to make music your life,” I said to Max after we sat down for an interview following his impromptu concert. “Well I do like performing,” he said. “And I really love to compose music but I also like school and sports.” It turns out that Max was an exceptional student and was already pondering a career in medicine, a brain surgeon. As for his talent, the youngster’s humble assessment was that it was simply a gift from God.

For some reason, I got to thinking about that interview last week and decided to call his grandpa John to find out what Max was up to.

Maxwell-Meyer_largeWell, It turns out that a wealthy benefactor who had heard Max play and was aware of his superior scholastic skills offered to pay the boy’s tuition to the prestigious Phillips Academy in Andover, Massachusetts where he finished out his last two years of high school graduating with honors in 2008. Today, Max is a junior at Harvard where he has concentrated on Economics and East Asian studies. Plus last summer he interned at the Winston Group in Washington..a firm specializing in political polling and strategy. He also worked for CNN’s top political analyst, David Gergen. Oh, yeah, he’s still very much involved in music at Harvard..composing all the time and performing as often as he can. In fact, late last year, he was invited to speak at a gathering of Phillips Academy supporters in New York City.  Max gave an eloquent talk at the podium for a few minutes..then stepped over to the piano and dazzled the audience, in their tuxedos and evening gowns, with a little jazz. To see it  click on this website: http://www.facebook.com/phillipsacademy/posts/190609120949517

It’ll be interesting to follow Maxwell Livingston Meyer as life continues to unfold for this “Wunderkind” from Spearfish;  Politician..Economist..Physician..Musician..it would seem that all  doors are open to him. When I  talked to his grandpa John, he said Max is still the same humble kid I interviewed back in 2002 who knows he’s been blessed and is determined to not waste any of his gifts.

One more thing,  John also said that when he last talked to his grandson, he was still excited about the hole-in-one he got at the Chevy Chase Golf Club in Washington last summer..his first.

Okay, God..isn’t that overdoing it a little?

Ebony And Ivory

Posted: Wednesday, February 16, 2011 at 12:57 pm
By: Doug Lund
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I see that actor Michael Douglas, who is apparently back in good health after a battle with throat cancer, has been cast in a new movie about one of my childhood heroes, Liberace.

Black Tuxes were soon replaced by sequins, feathers and rhinestones but he always played great.

Black Tuxes were soon replaced by sequins, feathers and rhinestones but he always played great.

Yup, I admit it, back in the fifties, the flamboyant pianist was a regular visitor into the Lund home on Thursday evenings and I was glued to the set watching his every move and listening to every chord.  I liked all the music he played from classical to show tunes to the Beer Barrel Polka. Mom was a big fan too and together we’d guess on when Liberace would turn to the camera during a performance and give his trademark wink. We really didn’t think too much about it at the time but today, I suppose, most everyone would immediately conclude from his mannerisms, sparkly outfits and speaking style that Liberace was gay. It turns out he was, of course, but such things just never crossed my young mind.  All I could think about how much I wanted to play piano like him. I’m sure my mother would have loved that too because she didn’t object too strenuously when I mentioned the possibility of taking lessons. The only piano teacher in town was Mrs. John Miller..the school superintendent’s wife. (I have no idea what her first name was. Back in the dark ages, married women gave up a lot of personal identity; their first names known only to family and a few close friends.) Mrs. Miller charged one dollar per half hour..which may sound cheap but this was at a time when my old man was making two bucks an hour working construction ten hours a day. Plus there was another problem; a big one. We didn’t have a piano; pretty hard to be the next Liberace without one. Here the story gets a little fuzzy. All I remember is coming home from school one day and there it was; a big old upright “Howard”piano that had somehow been squeezed into the little bedroom I shared with my two brothers. I have no idea where mom got the thing or how she paid for it but there was no turning back now. If she found the cash for the instrument, she’d figure a way to come up with the money for lessons. But I was in for another big shock that day.  My mother sat down to this old relic, placed her diminutive fingers on the black keys and, to my amazement, started banging out the only tune she knew; an up tempo ditty that was like Chopsticks only more up tempo and a lot more complicated requiring the use of all her fingers and the entire keyboard. I begged her to teach it to me..which she eventually did but pointed out that it was just a novelty for fun, not really playing.   At age 12 or 13, I was one of Mrs. Miller’s older students so I’m sure she expected me to catch on to the basics in a hurry. To be honest, it was kind of embarrassing having her sit so close to me with the smell of face powder in my nostrils and that blasted metronome ticking away as I tried to plunk out simple little tunes from the red John Thompson book for modern piano. “Papa Haydn’s dead and gone..but his memory lingers on. When his heart was full of bliss, he wrote merry tunes like this.”

It didn’t take long for me to figure out that Mrs. Miller wasn’t about to provide any shortcuts even to a student of such advanced age. I can’t say that the lessons were boring..more like terrifying because, no matter how much my mother prodded and pleaded, I rarely practiced until a few hours before making the walk over to my teacher’s house because A) I was lazy. B)I hated those silly childish tunes and C) I’d discovered rock and roll. That first recital by all of Mrs. Miller’s piano students was one of the most humiliating evenings of my young life. I struggled through a glorified version of “Twinkle Twinkle Little Star”  and then, to muffled applause, shuffled back to my seat vowing to never go through that again. But then, one of the advanced students (younger than me) concluded the program performing one of the most beautiful melodies I’d ever heard. I found out later it was “Theme From Liebenstrum” by Franz Liszt. The music for it was in the back of John Thompson’s red book Grade TWO..which I had at home.

For the next week, I practiced that piece over and over until I had it down pat with just the right inflections in all the proper places. I even raised my right hand after playing some of the notes, just like Liberace. My mom couldn’t believe how lovely it sounded or my renewed enthusiasm to play. I couldn’t wait for Mrs. Miller to hear it and immediately recognize that she had been holding this talented young man back. But after I was through, she only said , “It was very nice, Douglas, but you musn’t jump ahead. We need to crawl before we walk..walk before we run.”  Much to my mom’s disappointment but financial relief, I quit piano lessons shortly thereafter.

There was a guitar at home with my name on it. My cousin and I had visions of stardom and beautiful young ladies cowering at our feet like Elvis or The Everly Brothers so, in the same room where the old Howard piano now sat silent, we practiced and practiced for hours on end learning guitar chords until our fingers bled and singing along with 45 rpm records till our young voices grew hoarse.

That's cousin Grouse (on the right) and an exhausted looking me practicing in me and my brother's bedroom. The old piano would be off to my right.

That's cousin Grouse (on the right) and an exhausted looking me practicing in the bedroom I shared with my brothers. I'm actually playing Grouse's guitar ( A Fender) and he's on mine..a much cheaper Sears Silvertone. I suppose I bullied him into it but he didn't want to play lead and I did so he let me use the easier to play Fender. The old piano would be off to my right.

If only I’d applied that kind of  enthusiasm toward the piano. But, true dedication, it seems, is often motivated by lust and fame.

Considering Michael Douglas’ age, I would imagine that he’ll be playing Liberace only in his later life…the Las Vegas years..when he was a caricature of himself; when audiences would show up to see his outrageous outfits and stage show as much as to hear his always amazing performance on the piano.  Matt Damon has been cast as Lee’s lover so there’s little doubt about the film’s focal point. When it comes out, I Think I’ll just save my money and watch an old Liberace television show on youtube instead.

Valentine’s Day Mystery

Posted: Saturday, February 12, 2011 at 9:12 am
By: Doug Lund
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Standing at the gas pump the other morning, the only thing that kept me from boiling over with rage at the at the high price of fuel was the fact that a west wind was blowing and I felt colder than the other day when it was 2 below..yet sunny and calm. February is that kind of month. The temperature can have huge swings but  I’ve always felt that by the time Valentine’s Day arrives, we’ve crossed an imaginary line in the snow; a seasonal barrier that means it’s finally okay to go ahead and believe that, despite the very real possibility of a March blizzard or two, the mild breezes of spring will be showing up soon to muscle winter out of the way.

I remember lots of warm Valentine’s Days from my youth. Or maybe it was the kind of warmth you feel when flushed with nervous anticipation and fear of extreme embarrassment over the exchange of Valentine cards with my classmates.  It was an annual ritual we had all through grade school.

valentine box

On Valentine’s eve, Mom and I would sit at the kitchen table with paste and construction paper transforming an old shoe box into a colorful container for all the Valentines I expected to get the next day. Of course in order to receive, one must give so we’d spend considerable time going down the list of fellow students who were to get a Valentine from me then sign each one and put it in an envelope. It was a tough job. You sure didn’t want to give anything too lovey dovey to the guys on the list..or to certain girls who you’d just as soon skip altogether except your mom says that would hurt their feelings.

valentine eggs

It was a fine line between the other girls; those who I thought were okay..those I liked and then there was that special one..the one Elvis sang about in his song All Shook Up.” She was beautiful in her pleated skirt and angora sweater.(“My tongue goes tied when I try to speak; my insides shaken like a leaf on a tree.”) Part of the attraction, I suppose, was knowing she was unattainable. How could she like a chubby big-eared kid  like me? But I had to make my feelings known so, instead of just signing my name on her Valentine, I nervously wrote “Love” Doug at the bottom. It was an incredible display of pent up passion for a shy Norwegian but it had to be done.

valentine popcornWe’d all bring our Valentine boxes to school and place them on a table next to our name. Then during recess or over lunch, everyone would stuff them with Valentines to be opened during the classroom party at day’s end featuring Kool-Aid and heart-shaped sugar cookies with red frosting. With my heart pounding so loud I was sure others could hear, I kept glancing over to the desk of my dream girl hoping I might get a glimpse of her reaction when she opened mine. What would I do if she turned around, looked at me and smiled? But after she’d opened every one, there was nothing; absolutely nothing other than her chatting and laughing with friends.  I’m not sure if I was devastated or relieved but soon it would be spring and next fall she’d be in another classroom. Out of sight out of mind perhaps?

When I got home that evening, mom, of course, wanted to see all of my Valentines even though most of them were the exact same ones as I’d given out because everybody bought their supply at Westaby’s store downtown. Then mom said, “What’s this?” as she pulled a little note from the box that had apparently slipped out of a Valentine. It was in a girl’s handwriting (always neater) and read: “Doug, Please be Mine.”  “Who’s that from?” mom asked. “I don’t know,” I said.  

I never did find out who wrote the note but I’ve chosen to believe it did indeed come from that lovely and equally shy classmate in the pleated skirt and angora sweater.

 I hope there’s a special someone in your life who still makes your heart go piddy pat and will always be yours. Happy Valentine’s Day!

It’s Chili In The House

Posted: Tuesday, February 8, 2011 at 1:27 pm
By: Doug Lund
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I wish I’d taken a picture of my neighbor’s little dog this morning as he was standing next to the car his master was trying to get started. He kept lifting his front paws off the ground..first one for a few seconds..then the other..trying, I suppose, to keep them from permanently freezing right to the icy pavement.  Unless they are pulling a sled in the Iditarod I’ve always thought owners putting coats and booties on their doggies was a little too precious but this poor pint-size pug could sure have used a couple pair..and a parka too.

I couldn’t believe the thermometer on Big Red as I backed out of the garage and headed  downtown to record a promo for Keloland. It went from ten above to ten below in ten seconds. My god..this is nuts. Its days like this when I like to make up a big batch of hot chili.(Hot as in temperature not on fire with peppers) I won’t say that I’m famous for my chili but people do seem to like it. In fact, way back when the South Dakota Beef Council was putting out cookbooks featuring favorite beef recipes from various personalities and politicians, I submitted my chili concoction and received lots of positive comments. I’m even told that the restaurant at Falls Park uses the recipe from that book.  So, when I got home, I started going through the cupboard to see if I had all the necessary ingredients to make a batch.  Hamburger..check, Onions & garlic..check, canned tomatoes and tomato soup..check. Chili powder and other spices..check, beans..both chili and kidney..check. I know, sounds pretty basic doesn’t it? I also know that Chili purists scoff at the notion of using beans. They also insist that real chili is made with chucks of meat not ground beef.  Well, I’ve had it that way and still prefer my own.

chili 001

There have been times when I’ve had to make my own chili powder when I ran out of the boughten stuff. It turned out great and helped me clean out some of the herbs and spices that have been in the cupboard since receiving them as a wedding gift 27 years ago.  I also make sure to use precisely 239 beans in my chili because if there was just one more it would be too farty!  Uffdah, I do apologize for that awful old joke but couldn’t resist.   So, Lund, what sets your chili apart from everyone elses? I think it’s probably the brown sugar.  I use quite a bit of it..maybe a half cup or more. I never measure.  That’s it. The rest is pretty much impromptu; for example today there was some left-over bloody Mary mix in the fridge so I tossed that in. Sometimes I’ll dice up some celery or green peppers and sauté that with the onions and garlic. I’ll add a half cup of wine if I have it and a squirt of yellow mustard if I remember. After that, it’s simply taste and add what you think it needs. Just now I thought it might need that shot of mustard but only had honey mustard and used it. I wished I hadn’t. Hopefully, another hour on simmer and it will blend right in. Oh, who am I kiddin’ I can’t wait an hour.  

chili 003

I’ll bet many of you have a favorite chili recipe you’d care to share..please feel free to do so in the comments.

Keep warm and bon appetite!

Blinded By The Lights

Posted: Friday, February 4, 2011 at 4:02 pm
By: Doug Lund
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highway patrol crawford

zeal·ous

–adjective

full of, characterized by, or due to zeal; ardently active, devoted, or diligent.

That word best describes the Nebraska highway patrolman I encountered on the final leg of our long  perilous journey home from Arizona. 

After deciding to stay an extra night in our New Mexico Super 8 storm home..we cautiously coaxed Big Red onto Interstate 40, bound for Oklahoma City. The temperature outside was 10 below zero.  The first hundred miles or so justified our caution. Hundreds of 18 wheelers had managed to create two dry trails in the driving lane but the passing lane was not fit for anyone but fools. Venturing over there was suicide but, sure enough, as I’m safely tucked in behind a semi doing 40 miles per hour, somebody in a small SUV, came charging past us kicking up little chunks of ice as he sped by.  “Well, we’ll see him upside down in the ditch soon,” both Linda and I said in unison. But we never did and by the time we approached Santa Rosa, the dry spots on the highway had grown wider and by the time we arrived in Amarillo..it was all clear with a temperature of a balmy 8 degrees. Even going through Oklahoma City, where they’d gotten a foot of snow,  was a breeze thanks to the freshly plowed toll road by-pass. We made it all the way to Wichita before calling it a night. Next morning, we were greeted by temps in the teens and a southerly breeze for a change. When we finally crossed the border into Nebraska, Linda and I gave each other a high five; we’re getting close now!

There are several small towns along that stretch of Highway 81. The only way you can even tell it’s a town is because of the 55 mile an hour speed limit signs. I had been lifting off the gas for each one of them..slowing to at least 60 (believing cops allow a 5 mph fudge factor) and wondering why it was necessary to slow down for every old grain elevator and abandoned gas station. Then, with Interstate 80 almost in sight, I passed through another dilapidated little berg off to the side of the road. It was posted 55 but this time I just kept goin’. That’s when I was blinded by the colorful strobe lights in my rear view mirror that came out of no where.  

BUSTED!

If you're lost by the earlier Broderick Crawford reference, ask your parents.

If you're lost by the Broderick Crawford reference, ask your parents.

So there I sat like a whipped puppy waiting for the patrolman to run all the license plate information before making that slow walk to my window. He needed to make sure I wasn’t some criminal who might be packing heat or I could be a smuggler and the reason my big old car was riding so low is because the trunk was loaded with illegal aliens instead of a bunch of suit cases, dirty clothes and cans of soup and vegetables which had frozen solid the night before. “Good afternoon. Can I see your license, registration and proof in insurance, please?” Oh god..I always save the registration when I put on the new plates..where is it? Here, Linda said after going through the glove compartment. Our insurance card..where’s our insurance card? I don’t think we got the latest one from State Farm before we left.

 “Did you not see any of the eight 55 mile an hour signs posted back there?” the trooper asked sarcastically. “Guess not,” I said. “We’ve been on the road a long time and anxious to get home.” That clearly didn’t buy any sympathy. “Well, you keep looking for that insurance card and I’ll be right back.” As he returned to his blinking cruiser we frantically went through everything..but no card.

CRAP. 

Suddenly, Broderick Crawford is back at my window. “Uh, Mr. Lund you were doing 68 in a 55. That’s going to run you 75 dollars plus court costs for a total of 125 dollars. You can appear back here in person or send it in. As for the insurance, we’ll give you ten days to have a local police officer verify that you’re covered and sign this form. Now, I need you to put your signature by the X on all three pages and you can be on your way.”

During the time we were sitting there, I don’t think six cars passed from either direction. “It’s just a damn speed trap to make money off of dumb schlubs like us,” I whispered to Linda as I handed the paperwork back through the window. “Be careful now, have a nice day.”  I wanted to scream..listen pally, you’ve ruined any possibility of that with you’re your little toll road here. I hope you choke on the money you get for exceeding your monthly quota. But I kept a cold silence while Linda leaned over as we’re pulling away and said “Thank You.” “Thank you?” I said..you’re telling the guy who just picked our pocket for 125 bucks thank you?” “He’s just doing his job, getting mad isn’t going to help,” she said.

That, you see, is the difference between her and I. Linda is a good person inside and out..all the time. Me..not so much.

But it is good to be home. I made out checks to pay the bills this morning..a couple days past due because of our being stranded. I’m going to try hard to muster an understanding attitude when next month’s bills arrive and  include late fees. They’re just doing their job..heh, heh, heh.

Stormin’ For Home

Posted: Tuesday, February 1, 2011 at 3:10 pm
By: Doug Lund
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Greetings from the “Land of Enchantment”..New Mexico where the state plant and the winter weather are both pronounced the same; “Yucca.”

Left Fountain Hills, Arizona on Monday knowing full well we were probably going to encounter bad weather on our route home but the first several hundred miles were mostly dry roads and sunshine interrupted occasionally by a  frightening dark wall of clouds filled with intense snow. But it only lasted for a few nerve wracking miles..and then we’d break free into the clear again. I suppose we were lulled  into a false sense of security believing we must be cleverly sidestepping the storm systems..or maybe the forecasters were exaggerating the severity of the situation. After all, these Southwest people may know all about handling heat and dust but they’re wusses when it comes to dealing with the slightest amount of snow and cold.  This is nothin’, we thought..until we drove into a dark wall outside of Albuquerque and never came out. The snow started coming down in gentle flakes..then turned to hard pellets that bounced off the windshield like gravel. Then the flakes turned huge, looking like white leaves floating down from an albino cottonwood. Still, the highway though town wasn’t too slippery so I suggested we press on. Dumb idea.  A half hour later, after passing by three accidents on Interstate 40 in the high country just east of Albuquerque (the same area where we were in a two hour traffic jam on the way out) it was pretty clear that if I didn’t find a motel soon, Linda was going to pull the arm rest right off the door. But what’s out here?  Then she spotted the sign that says, “Moriarity 13 Miles.” Fortunately, at the last rest stop, I’d grabbed one of those traveler’s magazines that have motel discount coupons inside..but more importantly  they also have motel phone numbers. Linda got on the cell and we were able to book a room and even got the discount. So, here we are in Moriarity, New Mexico which is called the “Crossroads of  Opportunity” because of its perfect location in the heart of the state along the historic Route 66, “The Mother Road.”

For Linda and me, though, it’s simply a port in the storm as we’re holed up in the Super 8 until at least Wednesday. Staying another night was the right thing to do. We’re close enough to the interstate to see that it’s mostly truck drivers who are brave or foolish enough..to challenge that slippery slab a quarter mile away.

Odd..but the sun peaked through just as I took this..then went back behind the clouds and it has been snowing off and on ever since.

Odd..but the sun peaked through just as I took this..then went back behind the clouds and it has been snowing off and on ever since.

We’re fine waiting it out. There’s adequate heat in our room, a TV that gets more than three channels, internet access, a functioning ice machine and a half bottle of hooch in the suit case. Plus there are couple fast food joints within walking distance..so we’ll survive.

Hmmm, why is it I’m not sensing much sympathy from you folks back home? Could it be that while we’ve been golfing and having outdoor patio parties in Phoenix you’ve been shoveling and shivering the entire month we’ve been gone?  

Now, now, vengeance doesn’t become you.