Archive for August 2011

Another Corny Blog

Posted: Wednesday, August 31, 2011 at 9:26 am
By: Doug Lund
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cornI have to admit, I was concerned that we were going to miss the prime sweet corn season while we were gallivanting around Alaska for two weeks. But I needn’t have worried. It turns out that our soggy chilly spring was good for one thing; it made for a late staggered start to planting season by my favorite sweet corn farmers; the Hokenesses. So, I have regularly stood, with dozens of other sweet corn lovers, at the flatbed trailer on 10th and Cleveland, digging through the huge pile of ears freshly picked from their farm each morning near Adrian, Minnesota.

The flatbed filled with sweet corn and melons just backed in and the rush was on.

The flatbed filled with sweet corn and melons just backed in and the rush was on.

Oh the joy of meandering through a mountain of magnificent morsels

Oh the joy of meandering through a mountain of magnificent morsels

This year’s harvest is again deliciously sweet and, at just a dollar a dozen, (provided you buy one other produce item) a great deal for those wanting to can or freeze some to enjoy on a cold winter’s day.  Does anybody “can” corn anymore? In my mind’s eye I can still see my mom holding her butcher knife standing over a stack of freshly picked sweet corn piled high on the kitchen table. With lightning speed that came from years of practice, she’d hold the fresh ear (never cooked) upright on her cutting board, slice downward with incredible accuracy so full kernels would tumble off the cob in submission. Once clean, she’d use the back of the knife to scrape the cob removing all the delicious corn milk. I don’t remember the other canning procedures but I do recall the joy of eating thick homemade “cream-style” corn as part of a Sunday dinner in December.  I was determined to make sure our family would be able to enjoy some locally grown sweet corn for Christmas so I headed back to the flatbed this morning to pick up a few dozen ears.  At the Lund corn processing factory, it’s my job to do the husking while Linda blanches the ears then trims off the sweet golden nuggets and packs them in freezer bags. (No scraping. whole kernel only) We usually put up a dozen or so packages. The trick is trying to make them last until the Holidays. Linda’s sister doesn’t blanch the corn before trimming and freezing and says it works great..just cook a  few minutes before serving . So we chose to eliminate that time consuming step this time. I hope she’s right and we don’t get worms.

Linda's getting pretty handy with the electric knife

Linda's getting pretty handy with the electric knife

Speaking of corn, I hope to consume at least one giant corn dog at the State Fair in Huron this week. Jim Woster and I will be singing with Mogen’s Heroes on the Freedom Stage at 3 and 6 PM Thursday September 1st. It should be a fun time and if you haven’t heard Mogen’s Heroes, featuring John Mogen, Denny Gale and Bill Hoffman, for a while…you’re in for a treat. Fun songs and amazing harmonies.

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Plans are already in the works for next Spring’s 4th annual South Dakota Music Association Rock and Roll Hall of Fame induction ceremony and concert. The list of this year’s inductees and performers will be announced in a few weeks. It’s certainly gong to be hard to top the 2011 show featuring “The Mob” but we’re going to try. Circle  Saturday April 21st on your calendar at the Ramkota Exhibit Hall.

Anyone who is a fan of early Rock and Roll should certainly check out the South Dakota Rock and Roll museum located on the Washington Pavilion’s 2nd floor mezzanine in Sioux Falls. On display is a fascinating assembly of memorabilia from rock music’s golden age including guitars (Myron Lee’s famous black Gretch is there) and other musical instruments played by some of your favorite bands. There are juke boxes, early band posters, stage uniforms hundreds of rare photos and albums. The Hall of Fame board wants to keep changing and adding to the exhibit so if you have any collectible items from that era in your possession and would be willing to loan them to the museum for a time, we’d sure like to hear from you. To find out who to contact and see other interesting stuff about the South Dakota Rock and Roll Music Association, CLICK HERE.

Well, Linda is all done shucking and bagging the sweet corn; 19 quart freezer bags full. Somehow that just doesn’t seem like enough so there’s a good chance I’ll be waiting in the Austad’s parking around 10:30 tomorrow morning craining my neck to catch first site of the Hokeness corn truck arriving from Adrian. We gotta keep pickin’ while the pickin’s good.

Morning Has Broken

Posted: Wednesday, August 24, 2011 at 8:56 pm
By: Doug Lund
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Well, if that doesn’t post your toasties.

I fell asleep on the couch last night with the TV blaring away just a few feet away from my head. That’s not unusual, as anybody who knows me will tell you, but my awakening was a bit odd. Those annoying foul mouthed kids from South Park jarred me into consciousness around 8 a.m. so I got up, went to make coffee and headed to the basement  since the main floor facility was occupied. As I sat their pondering the busy day ahead, I noticed how unfulfilling my slumber had been. Then, upon my return upstairs I began a personal journey into the Twilight Zone. There must be a storm moving in, I thought, because it had gotten so dark. I went into the bedroom and was surprised to see Linda reading her electronic book instead of the newspaper. “Ready for a cup of coffee?” I asked. “I better not,” she said, “It’ll keep me awake.” “No paper this morning?” I said.  “What are you talking about? Are you alright?”  “Wait a sec,” I said, is it morning or night?” The HyVee sweet corn must contain the same sleep inducing chemical found in turkey because I had dozed off right after consuming a few ears for supper

So, that’s how I came to have an extra 12 hours added to my life which has been in a time warp ever since we returned from 13 days in Alaska. Trouble is, it also means I now have twelve extra hours to fret about a visit to the Social Security office.

ssI received notice before we left that SS had overpaid me in 2010 and intended to recoup that deficiency by withholding my next two monthly checks. Ah, wait a minute. I NEED that money to, you know, live on.

 I’m familiar with the issue that raised the SS red flag because I had to go to the Social Security office two years ago for the very same thing. Fortunately, the problem was, indeed, on the government’s end and straightened right out with no loss of money or hair for me. I don’t know why their records do not reflect my earlier appeal and settlement. I mean, it’s the United States Government for cryin’ out loud. If we can’t trust the feds to properly handle our money who…….oh yeah, never mind.  

I just dread sitting in that office with a bunch of other confused people waiting for my number to be called which will grant me an audience with the civil servant standing behind the counter who has the power to grant or reject my request.  

Guess I’ll have another cup of evening coffee and plan a strategy.

As Linda will tell you, I can be pretty good at begging; even been known to coax up a few tears if necessary.

I’ll let you know.

Have a nice day…er, I mean nighty night.

Anchorage Away

Posted: Saturday, August 20, 2011 at 4:01 pm
By: Doug Lund
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And, just like that, it’s over.

13 days of exploring the wilderness in climate controlled comfort have come to a close.

I’m writing this from the lobby of The Hilton in downtown Anchorage. We’re about a half block away from 4th Avenue where the street sliced in two during the Good Friday earthquake in 1964.

It looked like this.

 

4th Avenue, Anchorage, Alaska 1964

4th Avenue, Anchorage, Alaska 1964

It’s a little disconcerting to think we’re on the 9th floor of a hotel that would have been shaken into oblivion by a quake of that magnitude. There is not a lot of visible evidence today from that terrible event. But the temblor did rearrange the geology of the region especially on the road to Prince William Sound where we took our boat tour of the 26 glaciers Friday.

alaska klondike

Our good luck with the weather finally gave out as it began to rain when we boarded the bus. It was still pouring when we got on the Klondike Express excursion vessel and didn’t let up until we returned to the hotel five hours later. The rain and fog combined to blur the mountain views and prevented us from experiencing the natural beauty and drama of the Sound. We did cruise up close to the ice but the glaciers must have been feeling shy because none would calve as we slowly and quietly drifted by. We did see plenty of seals and otters but if there were whales feeling frisky and leaping out of the sea, we wouldn’t have known it because they were camouflaged by low lying clouds that engulfed the water and our catamaran.  But that’s the way things are here in Alaska; no guarantees. You take what it gives you and it has given us plenty to remember and savor for a lifetime. I hope you all get a chance to experience it for yourself someday.

Canada alaska  three 024

Canada alaska  three 025

Now, let’s hope Delta Airlines returns us safe and sound to South Dakota without delay. I have a yard in desperate need of mowing and a bunch of stuff recorded in the DVR.

Exploring The Interior

Posted: Wednesday, August 17, 2011 at 10:51 am
By: Doug Lund
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“Bumpity Bump on the ALCAN highway.”

They even have a song up here about the amazingly awful conditions of the famous road that stretches some 14 hundred miles through Yukon Territory to Delta Junction Alaska. It was built by U.S. Soldiers in less than a year during the early part of World

War II in order to connect the 48 contiguous states with Alaska. It’s not gravel anymore but because of the permafrost, the road heaves up and down with the changing temperatures making it necessary to take motion sickness medicine before attempting the run and wear a helmet to protect your head from concussion from the many times you fly out of your seat and hit the ceiling.  Well, that might be a slight exaggeration but it’s good to have that thoroughfare in our rear view mirror.

I see that presidential candidate; Michelle Bachman, continues to exploit her twisted sense of history. Last June she announced it was good to be in Waterloo, Iowa..hometown of John Wayne when it was actually home for a time to mass murderer John Wayne Gacy.  Then, Tuesday on the campaign trail in South Carolina she wished a happy birthday to Elvis Presley. One slight problem, it’s the anniversary of The King’s death..not birth. I think it is safe to say that Michelle will never be asked to bring cookies to the MENSA meeting.

Anyway, our Holiday Vacations tour director, Dave, who heard me sing an Elvis song during Karaoke night on the cruise ship, though it would be a grand idea for me to help commemorate the passing of Elvis 34 years ago by singing one of his songs for members of our tour group over the bus PA system. I wanted to kill him. I usually don’t sing without music or some sort of distilled stimulant but agreed to try on one condition; someone would have to get at least 25 dollars worth of gold in their pan on our afternoon at the El Dorado Gold Mine outside of Fairbanks.  I hadn’t considered how much the price of gold has escalated since our last visit and, sure enough, several members of our group met or exceeded the minimum requirement for me to sing “Love Me Tender” ..an experience from which I may never recover. Actually, they thought it was okay and I insisted they sing along.

This is really a great bunch of folks we’re traveling with but today will be a challenge as we spend 7 to 10 hours cramped together in a fancy school bus on the Denali Park wildlife tour.

We go through Sarah Palin’s hometown of Wasilla, Alaska on Thursday. I don’t suppose she’ll be home though. She’s travelin’ around the country workin’ at gettin’ out the Republican vote.

I wonder if she’s even heard of Elvis.  

That’s it for now; enjoy a few photos of this magnificent part of the world.

Leaving Yukon Territory into Alaska via Alcan Highway. Mosquitoes the size of hummingbirds here.

Leaving Yukon Territory into Alaska via Alcan Highway. Mosquitoes the size of hummingbirds here.

A beautiful sunny day for the paddlewheel boat ride up the Chena River

A beautiful sunny day for the paddlewheel boat ride up the Chena River

Rare to have sunshine this late in the season. Beautiful.

Rare to have sunshine this late in the season. Beautiful.

The boat tour includes an Indian Village visit where this young lady talks about training sled dogs for racing. She'll be in the Iditerod in 2013.

The boat tour includes an Indian Village visit where this young lady talks about training sled dogs for racing. She'll be in the Iditerod in 2013.

20 hours of daylight does results in huge flowers

20 hours of daylight does results in huge flowers

And cabbages the size of basketballs

And cabbages the size of basketballs

That’s it for now. Only four more days to go.

Canada alaska  three 042

Oh, Canada

Posted: Sunday, August 14, 2011 at 9:04 am
By: Doug Lund
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Nearly five years of retirement has spoiled me. I don’t have to get up early in the morning anymore so I don’t. But sleeping in is not an option when your hosting a tour group of folks who have always been early risers. Besides, this tour of Alaska and the Yukon Territory demands that we get up and get rollin’ when the sun comes up. Well, that’s not entirely true since this time of year up here, the sun barely has time to set. In fact, when we get to Fairbanks, you have to keep; the hotel shades pulled tight to keep out the light long after beddy time. Our cruise aboard the Holland America ship was great. The group talked me into singing Karaoke one night up on the Crow’s Nest bar. They all thought I did very well. Of course they did. I was one of just  four people who mustered up enough nerve and swallowed enough vodka to give it a try. The place was full but, like us, they must have all been shy Scandinavians because nobody was anxious to take the microphone and besides, I didn’t see any tunes from the red Lutheran hymnbook in the Karaoke catalogue.

Only had one scare aboard ship..aside from the fact that OUR lifeboat was in for repairs so we were counseled on how to tread water. (Actually, they assigned us to another)  On Friday evening, Linda and I were heading up to the poop deck when the elevator got stuck. I’ve often wondered how I’d react in such a situation and I have to tell you it was not good. No screaming or open panic but I did just stand there staring at my toes trying to think good thoughts while waiting for the Prozac to kick in. After about five minutes, which seemed like an hour, the doors opened and we were free.

 

On Deck of the Volendam going through Tracy Arm Fjord

On Deck of the Volendam going through Tracy Arm Fjord

Setting up for a group photo after our arrival in Skagway

Setting up for a group photo after our arrival in Skagway

 

A beautiful overlook of Skagway with our ship and the mountains in the distance

A beautiful overlook of Skagway with our ship and the mountains in the distance

I’ve got to end this because we have to be on the bus in ten minutes heading for Beaver Creek Y.T. where there is not only no access to internet or telephones..but no TV either. I have no idea how I’ll manage to sleep without it.

More Tuesday.

Ta Ta for now.

We’re Sailing Along

Posted: Wednesday, August 10, 2011 at 7:41 am
By: Doug Lund
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And, “They’re off!”

Linda and I, along with about 40 others from Keloland, have begun our 13 day trek into the wilderness of the Yukon Territory of Canada and the state of Alaska. Okay, it may be the wilderness but we’re not exactly roughin’ it.  I’m writing this from our spiffy 7th floor room of the DoubleTree Hotel just off the runway at SeaTac (Seattle Tacoma) Airport. They’re pretty good at sound-proofing the rooms, though, because I slept like a stone. I know this because I have a little sore throat this morning which means my slumber was deep and noisy and that explains why Linda got up so early and still looks tired. Sorry.

Our flight here Tuesday went smoothly enough, I guess, except we had to sit on the airplane at the gate in Minneapolis for an hour while mechanics fixed the entertainment system. We all would have forgone the movie and the music if we could have just taken off.. but that same airplane’s next flight was to Hawaii and Delta figured it wouldn’t be fair to those tropical paradise-bound passengers to endure a 7 hour flight without getting a chance to watch “Watering Elephants” on the pop-down screens.

Anyway, we’re here and Linda’s after me to get in the shower because the bags have to be outside our door in a half hour. We’ll get a quick bus tour of Seattle then its off to Vancouver to board a Holland America ship for a three day cruise through the Inside Passage.

volendam2

It’s tough, but somebody’s got to do it.

No internet access aboard ship (unless you want to pay a dollar a minute) so I’ll blog a few things when we get to Whitehorse.

The Keloland folks on the tour seem like a fun group. Most of them are kids just like Linda and Me. The oldest member of our group, though, is 94 and is traveling with his girl friend. I think we’re going to have a time just keeping up with HIM.

Ta Ta for now.

There Is No God

Posted: Monday, August 8, 2011 at 3:11 pm
By: Doug Lund
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Yeah, I figured that headline might get your attention just as it got mine Sunday night as at least six TV channels (including Discovery, Science, Animal Planet and The Learning Channel) all simulcast the same program in Disovery’s “Curiosity” series. The premier episode was titled “Did God Create the Universe?” 

hawking

In it, the man considered by many to be the world’s greatest mind since Einstein, Steven Hawking, sat in his wheelchair and stared right into the camera while his computer-generated voice said that not only is there no supreme being but there is no afterlife. He says it’s a fairy tale for those afraid of the dark. Hawking, who has lived much of his life battling a deadly neurological disease which has left him withered and confined to a wheel chair, bases his conclusions on years of studying the universe which he now says was created by an enormous black hole where time doesn’t exist. Therefore, he says, in a place where there is no beginning or end, the universe spontaneously created itself; The big bang simply happened out of the blue..or should I say out of the black.

That’s quite a leap even for Hawking who in the past has had to re-think a couple of his other black hole theories.

It was pretty clear going into the program that those who believe in God or a higher power (over 90 percent of us) were going to come out on the short end of the scientific stick when it kept referring to the church’s long history of persecuting early astrologers like Galileo; attempting to squash any form of scientific experimentation of the cosmos which contradicted biblical accounts of creation.

As far as I know, the church doesn’t try to jail or behead astrophysicists for heresy anymore. Religion and science may still be worlds apart on many important issues (evolution) but scientists, for the most part, have been careful not to intentionally ruffle the feathers of believers because they still can’t explain the greatest mystery of all time; how did the universe begin? 

I’m afraid I fall into that crack of Christians who have a hard time accepting everything in the Bible as fact. Sorry, but there it is. The Old Testament, especially, is loaded with symbolism and stories that challenge our sense of reality; The Earth’s age, Adam and Eve, Noah’s Ark, miracles of the Exodus etc. How can we, through blind faith, deny archeological evidence of our planets 4 billion year history? A planet that was once home to all sorts of strange and exotic creatures great and small that roamed about the earth millions of years before us?

What I DO believe, though, is that there are laws of nature and one of them is that everything has a beginning. It has to start somewhere; and, to me, it is easier to believe that “In the beginning, it was God, who created the heavens and the earth,” than it is to accept Dr. Hawking’s theory that the universe simply created itself.

Of course, we’ll all know the truth soon enough, but I think, unlike Steven Hawking, our minds are more than computers which will just shut off when we die. I believe there has to be a reason that we, unlike any other living thing, have been given a spark; the power of consciousness; the ability to think and reason; to love, hope, dream and be curious about the universe..and, yes, to worship.

Dr. Hawking has apparently never had an encounter with someone of faith who has witnessed or personally experienced a divine intervention in their lives or has had a glimpse of heaven after a close call with death. He has never met anyone who has seen a ghost because there are no such things. If he is right than we are simply freaks of nature and when our time’s up the light is switched off and it’s nighty night forever.

Now that Hawking is on record and making headlines as the world’s most noted atheist,  I do think it’s time for church’s to face up to some of these questions concerning biblical interpretation and scientific facts.

I’m pretty sure that the God who masterminded all creation can probably stand up to the examination and ace the test.

Socially Secure?

Posted: Thursday, August 4, 2011 at 10:51 am
By: Doug Lund
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Crisis averted; the United States is still going broke but congress and the president managed to strike a last minute deal that has bought us a little more time to get there. We’re raising the limit on the amount of money we can borrow by 2 1/2  TRILLION dollars.  I gotta be honest with you, I can not relate to such big numbers except that it would take the combined fortunes of 40 Warren Buffet’s and Bill Gates to get somewhere in the neighborhood.

defaultI’m not sure what would have actually happened if America had gone into default. I do know that used car salesmen feel much better about themselves since members of congress have now taken their place at the bottom of the public trustworthy totem pole. Oh, and we’re mighty tired of hearing threats from Washington that Social Security and Medicare are in jeopardy because of the economic fix this country is in. They may have gotten by with scaring the snot out of old people back in the 70’s, 80’s and 90’s but try it today and waves upon waves of gray haired babyboomers  will converge upon the nation’s Capital in such numbers as to make the Civil Rights March on Washington in 1963 look like a backyard barbeque. It’s OUR money, withheld by Uncle Sam for our own good so we would be “socially secure” in our dotage. The money’s running out, you say ? Sorry..a promise is a promise and we expect and demand that it be kept.. even if we have to give up a few things like a couple of wars we shouldn’t have gotten into in the first place.

It’s gotten so I can barely stand to watch the news anymore with the nightly parade of politicians and political pursuaders stepping up to microphones explaining how they feel our pain but it’s the other party’s fault. Now, the election ads will soon be gushing out of Madison Avenue featuring carefully crafted presentations of candidates strolling with their families through fields of grain or a city park as soft music plays in the background and a deep voice uses words like “change” and “honesty” to describe this guy or this gal.  Blechhh.  Considering how politicians have reached a new low on the scum bag scale in the minds of Americans, I wonder why anybody would want the job.

If there are any economic wiz kids out there who can offer solutions instead of excuses to this country’s financial dilemma, I wish they’d give it a shot. They’d sure have the vote of me and all the other geezers who just want assurances that even if Social Security and Medicare are no longer self sustaining, those of us who’ve paid in our whole lives will not be left out in the cold and that paying that debt is just as important as the money we owe to China which is now home to all those former American industrial manufacturing jobs farmed out by U.S. businessmen in search of cheap labor and enormous profit margins.

Ugh. Time to lighten up.

Backwards_Baseball_Cap