Archive for October 2012

Table Manners

Posted: Tuesday, October 30, 2012 at 11:32 am
By: Doug Lund
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Linda has been on a mission of late; to rid our house of “stuff” that hasn’t seen the light of day in years. She goes on these tangents occasionally. They’re usually brought on by anger and frustration over having to move a mountain of boxes to get at something stored deep in the bowels of the basement closet under the stairs. Or if  she wants something she thinks is in the bottom container of a tall stack of containers teetering precariously in the laundry room next to the downstairs fridge. “Why do we have all this crap?” I hear her holler from the nether regions as I relax in my big upstairs living room chair with remote in hand adjusting the volume upward so she doesn’t drown out the sound of “This Old House” on TV; one of the many “how to” shows I regularly watch from a reclining position but put to no practical use in real life. I know when she’s coming upstairs because her basement allergies have set off a distractingly loud series of sneezing. When she appears at my chair and looks at me with her itchy red eyes, I hit the pause button and fully expect her to give me a much deserved arse chewing for being such an insensitive, unhelpful, lazy oaf. But, instead, she smiles and hands me some items.. things she’s salvaged from boxes destined for the Goodwill or Salvation Army; including this picture of the Keloland TV news staff in the late 80’s.

Recognize any of these folks? Jaine Andrews (top row second from left) and me are the only two people in the photo still on the Kelo payroll.

Recognize any of these folks? Jaine Andrews (top row second from left) and me are the only two people in the photo still on the Kelo payroll.

“Why are you so determined to go through these things now?” I asked.  “Because I don’t want our kids to face the same situation as what we’re dealing with at mom’s.” she replied.

Mother Mary Trudeau passed away late last summer in the Alcester nursing home just a few blocks away from the house where she and Len raised 8 children. It wasn’t until after she died that her family realized just how much stuff she’d accumulated in that house over 65 years and have to decide what to do with it all. The big items like furniture and appliances weren’t a problem; they were claimed by and distributed among all the siblings and grand siblings amicably. But there was..and still are..drawers and boxes stuffed with things that Linda and her family must determine whether is trash or treasure. “It’s been physically and mentally exhausting, she says, and I’m determined to spare our kids from having to make those kinds of decisions after we’re gone.”  

To be fair, I have offered to help but I think Linda knows she wouldn’t get rid of much if I did; too attached to things even though I’d forgotten they existed. I wouldn’t say I’m a candidate for “Hoarders” but the sight of some old object can trigger memories that distract me for hours; making me reluctant to let go. I am being pressured, and rightly so, to make a decision on clearing my bedroom closet which is crammed full of suits and shirts and shoes. I still have delusions that I’m going to one day lose weight and wear them all again even if they haven’t been in style for 20 years.

One of the things from Mother Mary’s house that Linda had no qualms about requesting was the ornate oak table that was used as a living room TV stand.

They always called it the library table

They always called it the library table

It will be assuming a similar place of prominence at our place. My lovely wife has finally convinced me, her old stick-in-the-mud hubby, that after 17 years, it’s time we changed the look of our little dwelling which means relocating the oak table and chairs that came from MY boyhood home. They will  now be the focal point of our rarely used front room which is being converted into a formal dining room.

I’m glad we got that table when the family divvied up the Lund estate. I’m flooded with nostalgia every time I look at it.

table lunds 001

It’s  where my brothers and I all had our birthday parties. Mom would put in both leaves to make room for everybody and everything; cousins, friends, loads of food including a lamb-shaped birthday cake lovingly created by Aunt Leila and, of course, a few presents that were not to be opened until after we ate.

 It was on that table where mom served up the best roast beef, ham, chicken and turkey dinners (sometimes at the same meal) ever consumed by mankind. Guests would go on and on about how delicious everything tasted while mom, with typical Norwegian humility,  would reluctantly accept the complements but be sure and point out her perceived culinary shortcomings. It was at that table that my cousin Grouse and I would nearly explode from holding back laughter when dining with Uncle Conrad, who straddled a fine line between coherence and dementia for years and never failed to tell the same two jokes before every meal. Jokes that were too corny for Reader’s Digest. He’d hold up a napkin and ask, you know what they call this don’t you? Mistake Paper!..and he’d roar.  So would Grouse and I but we were laughing AT..not with him. Shame on us.

It was at that table where I did my homework..although I don’t ever remember doing much homework. But it was there that mom tried desperately to drill Sunday School memory work through my thick head.

 I also recall her sitting alone at that table for hours on end with her hands at the keys of an old, old typewriter. She was practicing up her long idle typing skills learned at secretarial school when in her teens, so she could help dad at his new job working for Farmer’s Mutual Insurance.

I was amazed at how fast it all came back to her.

 It was at that table that dad would set up the movie projector to show the films from our latest trip to Yellowstone or Canada to invited company who’d just consumed one of mom’s big meals. Exciting as those home movies were it was tough to remain alert and awake even with my father’s stirring narration.

It’s at that table where the projector was eventually replaced with a breathing machine which kept the suffocating effects of the old man’s emphysima at bay for couple years.

It was also on that table where mom displayed all the sympathy cards received after dad gave up the fight and took his last breath.

There, now you see why Linda can’t count on this sentimental old slug to be of any use whatsoever in saying goodbye to stuff.

Come On Snow

Posted: Thursday, October 25, 2012 at 1:33 pm
By: Doug Lund
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I guess I’m glad it snowed a little; covered up the reality of a yard buried in leaves..most of them imported from up or down the street depending on which way the hurricane force winds have been blowing. We’re usually the last ones in the neighborhood to get ours picked up because, like a nervous bride on her wedding night,  the giant maple in the back yard refuses to strip down to bare branches until mid-November.

stove and flowers 005

 If I was that maple, I couldn’t wait to shed this season’s batch; the leaves are all plastered with that black tar-like substance again this year.

stove and flowers 007

I can’t remember what causes that..hold on..Google check:

Okay, Wikipedia says, basically..don’t sweat it. It’s a fungus problem that’s not uncommon and mostly cosmetic. Best solution; make sure all the leaves are hauled off in the autumn so the fungal spores don’t get a chance to spread and infect next years batch. Yeah, that’s fine except they’re not goin’ anywhere if they’re buried in snow. The way our yard looked this past summer, it just might benefit from a blanket of dead foliage..tar stained or not..over the long winter.

On the other hand, Linda’s pot full of geraniums on the front deck have never looked better..even with a touch of white.

stove and flowers 004

Speaking of winter, Linda and I have decided to stay put this year..no piling into Big Red (That’s our old Lincoln for any newbie’s out there) at the end of December  hoping he’ll safely get us through another journey down to the Arizona desert and back to escape the month of January. Since we didn’t win the lottery, we decided the money would be better spent replacing our shelled-out roof next spring.

Let’s see, what else? Oh, yeah..the election. Well, it doesn’t matter who you want for President because South Dakota, according to all the experts and our idiotic Electoral College system, say we’ve already gone for Romney. In fact, there are only a handful of states, like Ohio and Florida, that will end up deciding the whole thing. Where your vote DOES matter, of course, is in all the state races and ballot issues. As usual, Linda and I will talk about all of it on election eve then go to the polls with our ballots all filled out.

I do love the process, though. It is never lost on me, nor should it be on any American, what a privilege, an honor really, to have this freedom of choice. It’s easy to get lost in the shouting and accusations that too often accompany campaigns for political office. Out of frustration we’re likely to just decide there’s not a one of them worth the powder to blow ‘em all to smithereens. I don’t think that’s true. I believe most of those who run for office really do believe they can make a difference and should be admired for at least being willing to try. It’s just hard sometimes to be heard above the din of a congress or state legislature filled with folks all trying their darndest to get attention too.

Oh, well, I hope you’ll study up on the candidates and issues then go to the polls, say a little prayer and give it your best shot. Remember, every vote counts. Oops, except for President if you’re from South Dakota..

Now, there’s an issue I wish some of our elected officials would take on; switching presidential elections to be decided by the popular vote. At least there would be the satisfaction in knowing that one of the millions of numbers on the great big tote board represented me.

Ah, darn it. The snow appears to be melting. So much for leaving the leaves to rot till spring. Now, where did I leave the number of that guy who does lawns?

Bye, George

Posted: Wednesday, October 17, 2012 at 10:40 am
By: Doug Lund
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 mcgovern close up

Actually, I never felt like I knew George McGovern well enough to call him by his first name. He probably wouldn’t have minded if I did but my respect and admiration for the man on so many levels would make such a familiar greeting akin to addressing the pope as Benny. 

I, like most everybody, was really surprised that the Senator had entered hospice. He’s had some health issues lately but he’s 90 for cryin’ out loud. Plus he was just at the State Theater dedication for another beloved nonagenarian, Sylvia Henkin , and seemed frail but fine. The point is, we’re going to see and hear a lot about McGovern’s life and times in the days to follow; all of the accolades well deserved, of course.

I can only offer a few personal observations from our long association as reporter/politician.

mcgovern demo conv.McGovern was the first person I ever voted for in a general election. It was his successful bid for re-election to the U.S. senate in 1968 after a short campaign for president that year picking up the reins of Robert Kennedy who’d been assassinated.
Like a lot of people back then, I didn’t think so much about left or right, liberal or conservative. I just admired McGovern’s intellect, the fact that he was a World War II hero; he was close to the Kennedys and applied a common sense approach to complicated issues. I was proud that he was a fellow South Dakotan and had a lot of respect among his political peers in Washington and around the world..
 I think a lot of the real George McGovern got lost in his 1972 presidential campaign. He listened to advice he maybe shouldn’t have like dumping Thomas Eagleton from the ticket after saying he wouldn’t.  It made him look indecisive. He also embraced endorsements from the liberal Hollywood crowd which doesn’t always bode well among voters.
Plus to appreciate George McGovern, you have to hear him speak at length on issues which very few people did on the night he accepted the presidential nomination at two o’clock in the morning after most of the country had gone to bed.
Norman Rockwell was a McGovern fan

Norman Rockwell was a McGovern fan

I was shocked in 1980 when one of the most eloquent speakers in the country, McGovern, lost to Jim Abdnor..a good man but whose communication skills and power of persuasion seemed very limited. But, as Tom Daschle will tell you, South Dakota voters will send you packing if there’s the slightest perception that you’ve got above your rais’n.

Shortly after that election, I remember driving back to KELO on South Phillips Avenue and spotted the senator walking along on the sidewalk all by himself..no entourage..no reporters..alone on a brisk Autumn afternoon with his head down slightly. He looked more contemplative than defeated; as if he was pondering the chapters of his life so far with its victories and disappointments, all the while planning a strategy for his next role in public service which, as we all know, has been exemplary..reflecting his inherent compassion, diligence and effective statesmanship especially in the fight against world hunger.
Thanks to my job, I’ve had lots of chances to interview George McGovern. Each time, I told him who I was and each time he’d say, “I know who you are, Doug” and then ask about my bosses and colleagues down at KELO. He was always gracious and always brilliant no matter if we were talking about his war experiences, his latest book, the death of his daughter to alcoholism, his bi-partisan mission with Senator Bob Dole to provide decent school lunches for kids around the world or even skydiving in his eighties.

During World War II, McGovern was a B-24 pilot and flew 35 missions over Europe and received the Distinguished Flying Cross for safely landing his damaged plane saving his crew.

During World War II, McGovern was a B-24 pilot and flew 35 missions over Europe and received the Distinguished Flying Cross for safely landing his damaged plane saving his crew.

 

McGovern skydiving on his 88th birthday

McGovern skydiving on his 88th birthday

 

His departure from this world will leave a huge void in the hearts of millions around the globe, including me, who’ve been helped or enlightened by the wisdom and influence of this gentle preacher’s kid from South Dakota.

From the Bully Pulpit

Posted: Friday, October 12, 2012 at 9:52 am
By: Doug Lund
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October is National Bullying Prevention Month. 

Of course it’s also National Breast Cancer Awareness month, National Black History Month and National Popcorn Poppin’ Month. The point is, I don’t pay a whole lot of attention to these designations aimed at calling my attention to some cause or event. But a TV anchor in Wisconsin has become something of a poster person for bullying prevention after a 4 minute video that aired on her station then went viral across the internet.

bully jen

Jennifer Livingston had received an e-mail from a viewer who chastised her for being overweight. Well, here’s what he wrote:

bully“Hi Jennifer, It’s unusual that I see your morning show, but I did so for a very short time today. I was surprised indeed to witness that your physical condition hasn’t improved for many years. Surely you don’t consider yourself a suitable example for this community’s young people, girls in particular. Obesity is one of the worst choices a person can make and one of the most dangerous habits to maintain. I leave you this note hoping that you’ll reconsider your responsibility as a local public personality to present and promote a healthy lifestyle.”

Livingston and her husband, who is also an anchor at the LaCrosse TV station, decided to go public with the email calling it an example of bullying. The station management agreed to give her all the time she wanted to call out her accuser. Here’s part of what she said in an emotional video response that aired on WKBT:

Bully buzz quote

Before long people were calling for the emailer’s head on a platter and Jennifer was besieged with, and granting, requests for national interviews.

Was it bullying?

Stupid, insensitive, hurtful and classless yes..but bullying? I’m not so sure.  When an upper classman  used to shove me around and point out my pudginess at every opportunity in high school; that was bullying.  When a few of us boys bought a can of deodorant and put it in the desk of a hygiene-challenged classmate, that was stupid and insensitive but bullying?

Half the people in this country, including yours truly, are fat. So it’s not surprising that support and sympathy for Ms. Livingston has been overwhelming.  The local lawyer who wrote the email, Kenneth Krause, has been outed and, under enormous public pressure, apologized..saying he never meant to hurt Jennifer.

In all my years on local television, I don’t ever remember receiving a viewer letter critical of my appearance. Oh, wait, a few had trouble with some of my dubious wardrobe choices or whether my hair was actually MY hair  but that’s about it.  Women TV personalities, on the other hand, receive letters and comments all the time about how they look on the air and some are downright mean. I don’t know why some people can be so critical of females while guys usually get a pass. But I do know that it’s an old rule of journalism that reporters and anchors should never BE THE STORY and never use your position the in media for personal retribution. Basically, grin and bear it..shrug it off..develop a thick skin. Not easy to do when you’ve been hurt.

Ms. Livingston is asking that people take it easy on Krause and to leave him alone. She’s also starting to feel the heat of her national exposure as blogs and anonymous comments rip into her for being a publicity hound.

The internet giveth and the internet taketh away.

Wouldn’t it be wonderful if we could all follow our mother’s advice; “If you can’t say something good about someone, keep your mouth shut?”

A lesson she and her friends might have learned rubber-necking on the ol’ party line.

A Bunch Of Blarney

Posted: Friday, October 5, 2012 at 8:18 am
By: Doug Lund
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Soooooo. Who do ya think won the first presidential debate?

 debate

Don’t answer that.

I mean REALLY don’t answer that because I really don’t want to know. There are plenty of political blogs out there for folks to fling feces back and forth; delighting in anonymous confrontations over which presidential candidate they believe has solutions to all our problems.  What I might be interested in knowing is how many people actually changed their mind about a candidate after watching the debate. I suspect that number to be, oh, roughly zero.

I had fully intended to wrap up our tour of Ireland for you here on the blog with some more pictures and commentary but when we boarded the plane in Dublin for our journey home, I was sick as the lyrics in a punk rock song. That’s no reflection on the Emerald Isle itself, our visit was nothing short of spectacular, but somehow on our last night there, the mother of all colds decided to come a callin’.  I wasn’t the only one either because there was so much coughing and hacking among the passengers that it sounded like a TB ward throughout the cabin during our entire 8 1/2 hour flight back to the U.S.A.   I’m just now feeling back up to snuff, thanks in part to Linda’s TLC (as outlined in our marriage vows) along with copious amounts of codeine cough syrup.

Oh, alright, here are a few more photos from that fabulous tour:

Kilkenny Castle was built in 1195. James Butler bought the place in 1391 and remained in the Butler family as a residence until 1935. It was finally handed over to the city for a museum in 1967. No photos allowed inside.

Kilkenny Castle was built in 1195. James Butler bought the place in 1391 and remained in the Butler family as a residence until 1935. It was finally handed over to the city for a museum in 1967. No photos allowed inside.

Downtown Kilkenny

Downtown Kilkenny

Our group. What a fun bunch!

Our group. What a fun bunch!

Terrific Traditional Tunes in nearly every pub.

Terrific Traditional Tunes in nearly every pub.

Here are a couple more shots of Linda kissing the Blarney Stone.
Linda's turn. There's a guy there and bars to hang on to but it's still scary leaning out over the edge.
Smack! She did it.!
Smack! She did it.!

Della, another lady on our tour, was equally determined to kiss the Blarney Stone.  But as she was leaning back to do so, her wig fell 120 feet to the ground below.  She rose up embarassed but laughing. Her husband gave her his cap to wear and the wig was waiting when they descended. I mention this only because Della is a breast cancer survivor who underwent a double mastectomy several years ago..only to have it recently return..necessitating more chemo and all its nasty side effects. She was deternmined to make this trip and none of us whould have known she was ill had the wig incident not occured. Because it did, though, Della felt free to talk about her cancer and receive the love and support from all her new found friends aboard a bus in a foreign land.