Filed under: charity, Christmas, church, family, friends, Holidays, travel | Tags: children, complaints, discontent, Food, friends, simple life, simple man, stuff, travel
I recently heard reports of the tweets of discontent this holiday season. People were tweeting each other about what they didn’t get for Christmas, or of the things they did get that were not right. I have also heard reports of how much parents are spending on children for Christmas presents, I am shocked. Why do we spend so much? Why are we so discontented? I don’t understand.
Now to be fair, I’ve never wanted for material things in my life. True, I didn’t always have what I wanted, but I always had what I needed. My parents, while not really rich had enough to live and travel well, we worked hard and always had what we really needed, and I was raised to appreciate what I had. Because of that, my tastes are simple. I’ve got a job, make that several jobs, that supply me with what money I need, a much better wife than I deserve, and three children who are now supporting themselves. I consider that a success. I have books to read, friends to visit with and a church and community that I enjoy, all things that I consider worth while.
When I hear people complain about not having the right smart phone, the right color whatever, the best food, I do not understand. Perhaps because of my reading and travels, I know that we have it really nice with our good enough cars, phones and house. I’ve seen and worked with so many that have so much less than I do, and are content. I’ve visited with many who have so much more, and are less happy than I am. I’ve learned that money does not bring happiness, but more worries. I’ve learned that having things doesn’t bring contentment, but a desire to have more and better things. I’ve learned that having just enough, is so nice.
Yep, I’m a simple man. Yes, I enjoy good things, but get no more happiness out of eating a $50 meal than I do a $5 one. My phone is just smart enough to allow me to answer calls where ever I happen to be, and survive the abuse I give it. My home is rather medium in size for our area, nicely decorated and comfortably furnished. I’ve got a bunch of books to read, and re read, a few movies and more than enough TV sets. My wheels are not that old, but not that new either. I live just well enough for me, thank you.
There is a song I am remembering about a simple man, it pretty well sums up my feelings about life. You’ll have to update a few things for today, but it fits: ”I got a hump back mule, a plow and a tater patch, eggs that are gonna hatch someday, I got the Lord above and a good gal that loves me, I’m the richest man in the world.”
Filed under: Christmas, family, Holidays | Tags: children, Christmas, girls, grandchildren, grandparents, pictures, twins
This Christmas has been a new experience for us. This was first year as grandparents. Not only are we grandparents, we have twin girls for granddaughters. No fighting, both grandma and grandpa got one to hold.
Allison and Katelynn arrived three months ago, as most multiples they were a little on the small order. At about four pounds they were small. That meant a bit more time in the hospital, but soon they were home. Oh yes, they are identical, but so far there are a few difference that can help a parent tell them apart.
Now they have doubled in weight and are growing well. They are indeed beautiful babies. But for such little ones they sure do disrupt a schedule. They still need to be fed and changed at least every four hours. It sure is a good thing that their parents are young, because I could not get by on such a disrupted schedule.
They have been the center of all the pictures taken this holiday season. I know I have not taken so many pictures in a long time. There are pictures with aunties and pictures with uncles, we take pictures with mom and dad and pictures with grand parents and great grand parents. They even have had a few taken with just the two of them.
They are the cutest things in their Christmas finery, and are they not so well decked out in those bibs?
If you see a crowd around, it is for sure that there are babies in the middle of that crowd.
So what ever you got for Christmas, we had the best gifts…
we had granddaughters sleeping under our tree.
Filed under: Christmas, family, Holidays | Tags: children, Christmas, family, gifts, giving, holiday season
I admit it, I’m hard to shop for. If I really want it, I buy it. No waisted time, just get it. That can lead to all kinds of frustration.
My wife and daughters want wish lists made up months ahead of time, and they want them today. I cannot operate that way. I may not know I want something until I see it, then, you guessed it, I buy it. I’ve been married for over 30 years, and I don’t expect things to change.
I do find that my family thinks I do need some new clothing once in a while. Again, if I need it, I buy it. Usually it is some new jeans, or boots, maybe a work coat, you get the idea. I’ve got plenty of old tees in the closet. They want me all dressed up and looking nice. A cloths horse I am not. A few years back my wife gave me a card that said, “For the man whose cloths always say the same thing, I’m dressed.” Yep, that’s me.
So, I most likely will find some new shirts under the tree this year. The sensible ones that I can wear to work will not be in evidence. They will be the kind that stay in my closet until they are too small to wear. Closet shrink gets more of my “nice” clothing than any other thing. Good thing my closet for “nice” clothing is small. I know there are things in there that have not seen the light of day in years.
But Merry Christmas anyway! Don’t let my, Bah, Humbug, attitude deter you. I’m just happy to have the whole family home for a few days this holiday season. That’s all the gifts I need.
Filed under: Holidays, Christmas, School bus, safety, school | Tags: school bus, safety, children, Christmas, Santa hat, December
For years now I have been wearing a Santa hat on my morning bus route in December. It gets me in the holiday spirit, and it’s warm. Oh, and yes, I do quit shaving for a few weeks, the white beard is a good seasonal complement to the hat. Although the kids on the bus may look at me a little funny when they first see me in it, I get few comments from them on it except a few “Hi Santa”s from them the first time they see me. The effect on the adults has been much more interesting.
The hat is a conversation starter. Usually the conversation comes around to the fact that I wear the hat for the school bus route, and then the stories start.
I also get comments from others about how they could not drive a school bus, and questions about how kids behave. Stories of out of control kids on the bus are often told to me, as are other stories that involve school and bus trips. I have a few stories, no names included to protect the guilty, but very few stories that I tell. After 17 years of driving school bus, I can tell you that most kids today are really good. I tell everyone that I have good parents for my route. That may be the most telling remark about kids.
I understand that kids will be kids. They all need to learn, some just take longer to learn. Younger children need to be told the rules more often, and older ones will usually keep out of trouble if they are allowed to. Mistakes will be made, and kids do learn from mistakes. Parents are my biggest help. Stopping and talking to parents when the kids are present really cuts down on problems. If a phone call must be made when a problem arises, so be it.
A school bus ride should be safe and fun. The Santa hat is part of the fun.
Filed under: family, Holidays | Tags: children, grandchildren, Thanksgiving
OK, so I’m biased, I have the cutest grand daughters. None of it my fault. But they really are adorable.
I specialized in putting the girls to sleep, and getting spit up on. I’m getting the hang of this grandparent thing. Love ‘em, hold ‘em, hand them back when they get messy.
We had a really great Thanksgiving. We went to see Allison and Katelyn, and their parents along with other members of the family. The weather was warm enough to take pictures outside. It was a really great day.
Filed under: Christmas, family, Family History, food, history, Holidays, Minnesota | Tags: Food, history, humor, Minnesota
Tis the season for lutefisk dinners. I’ve eaten my share, as any good scandahoovian boy must, but I don’t go out of my way to attend lutefisk dinners. Now in its defense, lutefisk is not as bad as some make it out to be. It has its place. As part of our heritage we continue to eat lutefisk even though preserving fish in lye is no longer needed. Also part of our heritage is to make fun of lutefisk. One of my favorite comments on lutefisk is from the WCCO personalities of my youth, Boone and Erickson. Enjoy!
Charlie Boone & Roger Erickson
‘Twas the night before Christmas with things all a bustle
As Mama got set for the Christmas Eve tussle.
Aunts, uncles and cousins would soon be arriving
With stomachs all ready for Christmas Eve dining.
While I sat alone with a feeling of dread,
As visions of lutefisk danced in my head.
The thought of the smell made my eyeballs start burning.
The thought of the taste set my stomach to churning.
For I’m one of those who good Swedes rebuff:
A Scandahoovian boy who can’t stand the stuff.
Each year, however, I played at the game
to spare mama and papa the undying shame.
I must bear up bravely, I can’t take the risk of relatives knowing I hate lutefisk.
I know they would spurn me, my presents withhold,
if the unthinkable, unspeakable truth they were told.
Then out in the yard I heard such a clatter,
I jumped up to see what was the matter.
There in the snow, all in a jumble,
three of my uncles had taken a tumble.
My aunts, as usual, gave them “what for”,
and soon they were up and through the door.
Then with talk, and more cheer,
an hour was passed as Mama finished the Christmas repast.
From out in the kitchen an odor came stealing,
that fairly set my senses to reeling.
The smell of lutefisk creeped down the hall
and wilted a plant in a pot on the wall.
The others reacted as though they were smitten,
while the aroma laid low my small helpless kitten.
Uncles Oscar and Lars said, “Oh, that smells yummy,”
and Kermit’s eyes glittered while he patted his tummy.
The scent skipped off the ceiling and bounced off the door,
and the bird in the cuckoo clock fell on the floor.
Mama announced dinner by ringing a bell.
They pushed to the table with a yump and a yell.
I lifted my eyes to heaven and sighed,
and a rose on the wallpaper withered and died.
With wooden legs I found my chair
and sat in silence with an unseeing stare.
Most of the food was already in place;
there remained only to fill the lutefisks space.
Then Mama came proudly with a bowl on a trivet.
You would have thought the crown jewels were in it.
She placed it carefully down and took her seat,
and Papa said Grace before we could eat.
It seemed to me, with my whirling head,
the shortest prayer he ever had said.
Then Mama lifted the cover on the steaming dish,
and I was face to face with the quivering fish.
“Me first,” I heard Uncle Kermit call,
while I watched the paint peel off the wall.
The plates were passed for Papa to fill.
I waited in agony between fever and chill.
He would dip in the spoon and hold it up high.
As it oozed on the plates, I thought I would die.
Then came my plate, and to my feverish brain
there seemed enough lutefisk to derail a train.
It looked like a mountain of congealing glue:
oddly transparent, yet discolored, the hue.
With butter and cream sauce I tried to conceal it;
I salted and peppered, but the smell still revealed it.
I drummed up my courage, I tried to be bold.
Mama reminds me, “Eat, before it gets cold.”
I decided to face it, “Uff da,” I sighed.
“Uff da, indeed,” my stomach replied.
Then I summoned that resolve for which every breed is known.
My hand took the fork as with a mind of its own.
And with reckless abandon that lutefisk I ate,
within twenty seconds I’d cleaned my plate.
Uncle Kermit flashed me an ear-to-ear grin,
as butter and cream sauce dripped from his chin.
Then to my great shock, he whispered in my ear:
“I’m sure glad this is over for another year!”
It was then I learned a great and wonderful truth,
that Swedes and Norwegians, from old men to youth,
must each pay their dues to have the great joy
of being known as a good Scandahoovian boy.
And so to you all, as you face the great test:
Happy Christmas to you, and to you all the best.
Filed under: church, family, food, history, Holidays, Politicians, school | Tags: children, church, community, Food, history, music, news, newspaper, radio, school
I think of myself as a positive person. I really have never liked watching TV news shows, they are just too full of gloom and doom. Let’s face it, to keep an audience in a large market you have to have the creed that, “If it bleeds, it leads.”
That has even become the creed of day time talk TV and our politicians. The more they can make you believe that the world is a terrible place, the more market share they get. Let’s face it, you need market share to get elected, keep advertisers and pay the bills.
Small town radio and newspapers are different. Yes, there are stories of fires and crimes, but the main thrust of their programming is geared not to what is going bad in the world, but what is happening next door.
Oh yes, we will have the report from the highway patrol and the sherifs office, but we also get school news, city council minutes and county board meetings. The chamber of commerce will be on promoting their next event, it could be of a new store opening, or of the next picnic on the square.
Reports from the area schools are common in small town news. You can hear about the school play, the latest sporting event, or who is the new teacher of the year, it’s all good stuff. Stories of who the exchange students in school are and what country they came from are regular events. The newest graduating class will take up pages in a small town newspaper. Oh sure, the school is having trouble making the budget fit the income, but that is not the main thrust of school news. It’s about achievement and excellence.
The area churches will be broadcast on Sunday for those who could not make it. News of a new pastor or of a youth group event can be a big deal in a slow week. The listing of when the church services are and events that are being held at church are eagerly scanned for the next fundraising dinner or scouting event.
Veterans Day, Memorial Day, community plays and concerts, parades, pageants and musical events are all a large part of the small town news program. These are events that uplift and entertain us, they make us feel good about ourselves and our land.
So excuse me for not liking what I hear from the big market news agencies. I grew up on small town news, and I’m going to stick with it. All that doom and gloom is just not my style.
Filed under: Christmas, history, Holidays, Minnesota, safety | Tags: Christmas, community, history, Minnesota, safety
Our county is blessed with a courthouse sitting in the middle of town on it’s own block. This 1905 building has been a source of pride for our city as we promote the area. The lawn of the courthouse has been the location for many community events. This year however, the safety grinch has struck.
Every year, as far back as I can remember the county employees have decorated our courthouse with lights for Christmas. It makes quite an impressive sight as long strings of lights festoon the sandstone building. Now the county has said that, due to safety concerns, they will no longer hang lights on the courthouse.
I’m all for safety. We need to be safe in so much that we do, but if a few people had not braved the less than safe oceans and prairies of the world we would not have the great country we live in. With out people taking a little risk so much that is beautiful and worthwhile in our world would not exist. Now a bit of joy and light will be missing from our courthouse square, because of the safety grinch, and it will be missed.
Filed under: Ag education, Ag promotion, Animal care, Biofuels, Farm, farm animals, fertilizer, harvest, Holidays, hunger, Minnesota, planting, Politicians, Politics, retirement, science, tillage, time, travel
As our modern life gets more complex and more and more folks have leisure time, they start to think back on all of the good things they remember from past generations. Those who live in housing complexes, with little or no green areas where they can get their fingers into the earth, think of all of the good stuff found at farmers markets or remembered from their grandmothers table. They remember, and dream of a simpler life, and want to return.
Much of the eat local and organic movement is based on this yearning. What they do not remember is the long hours of hard labor, the body getting old long before its time and the going hungry when a crop failed. They do not remember the missing limb and fingers when something went wrong. They do not remember the children who died young for a variety of reasons.
Our modern food has it’s own problems. The ease of transport has allowed us to eat fresh fruits and veggies all year long, at the cost of a higher carbon footprint. Wives working out side of the home means a demand for more easy to prepare or no prep needed meals at the cost of good nutrition. The availability of sodas, bottled waters, “health” drinks and energy drinks has lead to a decrease in the drinking of milk and tap water at the cost of discarded cans and bottles everywhere.
People are living longer and easier than ever before. We spend hours in the gym to make up for the lost physical work our bodies used to do. Countless diet plans are promoted every where for those who do not want to do the physical work anymore.
Due to the safety of our modern food supply, people dying from bad food or poor preservation of food has gone down to the point where it is big news when it happens. Because of our better health care system more babies, young people and old people are living longer. With the better health care systems comes a demand for more retirement and vacation activities. We do not have to work as long and hard for our food and we want to spend more time doing nothing in exotic places.
All of this freedom started on the farm. Once modern machinery made farming easier fewer folks were needed to raise our food supply. As more people moved to the city for the easy life of factory and office jobs we demanded more and more things to ease our lives and modern agriculture responded.
Modern machinery means that one American farmer now feeds 155 people. We have had to get big to do that job. Now voices of folks who have never been on a farm are telling us how we can do our job. Many of the things they want mean that we will need more of those folks to move back to the farm.
Organic food takes much more labor. Eating local means fewer choices. Feeding the earths billions is not going to be done on an organic level. Not using modern fertilizer practices will mean less yield. Not using modern insecticides will mean more spoiled fruits and veggies. Not using modern herbicides means more labor or less production, or both. Where do we draw the line.
Modern food produced by modern agriculture is the safest it has ever been. The American farmer now produces more food with less labor, land, herbicides, insecticides, fertilizer, pollution, erosion and waste than ever before. We are striving to produce both food and fuel for this ever growing human population. We will succeed if given the chance, despite those who would slow us down. The hungry of the world are depending on us.
The week has provided us with snowfall of record proportions for our area. The weather has now started to get a bit colder with highs in the single digits above zero. The weather man has predicted wind several times this month, but has never delivered. Because of that we have not yet had a true blizzard despite what some may say. That does not mean that life has not been a challenge.
Yesterday morning a light wind started some drifting and the sun broke through creating a beautiful looking day. One of my elderly neighbors decided she would go see the doctor, but neglected to check to see if her road was open. Her SUV almost made it to the highway. When I chanced by a pair of young snowmobilers were trying to dig her out with their hands. Since I had the tractor with the blower attached and a snow shovel in the rock box, we made short work of getting her on her way.
This brings up a couple of facts of life out here on the prairie.
- If you do not live on a major road, do not expect that the roads will always be open.
- A SUV does not guarantee you can make it through the drifts.
With the volume of snow we have had many county and township roads are really in tough shape. Many places already have banks of snow pushed up higher than a tall pickup. When the wind does blow we are really going to have some plugged roads. Very few townships have the money to keep the roads open on a “normal” winter. They are really going to be hurting this year.
I’ve seen to many people who get into a vehicle and just expect that since they have 4 wheel drive they will get there. Unfortunately a 4X4 will many times only get you in deeper. The confidence of 4 wheel drive also seems to make people think that they can drive faster on bad roads. They forget that they cannot stop any faster and end up in a ditch or a collision.
This winter is going to demand a large amount of caution from many folks. I’m afraid that, despite the many warnings, someone is going to lose their life this winter. All of the elements are already in place. Please be careful out there.