Week 29 The Anniversary of the Moon – so WHERE NEXT?

I know, it’s not Monday again.  I’ve been missing that self-imposed deadline lately.  Just so I get something posted…

 

The 20th of July — 45 years ago, the United States and the rest of the world watched as Armstrong and Aldrin stepped down onto the moon – the first humans to do so.

That day still rings for me.  My dad was a big one on making sure his kids took in historical things on TV … and this was one of those times.  We sat in the living room and watched the shadowy images.  We were quite able to make things out despite those shadows.  We were led by the now-famous broadcast on CBS, in which Walter Cronkite practically busted with pride as those pictures came back from the moon.  That clip of Walter is still used in movies and documents about man in space.

I have said this before and I will continue to say it.  We haven’t had a moment like that since then.  The exhilaration of that day is unparalleled in my lifetime, and I hunger for such a time again.

It was a bold adventure.  President Kennedy dared us to do it, and we did.  It cost a boatload of money, man hours, and even a few lives with the fire on Apollo 1.  The returns of  space flight has been immense – medical advances, communications beyond anyone’s imagination, textiles, foods …. such a fantastic set of achievements.

Our country has seen such things before – the Louisiana Purchase was no doubt as mind-boggling.  We increased the size of our country by a magnitude of such size that we couldn’t fathom the size of it – and it begat so much: not just the natural resources, but so many other wonders – rivers, mountain ranges, deserts…

Later on, because of that Louisiana Purchase, the industrial revolution found us building a railroad from coast to coast, joined by that famous golden spike ceremony in Promontory, Utah.  Travel and shipping grew beyond what we thought could happen.  What used to be months of travel was now cut to weeks – even days – of time on the road.

And also, again due to the industrial revolution, we saw the manufacture of the automobile.  Henry Ford’s practice of the assembly line gave us a good product that served the citizens of the United States for years to come…. not to mention his practice of paying his employees a very livable wage…. and out of this came jobs related to cars; gas stations, auto repair shops, and affected how and where we did our shopping.

Related to the auto industry, President Eisenhower brought in the interstate highway system.  Imagine how many families made their living to build those roads – to service those who travel upon them.

Have you noticed how the events I mention happened quicker and quicker as time passed?  It was barely a decade between the final mile of the construction of interstate highway mile and the moon landing I started out with.  Since then, have we seen any similar situation?   Maybe we have seen such things in the world of computers and technology… but you know, those are all really extensions of the space program.

I think we are long overdue for a new adventure for our country – maybe we will all see that same pride when one of our research hospitals cures cancer or some similar scientific advance.  Maybe it will be in a new fuel – or the perfection of solar or wind power that will  vastly change the way things are handled.

I don’t know what it will be, but I hunger for one of those moments of national pride… something we all look at each other, grin, nod, and shake hands and slap each other on the back.

 

Week 28 – Lebron, Jesse, Cars and Dogs and Kids (dedicated to my good pal TC….)

I’m a day late, and that’s just the way it went.  Let’s start off with the people category.

Can someone — anyone at all – tell me the dang importance of Lebron James?  Here’s another jock whose mere existence is enough to have the pundits claiming millions being pumped into the economy just by his presence.  Oh, he’s good, no doubt.  He’s accomplished at his sport.  I get that.  I understand the excitement of home teams and supporting an athletic entity, but I do not buy it at all that any person – Lebron to Babe Ruth to Tiger Woods to Babe Didrikson – is the be-all and end-all to the success of a team or a sport.   So, wouldn’t it be a hoot if everyone got as excited over a new teacher in town?  Yeah, I don’t see it either.

Getting excited over one person like we’re seeing for Mr. James just doesn’t cut it for me.

And the inverse – wouldn’t it also be nice if we saw a whole lot less vituperation of certain folks?  I don’t care who that person is – our presidents over the last two decades seem to have garnished their share – and that goes for Republicans and Democrats alike.  Same for movie starts, rock stars, other athletes

We are just so polarized about such things.  Time to get over it.

And then, it may seem I’m going the other way in my words regarding another big name, and I wish I didn’t feel like I should say something, but here he goes again.  Jesse Ventura – Minnesota’s former governor, movie actor, wrestler, Navy Seal – has again shown himself to be a self-centered man of little sensitivity.

In case you’ve missed it, he’s suing the estate of a guy who wrote a book about the Navy Seals.  In the book, the author contends that he and Jesse had a confrontation that ended up with the two engaging in some sort of physical altercation, resulting in Jesse on the floor.  Jesse claims the incident never happened, therefore the book was defaming him.

Now read that again.  Ventura is suing the ESTATE of the author.  Yes, the author was murdered awhile back, and the Gov. Ventura sees it appropriate to go after his honor (and money, I will add cynically) from the widow of the author.

Shame on you, Governor Ventura.  You make me wish I could take back my vote for you that I assumed was going to be a wise choice because you would bring some new approach to politics.  Instead, you showed thin skin and disrespect for others.

And now, here’s one for the dogs … and the kids…. I dedicate this part to my friend TC.

You see, she is single, living on her own.  Her kids are her pets; her dog and her cats.  She is dedicated to them.  She treats them as if she is her kids.  She adores them, she does what she thinks is best for them.

One day, she and her dog were on the way home from the vet and had to stop at the store for some stuff pertinent to the care of the dog.  She parked as close as she could to the store, ran in, and got the stuff she needed, leaving the dog in the car.  The window was cracked open a bit.  She was back in minutes.

Unfortunately, some snarky, nosy lady was standing there, worried about the dog being in the hot car.  The lady started giving TC the business about abusing her dog.  This lady had little facts; she had no idea how long the dog had been there.  She had no idea WHY the dog had been there.  (Imagine if you will the ruckus that would have ensued had TC taken her dog into the store … and we’re talking Weimaraner, here folks….)  I am glad I wasnt’ there to see TC give it back to this lady.

Folks, be concerned all you want to for kids and dogs who are sitting in a car all alone.  But for heaven’s sake, please just be aware that sometimes you need to be aware of the facts.

TC would appreciate it.

 

 

Week 26 – The Fourth, A Family Reunion, The Facebook Personality Test – Start Seeing Motorcycles? Right!

Let’s start this week with some good stuff — some good people stuff.

Fourth of July – I was most fortunate (along with Wilma) to spend the holiday with some very good friends … former students – but I have to finally quit referring them to former students – that’s 30 years ago, doggone it!  Anyway, through the generosity of Kevin and his dear wife Kelley, and of Mike, we enjoyed a truly fine Fourth.  Who knew so many years ago that those music lessons I gave to Kevin and Mike would develop into such a lasting and amazing friendship…. after all these years, all I can say is that I am still astounding and highly appreciative of the fruits of such things.

 

Here’s one of the fireworks provided by Kevin and Mike… and the New York Strips and Ribeyes that they grilled up….

 

07 04 boyles fireworks 06 07 04 boyles meat

Family Reunion Time – Every Sunday after the Fourth of July, the Strand family of Eveleth would congregate at a certain home and enjoy each other’s company … and they have done so for more than sixty years, starting in what is assumed to be 1951 or ’52.  The original Strand kids – Hilda, Arnold, Gustav, Lola, Gina, Margaret, Alexander and Betty – are all gone now, but we still meet in their name and in their honor.  It was a nice Sunday afternoon on Ely Lake – some good food, some of the kids of the Strand kids in attendance, along with grandkids and great grandkids, and cousins and second cousins and in-laws and …well, you get the idea.  I so much value this family  and what has ensued because of all of them.  It is almost needless to say that if you look up family in the dictionary, you will find a picture from one of the Strand Picnics.

Here’s the original Strand kids… (Gusty, Hilda and Arnold in the front, Lola, Gina, Alexander, Betty and Margaret in the back….)  and here’s how we looked this year …

STrand picnic the family 07 06 strand people 01

 

The Facebook positive/negative test…. BIG DEAL!  It would seem we have been scrutinized by the underbelly of FACEBOOK.  We’ve been analyzed and measured without our permission – without our knowledge – and apparently, against our rights… our High Holy Rights….

Well, consider this, dear friends.  This kind of thing has been going on for years and years.  We have been through this kind of thing since Roper and Gallup the Nielsen’s first started taking polls.  Exit polls have been taken, allowing the networks to call elections for over 30 years now – and those are based on small samples of stuff…. so small that I don’t know a single person who was questioned during those samples…. yet there they were ..and ARE.

Where was your rancor when those polls and investigations were performed?  Did you scowl and complain to some government body when conclusions were drawn on so little?  I didn’t think so.

So go tell your high horse to go back to the stable and come out when it really matters.

Start Seeing Motorcycles – We were on the road, traveling on a major highway across Minnesota and there they were – 3 motorcyclists, bald heads, t-shirts, shorts… the epitome of highway safety.  I then drew my thoughts and came up with this.

A great deal of effort and money has been put into the START SEEING MOTORCYCLES.  I have every intention of doing so – it is a good idea to draw attention.  But you’ll have to pardon me a bit of a cynical thought.  Why should we start paying attention to motorcycles if yoyos like I saw ignore safety themselves and ignore helmets and other protective clothing?  My apologies to the majority of motorcyclists (my daughter and son-in-law included) who indeed follow every safety matter in the book, but it is frustrating.

Week 25 – Hobby Lobby and a Golf Story

HOBBY LOBBY

I have a thought or two here;  these are in no particular order…. and some more relevant than others…

It seems there are many places that talk about how this isn’t so far-reaching as one may think — there are reports of ‘but it doesn’t cover this kind of birth control’ or ‘that kind of birth control’….  so exactly what DOES this Hobby Lobby decision cover as regards birth control/contraception?

I checked: you can buy into a Hobby Lobby franchise, just like you can so many other businesses.  Does Hobby Lobby expect prospective franchisees to be of the same mind as the Green family that owns Hobby Lobby in order to get one of those franchises?

Who takes over upon the death of the Greens?  Are they grooming someone for that eventuality?  Will such persons run the company with the same directives as the Greens?

Hobby Lobby is a private business.  Ergo, they can do what they want.  Hobby Lobby is open to the public – ergo, should they accept business from those feel differently about birth control than Hobby Lobby owners do?

I do think this is a rather dangerous precedent, law-wise.  I also think there will be laws rewritten that will make this decision moot.

Since Hobby Lobby wants nothing to do with funding any form of abortion, will they offer a program for families who wish to adopt, or who wish to attempt in-vitro fertilization?

Does being anti-abortion mean the same as pro-family?  I’m betting arguments could be made on this question.

So for now, let’s see where the dust settles, let’s see what happens when the emotions cool some –

‘Nuff said.

GOLF

I had the fun of going golfing yesterday with my pals Jon and Dave.  Jon and I have known each other for many years – we belong to the same church, we enjoy much of the same things, and we have golfed together many times.  Dave is a part-time Minnesota guy who is a semi-retired teacher from Oklahoma.  His wife and I have done a good many community theatre shows together – and Dave and I are both big Twins fans, and do our share of fishing.

Off we go to Eagle’s Landing .. my favorite golf course in the area.  We play 18 holes, we enjoy some good conversation.  It was a good day.

And allow me to brag a bit…. but not until I tell you that the last time I went golfing, I had some very frustrating times … I had a great deal of trouble getting the ball in the air …. bad scores, etc etc etc.

Well, not this time.  I hit my shots in the air, which all by itself was satisfying …. but I had two instances where I felt pretty good.

The tenth green is a monster, especially according to Jon.  It is large, with two tiers, and is a down hill green; the front of the green is considerably lower than the back, with the tier halfway up the hill.  I wasn’t scoring well, but on this hole, I was able to make quite the chip onto the green.  My approach shot was from 60 yards out, so with a nine iron, I swung and drove the ball on a very low trajectory.  The ball hit the green just below the tier and then ran up the slope, ending up just about 5 feet off the uphill side of the green, just into the rough.  This left me with a very long chip (the flag was located in the lower tier…..)…. Jon and Dave were already on the green, both on the lower tier, with a much better shot than I had…. so with a very gentle nine iron, I tapped the ball onto the green and it rolled… and rolled, and slowed down… but still rolled, and got to the lip of the tier, gently rolling down that slope, and the ball stopped within 10 inches of the hole.

Jon and Dave granted me a gimme.  Felt pretty good.

Then there’s the 16th hole, a short par 4 – the green is up a hill enough to that when someone is on the green, you can see the tops of their heads from the tee box….. Let it be said, I was clearly bringing up the rear, score wise.  Jon and Dave are pretty equal as golfers; I was a good 10 strokes worse than their scores …but on this hole, it didn’t matter.  My drive took off to the right of the fairway – I expected I’d be in the woods again, but the ball took a nice bounce and ended up in the rough to the right of the fairway, about 150 yards out… but, the sight line was bad….. There was just no way I was going to see it from where the ball sat.  Yet, I knew where the green was from my many visits to the course, so I swung, the ball flew in the right direction, and I thought, “Hey, that’ll do”.  So then it was Dave and Jon’s turn to do their approach shot, which they did… as I walked to the green, I realized my ball was on the green… not a bad shot at all… and as we pulled up with the cart, I looked and darn if my ball wasn’t a mere 8 inches from the hole!  Jon and Dave has long putts, so I marked my ball.  They took care of their business, and I drove home that birdie putt… yes, I said BIRDIE!!  I don’t know how long its been  … or ever … since I’ve enjoyed a birdie!

So it was a good round, basically.  I’m a duffer of complete duffer skills, but I enjoyed the round today.

 

 

 

 

Let’s Stick to the Constitution, folks… even you, Rep. Boehner.

In my world, we have a government that functions on a system of checks and balances.  The executive branch has the veto power.  The legislature can override a veto.  Bills are dealt with in either house, then passed in either house after any differences have been ironed out between the two houses.  Once passed, the bill goes to the president who either signs it into law or vetoes is and sends it back to the legislature.  That is how it is set up, and that how it has worked for two and a half centuries.   There is also an impeachment process in place – if the legislature feels the executive is failing to perform, or abusing its powers, it may bring a trial to hear an impeachment process, with the Chief Justice of the Supreme Court presiding.  In my world — I put it that way because I may have some of this wrong.

I therefore do not understand the concept of suing the president.  Let me  admit that I haven’t delved into the details of the plans put into action by the Speaker of the House Boehner – I may be missing something.  I am certainly going to pay attention to see what it is all about.

I understand the adversarial nature of a two party system.  There are winners and losers.  There have been good losers and winners, and sore losers and winners.  But you still must play the game as it is defined.  This whole ‘suing’ thing  is outisde the standard game.  It is not part of the checks and balances at all.

So, I have a question.  Is it proper for the legislature … or a legislator … to sue the executive branch when there are already procedures in place?  It just seems that if Rep. Boehner and those who support him are displeased with what has been enacted, then is it not right for them to propose bills and get them passed by the legislature — and if vetoed, override that veto?  Is that not the system in place?

If Rep. Boehner and his allies see the president as abusing his power, then let the impeachment process begin.  That is what is laid out in our constitution.  It has been used in the past.  It is there for the very purpose that Rep. Boehner claims is the problem with this sitting president.

So again I ask … is this ‘suing’ thing out of bounds?  If our constitution is so very sacrosanct and so very wonderful, then why the need to do this kind of tactic?  It is this kind of governing tactic that has the citizens so very sick of those in Washington — and you know, its pretty much applicable to both sides of the aisle.

Is Obama out of line with these executive appointments he’s made (which is the burr in Boehner’s saddle….)?  Should he be called on it?  Maybe so – just like the first part of this writing, I honestly don’t know enough to make a determination of propriety…. but I strongly believe in the checks and balances of our national laws —

 

Let us use them.  No more ‘end-arounds’.  No more political tricks.

 

The JUNE final Travelogue – Some Fog, Amana Colonies, and the Field of Dreams

We started June after a 4 day trip to the Black Hills at the very end of May, then to Indiana to bring Wilma’s mom (Lelani) back with us.  We took her up to see family in Ada, then picked her up later in Fargo and then brought her home to Indiana … and finally, we ended June with a slightly different route for us…. instead of the usual Indianapolis/Bloomington/Rockford route, we headed for Iowa and a few of its better known places to visit….

We left at 5 am (EST) in order to get to our goal by noon, but we had to negotiate some pretty nasty fog.  The first fog showed up about 30 miles west of Indy, appearing as a slight mist over the cornfields.  As we continued, it got thicker and heavier – and stayed that way until the Iowa border — over 2 hours of fog.  Good thing it was daytime: I don’t like driving at night, but add fog or other such bad weather and I’m a basket case.

6 26 fog 02

And let’s get this out of the way — the truck stop on the NW side of the Quad cities on the Iowa/Illinois border is indeed THE LARGEST IN THE WORLD.   We didn’t hang around much – let’s just say it took a good while to get into the building, find the restrooms, and treat ourselves to looking around a huge ‘convenience store’…. well, this was a convenience store on steroids.  Take a truck stop that you might usually stop at.  It may have had a row of cowboy hats, a row of CB Radio equipment, books, CDs, clothing, and other paraphernalia that’s endemic to such an emporium.  Well, at the I-80 Truckstop, baby, instead of a row dedicated to each kind of item, you have entire rooms full.  There are also a few different places to eat …. if you get a chance, swing into this one and see what I mean.

6 26 biggest truck stop

It took a few detours to get to the Amana Colonies – I wasn’t so sure our GPS was showing us the right thing, so we stopped at an Iowa information center and verified our course… and then once we exited to head into the colonies, we waited for a train…that got slower…. and slower… and s.l.o.w.e.r. and then it stopped.  I turned around in the road, went back to the freeway and took a different exit….

6 26 amana commons 6 26 amana bucket o flowers SONY DSC

And there we were — in the Amana Colonies.  We pretty much hung around the East colony – there’s a visitor center, a hall used for weddings and such, a small museum …. and shops, shops, shops.  Book shops, Furniture and clock shops; gift shops, clothing shops, kitchen shops, wineries, breweries, restaurants …. and you know what?  Our expectations were different.  We thought the Amana Colonies would be like a small Williamsburg or an Amish community, where people would be in costume, reenacting the history of the place to some degree.  Well, no.  There was little to tell you about the history of the place – its mission certainly did not center on its roots.  We found the place to be pretty much a village of upscale shopping – and that was pretty much it.  It’s not a place to bring the kids – nothing for them to do or see — It is a very clean place, with all the buildings adhering to a midwest farm architecture – pleasant very much in that way – but it left us feeling like we had walked through a village of shops, and we were hoping for a village of history that happened to have shops as well.

We ate at the Ronneburg Restaurant there — quite good – an all-German menu.  Sue had wienerschitzel (breaded veal) and I had Bavarian Chicken (a chicken breast with a slice of ham and cheese on it) …quite good, actually – and I treated myself to a cream soda from the local brewery.  Pretty nice meal.

We completed our stay in the colonies with a visit to the furniture/clock shop store.  Now, if you want to drop oodles of money on such stuff, this is your place.  The furniture was gorgeous – all kinds of woods, all kinds of styles, and all in the upper atmosphere of affordability.  Amusingly, there were many clocks placed throughout the store – wall clocks, mantle clock, grandfather clocks — highly interesting stuff.  Cute note:  There was a grandfather clock there with the face of the grandfather clock on the old Captain Kangaroo tv show.

6 26 amana street

So its time to move on.  WE check the GPS and its about 90 minutes to the Field of Dreams in Dyersville, Iowa.

Bucket list time for me, that’s for sure… big baseball fan, and I love the movie.  Wilma had no expectations; as far as she was concerned , this stop was just for me.  Well….  little did I know …. I would find myself nostalgic for a place I’ve never been before.

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We drove through the town, then followed the directions: 3rd avenue to Lansing to the farm itself… you pass a farm on the way in that is surrounded by trees – and then, you pass the trees and there it is… the white farmhouse on the hill, the cornfields, the baseball diamond itself … down the dirt driveway, and then park and get out.  No admission, and today, no crowds (who’s gonna be there on a Thursday late afternoon?  There were a few of us… but no crowds at all….)  We parked, got out, I armed myself with the cameras, and we walked ourselves to the field…. and oh, there it was.  A ball park – no, make that a ball FIELD – no stadium here – meant for everybody to play on.  Around the backstop, and I stood at home plate.  I played scenes from the movie in my head — at home plate, I recalled the young Moonlight Graham winking at the pitcher – and Shoeless Joe whacking out his hits … at the bleachers I sat where James Earl Jones gave his speech about ‘people will come, Ray”…. and on the top bleacher where Karen gives her speech, and falls to her accident, where she is saved by Doc Graham … I crossed the baseline where the young Graham becomes the Doc Graham.  Wilma and I both tried so hard to dissolve into the corn …. and then there were pictures to take, and we did.

SONY DSC SONY DSC

 

We were there no more than maybe 40 minutes, but it was rewarding – it was fun, it was heartwarming – it was a good choice.  I bought myself a souvenir and we left.  Chances are I’ll get back there…  You should go, too.

The only thing missing: I didn’t get to have a catch with my dad.

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Week 24 – 3 Weeks with Lelani

My mother-in-law … let’s call her Lelani — has spent a good amount of June with us.  We drove down to her home in Indiana, stayed 5 days, brought her back home with us for a stay, where we got her to relatives in Minnesota, and then brought her back to Indiana.  In all that time, she visited many folks — some of whom I had never met, and  I’d like to share here.  Wilma and I had taken it upon ourselves to chauffeur Lelani around the state in order to see her longtime friends.

The first was a fine lady named Lily.  She lost her husband last November.  (Lelani lost hers last February…)  Yet, these two ladies met at Lily’s door and laughed and cried and hugged and cooed and giggled and effused… they were so very joyful to see each other.  Over the years, Lily and Lelani had camped together — meaning they and their husbands towed their trailers from campground to campground, sharing time together many times.    The men had gone to business school together; Lelani’s husband went on to work for GMAC, Lily’s husband for some big name corporations.  These two families kept in touch over the years, their kids now grown and gone.  It was clear the two ladies were such very good friends, such bosom buddies…..

Then is was on to our home for a short stop, and then up to Lelani’s hometown and farmstead, where her brother still lived.  A nephew now ran most of the farming operations, but the brother was there.  We arrived to hugs and greetings – the brother and his wife, their grown son and his wife, and their son – and daughter and her husband.  Eventually we were joined by another brother and wife, some more of Lelani’s nephews and wives.  This was truly a family reunion: some had not made it to Lelani’s husband’s funeral in February, and Lelani had not made it back for the funeral of one of the brothers…. Wilma and I shared a supper with them, visited and laughed, got reacquainted… our son even showed up, surprising many.  (I was in on that secret — mwahahahaha…)

We left Lelani there, only to return a week later at another relative’s house in a town 30 minutes away… we found Lelani visiting with a niece from the other side of the family, a sister-in-law and her daughter, and our son.  More visiting, more fun, more pictures.  (By the way.. no pics here this time in this entry …. let the families alone, thank you…)  We loaded Lelani back into our van and headed back home, but we had a stop scheduled first.

We stopped at Lelani’s cousin’s house on a lake almost halfway back to home.  There we saw Lelani and her cousin Alisha hug and smile and grin and cry with joy at the sight of each other…. we enjoyed conversation on their deck, where we met Alisha’s husband Vern and their granddaughter who was spending time at the lake.  More talking, more memories… more new acquaintances.  Vern showed us some of his scrollwork.. crosses, a portrait of Jesus — all done with drills and a scroll saw…. another wonderful visit.

And then back home, pack the car, and head back for Lelani’s home, but first…

Another stop: at Wilma’s Godmother’s home, who was also a childhood friend of Lelani’s…. I had only met her once at our wedding 31 years ago – this lady, Jana, is a vibrant, fun-loving, humorous lady who joyfully greeted us, engaging us in conversation and sharing her baked goods with us…. a very interesting fact: Jana and her husband had served as foster parents to 135 kids over the years – and one of them still lived with Jana (her husband died a few years ago….)

 

At all these reunions, I couldn’t help but see the joy of old friends and loving families engaged in so much love and memories… despite the skeletons in the closet, despite the sad times of lost spouses, despite such life disappointments, it was the joys that mattered, it was the love of life that buoyed everyone.

I have a list of folks I’d love to see again – and they are part of my bucket list.  I suspect those of you reading have a similar list.

 

What are we waiting for?

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