Themes and Events:
* The game Trivial Pursuit is introduced into the United States and becomes an instant success. Two of the most popular movies of the year are Return of the Jedi (sequel to Star Wars) and Never Say Never Again (a James Bond action thriller). The “Cabbage Patch” doll becomes popular this Christmas.
* The VCR (video cassette recorder) is becoming popular; old movies are being copied unto video cassettes for re-release. CDs (compact disks) and their digital players become widely available and begin cutting into the sale of 33 1/3 RPM records and stereo record players.
* During this year, Sally Ride becomes the first woman in space, later Guion Bluford becomes the first Negro astronaut. Both ride the shuttle Challenger on different missions.
* 33% of the babies born in New York City are born out-of-wedlock. The government announces that as many as 23 million Americans are functionally illiterate.
* In the first attack by computer ‘hackers’, a group of young computer experts electronically invaded some 20 major computer systems across the country, including the one at Los Alamos National Laboratory.
* Bag your face.
* We’re spending our children’s inheritance.
* Get revenge — Live long enough to be a burden to your children.
Somewhere In Time: Prelude to my journal
On Saturday, 5 February, Donna and I went to the movies and saw the sci-fi time travel movie, Somewhere In Time. There was something provocative about the movie’s concept, it was a dramatic time travel love story, still there was something more… We enjoyed the movie so much that we sat through it a second time before leaving the theater.
Sunday afternoon, we drove back into St. Cloud and saw the movie a third time. Donna rented the videocassette and we watched the movie again several times on weekday evenings. We bought the film’s musical soundtrack and borrowed the book from the library…
On Monday, 21 February 1983, I sat down and wrote a letter to my friend Mike. In the letter I described what happened in my life, in relation to the movie, over the previous few days, particularly on Friday, 18 February.
I began keeping a journal as a direct result of seeing the movie, Somewhere in Time, and the events that followed.
The story (printed below) was so unusual in its effect on me, that I made a photocopy of my letter to Mike; and several months later the correspondence was entered into my first journal, Journal 1, The Gordian Knot. That story, with some minor wording changes, is as follows:
Music [Album; Somewhere in Time, Rhapsody on a Theme of Paganini]
Monday, 21 February: The prelude
“Donna has just left for work. I have taken today off as a vacation day, I’m feeling terribly run down.
I have been pacing back and forth in the kitchen, thinking about how to write this letter to you . Filling my senses are the background music from the soundtrack to the movie, Somewhere In Time.
Without any foreknowledge, I began an odyssey two weeks ago tonight. It began when Donna brought home the videocassette movie, Somewhere In Time. Monday and Tuesday we watched and agonized our way through it three times. That Saturday we borrowed the book, Bid Time Return, from the library and bought the soundtrack on audio cassette. (The movie, Somewhere In Time was based on the book, Bid Time Return.)
Saturday afternoon and into the evening I read the books two hundred seventy-six pages. Sunday, I reread the book, while the soundtrack played over and over in the background. Again on Monday and Tuesday, February 14 and 15, we watched the movie. Tuesday was the 8th and last time we’ve seen it so far. Donna’s currently reading the book.
Wednesday and Thursday of this last week, I was like a madman, bristling with some unknown energy inside myself. I whistled the theme song, Somewhere In Time and Rhapsody On A Theme of Paganini until my mouth was tired. I read and reread portions of the book. I was becoming haggard to the point that Donna commented on how I looked.
I went to bed Wednesday night, my mind racing in an unknown and uncharted direction, sleep came slowly and fitfully. Thursday morning on the way to work, I still felt haggard, rundown and washed out. As I drove to work, through a light fog, I listened to the soundtrack on audio tape while wondering why I was so moved by the movie and the book. What in my experience was causing this? Was it a longing to have known my Great Grandmother, Anna Flora Anderson-Grubb, whose pictures are in the family photograph album? Years ago, my father gave me Anna’s wedding ring to keep as an heirloom, just as he had once been given this very ring. Was it from seeing the many photographs of our ancestors at various ages?
Thursday night when I returned home from work, I got into the drawer on the bottom of my dresser, a dresser made before my time. I rummaged through the drawer past an envelope containing the last half-dozen letters my Grandmother, Elsie Grubb-Pierce wrote to me. Then deeper past my baby brush and comb, down to the “Bluebook” (The Anderson family line back to Charlemagne.)
I reread a note written back in the 1800s, The family had moved west to Iowa. I remembered that in my youth, Grandmother Elsie (Grubb) Pierce told me the story of the Anderson brothers and their families, moving west with covered wagons and horses. This was the same story her mother Anna Flora (Anderson) Grubb told her when she was a child. There was a bad year for crops and one branch of the family had been forced to grind flowers to make a flour filler for bread.
After looking through the family heirlooms, my troubled mind felt more at ease. Thursday night after supper, we watched the videocassette rental, Saturday Night Fever — seeing it was a waste of time. Then, Donna went to bed, I sat up listening to the soundtrack from Somewhere In Time. This was the first time I just sat enjoying the music and was not wrapped up in the story imagery. Whatever it was that haunted me, was pacified, that night I slept well.
Friday, 18 February 1983: Transposition
This morning at 5:15 AM, I was again driving to work while listening to the morning news on the car radio. For about fifteen miles the fog was horrendous. In those early morning hours, with such fog as is seldom seen, I could not see off either side of the road, nor behind me in the mirror. Visibility was so poor that I accidentally strayed into the left lane and had to swerve sharply to keep from running off the shoulder, on the wrong side of the road. As the miles slowly ticked by, sounds from the radio faded from my consciousness. I became aware of only the fog which seemed to distort the world. I rode through the fog, warm and comfortable while sipping a cup of coffee. The white lines painted in the center of the road came out of the fog and disappeared, passing behind me into the fog. All around me was a cosmic void, a whitish gray substance that obliterated the present.
I approached St. Cloud and the fog slowly dissipated. Just as gradually the sound of the radio returned announcing the Farm Commodity report. Headlights from other cars were seen passing at the intersection ahead.
I punched in at the time clock at Landy Packing Company. The next hour and a half were very busy, the only thoughts on my mind were the immediacy of my job: Meter readings came first, then the ‘grease tanks’ and ‘sludge tank’ needed pumping to the tanker truck. I chatted briefly with the tanker driver. I oiled two pumps and made up two batches of chemicals to clean the waste water. Then, I poured some deodorant on the floor to freshen the smell of the waste water plant. Some sludge had spilled out of its holding tank over night so I squeegeed it up. Unsatisfied with the job, I hosed that section of floor and squeegeed it again. Time passed rapidly and before I knew it, it was break time.
I went into the water plant laboratory five minutes before break began and poured a cup of coffee. Absent-mindedly, I tore a piece of scratch paper off a pad beside me, pulled a pencil from my breast pocket and began writing.
Music [Album: Somewhere in Time, Somewhere in Time]
…8:56AM to 9:20AM, Date unknown
The room faded from my senses, while the roar of my twenty horse power pumps and the din of the boiler vanished beyond some distant past horizon. There was only that piece of paper and the blur of my pencil. I did not see it write, but never-the-less it wrote. There was light all around me, though now I realize it was only the fluorescent ceiling fixtures. But at 8:56 AM there was light, there was a piece of paper of indistinguishable size…
I was unaware of the fleeting moments as they passed…
Out of the piece of paper a vague human form evolved.
Instantly, I knew it was me, yet paradoxically, it was not me. For an increment of time too small to measure, I felt a gentle tug from the present, then the room flickered. I felt huge tears in my eyes, I felt their salty sting and…I was gone.
In that instant of transposition, with tears in my eyes and wearing greasy coveralls, I opened myself to what was occurring and began to understand. I was joyous and sorrowful at the same time. Tears stung my eyes. The vague human form again evolved, but now out a light that was everywhere in front of me. It was neither male nor female, it was both. The baffled and confused me. It was a child, then it rapidly aged. I wondered if it was beautiful, ugly or handsome. A suggestion came to me, more as a statement than a question, and it whispered in my mind, “Does that matter here?”
The form was directly in front of me, being perhaps only fifteen inches away. We looked into each other’s face. It was not changing so rapidly now and I could see it was for a short time a young woman, but with each blink of my eye (so to speak) she aged. The form morphed into a young man and he aged. Once again the form lost definite facial features, if indeed they had ever been definite, but we remained in very close proximity.
I looked down into the eyes of the creature and a second great transposition took place. I was evolving out of a piece of paper and the creature, a DESCENDANT OF MINE, was looking down at me. He became real in time and space. At first I was an amorphous form, then I evolved into a living being. We looked into each other’s eyes, then merged in some mental plane of understanding.
Another surge of tears stung my eyes and I felt a pain in the creature who looked down at me and tears were in its eyes. This was more felt than seen. Once again, the form lost its static features and began to rapidly age. There passed one, and another, and yet another person before my silent gaze. The rapidity of times passage made the people blur like multiple overlay images or as though a continual morphing process were under way, only I remained static.
Again and again, I felt the tears well up as I saw and felt the presences before me. Through their eyes I saw that I was a book or manuscript. A thought crossed my mind, stating, “So, that’s what became of me.” For a moment now and again, the forms were as moved by me as I was by them. At these times I felt overpowering surges of love for the form and we shared wonderment and awe for each other. In this way we communicated, touching each other’s lives as creatures sharing the same time, giving to each other the pure energy of love and undemanding understanding.
I became aware of the paper in my hand. The lab was again around me. I looked up at the wall clock, it was 9:20 AM. I was at work and coffee break had been over for five minutes. I put away my lunch box and thermos, opened the laboratory door and listened to the overall din of the boiler and motors. I know the sound made by the wastewater treatment plant when everything is running properly, nothing sounded amiss. After standing in the doorway looking and listening to the plant for a few moments, I reached into my pocket and pulled out the paper I’d just written on.
Words written during transposition
“Here we sit, staring at each other across time and space. I am a flesh and blood being, so are you. Currently, I am embodied. My words give you but a ghostly shimmer of my world. I know in my heart that you are there in front of me. You are here with me now…
To you, I have been arrested in time, an entity in time’s cage. This entity has a variety of faces: youthful, teenage, young man and middle aged. All are one, for I am encapsulated in these words. A point in times past.
To me you are ageless. I can consider you and love you no less, for you are a kindred creature of my flesh and spirit. You are youthful, a teenager, a young adult, middle aged, older, an old bodied person with the spirit of a child. Though you come back to me a thousand times in your life, there is a part of you that never changes. Your body blossoms to maturity and wilts, but the You inside, You are as I am Me. You are a child in time.
We, You and I, have so much in common, we are ever so close now. We are like the upper branches and lower limbs of a tree. You are like an upper branch, nodding in the winds of time to come, while I am a lower branch, swaying in the breeze of times past. I looked below me on the tree and old dead limbs fell, crashing to the ground. As I watched they became topsoil. When I looked back up the tree, you had sprouted, your leaves uncurled and you became a twig.
How strangely to speak. Yet our being united like THIS has caused tears to well up in my eyes. You sit and read, wondering with a hint of anticipation at the words I shall speak with you. As your years pass these words will change. Like a kaleidoscope, meaning will shift and vary, but it is you who are the kaleidoscope. Your interpretations and attached values and interests will shift again and again, as you look back through these pages and into my eyes…”
I began writing into Journal 1, The Gordian Knot, on 19 May 1983, see the Journal’s introduction graphic at the end of this chapter.
Porky the parakeet finds a home
It had been a couple of years since our parakeet, Alexander R. Little flew away and died in the forest. A few days after he left, we cleaned up his cage, and stored it away in our garden shed. This spring, when we began thinking about raising another parakeet, we pulled out the old cage and recleaned it. Making a trip into St. Cloud, we visited all the stores where we’d seen parakeets for sale in the past. While we looked, for a large supply of healthy birds, we bought new seed, seed bells, mirror, perches, ladder and other toys.
On the first really warm day of spring, we went to Woolworth’s and bought a young fellow. After he’d been at home for a few days, and began to settle in, his character seemed to indicate his name should be, Porky.
In the months that followed, Porky became a member of the family.
Very often, when I was working on a journal at the kitchen table, Porky would fly over to the table and walk up and into the opening between my left wrist and my long-sleeved shirt cuff. He wasn’t taught to do this, but liked the warmth and dark. I was writing with my right hand, so seldom needed to move my left wrist when he was ‘at work’. He’d stay with me about ten minutes, snuggling in my shirt cuff, then would back out, climb on my left arm and walk up my shirt sleeve to my shoulder.
Porky, like Alexander, and Icabod before him, were spoiled at the dining table. Each bird, in his own time, was given little piece’s of snack chips, fried egg white, tiny pieces of lettuce, an occasional vegetable. Once in a while when particularly inquisitive, one of the little fellows would fly to the table and walk amongst the dishes looking onto each plate and occasionally making a lunge for something that looked good. Such behavior was met with instant, loud scolding and shooing from Donna and myself. The hapless bird would usually fly straight up, then circle in the kitchen or front room while loudly squawking his displeasure at being chased away.
Books read during the year
During the year I read several books, including:
Lucifer’s Hammer © 1977 by Larry Niven and Jerry Pournelle – A terrifying novel that answers the question of what would happen if a large meteor hit Earth. 640 pages.
Bid Time Return © 1975 – by Richard Matheson – A novel of time travel and love. 278 pages.
More layoffs at Landy Packing
At Landy Packing Company, the period from Spring through early Summer remained a slow period for business. After closing the plant for a week and a half during 1979, Landy’s tried a new tact by laying off production employees every Monday over a period of several months.
During 1982, the United States entered a recession. Seeing the relatively poor times and the numbers of people losing their job, plus hearing the government’s promise to reduce inflation, Landy Packing forced a one year wage freeze on its employees.
On top of the wage freeze, our Monday layoffs started earlier than usual. Everybody was unhappy, not only were we not getting a raise to make up for inflationary losses, but we were taking a twenty percent reduction in our income by missing work on Monday’s.
As a result of tightening economic conditions at work, Donna and I began saving money in earnest, while planning to fully stock our pantry with as much food as was possible.
The solar cold frame
In an attempt to extend the growing season for a limited number of cold hearty vegetables, we constructed a small, insulated solar cold frame. The value of a cold frame lies in its ability to convert short wave solar radiation into storable heat. On a sunny or partially sunny spring or fall day, sunlight heats the soil on the interior of the cold frame. At night, when the outside temperatures drop, the soil becomes a thermal flywheel, slowly giving up its heat and moderating the interior temperatures.
We made a four-foot by eight foot wide base of two-inch by six-inch pressure treated wood and set it in a two foot hole next to the garden. The base of the frame was faced with one inch thick ‘below grade foam insulation’, then refilled with topsoil and compost. A four-foot high insulated, sloped structure was built on top of the base. The structure was vertically on the north side and angled to face the low spring and fall sun, on the south side. Hinged, double thick clear, plastic doors were made and installed on the front for access to the growing area.
[Image at left: Our solar cold frame in the garden, with the strawberry pyramid to its left and asparagus patch at extreme right. Our red raspberries, grapes and fruit trees are out of the picture to the right. The garden is immediately behind and to the left of the camera.]
In the spring we started pepper, tomato, eggplant seedlings and lettuce in the cold frame. During the fall we again planted lettuce, Chinese cabbage, chives and Swiss chard amongst a few old tomato and eggplant vines. As temperatures turned colder we began closing the cold frame’s hinged doors at night. In the fall the tomato and eggplant both still had flowers.
We were able to harvest several tomatoes, a full month after hard frosts had killed their kind in the garden.
Our records showed that, lettuce in the cold frame continued to grow nearly two months after the firs, frost, in late September, killed off most of the garden, and about a month after lettuce growth in the garden stopped growing, during mid October.
Hardy produce raised in the cold frame, easily survived the first snow in early November, which stayed on the ground for some time. In mid November, when overnight exterior temperatures dropped to 24ºF, the cold frames interior air temperature only declined to 30ºF, while the soil temperature held overnight at 42ºF.
Life inside the cold frame continued, at a considerably reduced rate, up until Thanksgiving, when we usually had to brush snow off the cold frames glazing to gain entry.
Overall, our soil and air temperature records and observations indicated that the insulated, solar cold frame was capable of sustaining the viable growth of vegetables approximately a month longer than their unprotected counterparts in the garden.
In synopsis, it would have been nice to have later built a large solar cold frame (sixteen feet wide by eight feet deep) with water and rock heat storage surrounding small beds and potted vegetables. The key: large sloping surfaces for thermal storage, small pockets of embedded plants, housed in a well insulated, clear glazed structure.
Another precognition, the earthquake
During April, Donna and I took a one week vacation, and decided to stay home and work on projects around the property. On this particular day, we’d been shopping inSt. Cloud and purchased a goose feather down sleeping bag and two air mattresses. That evening, in order to test the comfort of our new equipment, we blew up the air mattresses and laid out our sleeping bags. My air mattress was set on the front room floor right next to our fifty gallon tropical fish tank. At our normal bedtime, we undressed and climbed into our sleeping bags. We chatted for a while and Donna drifted off to sleep. I fell into a nexus between wakefulness and sleep, where with a start, I suddenly became worried that an earthquake would knock the fish tank over on me. The irrational thought made me restless and left me tossing and turning unable to go to sleep. The worry finally prompted me to awaken Donna and take her into our bedroom to sleep on the bed.
[Above right: A rustic flower bed we had in the early years, located beside our stepping stone walkway, made with sawn logs set into ground, a simple wire fence. It lasted about 5 years before a 4×6 inch pressure treated plank border was installed. Garage in background.]
While browsing through the next evenings newspaper, I was shocked to see an article about an earthquake. The previous night there had been an earthquake in the north central Midwest. The article stated this region of the country was an unusual area for earthquake activity and that the earthquake had been stronger than the norm.
A shadow in the sandstorm
One afternoon during the summer, as I hurried absentmindedly about some mundane chores in the Waste Water Treatment Plant, there suddenly grew within my mind a sense of impending urgency. The feeling washed through me with such uncalled for suddenness that I stopped my work and stood motionless for a few moments, my head tilted off to the side, my mind receptive, as I attempted to fathom what was happening. The feeling of urgency was like an ocean wave approaching land, when it broke on the shores of my consciousness, the message gave me a chill of fear, for in the future beyond my time there lurked a dizzying pall of doom. I immediately understood that mankind’s greatest battle for survival would be fought in the future, although I had no idea what form the battle would take.
As I stood there in the middle of the water plant, between my two 80,000 gallon, water clarifiers, I wished there were something I could personally do to contribute my assistance to that future. As the sense of urgency faded and I came out of my trance-like state, shook off the odd occurrence and went about my job. A few minutes later all about me faded and I looked out onto a strange environment…
Dust and grit hurled toward and past me.
As I began to look about, sheets of sand were lifted from irregularities on the ground and from a knoll to my left. I found myself standing on a large, nearly flat plain. The vast area before me was sandy, there were rocks laying about on the surface. My first thought was that a nuclear weapon had exploded, but I realized this was no target area, there were no other life forms or manmade objects visible.
I felt that this area had once been alive and fertile, not always the desert that now existed . There was nothing available for me to determine how long the area had been arid and desertified.
Looking up, I could not see the disk of the sun, but variations in the density of the blowing dust, allowed me to see a brightness that suggested the sun was high in the sky.
I then became aware that I could neither hear or feel the wind or the driven sand particles that were being whisked through the air. I realized I was not in the scene, bodily. It was as though the flesh and blood observer were my kin in that future day. I saw through his or her eyes and for a moment we both saw through one pair of eyes.
[Image above left: The sandstorm in my vision was similar to this photo.]
In the months and years that followed, I occasionally thought about the vision. The environment I saw was not hospitable to Man. It was a desert of the worst kind, composed of fine material, sand, and a scattering of partially buried rocks of all sizes. I saw an area where the top layers of soil were unstable. There was no soil bed, sand and dust were freely carried on the wind.
Whether the desertification was initially brought about by global cooling or warming, multiple nuclear explosions, bio-engineered organics, a meteor impact, or changes in the atmosphere’s constituents was immaterial in the vision. The result was a grossly altered climate that existed in the future. I realized that Man’s greatest battle would not be a war of immediate violence, not the release of great explosives, but something more subtle. The planet’s ecology had been both greatly reduced in diversity and poisoned. One species, Man, had expanded out of control and had rendered the environment less capable of recovering from worldwide change brought on by natural, possibly even cyclical, global effects. It was a process that began as a whimper, then grew and spread relentlessly across the generations as a poison to the planet’s circulatory system.
Goodbye, Pioneer 10
By June 13, The Pioneer space probe, launched in March 1972, became the first manmade object to leave the Solar System. [Image at right: Pioneer 10, an artists conception]
Attempting to make wine
Since moving to our rural property, Donna and I had experimented with a variety of ‘hobby farm’ technologies. When we put in our garden and orchard, we planted two rows, or a total of ten grapes vines. Half of our vineyard was composed of the very hearty, but tart, Beta grape, while the other half was Concord. Unfortunately, our climate was inhospitable to the Concord variety, so their production was much less than the Betas. It took two years of vine growth before grape production was large enough for us to attempt wine making.
Anticipating a good overall harvest this fall, we bought the required primary and secondary fermentation tanks (several each five gallon plastic buckets and narrow mouth glass jars), fermentation locks, wine yeast, etc. We dutifully followed the printed instructions to make our own wine and ended up bottling ten gallons of tart red wine.
We waited six months for the wine to age before opening the first bottle. The batch was still quite tart so we let the remainder age another six months. By the end of 1984 we found the wine still tart and barely tolerable, so it was dumped. We decided not to make any further batches. The unused wine making equipment was sold to an employee at Landy’s.
While I don’t remember mentioning it earlier, over the years we also made a batch of Ginger beer and a batch on Dandelion wine, both remained tart and almost undrinkable even after aging for two years. The batch of grape wine we made in 1983 was the last of our ‘fermentation’ experiments.
1) The outhouse (for potential emergencies) A few years earlier, when Butch Chemielewski dug our ‘trash can pit,’ we also had him dig a 5-6 foot deep shaft for an ‘out house’. Immediately, we built a pressure treated wood, lath framework and set it in the hole, then back filled around the exterior with rocks, straw and dirt.
[Various additions and improvements made in the back yard: 1) our emergency outhouse, 2) a 1000 gallon underground gasoline storage tank with electric pump, 3) compost bins (center left), 4) rock pile (center-rocks from the yard and fence line), 5) part of garden are seen at left in this picture, 6) while the young vineyard and orchard in the left center background. Griz (next to the outhouse, is watching my activities.]
During our first couple years on the property we were installing the garden, yard fencing, and building the Rear Addition, so it wasn’t until 1983 that we built a classic, one seater outhouse. [see photograph above] We mounted a regular toilet seat with lid on the wooden potty bench, had a roll of toilet paper stored in a sealed coffee can, a candle in holder was mounted on the wall, matches were available, I even made the door with a moon shaped ‘window’ (covered with screen) to help illuminated the interior. Although we only used the outhouse a few time, and never in an emergency, it was pleasant to ‘sit on the throne’ with the door wide open and look out onto the woods while doing business. The small structure had tongue and groove lumber siding which was painted light green and covered with a green shingled roof.
2) In order to lock in low prices and ensure a large supply of gasoline, we bought a 1000 gallon steel gasoline storage tank. When delivered, I painted the tank exterior with coal-tar epoxy. Next, we had Butch Chemielewski out with his back hoe, to dig the hole and help set the tank in, with its fill and pump bungs oriented vertically. I installed the piping and the hole was back filled. We bought a pump and had our electrician do the wiring between it and an electrical outlet at the back of the garage, about 30 feet away. Finally, we had Kackley’s Gas and Fuel, from Foley, deliver 1000 gallons of Regular gasoline, and with, that another piece of system was completed.
3) In the photograph above, you can see the back side of our twelve-foot long by four-foot wide compost bins.
4) To the right of the compost bin, is the large rock pile created by removal of rocks from the yard and garden. Many of these rocks were too large for Donna and I to move and required our tractor.
5) Looking to the background, between the compost bin and the rock pile, is the homesite’s north fence line gate. The trash can pit (photographed and described in a previous year) is about 30 feet to the right of the gate.
Garden Produce comparison: 1982 – 1983
|Garden Crop||1982Production||1983Production||Notes||’83 Crop Value ($)|
|Asparagus||0||9 lb..||Bed old enough to start harvest, 1983||$13.41|
|Beans, green snap||12 lb..||14 lb..||Same planting both years.||$7.46|
|Beets||23 lb..||6||Same crop size, less produce.||$3.60|
|Broccoli||1 lb.||0||Cabbage family developed bug||$0|
|Brussels sprouts||1.5 lb..||0||problems in 1982, treated crops with||$0|
|Cabbage||6 lb..||0||insecticide in 1983, but lost the crops||$0|
|Carrots||11 lb..||21 lb..||Same crop size, greater production.||$7.35|
|Chinese cabbage||0||not available||Tried out in solar cold frame||$0|
|Cucumber||61 lb..||35 lb..||Reduced crop size for 1983||$14.50|
|Egg plant||32 lb..||11 lb..||Reduced crop size for 1983||$8.69|
|Garlic||not available||not available||$8.97|
|Grapes: Beta,Concord||not available||not available||First year of heavy production.||$55.73|
|Jerusalem artichoke||18 lb..||~18 lb..||Winter in ground, harvest in Spring.||$14.22|
|Kohlrabi||2 lb..||0||Pestinfestation. See cabbage family.||$0|
|Lettuce, various||Equiv. to 26 heads iceberg lettuce||Raised in garden and cold frame.||$13.00|
|Onions, Yellow Globe||18 lb..||56 lb..||Increased crop size for 1983.||$18.92|
|Peas||7 lb..||0||Eliminated. Shelling took too long.||$3.50|
|Peppers,Bell||25 peppers||46 peppers||Same crop size, greater production.||$24.15|
|Peppers, Jalapeño||0||190 peppers||Will reduce crop size in 1984.||$3.16|
|Peppers, Wax||7 lb..||154 peppers||Same crop size, greater production.||$28.23|
|Potatoes, Russet||120 lb..||160 lb..||Same crop size, greater production.||$23.84|
|Salsify||4 lb..||0||Eliminated, roots too skinny.||$0|
|Squash, Acorn||28 lb..||44 lb..||Increased crop size. Good storage.||$19.36|
|Squash, Buttercup||32 lb..||0||Eliminated, poor winter storage.||$0|
|Squash, Patty Pan||0||20 lb..||Tasty summer squash.||$7.00|
|Squash, Spaghetti||41 lb..||20 lb..||Reduced crop size.||$8.80|
|Squash, Yellow neck||11 lb..||4 lb..||Reduced crop size.||$1.40|
|Squash, Zucchini||29 lb..||30 lb..||Reduced crop size, greater production.||$10.50|
|Strawberries||Pyramid: 6’x6′, 4’x4′ and 2’x2′ tiers.||$6.00|
|Swiss chard||0||not available||Raised in solar cold frame.||$1.00|
|Tomatoes||none ripened||51 lb..||Same planting.||$26.32|
|Turnips||1 lb.||0||Eliminated. Root maggots, 1982.||$0|
|Honey||Cool spring 1983, several new hives.||$50.00|
|Sheep, 4 Suffolk-Colombian crosses||140 lb.||Dressed weight 30-40 lb.. each.||$80.00|
|Eggs: 61 goose, 266 duck.||Equivalent to 474 large chicken eggs.||$33.00|
|VALUE OF 1983 PRODUCE||$492.11|
Notes: 1) The goose eggs weighed the same as 2.33 large chicken eggs, while each duck egg equaled the weight of 1.25 large chicken eggs.
Household expenses, strategies and cash flow
As the years passed, in an attempt to maximize the reduction of our overhead expenses, we made several economic maneuvers.
1) When we purchased our mobile home in the spring of 1977, we paid cash for it thereby reducing our rent expense. The apartment rental fee in SE St.Cloud had cost us approximately $184 per month.
2) By moving into the mobile home at Rockwood Estates Mobile Home Park, we reduced the space rental fee to $45 per month. The $135 monthly savings was funneled into our Savings program which was in turn earmarked to buy rural acreage.
In 1980, when our thirty-nine acre Contract for Deed was paid in full and we’d moved the mobile home onto the property, that eliminated the Rockwood Estates space rental fee, which had risen to $65 per month during our three-year residence. The rental savings went toward paying off a bank loan for the work we had done installing the well and drain field.
3) Installation of the wood burning stove and use of firewood cut on our property reduced our heating bill by about $200 per year (keep in mind that the raw acreage cost us $225 per acre).
4) Food production from the garden, bees and livestock during 1983 yielded $492, equivalent to ten weeks food expenses.
We were slowly, but surely, converting our dollars from funds paid to someone else for services, into real wealth, which we owned. The mobile home, land, well, drain field, wood burning stove and various homesteading tools had the effect of increasing our cash flow, our wealth and to a degree our economic freedom. At the same time, we had a quiet, beautiful, park-like environment to live in and a pleasant lifestyle.
Household expenses, a multiyear chart (actual costs, effects of inflation seen in the numbers)
|Expenses||1971||1974 Dec||1977 July||1980 July||1983 July|
|Rent, monthly||$140 a||$160 a||$50 b||$65 b||0 c|
|Food, monthly (see inflation)||$121||$121||$130||$195||$216|
|Automobile loan payments, monthly||$50 d||$62 e||0||$110 f||$155 g|
|Automobile gasoline, monthly||$4||$5||$10||$15||$35|
|Insurance, prorated as monthly||n/a||$12||$21||$65 h||$83 i|
|Miscellaneous #1, monthly||n/a||n/a||$35||$91||$130 j|
|Miscellaneous #2, monthly||$21||$86||$43||$86||n/a|
|Clothing, prorated as monthly||$21||n/a||n/a||$30||n/a|
|Doctor/ Dentist, prorated monthly||$1||$11||$13||$13||$13|
|Baby expenses, monthly||0||0||0||0||$43|
|General Monthly Expenses||$388||$484||$385||$821||$826|
Codes used in the table above:
|a = Living in apartment; b = Rockwood Estates Mobile Home Park; c = Living on rural acreage.|
|d =Toyota Corolla; e = GMC Pickup Truck; f = Toyota Corolla; g = Ford Pickup Truck.|
|h = Insurance costs increased from coverage of 2 automobiles to include the mobile home and personal effects.|
|i = Insurance costs increased with addition of land, outbuildings, liability and increased personal effects.|
|j = $84 of the $130 was a monthly installment payment made for the purchase of a heat pump.|
|Note: Gasoline expenses increased with inflation and the farther we moved from St. Cloud.|
|n/a = data not available;|
Weekly family income, 1983
|Hours worked||40 hours||40 hours||80 hours|
|Federal withholding tax||$62.38||$45.87||$108.25|
|State withholding tax||$26.01||$18.75||$44.76|
|Social Security tax||$22.48||$18.27||$40.75|
|Total payroll deductions||$110.88||$82.89||$193.77|
The US Marine barracks in Beirut
On October 23, a Terrorist drove a truck load of explosives up to a hotel housing a Marine headquarters and barracks in Beirut,Lebanon and committed suicide. More than 200 Marines were killed in the attack promptly causing the U.S.to withdraw from its peacekeeping role in that country.
On October 25, US troops invade the tiny Caribbean Island after the government experienced a bloody coup, to restore order and protect eleven hundred Americans on the island.
[Photo at right: Early morning on the road fronting our property’s east side. Looking SSE along County Road 14 (125th Ave NE) from our mail box. The population density of our rural neighborhood in 1984 was about sixteen people per square mile.]
Prelude to the birth of Jane Elizabeth Pierce
On Monday, November 28, Donna and I awoke around 4:30AM. Looking outdoors, we could see a lot of snow had fallen during the night and that heavy snow was continuing to fall. After dressing and starting a fire in the wood burning fireplace, I shoveled snow off the rear addition steps then handed wood in to Donna from the outdoor woodpile to refill our indoor firewood storage ring.
The morning weather reports were advising, ‘absolutely no travel in central Minnesota’. Snow plows and sanding trucks had already been pulled off the roads due to the severe early winter storm. So far we’d received about six inches of fresh snow, bringing the snow cover to thirteen inches.
At 5:30AM, I telephoned Landy Packing Company and told them we’d be late to work, if we could get out at all. Meanwhile, the news was reporting that another four to six inches of snow was expected to fall. Already, our snowfall for November was breaking records going back 35-40 years, to the mid 1940s.
At 11:00AM, I brought the tractor out of the machine shed – garage and began clearing the driveway. While working, I wondered if I was going about a fool’s errand, since there was drifting snow and more snowfall forecast. Donna sat on the tractor bucket to scoop snow away from the leading edge of the yard gate. She then climbed on the back of the tractor and rode with me as I plowed down to the county road. The only vehicle seen driving was a four-wheel drive pickup truck. We watched as it braved its way slowly, in zig zag fashion up the road, through the eight inches of fresh snow. About noon, just after I finished plowing, the county snow plow made a single pass down the road, opening one lane.
Donna called our neighbors, Bobby and Arlene and invited them over for lunch. Everyone was home from work and all outdoor activities had stopped due to the weather. Bob and Arlene were happy for the distraction and came right over in their four-wheel drive pickup truck. We chatted about the weather and told jokes while the girls made a large lunch consisting of soup and grilled cheese sandwiches. After lunch, while Donna and Arlene chatted in the kitchen, Bobby and I sat in the living room playing two new video games: Swords and Serpents and The Dreadnought.
Over the years, we came to see Arlene as a cheerful, outgoing, energetic, happy type of person. Bobby was fun to be with, if you could get him to actually arrive at the function, he had a way of being cursedly late to everything. Many a supper meal was held up an hour to an hour and a half waiting for him to finish a chore “Ya just can’t walk away from somethin’ like that.”
That evening, after our company returned home, we were still full from lunch so Donna made a light meal around hamburger patties. We ate little and put the rest in the refrigerator for ‘leftovers.’
[Left: The driveway on a fall morning. Taken about 150-200 feet up the driveway from the county road. The homesite is about 300 feet beyond the curve.]
Donna’s ‘water’ breaks
The next morning at 4:05AM, five minutes after Donna got up, she hurried back into the bedroom and awoke me, exclaiming, “Larry wake up! Larry get up! My water’s broke. We’ve got to go to the hospital.” So, I awoke out of a peaceful sleep into an emergency situation, sat up rubbing my eyes, then climbed out of bed. Donna was across the bedroom moving about in a nervous, agitated state. She took a wet towel from between her legs and pointed to a wet spot on her side of the bed while talking. Still groggy, I began to ascertain Donna’s condition and decide what to wear for the day. A stream of thoughts passed through my mind: “Donna is not hysterical or in pain, so we don’t have an imminent emergency. Should I wear my work clothes? No. Maybe I won’t go to work today? Should I wear my home clothes? Yes. Should I take my work clothes in a paper bag and change into them if I go to work?”
By now approximately 10 seconds had passed since I had awakened, my mental fog was clearing and the situation becoming better understood. Donna was scampering around gathering things for her upcoming hospital stay. Meanwhile, I went into high gear, dressed in my home clothes, then telephoned Landy Packing to tell them the situation and say that I wouldn’t be to work that day.
As I grabbed my winter coat and turned on the outdoor security light, I wondered: “Had we’d received the other 6 inches of snow that was forecast? With an expectant mother waiting, it would not be a good time to have to plow the drive way! Would there be an impenetrable pile of snow out by the county road that I’d have to dig through to get out? What about breakfast or at least a cup of coffee?”
Fortunately, we had not received additional snow and there was no drifting. We drove down the driveway and out onto the county road without problems. I stayed on the main road, driving down Highway 25 then west to St. Cloud on Highway 23. We stopped at Perkin’s downtown restaurant for a cup of coffee “to go,” then drove up 9th Street to the St. Cloud Hospital, on Northway Drive.
Admission to the hospital
At the hospital, the Admissions nurse had Donna sit in a wheelchair and took her to Room 315. While Donna was getting situated in her room, I signed several admissions forms. The hospital’s floor plan must have been designed by a ‘video game freak’, because it was a maze of corridors. If it weren’t for the elevators which at least take you to the floor you want, a person could wander for hours trying to locate such treasured spots as a bathroom or food service. Still in a daze from the mornings rapid events, I exited the elevator on the Third floor. A student nurse gave me directions, a few moments later, another nurse gave me directions, finally I found Donna in Room 315. The thought crossed my mind that I might never find my way out of the hospital, but I’d found where they’d placed Donna.
Room 315 was a ‘Two Occupant’ room, in the hospital’s Maternity Wing. Just inside the door, in the first bed, was a groaning, expectant mother. Leaning close beside her was her husband who, for some reason was making wolf like, howling noises, in her ear.
Donna was in the second bed, which was separated from the first by a room dividing curtain. As we chatted, we also stopped on occasion to listen to the menagerie of sounds drifting through the curtain from the other couple. I couldn’t help but think that the nurse’s ought to drag off the father and operate on him. While the wife was keeping her head and undergoing periodic labor contractions, the husband was issuing breathing instructions, “Breathe in…. not too hard…” With each instruction, he would try to breathe in an exaggerated, empathetic way with her, as though he too were in labor. We chuckled at the ‘frantic father to be’ and his heavy breathing punctuated with gasping instructions.
Donna laid on her bed chatting with me, she seemed so out-of-place there in the hospital. Since she was in no pain and had no apparent medical problem, it was as though she were just a healthy person laying on a hospital bed.
Around 9:30 AM, I went in search of, and found, the hospital cafeteria. The menu listed two eggs and toast, cake, etc., but there was no meat offered. The waitress said they normally didn’t serve meat, but she could have the cook fry up some thin strips of ham for salads. I ordered the “cakes” and asked for lots of syrup. A strange look came over the waitresses face and it dawned on me that “cake” did not mean ‘pancakes’; she affirmed my realization. My breakfast consisted of two eggs and toast, a small pile of odd-looking ham strips, coffee and a ‘Long John donut’. While eating I noticed that I’d developed some mental disorientation and a nervous twitch in my right eye lid from the mornings nerve-wracking events.
After breakfast, I returned to Room 315, to find Donna in good spirits and wondering when she’d begin having contractions. I stayed with her until 1:00 PM. During the preceding eight hours, Donna had only been checked once by one doctor. This seemed to indicate that her situation was currently not nearing term and that nothing would be happening for a while. I left the hospital at 1:00 PM and drove across town to the Crossroads Mall, where I bought Donna a new winter coat and the video game Microsurgeon, as welcome home presents.
Music [Album: Somewhere in Time, The Old Woman]
30 November: “Jane, I presume?”
I awoke early Wednesday morning and made a quick breakfast of bacon, eggs and toast. After feeding Griz and Jesse, and packing my work clothes in a paper bag, I hurried to the hospital to see Donna. There had been no change in Donna’s condition during the night; she was still waiting for ‘something’ to happen. Having been in the hospital for twenty-four hours without food, Donna was about to ‘climb the wall’ for a steak. During this time and for the next few days, Donna’s nourishment consisted of a five percent glucose solution, fed intravenously.
Since Donna hadn’t begun labor contractions, there was some talk of attempting to ‘force labor’ later in the day. Evidently, once an expectant mother’s water breaks, it’s best to achieve birth as soon as possible, before any potential infection develops that might affect the baby. Since our baby was arriving one month early and there were still no contractions, Donna was given steroid injections to help finish the development of the babies lungs. About 9:45AM, I left the hospital and drove across town to Landy Packing Company.
Donna telephone me at work a t12:30 PM to say the nurses had just hooked her up to an ‘IV’ to induce labor. At this point in time, Donna was still in good spirits, but sounded a little apprehensive. I made arrangements for my swing shift relief operator to come to work early, he arrived at 1:30PM, whereupon, I changed clothes and went back to the hospital.
During the morning, Donna was moved to Room 317, a Single Occupancy room. By the time I arrived, the ‘forced labor chemicals’ had begun to cause contractions, leaving Donna in considerable pain. I was a little frightened seeing her wither in agony, almost to the point of not recognizing me. There was a nurse in the room with Donna, monitoring her condition.
Around 3:40PM, Dr. Olinger came in and checked Donna’s chart. He turned and said to a nurse, “There’s no use messin’. Have ’em prep O.R. for immediate use. We’ll take the baby right away.” I followed Dr. Olinger out of Donna’s room and into the hall to find out what prompted his brisk instruction to the nurse. He briefly said (paraphrased), “By 4:00 o’clock she’ll be in the operating room. By 4:15 PM she’d be under anesthetics and five to ten minutes later you’ll have your baby girl.”
As the doctor walked away, I stood alone in the corridor digesting what he said. When he’d said ‘right away’, he meant, ‘right away’, I glanced at my watch and realized that in a half hour, we’d have our baby. I turned and started back into Donna’s room, but the attending nurse shooed me away. Others were already washing and shaving Donna for a Cesarean operation.
My mind went into a fog again. I felt like an useless appendage walking aimlessly down the hall.
Then, seeing Dr. Olinger talking on the telephone, and he being the only recognizable point of authority, I walked over to him. In a moment he hung up, turned and said. “Follow me.” I obediently followed him down the hall. Rounding a corner in the corridor, he pointed to a room with a sign above the door stating, ‘FATHERS ROOM’. He told me to wait there until a nurse came for me. I started to walk towards the Father’s Room, but he called me back. I was then taken down another corridor, through a pair of doors, and down another corridor to a window in the Baby Ward. Dr. Olinger said that I would be called right after the baby was delivered. At that time, I should leave the Father’s Room and come here to the Baby Ward where I could see the infant.
I made my way back to the Father’s Room and watched TV for a couple of minutes. Unable to concentrate on the television program, I walked down to the main floor Gift Shop for a candy bar. I recognized the Gift Shop’s lady volunteer worker, as a friend of our neighbor’s Bobby and Arlene, a lady whom we’d met at a polka club Halloween party a year earlier.
As we chatted. I suddenly jerked my head up and to the left. For an instant, I felt as though something had gone ‘ping’ in the deepest recess of my soul. This happened while we talked there in the gift shop. I doubt anyone noticed my being startled. I continued with the conversation for a moment longer and excused myself saying, ‘I should go now, because the baby will be here any minute.’
Even as I excused myself, I already knew that just a few moments earlier, Jane was born.
Looking back on this event, I felt a combination of things, described as: When you’re in the lobby of a tall building waiting for the elevator, they sometimes announce their arrival with a ‘ping’ like sound as though from a muted bell. Since you don’t know exactly when the elevator will stop, you’re usually lost in some thought when the little ‘ping’ sounds. The muted little musical note startles you and you jerk a glance toward its source.
In my case the ‘ping’ was not heard, it was felt and yet it was not felt by the bodies sensors, it was known from another level. I had no subsequent rush of adrenaline. I was immediately aware of what had happened, for the ‘ping’ told me, that the essence of continuity of my soul had arrived.
I made a beeline back to the Father’s Room.
Two or three minutes after my arrival, a nurse came for me and I followed her down the hall and into the Baby Ward.
I looked about, standing around me in the room were five or six nurses and a doctor. Across the room, laying on the counter on a small blanket, was Jane.
The nurses had wiped the birth fluids off Jane’s body, except around her scalp. She was beautiful! A nurse approached me and asked if I wanted to hold her (Was she kidding?) of course I wanted to hold her! I was a very happy and proud Daddy! And here was that little girl…
A nurse asked me, “Well, what do you think? Do you want to take her home with you?” I answered, “Yes, “ while thinking, “These people are regular comedians! All I want to do is wrap Jane up, dash out of the Baby Ward, rescue Donna and all three of us hurry back home.” Alas, they took Jane from me, gave her a vaccination, put silver nitrate in her eyes (which were still closed), then placed her in an incubator.
Later I learned, they rate babies at ‘one minute’ and ‘five minutes’ after birth to see how their metabolic systems are working. The Normal gradient is between seven and ten. Jane’s one minute evaluation was an eight, her five-minute evaluation was nine. A nurse told me that it was rare for a baby to receive perfect ten rating. I was relieved, thinking to myself, “So far, so good.”
Visiting and cleaning up
Thursday, after my regular 6:30 AM to 3:00 PM shift at Landy’s, I changed my clothes and hurried back to the hospital to visit with Donna and Jane. Jane was visiting with her Mom when I arrived, in fact Jane was attempting to get the hang of nursing. She was so small that Donna needed to use a nipple extension so the nipple would fit in Jane’s mouth.
Jane was a pretty baby. She was born with a lot of auburn hair and pretty blue eyes. When I pressed my right index finger into her hand, she closed her fingers on me, but they didn’t reach all the way around my little finger.
Later in the evening, when I returned home, I found that between my working all day, shopping and visiting at the hospital, chores at home were not being done. Jane’s month early arrival had caught us unprepared. In the kitchen, soiled pots and pans were stacked precariously on the kitchen counter, the dishes on the bottom had hard, dried food on them.
Down the hall, the bed wasn’t made, there was a load of dry clothes in the wash basket that need putting away, the hamper was full of soiled work clothing so I didn’t have anything to wear to work. Griz and Jessie were outdoors barking in complaint, because it was well past their supper time.
I threw a load of soiled clothes in the wash machine and went to make supper. Supper consisted of two leftover hamburger patties from the previous Monday night, a large serving of instant mashed potatoes, a half can of corn and a piece of bread. While my supper cooked on the stove, Donna and I spoke together on the telephone, simultaneously, I made a sack lunch for my next day at work. After supper, I fed the dogs their chunky food mixed with all my leftover mashed potatoes. When I ran water in the sink to do dishes, I found the wash machine had used up all the hot water. The pile of dirty pans and dishes grew a little higher.
Cleaning up around the house, Part II
After work on Friday, I went to the bank and did some grocery shopping then went straight home.
I needed to work on a rapidly accumulating batch of chores about the house, amongst which were: the dishes, laundry, and general house cleaning. Before starting on household chores, I had to begin shoveling a layer of deep snow off our mobile home’s roof; on the kitchen table there lay a four-inch high stack of unopened mail; outdoors the dogs were barking, wanting to be fed their supper.
While a batch of clothes dried in the clothes dryer, I went through two batches of water in the kitchen sink washing dishes and silverware. Even with a scratcher pad , it was difficult removing some of the old and unforgiving, dried egg from those bottom dishes. The pots and pans, which literally covered the top of the stove, had to wait another day before being washed.
Big day, bad pizza
Saturday morning, I had to go in to Landy Packing and work six hours, from 6:00AM until noon. At noon, I changed clothes and drove across town to the hospital for a visit with Donna and baby Jane. We visited throughout the afternoon. We sure are happy with our tiny tot. Donna is complaining about being fed a liquid diet at the hospital and ‘wants to be released so she can go home for a decent meal’.
At dusk, I left Mother and Daughter with intentions of stopping at a restaurant for a balanced meal myself. Just as I pulled into country Kitchen’s parking lot, a sudden craving for pizza swept over me, I turned the car around and went to a pizza parlor. Back at hom,e I finished cooking my pizza, popped open a bottle of beer and sat down to eat while watching a rented video cassette entitled, The Beast Master (a terrible movie).
During the previous week, my homemade meals had been quite bland, so as if in making up for the lack of spice, I added too much hot pepper to the pizza, then ate the entire greasy thing.
I awoke several times during the night with an upset stomach and terrible gas pains.
Videotaping in the hospital
I awoke Sunday morning feeling na. Before long, diarrhea drove me to the toilet, where the hot peppers from the previous night pizza, burned a second time…
Around 11:00 AM, I began a videotape entitled, ‘Jane Elizabeth Pierce’, while walking about on the driveway,filming the environment and home that Jane was born into. Having begun the tape’s introduction, I drove into St. Cloud to visit with the girls. Just as I stepped into the hospital elevator with my video camera, an armed police officer stopped me and asked what I was doing with the camera. I answered saying I was there to see my wife and baby and not just wandering through the hospital taking pictures. A nurse subsequently told me it was OK to film, but that it should be restricted to our room only.
Donna had her first solid food in six days for lunch, a meal consisting of small portions of: turkey, dressing, peas,a dinner roll, some custard and a cup of coffee. Jane spends most of her time sleeping in a bassinet and nursing at her mother’s breast.
5 December, Monday
I went home after work to finish washing clothes and dishes.
Donna and Jane come home
[Photo at right: Jane, 1 month old. Precious Jane, asleep on the couch, early afternoon, Christmas day 1983. Am I just prejudiced, or is she one nice looking baby girl?! ]
Since Tuesday, December 6, was the day that Donna and Jane were scheduled to come home, I left work several hours early, at noon. When I arrived at the hospital, Donna’s nurse, Marie Olson (about forty-five years old) and I carried our personal belongings from Room 341 to our pickup truck. Jane was wrapped up in baby blanket and ready to go home. We left the St. Cloud Hospital and drove out-of-town, headed for our home at Nightstar*, two proud parents and one baby, Jane.
Jane moves in
A few days after the girls came home, Donna set up a cot and began sleeping in Jane’s bedroom. The two-some were up and down two, three, even four times a night, feeding, going to the bathroom and all that mother’s and the ‘little people’ do.
Initially, Jane spent most of her day sleeping, but as the weeks passed into months, she spent more and more time awake. Every evening when I came home, I’d give Jane a big kiss then change out of my work clothes. At every meal, even if she was asleep, we brought Jane to the kitchen table in her car seat carrier and set her on a chair seat where we could look at her and talk to her.
Even before Jane was able to see, she was a ‘regular’ at the table.
Regarding the layoffs at Landy Packing
Our ‘one day a week’ layoff’s at Landy Packing, began earlier this Spring and lasted a whopping twenty-two weeks, making it equivalent to missing an entire months income for the year. Fortunate for our family resources, Donna and the other office personnel continued to work Monday’s. Since I was the supervisor in the Waste Water Treatment plant, I did put in a few Monday’s working on various projects and was able to get some overtime hours during the rest of the workweek. Unfortunate for the rank and file production people, their families simply had to scrimp between paydays.
In the fall, when ‘full time’ work resumed, it became apparent from rumors and gossip that there was going to be a real row between management and the Meat Packers Union during the upcoming Union Contract negotiations. Donna and I had already started an economic ‘war chest and were saving as much money as we could, without pinching ourselves too tightly.
I was in a peculiar position at Landy’s, I was a supervisor, but was neither in management or in the union. I was told that at the October and November union meetings, the workers demanded a wage hike while management demanded a pay cut. The infighting continued with each side asking for the impossible. Finally, the Union Representative, from the Meat Packers Union Regional office in Minneapolis told the employees to go along with the wage cut. The employees were mad as hell. You see, as long as they were in the union, each worker had to contribute $20 per month in union fees. Everyone thought they’d been sold out by the union, whether the workers got a pay raise or pay cut, the union still got its $20 per member.
The Landy family kept banging away at their approximately one hundred forty meat-packing workers, chipping away at their resolve by threatening to move the business to South Dakota or ‘just close the doors’ if things didn’t go their way.
During mid December, the union voted on a last-minute proposal which included: A three-year wage freeze; newly hired employees would start at greatly reduced wages; when new employees reached full pay scale for a given production job, their labor would be paid at $1.50 per hour less than current the employees earned .
What the wage cut meant
With the three-year wage freeze at the going rate of inflation, each of Landy’s two hundred union and non-union workers would lose about $1.00 or purchasing power (approximately a 13% decline in purchasing power) over the period. The idea was that the savings from wages would be used by the company to buy cattle and keep the business open and more workers employed. I thought about the sensible logic the company was using then did a little arithmetic:
|($1.00 loss /hr purchasing power / employee. )||x..||(8 hr/ day)||x..||(220 work days / yr)||x..||(200 Landy employees ) =||$352,000 / yr savings from the wage freeze.|
The $352,000 savings seemed a sizable sum until it was put in perspective, the company paid $600 to $800 per beef cow.
|$352,000 / year savings/ $800 / beef cow||= 440 head of cattle|
At a cost of $800 per cow, the company would only be able to buy 440 head from their savings. That may also sound like a lot, until it’s realized that we typically processed 600 to 1000 head of cattle per day! The saving from wages only represented one half days work out of approximately 220 work days per year, or about 0.23%– one-fourth of 1 percent.
This was definitely not much of a gain for the company, yet it would become a burden for the families of the employees. That $1.00 an hour lost in purchasing power would probably eliminate any saving the families had. At the same time, the wage freeze would press families into an economic spiral that changes the shopper’s purchasing ability, slowly forcing them down the food chain at the grocery store, from steak, to chicken and eventually to beans.
Immediately after the Amalgamated Meat Packers accepted the austere, three-year wage freeze and other wage busting measures, the company spent $20,000 to $25,000 to remodel the office.
What’s on TV tonight?
My favorite programs in 1983.
• Local Evening News
• National Evening News
• ABC, CBS or NBC evening movies.
Movies that Donna and I attended during the year include;
Cujo with Dee Wallace, Danny Pintauro, Daniel Hugh-Kelly, Christopher Stone
Doctor Detroit with Dan Aykroyd, Howard Hesseman, Donna Dixon
High Road To China with Tom Selleck, Bess Armstrong, Jack Weston, Wilford Brimley
National Lampoons Vacation withChevy Chase, Beverly D’angelo, Dana Barron
Somewhere In Time with Christopher Reeve, Jane Seymour, Christopher Plummer
Sudden Impact with Clint Eastwood, Sondra Locke, Pat Hingle, Bradford Dillman
The Grey Fox with Richard Farnsworth, Wayne Robson, Jackie Burrought
Trading Places with Eddie Murphy, Dan Aykroyd, Jamie Lee Curtis, Ralph Bellamy
Wargames with Matthew Broderick, Dabney Coleman, Ally Sheedy, John Wood
—————— ♦ ——————-
The Introduction to Journal 1:
[In retrospect, the preface seen below sounds corny and the drawings aren’t very good, that’s how personal endeavors start. Journeys begin with the first step, which are sometimes awkward, crude and tentative. Its the process of travel, internal growth and the expansion of one’s abilities that bring personal enrichment in time, that too is, Nature’s Way.]
“JOURNAL 1 –THE GORDIAN KNOT
ago in a galaxy
far far away, there
upon a planet called
Terra, a child was born;
a distant descendent of kings and
And it came to pass that the world chaffed
under the power of a great force,
The force of life upon the land was rocked by the
Empires great power, which sought to enslave all.
Fate & Destiny
the twin powers of
non linear time and space
caused a ripple to emanate
across the ethos, it whispered…
A still, nearly silent voice
spoke through the void,
it came from the clouds and from the soil,
it carried on the wind and whispered through the leaves,
it carried from the wave crests like spraylets of driven water
and rose in the swamp like the morning fog,
it danced across the sands of the desert…
A young child living on the
great desert looked into
the night sky, he felt more
than heard a still murmuring
voice, a intelligible whisper
that spoke to him. He had a vision.
The years passes and clouds
began to form within the Empire.
Out of the turmoil arose a man.
Life can be as great and glorious, as full of adventure and
mysterious forces as any tales of the heroic past or future. Real heroes
to a degree, may overcome the constrains of an empires, though ‘overcoming’ is
a relative term. In real life, there are few absolutes and many shades
of possibility in between. The scales of our battles and the spoils of
our victories, over time, may be few or many, large or small.
If our lives were compressed into a few moments and only our life
theme studied, our deeds would appear great and fierce, our bravery,
piety, or sacrifice would be legendary, our love and passion would inspire awe
across time, our humble wisdom, eternal.
But, I who write and you who read, we for the most part, have lived
many uninspiring moments. We do things that we don’t really care to
do, we dream of things desired, we wash our armpits and care for our
mammal bodies, we catch colds, our shoe strings break, clothes need
washing, we need a home, warmth, safety, bills must be paid. There are
simply many many moments in life that simply—not inspired!
Is that spark of
transcendent vitality that
creates and nurtures the seed of
our sojourn in life. When this spark is
fanned into a flame, a man or woman can rise
to become a prince or princess.
This journal is the story of a child, of family
and Man’s eternal struggle with
the forces of the economic empire into
which he was born. It is an autobiography and
the map of a conscious and unconscious mind,
it is both a process of growth and an end product,
it is a ‘how to book’ and a glimpse of the Twentieth
Century, it is the mental matrix of Larry Francis Pierce:
A Traveler in Time.”
 “Important events cast their shadow before.”, by Thomas Cambell, 18th Century poet.
 The text within these quotation marks was initially written as part of a letter to my friend Mike. Several months later it was recopied into what became my first journal, Journal 1, The Gordian Knot.
 [How such things begin. lfp]
__a) December 5, 2005, Drought Causing Record Forest Destruction in U.S. Southwest, by Hope Hamashige, for National Geographic News, “Soil-scorching droughts are nothing new to the U.S. Southwest. But the one that hit the region in 1999—and still persists—has been different from past droughts: It has been hotter. It has also caused what is arguably the most extensive die-off of trees ever documented by modern science. Upward of 45 million piñon pine trees have died in New Mexico in the last three years, according to the U.S. Forest Service. New Mexico, which claims the short, nut-bearing piñon as its state tree, has been hardest hit by the drought. New research suggests that it was higher-than-normal temperatures and not just the lack of water that produced the large-scale die-off…
__b) 26 Jul 2006, Scientists: Warming Triggers ‘Dead Zone’, By JEFF BARNARD, Grants Pass, OR (AP) – “Bottom fish and crabs washing up dead on Oregon beaches are being killed by a recurring “dead zone” of low-oxygen water that appears to be triggered by global warming, scientists say.
The area is larger and more deadly than in past years, and there are signs it is spreading north to Washington’s Olympic Peninsula.
Scientists studying a 70-mile-long zone of oxygen-depleted water along the Continental Shelf between Florence and Lincoln City have concluded it is being caused by explosive blooms of tiny plants known as phytoplankton, which die and sink to the bottom.
The phytoplankton are eaten by bacteria, which use up the oxygen in the water. The recurring phytoplankton blooms are triggered by north winds generating a rollover of the water column in a process known as upwelling.
We are seeing wild swings from year to year in the timing and duration of the winds that are favorable for upwelling,” Jane Lubchenco, professor of marine ecology at Oregon State and a member of the Pew Oceans Commission, said from Corvallis. “This increased variability in the winds is consistent with what we would expect under climate change.”
Scientists first noticed a dead zone off Newport in 2002. That one was traced back to a rare influx of cold water rich in nutrients and low in oxygen that had migrated from the Arctic, said Jack Barth, professor of oceanography at Oregon State and with Lubchenco a principal investigator for the Partnership for Interdisciplinary Studies of Coastal Oceans.
Each year since then, dead zones have returned in the summer. But these have been caused by intense bursts of upwelling followed by calm periods. During the calm periods, when the water contains fewer nutrients, phytoplankton die for lack of food and fall to the ocean bottom, Barth added.
This year, the upwelling started strongly in April, stalled in May and picked up again in late June. Following the upwelling’s, scientists found the oxygen levels lower.
The off-and-on action of the upwelling builds up a thick layer of organic material that robs the water of oxygen as it rots. When a new upwelling occurs, it draws the deadly water toward shore, killing fish and crabs that cannot get out of its way, Barth said.
“We know it’s not pollution. It’s not a toxic algal bloom. The simple fact is there’s not enough oxygen,” said Francis Chan, a research professor of zoology at Oregon State who has been measuring the oxygen levels.
Oxygen levels are generally lower in deeper water, where fish evolve to deal with it, said Lubchenco. What is unusual about this condition is that it is moving into relatively shallow water, about 50 feet deep, and moving toward shore, where the richest marine ecosystems are.
Monitoring of oxygen levels in the ocean has documented the dead zone in varying intensities along 70 miles of coast from Florence to Lincoln City, but the ribbon of dead phytoplankton on the ocean bottom that creates it could extend to Washington’s Olympic Peninsula, where dead crabs and fish have been showing up, Barth said.
“If we continue like we are now, we could see some ecological shifts,” Barth said. “It all depends on what happens with the warming and the greenhouse gases.”Dead zones in other places around the country, such as Hood Canal in Washington and the Mississippi River Delta off Louisiana are caused by agricultural runoff fueling blooms of algae that rot and deplete the oxygen, said Lubchenco. But dead zones like the one off Oregon also occur off Namibia and South Africa in the Atlantic and off Peru in the Pacific.
“We’re not really sure what is down the road. If it’s just for a short period of time, it will not be as devastating as if it starts lasting a significant fraction of summer,” she said.
Crab fishermen in Oregon and Washington are finding dead crabs in their pots, and deeper water fish, such as ling cod, wolf eels and rockfish, are showing up in Oregon tide pools, apparently chased to shore by the dead zone advancing across the Continental Shelf, said Lubchenco.
In Washington, dead fish and crabs are also being spotted on the beach along the Olympic Coast National Marine Sanctuary and the Quinault Indian Reservation, Liam Antrim, resource protection specialist for the marine reserve, said from Port Angeles, Wash.
“Last year we did some routine monitoring along six transects every other week. We never documented low oxygen conditions low enough to kill things,” Antrim said. “This year we have.”
__c) February 13, 2008, Lake Mead Could Be Within a Few Years of Going Dry, By FELICITY BARRINGER, “Lake Mead, the vast reservoir for the Colorado River water that sustains the fast-growing cities of Phoenix and Las Vegas, could lose water faster than previously thought and run dry within 13 years, according to a new study by scientists at the Scripps Institution of Oceanography. Lake Mead, which serves as a reservoir for the Colorado River and sustains fast-growing cities in the Southwest, has a 50 percent chance of becoming unusable by 2021, researchers say. The lake, located in Nevada and Arizona, has a 50 percent chance of becoming unusable by 2021, the scientists say, if the demand for water remains unchanged and if human-induced climate change follows climate scientists’ moderate forecasts, resulting in a reduction in average river flows. Demand for Colorado River water already slightly exceeds the average annual supply when high levels of evaporation are taken into account, the researchers, Tim P. Barnett and David W. Pierce, point out. Despite an abundant snowfall in Colorado this year, scientists project that snowpacks and their runoffs will continue to dwindle. If they do, the system for delivering water across the Southwest would become increasingly unstable. “We were really sort of stunned,” Professor Barnett said in an interview. “We didn’t expect such a big problem basically right on our front doorstep. We thought there’d be more time.”…
 Hard Times: An Oral History of the Great Depression © 1970, by Studs Terkel, “When a company stresses how poor business is, then forces a wage freeze or wage cut on employees, it probably is only a matter of time until the company fails.”
You must be logged in to post a comment.