Chapter 1987, age 44-45, Part 1 of 3

Themes and Events:
Early in the year the DJIA (Dow Jones Industrial Average) topped 2000 points, 14 years after reaching 1000 points. On August 13, the 5th anniversary of the bull market, the DJIA closed at 2691. By August 25, it reached 2,722, up 800 points during the year. Two months later, October 19 came to be known and remembered as, ‘Black Monday!’
*  Ceramic superconductivity is discovered. Only 2% of the U.S. population now lives on farms.
* There is a widespread feeling that the ‘cold war’ between the U.S.A. and Soviet Union is coming to an end as relations continue to improve. During mid year, Soviet leader Gorbachev agreed to an U.S. proposal to ban short- and medium-range nuclear weapons in Europe.
*  Tax freedom day falls on 4 May this year, up from 1 May in 1980.
*  There are currently 83 million houses and 5 million mobile homes in the United States.
*  A U.S. insurance company calculated the value of a human life at $650,000… On the other hand, a ‘hit man’ can be hired in New York’s Bronx to commit murder for $400.

Buttons & bumper stickers:
*  The one who dies with the most toys wins.
*  No radio — already stolen.
* A woman’s place is in the mall.
* My lawyer can beat up your lawyer.

January 1, a moment in life
A one day excerpt from my Journal  13: A Daily Diary of 1987, Vol I & II, pages 2145-2572:
“It is just past midmorning on a cold and gray winter’s day. Outdoors, we have light snow flurries, with a temperature of 17°F and a northwest wind of nine miles per hour. I am sitting at the kitchen table, feeling both warm and comfortable while writing in my journal and looking out the kitchen windows. A slight chill moves across the floor and around my ankles, occasionally disturbing my concentration.

My good wife, Donna, has just brought me a warm cup of Darjeeling tea and two generous slices of fruit cake topped with margarine. Stepping back across the kitchen, Donna resumes working at the sink. She has begun to clean and process a thawed thirteen pound turkey, the prime ingredient of our New Year’s supper. Wafting through the air is the delicious scent of turkey giblets, boiling in a sauce pan on the kitchen stove.

Just beyond the kitchen, in the living room is our twenty five inch color television set which is currently showing the ‘Ninety-eighth Tournament of Roses Parade’ in Pasadena, California. Beyond the television, but out of my view, is our cast iron Fischer wood burning fireplace. A log that I added to the fire awhile ago, can be heard sizzling and crackling, giving off its stored energy, helping to warm our home.

Don (Donna’s father), who is visiting for the holidays, is sitting on our floral print couch near the fireplace, sipping tea while watching the parade on television. Our delightful daughter, Jane, is in her bedroom taking a nap. Occasionally, one of us adults will comment on something or other and for a few moments there is quiet conversation.

 There is in the house,  a certain warmth, a sense of togetherness and the cheer associated with the holiday season.

Turning my head to the right and looking out the kitchen’s large bow window, I see our three large dogs: Griz, Jessie and Pepin. Because Jessie is in heat, all the dogs are chained to their respective houses. Grizzy is chained inside the garage, but is standing outside looking around. Each stands silently by his quarters, occasionally shifting their gaze to look at one another or into the woods, listening. It is very quiet outdoors.

Beyond the dog house’s and our eastern yard fence is the Maple and Oak forest. The large leafless trees stand like dark sentinels, patiently waiting Spring. Below these monarchs, are their young saplings, grown in such profusion along our yard fence, that I can see no more than fifty feet into the thicket.

Turning back around to my left rear, I look south out a smaller kitchen window behind me. Two hundred feet away, across the lower yard begins the low land with its six acres of fen bog. Rising from the fen bog, I see, one…two…three…perhaps six muskrat lodges. The lodges are about three foot tall, rounded mounds of vegetation that have been plastered together my their rodent inhabitants. The dark mounds contrast with the yellowish-brown wire grass that surrounds them. There is no movement. All is still across the fen bog, the low land and on our yard, amidst the cold, dim grayness of the day and the lightly falling snow.’

Jane begins dance school
When Don was last visiting with us, he pointed out something about Jane that Donna and I had seen and talked about amongst ourselves, namely: Jane appears to be more advanced mentally than most children her age. This might make it difficult for her at school, learning and playing with less developed kids, always waiting for them to catch up. Yet, if we were to try and start her in school a year early, she would be competing with larger children who were more equally developed mentally for most of her school years. Since the option of starting Jane in school a year early was a real possibility, we decided to put her in a dance school, in order to help develop her motor skills, at the fastest rate possible.

Jane had her first dance lesson on Saturday, January 10, at the St. Cloud School of Dance. The class consisted of twenty two youngsters, ages three to five years, and four instructors. The instructors were women in their twenties, who provided personal help and attention primarily to the youngest and newest students.

We were happy to see the lessons were oriented more toward gymnastics and ballet than other forms of dance. Among the things that Jane learned from her first lessons were: how to do headstands, cart wheels, roll forward, roll backward, bunny hop, wheel barrow with a partner, a simple ballet and tap dance movement.

The rates were $8.00 per month, for four each forty five minute instruction sessions. Donna and I were exuberant about the classes. Jane was simply overwhelmed by the novelty, all the children, instructions and activity and was feeling ill by the time we arrived home. When asked if she’d like to go back to Dance School the next Saturday, she replied with an exuberant and resounding, ‘Yes!

Jane joins the Campfire Girls, Sparks
In order to expose Jane to social and educational growth experiences and partially to make up for the fact that she didn’t have children to play with at our rural property, we enrolled her in the Campfire Girls. The Campfire Girls were a national organization similar to Girl Scouts, that met in St. Cloud twice monthly. Because Jane was only three years two months old and the normal minimum age was five years, we had to get special permission from the Pack Leader for her to join.
We took Jane to her first Sparks meeting on the evening of Thursday, January 22.
I wasn’t particularly thrilled with how the girls group was run by the Pack Leader, Marie, or her assistant, but acquiesced to Donna and we continued taking Jane to the periodic evening meetings.

After several months in Sparks, I noted that Jane was accepted by the other children, though she was a year and a half younger than any of the others. She was also the shortest which occasionally lead to some teasing. On the other hand, Jane joined in activities and played just as enthusiastically and as hard as any of her elders and so earned their respect. Several of the older kids even watched out for her welfare.

As the year passed, we came to recognize that Donna was the only mother who consistently attended the Sparks Meeting, and so in time became ‘helper’ to Marie Benson. Jane was the only child in her group with a complete Sparks uniform.

Some of the projects Jane was introduced to and completed in Sparks were:
a) Make a homemade Valentine card and give it to a patient in the Veteran’s Administration Hospital, (a Sparks troop event);
b) Make a creative Christmas card;
c) Make a paper sack puppet;
d) Draw happy, sad and surprise faces on paper plates;
e) Make up and tell a story to the other Sparks, using the paper sack puppet;
f) Explore the properties of water (object displacement, floating, sinking);
g) Explore the wind (make a pinwheel);
h) Explore vegetables (what parts of the plant grow above and below ground);
i) Animal Safari in the woods (Discover different kinds of ‘animal houses’)…

Books read
During the year, I read books on various topics, mostly whatever was either important in our lives at the time or of general topical interest to myself, including:
•  Tai Pan © James Clavell – Novel
 The Caveman and the Bomb: Human Nature, Evolution and Nuclear War  © 1985 by David P. Barach – Nuclear weapons are all the more dangerous because they have no psychological reality: Their potential destructive capability cannot be touched, smelled, heard or felt.
 Inside New England © 1982 by Judson D. Hale – The character, customs and people of New England. 257 pages.
 The Mountain of Names © Alex Shounatoff – Genealogical resources of the Latter Day Saints (Mormons).
 The Present of Things Future: Exploration of Time and Human Experience © by Thomas J. Cottle and Stephen L. Klineberg – Temporal orientation and the   socio-cultural perspective. 290 pages.
 The Dynamics of Change © 1967 by Don Fabum – Observing and experiencing social and cultural patterns of change in the environment.
 A History of Historical Writing © 1937 by Harry E. Barnes, © 1963 by Dover Publications.
 Geometry, Relativity and the Fourth Dimension © 1977 by Rudolf Rucker – Create an intuitive picture of curved space-time. 133 pages.
 Quest For The Best © 1979 by Stanley Marcus – The decline of quality service and elegance and the attendant growth of mass culture.
 Other Worlds: Space, Superspace and the Quantum Universe © 1980 by Paul Davies – Time is just another dimension in superspace, while the asymmetry of nature makes time appear to flow. 207 pages.
 Unpuzzeling Your Past: A Basic Guide to Genealogy © 1985 by Emily A. Croom – Tools, procedures and resources for genealogical   research. 136 pages.
 A New Science of Life: The Hypothesis of Causative Formation © 1981 by Dr. Rupert Sheldrake – The inheritance of behavior and form depend on genetics and morphogenetic fields, while learned behavior is to a degree transmitted across time by selective morphic resonance. 229 pages.
 No Surrender © 1974 by Hiroo Onoda -The autobiographical account of a Japanese lieutenant who remained hiding and combat ready, on a Pacific island for some 30 years after the end of WWII, and would only surrender to a former commanding officer. No one had previously told him the war was over!
 The Nature of Time ©1967 by Cornell University – The direction of time is not found in the path of signals, but in the scattering of radiation. Read only last 150 pages.
 Timescale © 1983 by Nigel Calder – The ‘meme’ is an informational parasite (Such as a popular tune, clothing style, idea of   God, etc.) that replicates between human minds in a manner similar to genes replicating in the presence of proper nourishment.
 The Victorian Album © 1973 by Evelyn Berchman – Fiction. A story of the chilling investigation into the lives of a family that lived a hundred years earlier.
 Physics As Metaphor © 1982 by Roger S. Jones – Modern science is like a religion, there are great prophets,   local priests, it’s worshipped by the public, and all important things are described with its metaphysics. 254 pages.
 Taking The Quantum Leap © 1981 by Fred A. Wolf – The more we determine one side of reality, the less the other side is shown to us.  ‘Qwiffs’ aka. quantum wave functions, spread out through the universe faster than light, traveling both forward and backward in time. 262 pages.
 Joseph Nichols And The Nicholites  © 1962 by Kenneth L. Carroll – History of the Quaker-like, Nicholites religious sect in North Carolina, of which several of my ancestors were members. 115 pages.
 Beyond the Mists  © 1975 by Nathanial Benchley – About the life of explorer Lief Erickson. 152 pages.
 The World As It Was: A Photographic Portrait 1865 – 1921  © 1980 and edited by Margarette Loke – A world wide stereophotographic documentary of life in the latter half of the 19th Century. 220 pages.
 The Tao Of Physics © 1975 by Fritjof Capra – Our sensory perceptions function in a zone of middle dimensions. We exist metaphorically on an illuminated hilltop. Moving off the hill and down into the shadows, our senses do not work and we encounter paradox. 332 pages.

Frozen waterlines
When I walked into the kitchen on the morning of January 23, to read my morning temperatures, I found it a terrible -23ºF outdoors. Then, attempting to run water into the kitchen sink to wash dishes, I found both the hot and cold water lines had frozen during the night.  We still had hot and cold water in the bathroom, so I carried pails of hot water into the kitchen sink for the dishes. Needless to say this temporary and infrequent inconvenience was an irritation. I kept the thermostat turned up most of the day, finally thawing the water lines by mid afternoon; having frozen water lines in the home is a scary experience.

Trade: 10 year old PAMELA I for the Encyclopedia Britannica
For years after purchasing the Processor Technology SOL computer, I wrote programs for it and used the machine almost daily. Processor Technology went out of business within a year or two after we bought our SOL model.

During the early 1980s, there was no real market for ‘home computers’, the few models that were available, mostly relied on the owner to write their own programs, or type out the program code from a magazine or book.

Companies such as Tandy and Commodore offered a line of computers ranging from $300 to $700 which displayed only a few lines of text. These machines had to be attached to the household television or had small, dim monitors. The few software programs that were available on diskette for those early home computers, didn’t do much other than very basic word processing and were little more than you could copy from a computer magazine.

I’d run out of programming ideas and was up against the level of my expertise to program anything ‘powerful’. Donna and I were increasingly busy, me with my journals and looking after Jane. Donna was working full time and spending her free time with Jane. Our interest in the computer declined and PAMELA I had eventually ended up sitting unused on a table in the Activity Room.

During late January, we advertising the computer for sale and managed to trade it for an ‘as new’, thirty volume set of the Encyclopedia Britannica, 15th edition, and associated fifteen volume Britannica Junior Encyclopedias. Jane grew up with the encyclopedias handy for homework, while Donna and I used them periodically over the years for our own reference.

My last cigarette
Smoking was a habit I picked up about the time I went in the Army and continued with until early 1987,  only stopping for a month or so during previous years, when I was ill. During that twenty five years period, I predominantly smoked Marlboro and Viceroy cigarettes.

Ever since Jane was born, I’d wanted to quit smoking and had a good reason: I didn’t want to injure her lungs and perhaps hurt her later in life. Yet, I knew from past experience just how difficult it was to quit the habit. Many times I had the thought of ‘having just that one last pack, that one last cigarette’. Finally, I prayed from the deepest place I could find in my spirit for the strength to quit and beat the habit.

It so happened that a couple months earlier, my Uncle Bill developed pneumonia and was hospitalized. His doctors told him that if he wanted to fully recover he was going to have to quit his lifelong habit of smoking. The doctors apparently put a scare into him, because he did quit, immediately. Bill’s tobacco related near death experience and the fact that he quit added further impetus to helping me stop.
On January 28, I quit my ‘pack a day’ (twenty cigarettes) habit of smoking and never touched tobacco products again.

Attending local churches
Over the period of a year or two, Donna, Jane and I attended several Christian churches. Not particularly looking for a church to call home, we began by attending Mass at the large, grand, old Catholic church in Gilman, just four miles from Nightstar*. Although it was our families lot to have been born Protestant, I thoroughly enjoyed the Catholic use of symbols, the  mysterious prayers spoken in Latin, congregational chants, the entertaining organizational procedures, archaic robes and garb of the priests.

Donna’s religious convictions, being about the same as my own, made it fairly unimportant in determining the particular Christian church services we would attend next.
We decided to temper our choice of a church using the criteria of exclusion. We would not attend any church that was primarily evangelistic or which was noted for sending lay ‘missionaries’ out into the community to make ‘on the spot conversions’. Further, the church would have a congregation composed of primarily Western Europeans, preferably, Northern -Western Europeans.

During the early Winter of 1986-1987, while gathering information for my autobiography, I rediscovered that my parents use to worship at an Episcopal Church. That previous affiliation had long since been forgotten, since my father went on to become an Ordained Baptist minister and missionary. After reading portions of the books: The Power of Their Glory and Christian Churches in America, I was surprised to find that our criteria was met by the Episcopal style of faith and worship. I was particularly impressed with the fact that the Episcopalians ranked twenty ninth out of thirty nine organized religions, as being tight with their money when the collection plate was passed. To me, this indicated that the church was not using its clergy to fatten the organizations coffers.

We attended the weekly Sunday morning church service at St. John’s Episcopal Church in St. Cloud weekly during December and January. We were impressed with the casual dress of the congregation. Whereas, people in other churches tend to ‘dress up’ into their ‘Sunday best’ clothes, taking on an air of formality, the Episcopalians wore their everyday ‘town clothes’. Very few people wore suits.  The  number of people wearing ‘layered’ clothing or clothing made from natural fibers was much more common than seen amongst the local population on average. The style of clothes made it apparent that for the most part, these people were quite aware of their common heritage.

We entered the church just before services began and were happy to find afterwards that the Priest nor any other persons hurried to make our acquaintance or shake our hands. Some church congregations have a custom of being overly friendly, a practice we found disagreeable.

Our attitude was that we came to the church for the worship experience and the social ceremony, not to find friends. If friendship should eventually develop, it should do so at a natural pace. After all, we were the strangers and it should be our place to show an interest in the church and its people.

Some thoughts about organized religion
I have often wondered how all our billions of human beings, across the steep of time have reached that same logical conclusion in that the faith they happened to have been born into was the one explaining the supreme truth and therefore the faith worthy of their time, effort, adoration and obedience. Some 20,000 to 10,000 years ago men practiced religious faiths that have all faded into obscurity. Religions that are now so important to the world’s masses will themselves have passed into oblivion or mutated beyond recognition in another few thousand years. Science its self is a religion with scientist filling the role of priests, explaining how the natural world and universe operate. Given a few thousand years when we know better, our descendants will chuckle over our niavety.

There is no right religion. There is no wrong religion. There is only Man’s need for religious belief, as a guide to living in our social-physical world, and something to give meaning when needed, to the unexplained mysteries of life and the after life.

I think each religion is like a powerful, long lived creature, whose individual human members are the component cells of its corporate body. A co-existing group of these creatures are like members of any species, each sharing a similar form which can be seen in their effect on their membership community.
Each religion is also similar to an individual person, bearing the evolutionary traits of its specific tradition, the regional human culture, its economic base,  the membership’s education, time location and geographical location.
Each religion operates in a world with varying degrees of overlapping territories. Although all are somewhat different as individuals, they are also similar, valuing at least one concept that is to them, the Supreme Being or the Way. As local, regional and world cultural values slowly change, these long lived creatures evolve or are replaced by vigorous new forms that can adapt to the new paradigm of life.

Thoughts on death
When each of us in our own time takes our last breath at life’s end, I think what follows will be pleasantly different than religious experts from across time have taught us to believe. The good Hindu may not be reincarnated as an exalted creature, the brave and honorable Shoshone Indian may not ‘walk on the wind’ and the Godly Christian may not go to Heaven.

Personally, I suspect that in the moments following death, as the corporate mind dies and startves for oxygen, or if you will, as our spirit leaves, we will realize that we are dying, but it won’t matter. Only the living seek to avoid death. Persons crossing from life to death find that life does not and did not matter. There is no pain only the pleasant realization that one’s awareness is becoming selfless and seems to be going someplace even more peaceful. Life’s mental imagery plays across our minds eye, in sparks of recognition as nodes close, while a bright white light grows in our diminishing consciousness. When the comforting light has completely filled that final tiny flicker of awareness there are no further sensations and we sleep.

Music [midi: Can You Feel the Love?]

Our Happy Furry Friends: Griz, Jessie & Pepin

[Above, a photocopy of a drawing from my March 1987 Journal entry: Our Happy, Furry Friends, drawn to   proportionate size. Jane 3-1/2 years old, is standing with Griz (9 years old),   Pepin (1 years old) and Jessie (5 years old).]

Griz is always first to greet whom ever has come out of the house. He is always first to greet us when we come home from work or town. When the car door is opened, Griz is standing there tail wagging, ready to touch his nose to our hands and be petted on his head.

He is by far the smartest of our three dogs, not only does he routinely catch small wildlife, including rabbits, mice, woodchucks and muskrats, but knows sixteen verbal commands. He is the only one whom knows how to find the proper size of stick or stone to play ‘fetch’ with.

Ever since he was a pup and beaten up by neighbor, Bobby’s dog, Nemo, Griz has avoided confrontations with other dogs. Often at night, when I’m up going to the bathroom, I’ll look out the bathroom window and see Griz sniffing about the yard or walking on the driveway, making his rounds. Jessie and Pepin are seldom seen up moving about at night.

Jessie is a verbally communicative and affectionate dog. Unlike Griz and Pepin, Jessie allows Jane to sit on her back, pull her ears and poke her without complaint. When Jane is playing outside, Jessie will follow her around and can always be found sitting or laying beside her. When Donna or I go outside, Jessie will rub against us and often touch her nose against our hands. She is occasionally somewhat bitchy and bossy with Griz, where she may nip at him as if to say, ‘Don’t crowd me!’ Although she is very brave and will lead Pepin to chase a neighbor’s dog, she is not very intelligent. Occasionally, Donna remarks, ‘Jessie is so dumb the wind blows between her ears’.

Pepin, being a little over a year old at this time, weighs seventy-two pounds. The size of his legs and enormous feet indicate he may still be growing.  His body form is neither German Shepherd or Black Lab. He looks somewhat like a St. Bernard with a large St. Bernard shaped head, rather sad looking eyes, slightly droopy jowls, floppy ears, long white fur and large size. Pepin is at times an irritant and bully to his parents, particularly toward Griz.
Being taller and heavier than both his parents, he nips, throws his weight against, crowds in, shoves aside and periodically pesters them until they go to their respective houses. He is a large, fearless dog whom takes his fighting cues from Jessie. If a fight with neighboring farm dogs in threatened, he immediately will come to her side. His large size coupled with Jessie’s  threatening bark have routed neighbor dogs on several occasions. Pepin has not really found his place yet, being eclipsed by his parents and thereby third dog on the totem pole.

It is always a pleasure to go outdoors and find three happy smiling faces eager to go and do whatever you have in mind. It is always a pleasure to stop working on whatever outdoor project and turn to find one, two or all three of my dog friends sitting or lying nearby. They give much more in friendship, enthusiasm, love, companionship and low level communications than their food, water, feeding and periodic medical bills could ever amount to.

Our dog’s personalities
When I sit down to give each dog some personal attention, it’s plain to see through our eye contact and from watching their behavior, that the dogs have their own unique and individual personalities.

Griz will sit quietly and stare back into my eyes for a few moments, before averting his gaze. In those few moments, you can tell that Griz has a serious, no nonsense attitude. He doesn’t like rough house play, he is a gentleman dog, he is somewhat aloof, but also concerned. Griz maintains an air of equality, he doesn’t do irritating things and doesn’t expect to be irritated. Griz is a smart loner.

Jessie will not sit quiet and look into your eyes, she is too frazzled for such seriousness. Although she cannot sit still, personal attention is very important to her. She is concerned that our private times are not disturbed by the rest of her dog family. When we are alone, Jessie will talk to me in a squealy – growly voice saying, ‘RRRrrrow ERrrr ERrr RRRrrriii,’ as I scratch her head and pet her. When she talks to me, I talk  to her in that same squealy growly voice. Although she is generally a quiet, placid and an almost motherly dog around Jane, she tends to be nervous, excited, scatterbrain around me. When trying to pet her, she wiggles, twists, rolls over, talks, and jumps around.

Pepin will sit still for personal attention and will briefly glance into my eyes. He is alert, thinking, skittish, worried and has a slight sneaky streak. If Jessie comes around while I’m petting him, he will try to climb on my lap to keep her from getting his special petting. If Griz comes around, a fight very well might ensue. At a year old, Pepin seems to be rather cunning and has a ‘do it my own way’ attitude, somewhat similar to Griz. On the other hand, like Jessie, his behavior and ability to understand is often ‘dumb’, which might be attributable to his youth and inexperience.

Griz, Jessie and Pepin are our happy, furry friends.

Our dog family, hard at work.
On Sunday, May 17, Donna invited Jane’s Campfire Girl’s Sparks troop and the children’s parents to our place in the country for a Safari and hot dog roast.

The plan was to take the small children on a ‘Safari’ through our lower yard, around the pond, then along the driveway so they could observe bird and squirrel nests, see the ducks and geese, ant mounds, woodpecker holes in dead trees, etc. After their safari everyone would gather in our back yard for a picnic of hot dogs with buns, soda pop and various chips (Frito, potato chips) and roasted marshmallows.

That afternoon, at meal time, while the parents were lounging around and either talking or helping kids with their hot dogs, most of the children were running and playing, or taking turns at our picnic table getting their food. At times, while everyone was wrapped up in socialization and the picnic, I watched our dogs an saw their individual personalities at work.

Griz, the gentleman he was, took all the petting he received from the children as a matter of duty, rigidly and with a stiff upper lip. He didn’t stand in any one place very long, but spread his attention around equally to everyone who had food or was near the table. His calm, patient and observantly staring manner found him overly rewarded with potato chips and chunks of hot dog buns. Griz didn’t play, run or romp, all he wanted was food. He’d stand by watching each person until he was served then he’d moved to the next person.

[Photograph at left: My dog family, L>R: Griz, Jessie and eldest son Pepin. All loved and still missed in 2012. This was a warm summers morning at Nightstar*, the dogs were tied together for their picture,  some curious ducks and geese watching our activities.]

Jessie, on the other hand, was more of a favorite with the kids. She didn’t hang around the table, nor did she need to be fed in order to gain her attention. Jessie romped and ran, tumbled and played just as happy and as wild eyed with excitement as any of the children.

The puppy, Pepin, who weighed more than any one of the little Campfire Girls, was in a titter. He’d never seen so many people at one time. He could see everyone was having fun, running about and falling down, but he didn’t know how to play. He watched his mother, Jessie, bark, play ‘fetch-a-stick’ and tag, but he was just too worried about all those strange people to receive much petting or join in the faraces. Eventually, the activities became too much for him and he decided to try and catch a kid by the ankle! He was scolded and summarily chained up, at his dog house, about seventy feet away, where he watched everything with considerable nervous enthusiasm and continuous barking.

JP reading and writing
By the end of January, at three years and two months of age, Jane could print all the letters of the alphabet in uppercase text.

By March 19, Jane and I were going through about one hundred twenty each, three by five inch homemade flash cards daily. Each card contained simple words (can, do), numbers (5, 6) or simple addition (2+1=3) and subtraction (3-2=1) problems. For a few minutes, every few days, while I worked in my journal, Jane sit across from meat the kitchen table. During these times she printed out the letters of the alphabet several times and wrote several words that she’d learned to spell.

On Sunday, May 10, three and a half months after Jane learned to print the letters of the alphabet, Donna and Jane called me into the Activity Room where I proudly observed Jane read her longest string of card-words to date, stating:

yes I play with the dog in the yard

By the end of October, Jane’s mastery of printing had improved considerably, besides printing the uppercase alphabet, she was printing the lower case letters at approximate Second Grade quality.

Where now garbage scow?
On March 22, a garbage barge carrying 3,200 tons of refuse left Islip, New York on a six month journey in search of a place to unload. The evening TV news media periodically featured the story, showing the huge barge being turned away from port after port in the United States and three foreign countries. The barge eventually returned to Islip, where space was found in the city’s garbage dump. Donna and I just shook our heads being both humored and irritated, that this episode had turned into a major U.S. news story. It had became an environmental statement  about garbage, sewage, overpopulation, our ‘throw away’, disposable, affluent society.

Jane makes Easter & Valentine cards
During February, and again in early April, I assisted Jane in drawing and pasting together Valentine and Easter cards to be sent to several of her relatives. Jane put a lot of work into the projects, which was for her age, a complicated procedure involving cutting out various colored paper, glue, writing, stuffing and putting stamps on the envelopes.
The card recipients included my parents, Donna’s father and Uncle Bill and Aunt Elizabeth. For her efforts she did not receive return correspondence from my parents on either occasion. I was left feeling sad and hurt. Donna merely shook her head at such social offenses and muttered something unintelligible, and undoubtedly appropriate, while continuing with her chores.

A typical spring day in the late 1980s
A chronology of personal and family events  for  Tuesday, April 7:

5:30-6:30  The   family awoke and got up, dressed and took a walk up County Road #14 to our   south property line. Back at home, Donna changed  into her  True Value Hardware office ‘work clothes.’
6:30-6:50  The  girls sat in the Activity Room practicing with their English recorders. I began washing a load of laundry and set the table for breakfast.
6:50-7:00 Donna sat at the kitchen table reading a portion of my Journal’s Daily Diary. Jane nibbled on her breakfast cereal, while I sat across the table sipping a cup of coffee, watching the news on TV.
7:00-7:10  The   family ate our bowls of cold breakfast cereal and had a glass of orange   juice.
7:10-7:20  Donna and I looked over a Phenological worksheet, entering dates for our ‘first notice’ of events this Spring.
7:25  Donna left for her day’s work at True Value Hardware. Jane put on her coat and boots then followed Donna outside to wave ‘Goodbye’.  I ran water in the kitchen sink in preparation to wash dishes.
7:50  I finished washing the previous night’s supper dishes and our mornings breakfast dishes. ‘During   dishes’, when the laundry finished its final spin cycle, I transferred the damp clothes to the automatic dryer, then began washing a second batch of   laundry.
Jane   came in the house for a minute to inform me that Pepin had knocked over one  of our bicycles.
7:50-8:05  While standing at the kitchen bay window, I finished drinking a cup of coffee, then went to the bathroom.
8:05-8:50  Dumped and burned a load of waste paper.
Brought   a wheel barrow load of sawn firewood out of the woods and split several pieces.
Set one of our sprinklers up along the west yard fence and began watering, in order to wet last season’s leaves and reduce the fire hazard. There have been two fires on this property since we bought the land, we started neither. Our  area now has a burning ban (grass and leaves) in effect due to the extreme dry nature of the Spring vegetation[2].
Jane and I took on a short bicycle ride on the highway. She rode in her plastic child’s seat, behind the bicycle seat.
I checked the oil in the Ford and added some water to the radiator.
8:50-10:25  I began rewriting my Daily Diary notes for April 4-5.
About 9:30 Jane laid down for her nap.
10:25-10-28  Donna telephoned me from True Value, we chatted for a few minutes.
10:28-10:42  I went outdoors and changed the sprinkler’s location. Back inside, I folded the   first batch of clothes and laundry and put them away.
10:42-11:24  Continued rewriting and entering my Daily Diary notes into Journal #13.
11:24-12:00  I changed the sprinkler’s location again.
Rode my bicycle down the driveway and picked up our mail:  1) Benton Coop Telephone bill, 2)   Shopper’s News-a newspaper size advertisement,  3) notice from the Benton County Planning Commission that a neighbor wanted to split his property into smaller   parcels, 4) a letter from Don –  enclosed with $10.00, ‘…so the Easter bunny will bring a little something extra for Jane.’
Microwaved a bowl of homemade split pea soup for my lunch and a peanut butter and honey sandwich for Jane.
Woke  Jane from her nap for lunch.

Noon-12:15  Jane and I ate our lunch at   the kitchen table while chatting and watching the noon TV News.
12:15-1:05  After lunch we went into the living room and began listening to a radio program about gifted and talented children. While listening to the radio, Jane and I  dusted and polished the furniture.
1:05-1:20  Donna telephoned, we had a good long chat. After our conversation, I went back outside and changed the sprinkler’s  location.
1:20-1:30  Folded and put away the second batch of dry laundry.
1:30-2:25 Finished entering Daily Dairy notes for April 4-5 in my Journal (pages 2256-2257) and  drew examples of the planters that were discussed.
2:25-3:10  Jane went outside to play. I fed the dogs and washed the few dishes that had   accumulated during the day
I took a wash cloth bath, washing my hands, face, armpits and crotch, then changed my underwear and put on my evening clothes.
3:10-3:35 Rewrote the Phenology list.
3:35-4:57  I sat on the small beige couch and continued reading The Dynamics of Change.   Jane came in the house, watched TV cartoons for about 20 minutes. After the cartoons and with several crackers in her hand, Jane went back outside to  explore, in her words, ‘Where no child have been before.
4:57  Donna arrived home from work bringing Jane’s new, official Campfire Girls cap. Jane came in from playing outside.
4:59-5:20  Donna and I chatted about the days affairs.
5:20-5:45  While Donna began preparing supper, I read aloud to her a series of interesting concepts I’d just learned from The Dynamics of Change. During this time Jane was in the bathroom taking a wash cloth bath and changing her   clothes.
5:45-6:00  While supper preparations continued, all three of us were in the kitchen all trying  to get a word in edgewise talking to one another. There was a lot of   spontaneous, gay and cheerful chatter.

6:00-6:28 The   family sat around the kitchen table eating our supper, occasionally talking   to one another and watching a TV program.
6:28-6:34 While   Jane finished her supper, Donna and I cleared the table.
6:34-7:30 The   family sat in the living room watching a previously copied television movie, while each licked away at either a vanilla ice-cream cone or orange popsicle.  Jane put on her pajamas.
7:30 The movie we were watching wasn’t very entertaining so we turned it off. Every one brushed their teeth and we all climbed into the big brass bed.
7:30-8:30 The   family laid in bed talking amongst ourselves for about an hour. As we began drifting off to sleep, Donna put Jane in her own bed.
8:30PM and for the night….Zzz   Zzz

Precious metals investment discussion (edited).

Jane’s tonsils seem swollen a lot
During late April, Jane developed a fever and we noted she had swollen tonsils. At the time we didn’t think much of her swollen tonsils, but over the next couple years it seemed all her colds were accompanied by swollen tonsils. Eventually the condition brought about the memory of my own childhood, and how the family doctor had told my parents that a tonsillectomy would reduce the number and severity of the colds I was catching.

With all the antibiotics available, inoculations, drug store nostrums and talk of prevention, it seemed to me that children were catching more colds and a wider variety of illness than were common during  my childhood in the 1940s. The old scourges of infantile paralysis, whooping cough, rheumatic fever, various types of the ‘pox’ and spinal meningitis have been brought under control in the United States. These old malady’s seem to have been replaced by newer life threatening diseases and dangers, such as strep throat, ear infections that are practically incurable, teenage drug and gang related homicide.

The small utility trailer
Once the Spring weather warmed, our thoughts returned to camping. One weekend, we went price shopping for a small, four foot wide by six foot long utility trailer. After work on May 4, Donna stopped back at one of the stores and purchased the utility trailer hardware kit that we liked best.
The bolt together frame, two wheel axle, electric wiring harness, lights, tongue and wheels were provided as a self assembly kit, produced by the Long Company for $160.00.

The very next day, I assembled the hardware; then designed and built a wooden bed (plywood sheet), side walls and removable tailgate for the trailer (one by four inch tongue and groove planks nailed to two by four inch uprights) and painted the wood (white primer and dark blue latex finish paint) at a cost of an additional $100. By the time the work was done, we had an attractive small utility trailer that became a handy vehicle to have available.

Over the years we’ve used the trailer to carry the families camping gear during vacations, to transport Pierce Antiques and Collectables wares (not discussed yet) to shows about central Minnesota, haul firewood and for a variety of other small projects that required more transport space than was afforded by the auto’s trunk.

Our Ford Grenada gets a rebuilt engine
In early May, after owning the 1977 Ford Grenada for only a little over a year, it began to develop serious mechanical problems. One evening, on Donna’s way home from work, the main engine bearing froze up with a ‘clankety clank’ and the car coasted to a stop on the road shoulder. Donna telephoned home from a nearby pay phone, where upon, Jane and I drove the Toyota into St. Cloud to bring her home. We had a tow truck pull the Ford to a repair shop, where the mechanics found its engine needed replacing and  transmission needed a overhaul. Since everything else on the car seemed to be in good condition except these parts, we had the work done. Although the repairs cost $1313, that was cheap considering the cost of replacing the car with either a new, or another used vehicle.

While the Ford was in the shop for repair we had a light duty pull bar and electrical wiring connected so we could pull the small utility trailer.

Over the nine years that followed these repairs, we put an additional 100,000 miles on the car. The only other problems we had with the eighteen year old Ford were worn brakes, busted radiator hose, tire replacements, muffler worn out, seat disintegrating, leak in the gas tank and a leak in the radiator (which was been temporarily sealed with a chemical additive).

Camping at Sibley State Park [3]
Recalling all the fun we had camping the previous year, and after a long winter, at the earliest opportunity in the Spring, the family was ready for another vacation camping.  We found from the official state park camping brochure that Sibley State Park, located just seventy miles southwest of our home, had an interesting mix of activities and things to see. We’d never camped at that park and were eager to explore it and the nearby historical locations.

[Photograph at left: Taken at home in the driveway, our  Ford Grenada and newly assembled & constructed 4 ft by 6 ft utility trailer;  loaded and about to leave for our camping trip at Sibley State Park.]

Plans were subsequently made to stay at Sibley S.P. from May 21 to 26, 6 days. We phoned the park and made reservations, Donna put in for several days vacation, I cleaned and  packed our equipment.

As it turned out, it rained and drizzled during much of our holiday. This is not said as a complaint, just as a matter of fact. We came to Sibley to enjoy nature, in whatever guise she might reveal herself, we came to see the park, the natural history presentations at the visitors center and to visit the historical locations in the communities outside the park.

I was a lifelong, experienced camper, having encountered inclement conditions many times, so we were prepared for the rain. As part of our gear we carried a large, twelve foot square green plastic canopy that more than covered our picnic table. A second large green plastic tarp covered our tent, giving us that much more protection from any leaks the tent might develop.

The Broberg homesite at Monson Lake [4]
On our second day of vacation, we drove twenty five miles from Sibley S.P to neighboring, Monson S.P. While speaking to the Park Ranger, we found that the park was dedicated to several settler families that were massacred on the site by a Sioux war party. The Ranger showed us around to the side of his office to a nicely mown area and pointed out the now gentle, sod covered indentations that had once been the basement and root cellar at the Broberg family cabin. As we continued talking, the Ranger volunteered that he had an eyewitness account of the massacre, made by Anna Broberg, one of the survivors, who was at the time ten years old.

After the Ranger gave us a photocopy of Anna Broberg’s account of the slaughter, we returned to the car to sit and read the story.
The mornings light sprinkle was turning into a solid rain.

As we read the account, Anna’s tragic tale unfolded with swift and violent suddenness.

A short while later, during a lull in the rain, we climbed out of the car and walked the couple hundred feet to the Broberg cabin site. We stood on location and reread the story while aligning ourselves to Anna’s perspective of the scene. We could almost point to the location where various events occurred: The Indians had caught this and that family member over there (pointing). One person was killed about here, another over there (pointing). Anna fled roughly in that direction (pointing) to hide in shore line weeds at around Monson Lake.

Standing in the large clearing surrounded by woods, on this gray and darkly overcast morning, it again began to gently sprinkle.
I felt a wave of empathy wash through me.
My eyes darted back and forth reconstructing the home, crops in the field, the split rail fence, a wagon trail that led past here to the neighbor’s cabin.
Within my mind’s eye, a scene evolved and I began to imaginatively relive the sight and sensations of the carnage that occurred in our immediate vicinity. I heard the surprise, men shouting, women and children yell in surprise, occasional gunfire, screams of terror. In that fleeting vision I saw settlers running in several directions, the Indians emerging from the woods and splitting into groups to chase them. There were momentary flashing images and sensations associated with running, pleading, crashing sounds, fear, pain, and savage, victorious elation.

In their own space-time location, everyone in the Broberg family, had many times, walked through the location where I  stood. In most every instant, their lives were full of the space-time events that unfolded around them. Now, all we see is a grassy hole in the middle of a yard where once stood their cabin. Because of entropy, most of the information relating to their lives and death, has been muted into the background. The information that made events real in 1862 have mostly gone beyond the range of our senses, covered by layer and layers of intervening space-time events that continued to unfold hereupon. That environment and those events that occurred here, are all still here, but locked in space-time. Indeed, they are occurring right here and  now — at the Broberg cabin, 20 August 1862.

For the first time, I was able to sense time more as a location than as the customarily perceived clock flow. The date, 20 August 1862, was the date-label for an event that occurred in the spot we stood and as I’ve recently read, ‘one cannot refer to space-time events in tenses – tenses confuse.’

Camping anomalies
In the days that followed, Donna and I were amazed and entertained at some of the sights provided by some of our fellow campers, among the wonderous examples that brought us to chuckle or gasp with stiffled laughter, were:
1)  In one nearby campsite, a grossly overweight woman is seen waddling around alternately cooking breakfast, calling her children and setting the table. Looking closer we realize she has an electric toaster and electric coffee pot on the picnic table. Most campsites at Sibley are electrified, but still, camping is not what it use to be even ten years ago.
2)  Early one morning, with a 50ºF outdoor temperature, a male camper stepped out of his luxury recreational vehicle, a place of pampered luxury while ‘camping’. Bare from the waist up, he walked, with head held high, across the campground towards the bathroom, probably to shower. Meanwhile, we were bundled up with T-shirts, long sleeve shirts and sweatshirts, plus wearing stocking caps pulled down over our ears. Observing this display of, ‘half naked man against native elements’, Donna and I wondered aloud, ‘How high do you think he had the thermostat set is in his RV?’
3) Late one afternoon while we were eating lunch, Donna leaned across the picnic table and quietly said, ‘You aren’t going to believe this.’, while looking over my shoulder.
I slowly turned around and saw of all things, a man carving a roast turkey with an electric knife! Never, never, in my years of camping, have I ever seen anyone cook a turkey while camping, but more surprising yet, I’d never seen an electric knife in a campground!
Camping has become an honest to goodness ‘adventure’ for the proletariat. They arrive in motor homes when they probably don’t even own their home. They sit glued to their picnic tables surrounded with electric coffee pots, electric toaster and electric carving knife. While some go fishin’, other’s walk up and down the campground lanes inspecting and comparing neighboring ‘set ups’. They stay up until 11:00 PM nightly and sleep until late morning. Few attend the park Interpretive Center activities, few are seen on the park trails, at historical sites or museums or monuments.
It appears they spend much of their time sitting around, chatting with extended family, sipping beer, discussing their camping ‘set up’ or ‘rig’ and considering how thoughtful they were to bring their households electric kitchen appliances.
4) One evening just before we retired for the night, we saw the most amazing thing we’ve ever seen while camping. Tenants at a nearby campsite (different group than those mentioned above) were sitting around their campfire talking. As it grew dark, their campfire didn’t provide enough luminosity for the people to see one another. Someone went in the Recreational Vehicle and brought out an electric table lamp. When it was plugged in, the extra 100 to 200 watts of light apparently allowed them to enjoy their camp chat and the experience of nature.

While driving in and out of the campground on our various adventures, we’ve seen a portable television and two large, portable ‘ghetto box’ radios sitting on various picnic tables. This is not a good sign for the future enjoyment of nature in our nation’s campgrounds; the nature of the camping experience is changing.

The Great Sioux Camp, revisited
One ironic discovery was made at Green Lake. There, amongst the small rolling hills on the northeast shore of the lake was the site of ‘The Great Sioux Camp’, a Sioux village had sat on the spot for about a hundred years at just the time when Whites were moving into the area. This same location had more recently become Kandiyohi County Park #5, a camping, swimming, fishing and water skiing park. We drove through the park musing over the fact that the land use by whites was about the same as it had been by the Indians.

People were seen sitting and talking to one another, others were laying in the shade napping, half clad people were returning to their campsites from fishing or swimming in the lake, others hurrying to the beach, canoes and power boats were out on the lake. There were shouts, laughter and gaiety everywhere. Human life was teeming with individual purpose all across the previous location of the old Sioux Indian village.
Meanwhile, densely packed along each lane were tents and recreation vehicles. Centrally located, near the lake shore was a large, solidly built concession stand which sold fast foods and packaged foods, fishing bait, ice, etc. It all looked very commercialized, reminding me of a crowded urban park on a hot day.

Around and about Sibley S.P.
During the rain-free periods of our mini vacation, we explored points of interest around the park. We rode our bicycle, took car tours and explored hiking trails. We pointed out a variety of wild life to Jane, including: eight turtles, three pair of Mallard ducks, a beaver swimming and diving in a pond, a Great Blue Heron, American Egret, squirrels, a skunk, rabbit, deer, beaver, turtle, woodchuck and eight wild turkeys.

During our evenings at Sibley State Park, we attended three talk and slide show presentations: ‘Welcome to Sibley State Park’, the ‘Natural History of Mt. Tom’ and ‘Fur Trade’[5].

On one side trip, we stopped at a roadside historical marker overlooking Lake Minnewaska and the town of Glenwood, MN. A bronze plaque at the site pointed out that the hill we were parked and standing on was deposited by a retreating glacier about 11,000 years ago. It said that the glacier at this location had been between one and two miles deep! Suddenly, I realized why Minnesota was so low and boggy. It wasn’t because a glacier had melted here, it was due to the weight of the glacier which had depressed the land over those tens of thousands of years; the ground simply hadn’t sprung back from that weight. Thirty thousand years ago, our home at Nightstar* lay about a mile beneath the Wadena glacial lobe. No wonder we found so many rocks in our garden and see so many rock piles along neighboring farmer’s fields.

Settling the west: Then, now and again
We were surprised to find that the first white child was born in Kandiyohi County, during the year 1857. What a shocker!
That first white child was born in a fourteen foot by fifteen foot wide log cabin, only eighty six years before my birth, and one hundred years before I was in high school.
Reading that information made me more fully realize that central Minnesota, including Benton County where we live, is really no more than a frontier. I have pretty much taken for granted that central Minnesota was the same as everywhere else in the United   States, except for climate. Of course, we knew the area was settled in the latter part of the 19th Century, but dryly stating a date is not quite the same as comparing dates to events in your own life.

The cities and towns, the farms with their new and old buildings, television antenna’s on nearly every house, retail stores, power lines, paved roads, automobiles, bridges and schools are all essentially the same here and elsewhere across America. As such, we are lulled into accepting that since these structures look the same everywhere, that they existed on land that was settled all about the same time.
In a moment of reflection, I can see the rate of local settlement by the fact that, during the first seven years, from 1980 to 1987, after we bought our rural property, Nightstar*, five new homes were built along a two mile stretch of County Road 14, which passes the property. The change occurs slowly, like aging, where no single event creates a break between past and future climax states. We simply keep changing our evaluation of what is the norm and disregard what has previously occurred, anything prior to the ‘current norm’, is history.

As Donna and I discussed how people tend to take, ‘how things are,’ for granted, she told me of a discussion she had in 1972 with her mother, Eulah. At the time, Donna and Eulah were driving in the Los  Angeles urban region, when Donna complained about the traffic and crowds. Eulah replied,
‘It hasn’t always been this crowded in Los  Angeles. When I came to Los Angeles in the early 1920s, it was a small town with horse drawn buggies on narrow dirt streets. Extending for miles around town was orange orchards and to the east the desert.’

As we continued talking, I recalled that when my family moved to Pasadena, California in 1959, Los Angeles was already a large sprawling city. In the early 1960s, LA’s growing population was pushing community development south to form Mission Viego in Orange County. During our visit with Mike and Kay in Redlands, California, during 1985, we found suburban communities extending east into what was only a few years earlier a most inhospitable and desolate desert.

They left Sibley S.P., in the rain
On the last morning of the long Memorial Day weekend, we awoke to a good downpour. We dressed and came out of the tent to sit around the picnic table and heat water for our coffee and hot chocolate. Things were not going well around us.
Two campsite from ours, we saw a couple packing their gear to leave, their children waited in the family car. Several items had been unceremoniously tossed into their pop-up camper. They cranked down the top, set the small row boat on top and loaded their bicycles on a rack. They were soaking wet and looked quite solemn. I think I understood their rationale for leaving so early, in Anglo native parlance, ‘No inconvenience, even gettin’ soakin’ wet, can be worse than not bein’ able ta go fishin’. If you can’t fish, ya might as well pack ‘er up an’ go home!’

[Photograph: A chilly, wet morning at Sibley State Park. Donna and Jane, under our rain canopy, making breakfast on the Coleman stove.]

We remained dry  about the picnic table. Jane helped Donna cook breakfast.
While we ate our meal in leisure and sipped several cups of coffee, the campground came alive.

All around us were people rushing about in the rain. They hurriedly cranked down their tent camper RVs, raised the leveling legs, pushed in the beds, and loaded unused bicycles. Items that had been left out on the picnic table over night were wadded up in table cloths and dumped into the car trunk. Dripping wet bathing towel were removed from sagging, makeshift clothes lines and dropped into plastic bags. RV door awnings were seen bagged down with water, threatening to collapse their thin aluminum support poles.

On previous mornings, most of these folks were still in bed at that early hour. In fact, seeing so many adults up and outside working in the rain, I imagined many leaving before breakfast. The campground was undergoing explosive decompression. People were hurrying in the downpour, shouting instructions, trying to coordinate their actions.

One woman had a jacket over her head, she would of course end up soaked, but there was a slight chance that her hair wouldn’t get wet and that her mascara wouldn’t ‘run’.

The scene that went on around us would have been worth paying to see, it was a comedy of folly. One woman, backing the car up to their RV, got excited and backed right into the trailer tongue. Her husband shouted at her in a spiteful voice, then they traded places. For over an hour we sat at the picnic table in disbelief, watching the activities about us. Occasionally, we were led to snicker, but several times the antics of our fellow campers made us gasp, choke and squeal with laughter.

I rather thought that the rain had defeated a lot of spirits that morning, you see, during previous mornings, when a vehicle left the campground, it went out slowly, its occupants looking at each campsite along the lane as they discussed the merits of what they saw. Not so that day! When they left in the rain, their vehicle whisked right by, their heads did not turn to gawk. With rain water dripping from their eyebrows and noses, with clothing wet, they left cold, uncomfortable and probably hungry. The procession of disheveled campers that left, reminded me of a defeated army hurrying off the battlefield and returning home, ignoble, wet and weary…

We made best of the weather
Later that morning, we attended a ‘Frog and Toad’ presentation at the Park Interpretive Center. Jane watched in awe, then in glee as Tom, a captive toad, gobbled up live Blood worms given him by the Park Naturalist.

During the afternoon, we attended the grand opening of the Monongalia Historical Society museum in the old Lebanon Lutheran Church in New London.
Within in the last decade or so, there had been a growing interest in local and individual family history, at the community level. This interest manifested itself in the growing number of local cultural museums. The sort of things one usually finds on display are early photographs of the town, perhaps an early automobile, the first TV in town, an old icebox and kerosene stove, mannequins outfitted in ‘turn of the century’ clothing, local paintings, old books and Bibles, a quilt or two, old dished and bowls, and old local newspapers.

Just inside the door, in the vestibule of the Monongalia Historical Society museum, a table had been set up with racks of cookies. Teenage girls stood by, serving ‘Krumkukens’ to all who entered. The atmosphere was gay and light as there was a four piece band seated where the church alter once stood. The band was playing 1960s popular tunes mixed with ethnic Swedish songs.

We wandered through the building, looking at the museums exhibits which were loosely displayed in various rooms. People were standing and sitting everywhere, in the aisle, in the old pews, all listening to the music, talking and sipping coffee.
About half a dozen old men (about 70s) were gathered together intently looking at a map of northern Europe. Since they were mostly speaking in a somewhat Germanic language, I could only pick up an occasional stray word of English. Bending close to the map and running their fingers about the page, two old men were babbling away in their native tongue, when one suddenly lapsed back into English and said with some surprise, ‘Oh! Dat’s ware you frum.’

In the basement we found a hall and kitchen. The hall had chairs set side by side all along the walls. Once again, we encountered numerous people standing and sitting, sipping coffee and munching on Swedish rolls and lefse bread, whilst carrying on happy animated conversations.

By the time we returned to our campsite, the park was essentially deserted. Several wild turkeys were already encroaching on the perimeter camping areas, scavenging for tid bits of food dropped by exuberant campers during the holiday.

Early the next morning, after breakfast and washing the dishes, there lull in the rain, allowing us the opportunity to pack our gear for the return home. Before leaving the state park, we  left the car at the Interpretive Center and took the mile long, ‘Pond Walk’. The trail passed through a patch of woods, crossed a large meadow and swung around a large pond then uphill, finally circling back to the Interpretive Center.
As we walked, we kept an eye on the sky for any particularly dark rain clouds that might be approaching. During our leisurely hour and a half walk, we identified twenty six plants and nine animals from Jane’s Junior Park Naturalist Guide booklet.
The mid morning silence was only broken by our quiet voices and the squawk of a startled Mallard duck. We were the only humans on the trail. There were no other families or groups of kids hurrying along shouting at one another. Everything about the hike was pleasurable, and a fitting end to our mini-vacation.

Returning home: Battle of the Broom
On our way home from Sibley State Park, we stopped at a roadside historical marker that was located just northeast of the tiny crossroads town of Harwich. We hurried across busy Highway #23 to read the brass marker and find out what event occurred in the area to qualify it as a point of interest.
In our immediate vicinity had occurred, ‘The Battle of the Broom’, which was thought to be the last pitched battle between the Chippewa and the Sioux Indians for territorial rights in that part of the state.

A hundred and some years earlier, when the Indians fought, the nearly flat land aound us had been a woodland savanna. As we stood there looking about, I realized how much the area had changed in the intervening years. To our west was an large commercial strawberry field, which was bordered by an equal size, large corn field. To the northeast, ran a power transmission corridor of tall steel towers, not the small local carriers, but the big U.S. electric grid network towers. Behind us was a paved highway that bisected the state, running generally from southwest to northeast; the road was busy with cars and big sixteen wheel trucks all whizzing by one after another, at 65-70 mph, .

Thinking about the past, living in my own present, but standing in this ‘historic location’, I was consciously teetering between two time periods. Reflecting on the situation, I realized that the people passing by us in their cars were just as oblivious of the Chippewa and Sioux fighting there, as the Indians were of us, from their own time.

People in one time location pay little attention to people in another time location.
This is the same state of mind as people in one geographical location being oblivious of people and their activities in another part of town or in a different city. You may know there must be someone across town mowing their lawn, but it doesn’t matter, until in some way it becomes important to you.
If we spent as much time moving our mind’s eye, empathy and imagination across time as we do moving our bodies in space, time would tend to collapse between events, relative to the way technology has brought about an essential collapse in separation between geographical locations.
Geographical locations remain separate, time locations remain separate, but movement between locations and events can be facilitated.
Huge global transportation infrastructures, flying machines, ships, roads and motor vehicles, and trains move our bodies; what could a similar expenditure of human creativity and technology do for collapsing time?

Continued in Chapter 1987, Part 2 of 3.

[1]  Computing a dogs age from ‘human years’: Dogs age unevenly. The first year of a dog’s life is equivalent to 21 years in human  life, each year thereafter  is equivalent to 4 human years. So, 9 year  old Griz  (in human years)  is equivalent to ((1 yr x 21) +  (8 yr x 4)) = 53 years old Griz;  Jessie ((21 yr)+(4*4 yr))= 37 years old;  Pepin, 21 years old equivalent.
[2] Minnesota and the upper central Midwest was officially experiencing the worst fire threat in ten years.
[3]  See Journal 13 – Volume I, Daily Diary 1987, pages 2306 – 2332.
[4] See The Gathering: Other Episodes In The Caucasian Settlement of the North American Continent.
[5]  During the 1660s there were an estimated 60 to 100 million beaver living in this area of the north central USA and Canada. An explosive demand for furs developed in Europe, particularly for beaver pelts. Beaver pelts were combed and packed into ‘felt’, which was then formed and cut to create stylish men’s top hats. The fashionable hats cost about two months pay for a worker. In the wilderness of North America, the beaver pelt was a form of money with an exchange value of:
•  1 pelt=5 gallons whisky or 25 needles
•  4 pelts=1 each 3 point blanket
•  10 pelts=1 rifle or 1 each 15 foot long canoe
•  25 pelts=1 each 30 foot long canoe.
By the early 1800s the beaver trade was winding down and by the early 1900s, beaver were almost extinct across the region.

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Filed under Autobiography, __4. Little House in the Woods- Beginnings: 1980-1987

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