St Croix River Road Ramblings

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Monday, November 24, 2008

Falling Leaves

Falling Leaves
It's been a quiet week on Orr Lake. Two heavy frosts killed the
rest of the garden and chased the lady bugs from the bean field into
the cabin. They keep us company during the fall and on our weekend
visits during the winter—coming alive each time we start the wood
stove and warm up the cabin. They thaw out, crawl around wondering if
it is spring and time to dehibernate.

Margo and Mom sold a lot of pumpkins, squash and apples on the
River Road Ramble, more than double the previous year. The Ramble
and Autumn Fest in St Croix Falls made a fun Saturday. Eureka had a
great turnout at the old town hall, with lots of old tractors, cars,
pictures and artifacts. The new town garage was a popular stop with
all the details of building the new building laid out. Wolf Creek
had a choice of lunch at the bar with 1890s costumed waitresses or a
home made lunch by the Ladies Aide at the church, both welcoming
sinners to the fold.

We had fifty people stop by the Cushing Museum and visit. Lily
Larson's old scrapbooks borrowed for the summer from Lavern and Doris
Jean were a hit. We even sold a Cushing History book or two. You can
buy them to send as Christmas presents at the Cushing Bank, At-las
Antiques and the Luck Museum or order them from SELHS, Box 731
Cushing, WI $15 plus $2.50 postage. We only have one more payment to
make to the Leader for the printing costs! All money goes to the
Sterling Eureka and Laketown Historical Society.

We have two freshly resurfaced roads! Hwy 87 from Bass Lake to
Grantsburg and Hwy N from Cushing to Luck. I think they put down 3 or
4 layers of blacktop after having ground up the old surface to recycle
it. The roads were re-done in about a month and never really stopped
drivers from using them. A piece of Hwy 35 in the Luck area is being
resurfaced now too. The smooth roads tell us our tires need
balancing, maybe the wheel bearings are a little noisy and the
suspension is wearing out. Rough roads hide that. Brother Everett
says to turn up the radio and the problems will all disappear. He went
for his leukemia treatment followup test last week after a year of
treatments and is clear of any cancer! He has to continue tests
quarterly to see if it comes back. The Doctor says you can knock it
down, but not get rid of it.

Margo's mom, Myrtle is being kicked out of the private Alzheimer's
home near her home in West Bend, WI., after a year. Myrtle walks
around most of the day, up and down the halls, looking for open doors
so she can leave and "go home", where home is the place she lived as a
little girl. She needs constant watching, something her family could
not do at home and this home couldn't support. After a long search, a
new place, a nursing home, much farther away, has been located. The
move comes this week. As the family has agonized over the loss of a
wife and mother and lately over the move, Myrtle is unaware of family
and surroundings. Myrtle has moments of joy and pleasure with Margo
(whom she accepts as a sister) when they go for a drive, watch the
birds, have an ice cream etc. They are immediately erased from her
memory. Nevertheless, Margo is satisfied that they help both of them
get through the loss. Modern medicine has managed to keep people
physically alive and healthy so that they can die in even more painful

We were to the funeral of Linda Harris, our old friend from Wolf
Creek School, last week. Linda was only 60 when she died from bone
cancer. The Harris family was one of the pioneer families in West
Sterling, and continued to live there when most of their neighbors
left. Linda was buried in a beautiful homemade pine box, befitting
the pines along Evergreen Avenue where the Harris family once owned
the west end. The large funeral procession left the old Wolf Creek
school building, now the Methodist Church, following a tall wood
wagon pulled by two black horses. We all walked to the cemetery
following a musician playing guitar and singing the old church songs
of loss and hope. Linda was buried in the cemetery where her
ancestors rest. Fifty years earlier on the same autumn Friday, Linda
and I would have been at our desks in the same Wolf Creek School; she
a lovely young girl, her life ahead of her, probably dreaming of what
it would be. Rural schools with kids from a half-dozen families made
those school chums seem like part of our own family; they are hard to
lose. Linda had chosen not to carry the fight with cancer through all
of its phases, saying she was ready to go to heaven.

My favorite reading in the newspapers are the opinions. They come
as editorials, in some columns and in the letters to the editor. I
like it when someone clearly and briefly gives their opinion. I like
ones that make me think about something in a new way or teach me
something. Some writers always do this and some never do.
Last week in Gary King's editorial page he included one of those
emails that gets forwarded around the world and is supposed to make
you think. I started to read it and immediately got bothered with the
math. It does some estimations of populations and then says "divide
200 million adults (in the U.S) into $85 billion (support for AIG, a
big bankrupt insurance company being bailed out) equals $425,000"
indicating that each of us would pay or could receive that much if it
were distributed. The math as calculated by this old math teacher is
$85,000,000,000 divided by 200,000,000 which by my calculations is
$425 (cancel out eight zero's from each and you have $850/2) The
whole premise is totally off, and thus the whole email bogus. I can
guess the author used a normal calculator rather than a politician's
calculator--normal ones can't handle such big numbers. Of course,
with last week's newer government bailout which with the pork included
could reach $850,000,000,000 we get up to $4250 per person for that
deal. I take my debts seriously. To pay Margo's and my share of the
latest bailout, $8500, I plan to write a two checks; one directly to
one of those poor bankrupt Lehman Bros. and the other to a lobbyist to
pass along to a politician for saving me from something or other.

Margo is going back to work to help us pay the $100,000 of our
share of the national debt of 10 trillion dollars. ($10 trillion / 200
million adults x2). In the last eight years we have seen $4 trillion
added to our national debt. Margo and I would be on the hook for
$40,000 for the two of us. I think that includes $10,000 to invade
Iraq, $10,000 so the rich could get a tax cut, and some miscellaneous
items like bridges in Alaska, non-negotiable prices Medicare pays for
drugs and tax breaks for oil companies.

We are enjoying the political season, especially the TV
advertisements. It is particularly interesting in our neck of the
woods where we only get MN stations but live in WI. We are pretty
much up on Coleman and Franken, but in the dark as to if anyone is
running in WI. With our new HDTV converter, we tune to a different
channel, adjust the rabbit ears, and then watch the picture come in
and out like a bad dvd. It seems if a butterfly flaps his wings
outside, it interrupts the signal. Oh well, now instead of getting a
small number of somewhat snowy channels all of the time, we get a
large number of mostly unwatchable channels all of the time. Margo
better get that new roof antenna up before the snow flies more than in
the TV.

I had three of my computers quit on me in the last month. Two
were old ones, living on borrowed time. The other was my nice two
year old laptop. It suddenly started using only ½ of the screen. I
tore it apart thinking that the cable between the screen and computer
had worn in the hinge area. I managed to get it apart and together
again, but had no luck in getting it to broaden its view. If this
column seems only half thought out, you can blame it on my computer.

It is pretty tricky to write a column seeing only half of what you are
writing! (From my weekly column in the Inter-County Leader Frederic WI).