St Croix River Road Ramblings

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Saturday, December 31, 2011

New Year's Resolutions

River Road Ramblings: Week of Jan 1, 2012

Happy New Year! We had a nice Christmas and New Years at the Hanson hilltop estate here in rural Pine Island, out in the edge of the Great Plains of MN. The weather was mild, although windy, and not speck of snow is around. Santa was good to us getting high speed Internet and Netflix so we can waste time very fast this year.

New Years really should be a time for renewal. Folks should think about the past year and vow to do better. Some years, I have been so near perfect the past year, I really had little need for resolutions and so made ones like “I will not take up smoking this year.” This year I have two things to consider: continuing with the RRR column and improving my health.

Seven people wrote, called or emailed me saying overall they wouldn’t be bothered if I continued the column, something I took to be in favor of continuing it for another year. Of course, with 7000 newspapers sold in a good week, seven responses is about the same percent as the interest we get on our bank CDs. However, the quality of the seven folks was very high!

The milestone of turning 65 coupled with my limited knee mobility drove home that I am in the declining part of my life. My lifestyle, put into an Internet life expectancy calculator, gives me 15 more years. I tried adjusting the factors—adding a higher level of exercise, losing weight, and other life style changes, but at most, they added a single year. Of course, this is the average, so some of us 65 year old men will make less and some more. What I could do, I found was improve the quality of the years ahead of me (and no, that doesn’t mean getting a new wife).

Micky Mantle, who came from a family of men who died very young, said as he reached his 60s "If I'd known I was gonna live this long, I'd have taken a lot better care of myself."

Well, I have taken care of myself pretty good except for being overweight much of my life. I was born on the hefty side. Mom tells me when I was a baby and growing up, I was always hungrier than my three brothers (who, like my parents, were relatively slim folks much of their lives—a few expanding a little after retirement). When I look back, I was just as active as my brothers, just I always wanted to eat more before I was full. I think of it as one of the way we were different—like how we favored different music and liked different school subjects and had different hobbies.

Two times in my life, I lost weight and for some years, was in the normal range. The first was in getting in shape my HS senior year when I finally got permission to go out for football (my parents thought farm work was more important than after-school sports and worried I might injure a knee, which I did). The grueling HS workouts starting at home in July and extending into the fall in addition to the farm work brought me well into the normal range.

I started to fill out again in college, and so one summer while working at Stokely’s in the field crew driving a bean picker did a month on the Metrecal liquid diet. Metrecal came in cans—each tasted like a flavored milkshake. I drank four cans per day for a month and dropped the extra 20 pounds and then was able to stay close to that weight for several years until after I got married.

Women seem to have built into their nature the urge to feed. It shows up in feeding people, animals, birds and cash registers. I had controlled my weight by carefully keeping only limited types and quantities of food available in my refrigerator and cupboard coupled with being a student with jobs that kept me too poor to eat out. I know myself—if there is rich food around, I eat it. I believe it is a genetic predisposition I have, like Bill Clinton’s inability to stay away from women and George W Bush’s need to start wars.

Mom is an excellent cook. We grew up with wonderful food. Mom was always entering and winning recipe contests. She wrote a weekly food column for many years. She continues to experiment with new recipes and loves to bake cookies and other things to give to her children and grandchildren. She makes food that looks and tastes very good! Having diabetes the last few years, she has to be careful of her diet, but she certainly gets a lot of joy out of serving rich food to others. If you visit, you must eat something before you leave. She didn’t always have food as a child, so wants to make sure we don’t ever have to go through what she did.

For Mom, 1930 was a hard year. Her father died in the spring, leaving her 25 year-old mother with 5 children to care for and no income other than a pittance from the county. By December, her mother couldn’t take it anymore—probably had a nervous breakdown—and abandoned the family without saying anything after a last meal of soup made from potato peelings from the neighbor’s garbage.

Mom, at nine, was the oldest. She begged food from the neighbors to feed her younger siblings including a baby, expecting her mother to return anytime. After a week or so, when a neighbor found out, Mom and her brothers and sisters were collected by the sheriff and adopted out.

I have told you this before, but although Mom was adopted into a good home where food was good and plentiful, I think she never got over having gone hungry and feeling the responsibility to keep her younger brothers and sisters alive. Her granddaughter, Amanda, collected her recipes in a cook book called “You Look Hungry,” something she tells us whenever we quit eating before we are stuffed.

At home on the farm, there was a lot of work that burned off the calories even with large meals. When I married and became a teacher and later a computer programmer, that changed—I had a no exercise job. I had to force myself to exercise, something that has been hard to do—especially in the winter when your daylight hours belong to the boss.

That coupled with a wife who, like my mother, enjoyed cooking and always believed in full refrigerators and cupboards, I let my weight gradually creep up. Mostly I was moderately overweight—not serious enough to limit my activity or bother my health.

Two years ago when I fell and broke my leg and messed up the knee, my life style changed again. No longer could I walk comfortably and do the things that normally kept me busy, and with the inactivity I expanded to where it is actually changing my health for the worse. I can tell it without my doctor telling me, although she feels free to let me know too.

So hitting age 65 coupled with 2012 getting underway I am ready to try to change. My resolutions are to drop some weight and resume a more vigorous lifestyle. In February, when I get a new knee, the second part should be easier. I always liked walking. As a scout leader well into the 1990s, I did a lot of backpacking and hiking and was quite active overall. I miss it.

My goals are modest: lose 25 lbs in 2012 and be physically active for an hour per day (walking, cutting wood, gardening or something where I actually get my heart rate up).
My left knee, the one that has never been injured, is perfectly fine, so if the right one works again, the exercise part should be much easier.

I talked to a dietician who encouraged me to aim for a 20-25 lb drop in weight over a year, I suggested liposuction as a lazy man’s way to lose the spare tire. It seems ideal; go into the hospital, take a nap while a vacuum cleaner sucks out the fat, and walk to the store and buy a new belt.

“Your insurances won’t cover it. It can cost between four and eight thousand dollars. For some reason, weight loss done that way doesn’t seem to help your over all health. In a study a few years back, medical researchers found that abdominal fat is an indicator of cardiovascular health (the more you have, the more at risk you are for heart attacks, high cholesterol, diabetes, etc). This in mind, they performed liposuction on a group of people with abdominal fat in order to see if it helped their degree of cardiovascular fitness. Unfortunately, they discovered that the belly fat is just an indicator of cardiovascular unhealthiness, but is not a cause -- there was no change in their health. You are much better off to lose it the old fashioned way!”

Well, I am even cheaper than I am lazy, so the idea of spending as much as $400 a pound to lose the weight by surgery is unthinkable! However, money is a good motivator. It gave me an idea.

“Margo, it will cost me $400 a pound to have liposuction. That would really wreck our budget. How about if I instead go for a $100 a pound reward for losing it myself and when I lose 20 lbs I can spend $2000 off budget?”

Margo has been getting worried as she has watched me expand and my mobility has decreased and my life expectancy lowered. If I die ahead of her some of the retirement income will drop—all of my social security for instance. She also worries about having me dependent on her or in a nursing home, so she made a proposal.

“If you lose 25 lbs and keep it off for six months, then I will take $2000 out of my Thrivent Lutheran life insurance policy and give it to you.”

When she was born, her father started paying $32 a year for the premium on a $2000 life insurance policy for her. When we married, he turned it over to her and so for 64 years the premium has been paid and with interest has built up to $12,000 in the event of her death.

According to Margo’s rules, January 1, 2012, I am to weigh in at the certified scale at the local feed mill and the project gets underway. Each month I return and get a signed weight ticket. When I lose 25 lbs I continue for six more months to prove that it stays off. Then I get the money.

Since I am aiming for two pounds per month, it is unlikely any of you except Mom will notice I am wasting away right in front of your eyes. What I expect to get out of this is not a longer life, but a more healthy and vigorous one as I tumble into my declining years.

Heaven, if I ever get there, will be filled with the most delicious foods imaginable. I will be able to eat my fill without worry of gaining weight and turning off my 70 virgins.

Here’s hoping I become a less substantial person during 2012!

Rambling out of the Newspaper

Rambling out of the Leader

Thank you to all of you who let me know you read the column after last week when I rambled all over trying to decide about doing it for another year. With that encouragement, and an offer to run an advertisement to support the column for the next several months, I had pretty much decided to continue into year number eight of the column.

However, on the way to that decision, I came up against a set of Leader newspaper management policies that changed my mind in the opposite direction. As a result of this, the column will continue, however, not in the Leader.

I think writers who are published in a newspaper should be rewarded for their work just as much as a secretary in the front office, the person who drives the forklift or the reporter who covers a county board meeting or a football game.

The Leader, an organization that prides itself on its grass roots beginnings and cooperative history does not treat some people who write for the paper reasonably. It expects them to write for free.

Certainly writers plugging the Festival Theatre, the Fort, Caregivers, animal shelters and political press release should not be paid. These articles are worth a great deal to the sponsoring organization and in fact probably should be considered advertising and charged for the space.

However, I am of the opinion that regular columnists who are not in it primarily to plug a business, are in a different category. I think they should get paid. Some years back they did get paid. Nowadays it appears local newspapers don’t believe anything is worth publishing from local writers unless it is obtained free.

In my own case, I never got paid, but was allowed leeway to plug some events, books, the River Road Ramble, and, if I could find a sponsor, to sell an advertisement that got printed with the column and I got the money. It didn’t happen very often, but at least I felt I could get some money if I went out selling ads—so I felt paid.

I learned in 2011, some of this just last week, that no longer could I do the plugs, the ads or anything that was like an advertisement in the column. A new policy that says writers who are not on the staff are not worth paying in any way, including a free subscription, and they better tread carefully so they don’t infringe on the really important people in the newspaper, those who sell the advertisements.

As an alternative to the ads, which I had occasionally sold to Anderson Maple for $25 redeemable in merchandise at the store (and had lined up for Jan – April 2012), I asked the Leader for $25 per column payment in 2012 all to be paid to the Luck Historical Society as a donation. The museum is my favorite non-profit and although I give a lot of time to it, I don’t have much money to help them.

Not possible was the response; if we pay you then other columnists will want to be paid too—and our policy is no payments to writers of your type. Management, the Co-op Board and the Business Manager, Douglas Panek, appear to have come down hard on columnists like me, who thought their columns were worth something.

I spend at least 6 hours a week writing the RRR column with the reward mostly some small amount of fame and my platform for plugging things I like. The fame is not important—I don’t allow my photo with the column to make sure I am mostly anonymous on the street. I do like to visit with you each week, but I am not so vain as to assume removing my column will hurt the Leader.

I encourage my fellow columnists who are not writing to publicize an organization to take a stand. Assume there are 5 unpaid columnists of my type. It would cost the Leader $125 per week to pay them each $25 (and some, like me, might even find their own sponsors). Divided among the 7000 papers sold each week, that amounts to under 2 cents per newspaper. You can put in your 2 cents by contacting the Leader if you agree with me. The cost of RRR split among the 7000 papers is about one-third of a penny each week. Seems pretty darn cheap to me.

The manager of the Leader is Douglas Panek. You can email him at The Co-op Board includes: Janet Oachs, Charles Johnson, Ann Fawver, Merlin Johnson and Carolyn Wedin. They are in the phone book. I think you should tell them that it is a reasonable thing to pay some non-Leader staff for articles, even if it is just the pittance I asked for!

I doubt anyone on the Leader staff could have written as good an article as the one Boyd Sutton wrote last week on the responsibilities of carrying a concealed weapon. It surely would be worth $25!

For a donation of $25 per week payable to the Luck Museum, the RRR column is up for sale to any newspaper including the Leader. The column continues regularly on the Internet. If you are interested in what we are doing or the history research underway go to and catch up with Margo and me.

If you don’t do the Internet ask a friend to print it out or go to the public library and read it, or use your persuasion with your local newspaper manager or board member!

The Internet is liberating. There is no limit of pictures that can be added to the column, no limit of a once the week publishing date, and no editor chopping of sentences, changing the words and screwing up the photos!

Margo and I hope you have a good 2012. We will see you online, if not anywhere else. Russ Hanson, The River Road Rambler is now appearing in full color and expanded from at It has been an interesting seven years and Margo and I will miss all of you. I like the idea of going out thinking I am doing it on principle!

Friday, December 30, 2011

Writing a weekly newspaper column

Rambling into 2012?

Dictionary Entry: “ramble.” Part of Speech: verb. Definition: talk aimlessly, endlessly
Synonyms: amplify, babble, be diffuse, beat around bush, blather, chatter, depart, descant, digress, divagate, diverge, drift, drivel, dwell on, enlarge, excurse, expatiate, get off the subject, go astray, go off on tangent, go on and on, gossip, harp on, lose the thread, maunder, meander, prose, protract, rant and rave, rattle on, stray, talk nonsense, talk off top of head, talk randomly, wander.

As the River Road Ramblings blatherer-in-chief, we try each week to meet the spirit of the above dictionary definition, spurred on by reading the list of synonyms, we labor mightily to produce something new, exciting and rewarding to you.

However, year end is a time for reflection, a time for resolutions of self improvement. Thus, we pause to consider the future of the column. This week you can share in what goes into the yet unmade decision whether we continue for another year or not.

We will diverge for a moment to tell you about the “writers we.” Newspaper writers, kings, popes, and doctors tend to use the word “we” when we really mean “I” or “you.” Dr. Hyde asks “and how are we feeling today?” This started with kings who believed they were divinely chosen to rule and so when giving a new law used “we” to indicate God and I (the King) are behind it. We newspaper people rate our authority only slightly lower so too use “we” sometimes when we mean “I.”

Next I should tell you about digression, one of the definitions of rambling. A good writer sets a theme or goal for his writing—where he is headed and goes bull headedly in that direction. One of my rambling columns may head off with good intentions to get somewhere, but then wanders into side trips along the way making the journey more important than the arrival.

My favorite rambling book is “Tristram Shandy,” a free e-book found on the Internet written in the mid 1700s, where the author writing his own story takes half of the book to reach his birth. Having free access to almost any book written that is out of copyright (before 1923) is, for me, the most wonderful thing that the Internet brings—provided free by the company Google.

We began writing a weekly column in the Leader January of 2005. Since then we have continued supplying 52 columns per year for 6 years. Over the years, about 25% have been stories written by other folks, and 75% my own work. Doing some quick calculations: 52 weeks per year multiplied by 6 years equals 312 columns. Twice we failed to connect with the Leader, so really there have only been 310 columns. Of that, I have put together over 225 of the total.

Bernice Abrahamzon, who has written for the Leader for more than 40 years, is never impressed when I total these up at the writers group!

The column started at about half of a Leader page, but quickly expanded to most of the page. A good writer writes his piece then brutally edits it down to get the point across concisely. Someone writing rambles has an awful job of trying to figure out what to toss and what to keep, as likely there is no point to it at all, and the value of it lies in the overall effect—like looking at a surrealistic painting. Note: this paragraph says the same thing as an earlier one, but it is an important point for you to understand, so I won’t edit it out.

The average word count is about 1500 per column, although last year was closer to 1750 as my rambling expertise has progressed. Over the past six years I have come up with slightly over one third of a million words. To put that in perspective, it is equivalent to the number of words in the first ten books of the Bible (and the authors of those books were helped out directly by God while I had to do mine on my own).

My writing, as analyzed by Microsoft Word, has a Flesch Reading Ease level of 61.8, where 60.0–70.0 means it should easily understood by 13- to 15-year-old students. The 9.6 grade level corresponds again to the same age range. These are calculated using words per sentence and syllables per word equations.

My average letters per word comes in at 4.4. That is pretty amazing when you consider the Leader’s copy editors carefully remove the four-letter-words I sprinkle through the column for emphasis.

Eight percent of the time I use passive sentences. That means I write, “The large wood pile had been split by Margo” rather than “Margo split the wood in the pile.” Passive sentences are meant for reading by retirees in the afternoon as they relax and nod off. Active sentences are preferred by younger folks whose ambitions have not yet been subdued by management.

After stalling a little telling you about the technical aspects of a typical column, we plan to get back on track here to the why’s and wherefores of the whole thing.

Following Charles Dickens lead, we will first go to RRR Past. So, why did I start the column? The first year was to assist the Sterling Eureka and Laketown Historical Society, based in uptown Cushing, WI, celebrate the 150th anniversary of Sterling Township.

For you purists out there, a township in Wisconsin is actually a land division made by the surveyors to sell the land in the old days shortly after it was stolen from the Indians. The Town of Sterling is the correct name for the elected government overseeing the land, which in the case of Sterling, covers nearly two townships of land. (this is an example of a digressive paragraph that could be edited out of the column. However, if I remove it, a few of you will think I am ignorant. Marcus Aurelius said, “we fear more what our neighbors will think of us than what we think of ourselves,” a guiding principle for this column.)

Well, getting back to the point, history is interesting to a small group of people, those who have pretty much lived their lives and now in retirement haven’t much else to do other than think about the past. The occasional columns that were not pure history, but included some chatter on personal doings were better received than the history only stories.

“I skip to the end of the column where you tell what Margo is doing,” was a common comment I got in the first year or two when we were concentrating doggedly on local history, and adding a personal note at the end. To meet the perceived public clamor, the column drifted in that direction, still with the attempt to be historic, or at least nostalgic in tone, and a little humorous but never historically funny.

Having exhausted most of my researched history and printable personal experiences from the past, and stories passed on from readers and becoming too busy as well as too lazy to do new local history research, the column in the past two years has evolved even further into the present. Often it is no more than “What I did on my vacation,” the assignment every school kid dreaded each fall.

Mine never varied; hauled hay, swimming school, Bible school, and shoveled manure. Hardly inspiring, although as I look back, shoveling manure was some of the best training I had for being a good employee and a creative writer.

So now we come to RRR future. We return to question, “Do we continue for another year?” We can break that down into “Is there any value in the column?” which further breaks into “Is there any value in it for me?” and “Is there any value in it for the Leader?” and “Is there any value in it for you, the readers?”

As a science kind of guy, I like to make decisions rationally, based on accepted scientific principles. According to Manfred Max-Neef, an economist, there is a set of human needs that must be met for humans to be comfortable in life. His list: subsistence, protection, affection, understanding, participation, leisure, creation, identity and freedom. I think he has gotten it reasonably well, although I would put sex as a separate item instead of hiding it under affection.

Therefore, writing the column for another year must fulfill one or more of the above list items, for me, for the Leader and for you, or we all should drop it.

If the Leader paid me for the column, then I wouldn’t be asking these questions—I would instead be negotiating a raise for 2012. I would also know the Leader’s position as to the value of the column. However, they don’t pay me—they assume my needs for creation and identity are enough to keep me at it, and it fills one of the 60 pages each week without cost or effort for them.

I think items 4-8 are in some ways being met for me through the column. It is rather fun to be notorious while trying to be creative. I tell Margo “having a weekly deadline to write something forces me to do something with time I probably would otherwise waste anyway.” Occasionally, although rarely, a reader will comment on something or tell me they liked a column, and for a moment I think it might be worthwhile.

What do you think?

I read mostly everything in the Leader each week. As a retiree, I have the time and the patience to read almost anything except long winded political letters or rambling articles without clear points. I like to find out if Carrie has gotten things figured out, to read Joe’s jokes, to find out what Dr. Ingalls is musing on, to get uplifted by Bernice and Sally, and so on right though the last page. I think of the columnists as my friends, although I don’t know most of them.

Email me at riverroadrambler @ or contact me (and order a 2011 collection of the best Ramblings plus for just $18 ) to Russ Hanson, 15937 County 27 Blvd, Pine Island MN 55963. I just put that book as well as the first Trade Lake Book history on where you can order printed copies nicely bound. All profits go to the Sterling Eureka and Laketown Historical society of Upper Cushing.

Margo is off to Christmas with her folks in West Bend. I had planned to go along, but my leg is questionable for that long of a ride in the car—it is still pretty sore from the hardware removal in preparation for the new knee, and I’m just not up to being on my best behavior for a whole week with those Germans down there where you have to eat raw spiced hamburger just to be polite (writing a very long sentence bumps my writing to a higher grade level, especially if the words are humongously syllabled—this paragraph came in at grade level 22 (PhD) although the whole column is exactly average for me!).

Happy New Year! We will leave you with two quotes from Mark Twain, my favorite author. “We can secure other people's approval if we do right and try hard; but our own is worth a hundred of it, and no way has been found out of securing that.” And, “I have been complimented many times and they always embarrass me; I always feel that they have not said enough.”

River Road Ramblings column moves from newspaper to blog in 2012

We are moving the River Road Ramblings newspaper column from the Inter-County Leader after 7 years of weekly columns to right here! The constraints of weekly limited space newspapers has become too hard to meet. Welcome! Tell you friends!

Sunday, December 18, 2011

Hardware removed from Russ' leg

Merry Christmas 2011

Merry Christmas and Happy New Year from the Hanson 2011

In December of 2011, Russ reached the last major milestone in his life—age 65 with Medicare and Social Security kicking in. Officially he is a senior citizen now! Margo is only 6 months behind.

We have been retired for a few years already, so turning 65 was really much of a change other than Medicare. The first test of it will be Russ getting a new knee in February. 22 years ago he damaged the knee skiing and two years ago further damaged it and broke the leg in a fall. The leg bone is healed up strong, but the knee has been a real pain. Hopefully it will be ready for mid-March and maple syrup season.

We had a good maple syrup season last spring and sold much of our syrup at the local farmer’s market along with some other garden and orchard produce. Every Friday we set up our stand and sell a little and visit a lot with neighbors and lake folks coming through from the Twin Cities. It is fun and keeps us qualifying as a small farm business—useful for tax purposes.

We spent 6 weeks in Louisiana last January and February getting away from the frozen north. We pull our tent camper and stay in state parks where the temperatures are more like October in the north. We have lost our enthusiasm for winter in the Arctic MN and WI area.

Margo is in good health for as old as she is. She goes in a few times a year to get botox shots in her vocal cords so she can talk. Without it, they tighten so much she can barely force out words. With them, she can talk freely, but with a somewhat whispery, husky voice. She is very active and keeps busy caring for her old husband.

She spends some time visiting with her parents in the West Bend, WI area. Her mother, Myrtle, has been in a nursing home with Alzheimers for 6 years. She occasionally remembers a little, but mostly has lost her memory. Merlin lives in West Bend and is very active in the American Legion. He serves on the honor guard at funerals of his fellow WWII soldiers. He is 86 years old and doing well.

Scott continues to work in the skiing business, working near our Pine Island, MN home for Welch Village. He got off to help with maple syruping this spring. We have pretty much given up on having any grandchildren, as Scott seems to be happy as a bachelor.

Margo and I spend most of the year at our cabin in NW Wisconsin. We open it up in mid March for maple season and close it in early December when it gets too cold for the water system to work – not really winterized. Russ’ relatives mostly live in that area including his mom, Alberta, who turned 90 this year. She lives at her home of 70 years on the farm and is doing well—still gardens and takes care of her self and has help from her sons on home maintenance.

Russ continues to write a weekly newspaper column, somewhat centered around local history. He has been doing this for 7 years. He collected the year’s stories in a book again this year and published it. You can find it on Amazon books under River Road Ramblings—the name of his newspaper column. You can read the whole weekly newspaper at the web site look on about page 39 of the newspaper called the Inter-County Leader. You can read some of his older books on local history at by searching for St Croix Russ Hanson.

Russ and Margo volunteer at two local history societies and museums. One is at Luck, Wisconsin, the onetime Duncan Yo-Yo hometown where the wooden toys were made. Russ is also active in the local genealogical society helping folks learn about their family history.

We spent a few weeks on the road in August driving out to Seattle to visit our cousins there and in Oregon. Traveling west across the prairies is a quiet and pleasant drive, and visiting our cousins a lot of fun. Cousin Sally lives in Seattle. We stayed with her a week and had fun seeing what city life is like. There sure are a lot of places to visit and things to do. It is confusing though, as they mix up dinner with supper and lunch with dinner, etc.

We had planned to go south again this winter, but with Russ’ knee operations, we may not make it. He has been trying to get up ambition to work on arranging the research he has done on the Hanson family to write a family history. He started with Adam and Eve Hansson and got to Noah Hansson, but many of the records seem to have been lost in the Flood! It is hard to get started putting it all together.

Cousin Diane Shoemaker Wilcox wrote a semi-fictional account of Great Grandpa Charles Hanson coming from Sweden to America. I helped with the fragments of stories and details I had heard about his life. Her story guesses what life may have been like in Sweden 150 years ago and why he came to America – it is quite interesting. If you would like a copy, email her at Diane is descended through Olaus-Charles-Lathrop(Lote)-Alma and as her mother was a first cousin of my father, we are second cousins. My theory is that anyone 6th cousins or closer must be willing to share their spare bedroom with visitors!

Margo and I use Facebook to keep up with friends and relatives. We also have email. Margo is and I am We have gone into the Internet for most of our contacts rarely phoning or writing real letters anymore. It is quite amazing to have as Facebook friends cousins in Norway and Sweden.

Hope 2012 will be good for you and your family.
Merry Christmas and Happy New Year