St Croix River Road Ramblings

Welcome to River Road Ramblings.

Monday, April 30, 2012

Treasure Hunting at the Hanson Farm


Sunday afternoon, Mike Cole gave us a lesson in treasure hunting.  Although we didn't find valuable items, we did find several reminders of our childhood.  In the early 1960s, the Hanson boys got into making rockets with aluminum tubing and home made black powder.  The tubing came from the TV antenna and the blackpowder was sulfur and salt petre from the Co-op and charcoal dust from hammering bits of charcoal from the wood stove.   

Saturday, April 28, 2012

Fencing the South Forty $1000

2003 Cousin Arne and his grandson on the old Hansson farm
in Skee Sweden.  Arne has fences around his property too, but
the family having lived there since the 1820s know their property
lines well.  One corner is a pile of stones; another the creek, and
no land piece is square at all--more like pie slices.  Arne was the
last relative in our Hanson family in Sweden or the USA to
be a full time farmer.  At 83, he still keeps a few cattle.   
A few weeks ago, I complained about my neighbor who started building a new fenceline between our adjacent farms.  He bought the land from a long-time neighbor, had a survey done that showed the old fencelines (there since the 1880s) sometimes matched and sometimes were off from the new survey.

I complained to him because he didn't approach the matter like a good neighbor; first tell me that he was going to put cattle into the pasture and that our fences needed looking at.  Instead, he stuck in all new corner posts on the new survey line and was about to begin fencing on these new lines.

I reminded him that boundary fences in existence over 20 years, by Wisconsin fence law, were more important than a new survey unless both landowners agreed to abide by the new survey.  That is because every time a survey is made, as the surveying technology improves, lines change some.  In our case some were OK, and some were as far as 45 feet off (neither of us would have gained or lost property, just the lines would shift).  I insisted on a face-to-face meeting to discuss our common fence boundary.

Eventually that happened.  First, Margo and I spent some time studying the old fenceline. Twenty years of neglect had  pretty much destroyed it.  Trees had fallen, wood posts had rotted off, and wires were rusty beyond reuse.  We realized that we would have to put in an all new fence (our half would cost about $1000).  The old fenceline was choked with brush, fallen trees from many storms and would need a lot of work to clean out and replace.  Moving away from it to the new survey line (which put part of our fenceline through the cleared edge of the neighbor's alfalfa field) would be.very easy to put it!

 However, the fence from the creek to the field was through a real mess--even though it was 45 feet into my woods from the old one.  And, this line had not been fully surveyed, just one corner showing the old fence was off--so I wouldn't really know where to put in the new fence (the right half looking to the neighbor's farm from mine).  My side of the boundary is part of my maple tapping woods--at one time our cow pasture, but now a few trails through to the maples.

  The neighbor stopped by last week with a copy of the survey.  After studying it, we accepted that it was accurate, and after visiting a while, agreed to each do our fencelines yet this year.  We agreed to hire a surveyor together to finish surveying the fenceline and to make the division into halves--probably to happen in May.  Margo and I headed to the Co-op to buy posts, wire and a gate.  Good neighbors have a gate between farms so when the cattle get out (they always do), there is a place to drive them back through easily.

Studying a survey map is an interesting historical lesson.  The surveyors in our area went through with measuring chains in 1847 and attempted to put in markers on each corner of each section and half section.  They left notes of their efforts ( surveyor notes for our section south boundary ).  They did a moderately good job considering they were measuring through wilderness.  Rarely is a section really a mile by a mile, and rarely is a half section marked exactly right.  However, the corners, accurate or not, are used still today and thus can create situations where people think they are being treated unfairly.   To read more about this, take a look at survey problems -- look at the very bottom to see the ideal and actual survey examples!  The original survey plat map of our section 11 is at Map

    My next step is to get the 1948 Cletrac AG6 Crawler running (had the gas tank off it and lined with sealer to stop the rust--but haven't put it back together yet).  The dozer blade should help me clear the fenceline.  Then we get the survey done and fencing begins.

   My nephew who we sold 10 acres along Hwy 87 also has the fence problem.  He has been clearing the fencelines of trees and brush and will also have to divide the already surveyed fence with his neighbor.  He works for a landscaping place and two years ago was driving in some steel fenceposts with a fence post driver (heavy tube with handles) and it rebounded somehow and knocked him unconscious.  He said the emergency room doctor told him that happened too often--that a hard had was a necessity driving posts.  I have made a trip to Menards and got a hard hat and spray painted it pink so Margo will feel stylish as she drives in her share of the posts!

 My neighbor and I are on good terms now.   Advice to you--if you plan to do something along your property boundaries, be sure and first contact your neighbor.  Things go better that way most of the time.

Sunday, April 22, 2012

Go Fly a Kite


James brought a $2 kite to school one April day.  He was an only child and given everything he wanted by his doting parents.  He got toys, balls, bats, gloves, skis, sleds, potato chips and pop and even wore new rather than hand-me-down clothes.  As we four Hanson boys, who each desperately wished we were an only child, watched him fly his kite high over the schoolyard, we knew we had to have one too!

Back in the 1950s, we boys didn’t get toys except for Christmas or our birthday.  However, we asked anyway as no birthdays were due for many months.    

“Can we buy a kite?” Marvin asked Mom.

“Sure, ask for one for your birthday in September.”

“Can’t we get one now?”

“If you want to spend your own money”   Our money was exclusively from depression-fresh  aunts and uncles who thought it was extravagant to give us a dime for a birthday or a nickel for Christmas,  which we spent immediately on candy the next trip to town. 

We asked Dad next. “You don’t need to buy a kite. You can make one yourselves.   All you need it two crossed sticks, some paper and string and maybe some rags for the tail.  When I was a kid during the depression, my five brothers and I made every toy we had!  You don’t know how nice you boys have it getting things for your birthday and Christmas.  Why I remember one year I only had one penny to spend all year long and saved it for the whole year until I got another one next year and then put both of them in the collection plate at church.  Kids now-a-days just don’t know how easy they have it.  Why onetime we…”  

We quickly retreated, already callous to stories about the bad old days.  We had examined Jame’s kite carefully and realized Dad was right.   We found two light sticks from a nearby tree; cut a string groove on each end and used a Scout lashing from Boy’s Life Magazine.  I had bought a whole year’s worth at the annual Presbyterian Church rummage sale in town the previous fall for 10 cents.  The Presbyterian kids threw away things that we poor Methodist never got if not at the sale. 

The Coop store gave us 10 feet of waxed white butcher paper just for asking.  Mom helped us cut  it into the  diamond shaped kite outline with a little extra to fold over the string and secure it with cellophane tape.  Great Grandma, who saved everything, loaned us a ball of string full of knots holding smaller pieces together.  I emphasize loaned—as she expected it back or at least the pieces bigger than 5 inches.  We tied strings from the four corners to the center and to the string ball. We strung a 10-foot tail with small rags from an old diaper ( our youngest brother Byron was giving them up that spring) and took it out for a try. 

There was some wind from the west; at least as much as Jame’s kite had needed to soar.  We took turns running across the open cow pasture trying to get it up, dodging the freshest cow pies.  It rose 10 feet up as long as we were running full speed, but crashed back to the ground as soon as we stopped.

“We’ll have to wait for a tornado to get it up” panted Everett after his run.   

Dad looked it over.  “Your idea is right.  Just make every part of it lighter.”  Sure enough, with lighter sticks, split and whittled thin from a jackpine board, the dry cleaner plastic that came back over Dad’s Sunday suit, and more plastic pieces for the tail (plastic sheeting was still quite rare in those days), we made the first of many kites that soared high above the farm yard.  We found we could use our casting rods and reels as kite string holders and controllers.  Dad’s dry cleaner gave us extra plastic bags when he found out we were using them for kites (he was our supplier next year when we learned how to make hot air balloons from the same drycleaner bags).

Years later when I had my own job, I bought many kites; cheap ones; fancy ones, big ones and little ones. I have two new ones in my cabin now just waiting for the right day.   None of the bought ones were nearly as satisfying those homemade ones of 50 years ago.      

Friday, April 20, 2012

Rambling the Old St. Croix River Road north of the Falls


The Cabin with the apple trees in full flower this afternoon.

We took a drive up the Old River Road from St Croix Falls to the cabin .  Some photos below of the  scenery.  It is a
great time to take the trip as you can still see the river.  Soon the leaves will make it disappear from the road.  I like
the St. Croix.  Grandpa lived on the River Road near Nevers Dam.  Great Grandma's family ran the Sunrise Ferry and homesteaded in West Sterling along the St. Croix.  It feels like home!

Trout Lillies

Purple flowers in the ditch

Leaf buds of silver maples (I think) are red right now

Skunk Cabbage in the springs along the River Road 

You can still see the river --but not for long as it disappears in the leaves soon

A spring trickles down to the St. Croix

At Spangler's bay, the lilac bushes are what remain of an old river homestead

Ferns are in fiddlehead stage--yummy say some!

Occasionally the Old River Road comes directly to the river


A grouse hiding in an oak tree almost is invisible

Blairs cabins were a popular fishing camp when Nevers Dam still created a huge lake upstream
A ship pattern in a Wolf Creek House

Wednesday, April 18, 2012

Good Fences Make Good Neighbors


  

  In farming country where folks own large  blocks of land, pasture cattle and have fields with crops, fences can be a problem.   My neighbor and I are in such a problem right now. 

   Fence law is well defined in Wisconsin law.   Two adjacent land owners must maintain a fence between them if either of both have cattle to pasture.  Each land owner is responsible for half of the fence line.  Normally, you face the fence from your side, looking to the neighbor’s land and your half is the right hand side.  Of course, neighbors can and do make agreements to switch sides if they want to.

   The division of the fence between neighbors is normally measured off to be half for each person.  Neighbors do the measuring and agree if at all possible, although there are laws and Town "fence viewers" who can be called upon for help (at a cost).

   Fence law says even if you don’t plan to pasture your land, you must maintain a legal fence if the neighbor intends to pasture his land.   If you don’t put in your half, the neighbor can complain to the Town Board and have them appoint fence viewers and notify the person that he must put in the fence.  If he doesn’t do his share, then they can hire a fence put in and charge it to the person not putting in his share. 

  When you buy a parcel of land that is fenced around the boundary, the fence lines have legal status.  In my case, a person bought the land adjacent to my land from the farmer who had owned it for 40 years.  Neither of us had pastured our land for 15 or more years.  When neither person pastures the farm, and a fence is not needed, law states that the fence does not have to be maintained.  Only if one or both plan to pasture land does the fence need to be maintained.

   Robert Frost wrote in his poem “Mending Walls” that, although the old stone wall between him and his neighbor was no longer needed, each year the neighbor asked Frost to come to the wall and repair it stating “Good fences make good neighbors.” He likely felt that keeping the boundary intact between him and his neighbor, and visiting with him each year, would prevent boundary disputes like the one I am in. 

    Fences serve another important purpose.  Those on the property lines, called “line fences” establish legal boundaries of the properties.  A fence that is shared between neighbors, and has been put in in agreement that the line is the land boundary, becomes the land boundary whether or not it is exactly on the “true” property line or not. 


    My new neighbor bought the adjacent farmland from our old neighbor.  My family bought our side in 1963 from the family who had lived there since the 1880s.  A few years later, the farmer across the fence died and his farm was bought.  About 40 years ago, when both “new” owners were pasturing each side, the two farmers met at the fence line and decided it was in need of repair or replacement. The fence division into two halves had been long established by the previous owners and was kept the same. 

   The farm boundary consisted of five distinct fences, forming a boundary as illustrated in the sketch.  Dad and his 4 boys cleared out the brush and old fence of wood posts and badly rusted barb wire and replaced it all with steel posts and new barbed wire.  The neighbor replaced his side too and for the next 15 years the cattle stayed in their pastures.  Then both got rid of their cattle and the fences began to deteriorate with trees falling on the wires and grass growing over them and pulling them down to the ground, leaving a cattle porous fence!

   The proper way, in the country, to approach a fence line, is for the landowners to meet, discuss the need for fixing it, and agree to do it by a given date.  A farmer/landowner knows his responsibility and takes it seriously if he wants to have the respect of his neighbors, so fixes his fence when told it is needed.  As the land ownership actually has changed along the boundary fence, it is important to re-establish the sharing of the fence line and midpoint changes if needed.  In our case, I had sold 10 acres that covered the first two of the five fences to my nephew, so he and his neighbor now have to split that piece in half and me and the new owner, our combined fence line of 3 parts.  This is done by meeting, discussing, possibly talking to old owners and agreeing on each person’s responsibility. 

    Well, this spring I got a call from my nephew who had bought 10 acres from me.  “Are you doing some fencing along our boundary?” he asked.  “No, nothing at all,” I replied.  “Well, someone has some survey markers and put new corner posts on my side, way out from the old fence line.  He has done it on your boundary too—all the fence lines are quite different from the old ones. 

    We visited our neighbor, who we found out had sold it to another person nearly 2 years earlier.  He didn’t know anything about what was happening.  We drove to the new owner’s home, also a neighbor we don’t know yet, and as no one was home, I left a note asking what was happening and a printout from a Wisconsin Legal advice firm stating that boundary fences of 20 years or more standing were considered legal boundaries even if a new survey showed them off the boundary.  State law has this provision because each time a survey is done, it has the possibility of coming out differently than the old one, especially as modern technology allows surveyors to get more precise.  Without this law, farmers would be forced to move fences back and forth every time a survey was done that showed a change—which almost every one does nowadays, especially when the original surveys were done in the 1840s-1880s, as they were on this boundary. 

   When boundary surveys are done between neighbors, the best practice is for the neighbors to discuss the reason for the survey, agree to share the cost so the surveyor will not be biased in favor of one person, and agree that they will abide by the new survey line rather than the old line fence, which under WI law, does have precedence over any new survey if one of the land owners chooses to use the existing boundary fence rather than the results of a survey.

    Most farmers don’t want to pay for a survey if there is a long established fence boundary, so just agree to repair or replace the existing fence line rather than start all over.  In the case of the survey done by our neighbor, most of the boundaries shifted, some to give me more land and some to give him more land.  However, much of the fence would have to be moved.  I would have to build a new fence rather than just cutting some trees and brush and reattaching and stretching the old wires that are usable and replacing those that aren’t. 

    So, I am in a dispute with the neighbor.  I have insisted we meet at the fence, talk over the survey—only after I have a copy that shows it is legitimate, divide the fence ownership (find the midpoint) and in general make an agreement that we both will live with.

   The neighbor’s view is that
1.       He had it surveyed and that is the line regardless of the existing boundary fence.
2.      He had planned to put in the whole fence himself so I shouldn’t be concerned at all.
3.      He didn’t need to consult me on this—it was his right to just re-establish boundaries and put in a fence. 

    My point of view:
1.      All boundary fence issues are well laid out in law, and changing a boundary fence of over 20 years existence is not something you want to try without an agreement by your neighbor.  The law is that of adverse possession—use land as if it were yours for 20 years or more and it is—and thus boundaries of 20 years or more supercede surveys.
2.      Boundary fences are responsibilities of both landowners.  Each has obligations and should meet them (I should do my half of the fence).
3.      Dividing a fence is a necessary step in any fence line.  This has to be done.

    My general view is that if he would have talked to me in advance, I would have shared the cost of the surveyor if we had deemed it necessary; we would have agreed on how to proceed on the fencing and we would be getting along as good neighbors.  However, the shock of finding substantial corner posts stuck in land 25 feet away from a 150 year old boundary fence perturbed me more than I like being perturbed. 
    If the neighbor apologizes for not consulting me, and shows me the survey papers and details, and they are legitimate, I will most likely accept the new boundaries, re-divide the fence with him and do my half.  However, I think he needs to learn that it is important to work with your neighbor, and  I intend to press that point.  

Monday, April 16, 2012

April snow showers bring May flowers

Monday April 16th snowstorm.  After a record warm March and first half of April, we get reminded it is still spring!

                                                                    A cold walk


Wild Ginger

Sunday, April 15, 2012

Frac Sand Mining on the St. Croix River at Grantsburg

We drove into the sand mine located on the st. Croix River just north of Hwy 70 West of Grantsburg today.  Frac Sand is mined, screened, sent to MN to be dried and then shipped to oil well country to be pumped down the wells to improve oil production.

The mine is about 1000 feet from the River.  You can see the location on google maps at
Frac Sand Mine on the St. Croix River west of Grantsburg link


Presentation scheduled on Frac Mining at St. Croix Falls

The St. Croix Scenic Coalition provided the following information about its upcoming event:
May 6, 2012 – 1 to 4 p.m.
St. Croix Falls Public Library
230 S. Washington St., St. Croix Falls, WI
A panel of experts will explain what frac sand is, how it is used, where it is found in the Valley and nearby in Minn/Wis, how it is mined, and the potential impacts of industrial scale mining on water and air quality, noise pollution, roads/traffic, valley and bluff land scenery, and the quality of life in the St. Croix River Valley.
Admission is free but registration is strongly encouraged at conference@stcroixsceniccoalition.org.
If you have questions regarding this press release, please contact: St. Croix Scenic Coalition, info@stcroixsceniccoalition.org; Rita Lawson, 715-247-3242

Sand mining nea








Friday, April 13, 2012

Local History Newsletters Online!

The latest Sterling Eureka and Laketown Historical Society newsletter can be reached by clicking right here

The latest Luck Area Historical Society Newsletter can be reached by clicking right here

I put these together 4 times a year as my part in the two historical societies. If you have questions or comments click the comment button below or email me at riverroadrambler@gmail.com

Thursday, April 12, 2012

Morning on the Lake

This morning on the lake looking west from the cabin porch. At 6:40 the sun is just starting to hit the trees on the west ridge. The lowlands frosted again--29 degrees on the porch. You can see the inversion layer where the fog flattens out above the trees. By 7:10 the sun has burned off the fog and is lighting up the lake. Just birds singing this morning with a few gobbles and duck quacks. I have breakfast ready (coffee and Pillsbury orange frosting rolls) while Margo stays in bed until the cabin fire warms it up.

Wednesday, April 11, 2012

Evening Watching the Lake Channel

2011 view from the cabin porch to the lake--already obscured by leaves and trees.  The beavers were supposed to cut them over the winter, but instead got themselves trapped out so Margo will have to do the trimming this summer!



At 6:30 tonight, we went out on the cabin porch to watch the sun go down.  It was mild—65 degrees and the setting sun came across the lake so brightly we had to get our baseball caps on. 

At first we didn’t see much going on.  However the sounds were abundant.  Faintly across the lake was the regular gobble of at least two Tom turkeys with their spring  mating call.  Likely they were strutting with full fanned tails trying to attract the hens. 

Several robins and red wing blackbirds were singing.  Three woodpeckers were hammering, also a mating call.  Then a huge pileated woodpecker flew by in front of us squawking loudly as he landed in a tree to the south. 

Two pairs of ducks, likely mallards, were swimming next to the shore below.  Our perch is on the cabin porch, a 100 yards from the shoreline and 20 feet up the hill give us a nice overlook of the lake.  Across the lake is a large sand/gravel ridge running north and south that marks the edge of the 10 miles of sand barrens between us and the St. Croix River.  Our side of the lake is heavy clay loam ending in a small gravel noll making a nice lake shore spot adjacent to a spring that runs year around into the lake. 

“There is a bald eagle swooping just above the middle of the lake,” exclaimed Margo.  Sure enough, the eagle with his white head and tail shining in the low sunlight swooped and hit the water 4 different times before flying low off to the north obviously carrying something he had caught.  I couldn’t get my binoculars on him quickly enough to see the details. 

After a lull, the single loon came paddling and diving across the center of the lake.  This evening he never called once.  Most times his haunting cry gives the evening a final touch.  A single large bird flew high above the woods and over the lake, also headed north.  “A sandhill crane,” I suggested.  “Too quiet, must have been a blue heron,” commented Margo who, although she is sometimes wrong, never would admit it. 

Seven geese flew over the lake headed north too, dropping down and likely landing in the small channel and creek coming in from the north.  A few groups of ducks circled around.  Much of the lake is obscured by trees from our perch, so we see it through a window mostly straight in front of us.  At one time I had a full view of the lake, but the cows have not pastured it for 20 years letting trees and bushes obscure much of the lake.  One winter, the beaver started cutting it all down, and we were hopeful they would clear it all out.  However, there are too many beaver trappers around—and now for several years the beavers have not reappeared. 

I thought I heard the “peent peeent” of the woodcock in its mating ritual, but it was across the road to the south where he usually lands, makes his sound, then flies high in the sky and comes diving, wings whooping down again to the ground, all in an attempt to attract and impress Ms Woodcock.  Tomorrow night we will sit out there and see if we can watch him at work.

Another lull, and then the lake seemed alive with swimmers.  Four, probably five large otters took it over.  First they swam along with their head, back and tail forming 3 bumps in the water. Then one would role head down, back and tail coming above the water and then diving down and coming up with a fish. They ate the fish with their head sticking straight up in the water using their "hands" and chewing and swallowing the fish; goofing around for a while before another dive; swimming back and forth across the 30 acre lake many times. What a show!  Back and forth and around the small lake until the sun disappeared.

The light breeze disappeared as the sun did.  The lake became perfectly calm with reflections of the hill and trees looking like a mirror.  The last sunlight showed thousands of flies over the lake, some right on the surface.  The lake then became a pool with ring ripples dappled all around as fish came to the surface and nibbled the flies.  The perfect rings spread out, overlapping with each other, reminding me of bubbles in the air.
 
The sun disappeared, but it was still light enough to see for a while.  The smell of damp earth and the lake came onto the porch along with rapidly cooling temperatures.  We watched for a while longer, hoping to see a deer come through or the Trumpeter Swans, who left early in the morning return, but the coolness drove us in at 8 pm.  Margo turned on the TV, connected to online Netflix and started watching the 5th of 253 episodes of “Murder She Wrote,” uninterrupted by commercials, while I tried to capture what we had just watched on the Lake Channel earlier. 

Monday, April 9, 2012


Take Me Out To The Ballgame  (The Twins!)


This song was written in 1908 by a man named Jack Norworth. One day when he was riding a New York City subway train, he spotted a sign that said "Ballgame Today at the Polo Grounds." Some baseball-related lyrics popped into his head, that were later set to some music by Albert Von Tilzer, to become the well known baseball song, "Take Me Out To The Ballgame." Despite the fact that neither Norworth or Tilzer had ever been to a baseball game at the time the song was written, it is one of the most widely sung songs in America.
(1927 version)

Nelly Kelly loved baseball games,
Knew the players, knew all their names,
You could see her there ev'ry day,
Shout "Hurray" when they'd play.
Her boy friend by the name of Joe
Said, "To Coney Isle, dear, let's go,"
Then Nelly started to fret and pout,
And to him I heard her shout.

"Take me out to the ball game,
Take me out with the crowd.
Buy me some peanuts and Cracker Jack,
I don't care if I never get back,
Let me root, root, root for the home team,
If they don't win it's a shame.
For it's one, two, three strikes, you're out,
At the old ball game."

Nelly Kelly was sure some fan,
She would root just like any man,
Told the umpire he was wrong,
All along, good and strong.
When the score was just two to two,
Nelly Kelly knew what to do,
Just to cheer up the boys she knew,
She made the game sing this song.

"Take me out to the ball game,
Take me out with the crowd.
Buy me some peanuts and Cracker Jack,
I don't care if I never get back,
Let me root, root, root for the home team,
If they don't win it's a shame.
For it's one, two, three strikes, you're out,
At the old ball game."

Take Me Out to the Ball Game

1908 Version
 Author: Jack Norworth
Composer: Albert Von Tilzer
Published on: 1908, 1927
Published by: York Music Company

Katie Casey was base ball mad.
Had the fever and had it bad;
Just to root for the home town crew,
Ev'ry sou Katie blew.
On a Saturday, he young beau
Called to see if she'd like to go,
To see a show but Miss Kate said,
"No, I'll tell you what you can do."

"Take me out to the ball game,
Take me out with the crowd.
Buy me some peanuts and cracker jack,
I don't care if I never get back,
Let me root, root, root for the home team,
If they don't win it's a shame.
For it's one, two, three strikes, you're out,
At the old ball game."

Katie Casey saw all the games,
Knew the players by their first names;
Told the umpire he was wrong,
All along good and strong.
When the score was just two to two,
Katie Casey knew what to do,
Just to cheer up the boys she knew,
She made the gang sing this song:

"Take me out to the ball game,
Take me out with the crowd.
Buy me some peanuts and cracker jack,
I don't care if I never get back,
Let me root, root, root for the home team,
If they don't win it's a shame.
For it's one, two, three strikes, your out,
At the old ball game."




Thursday, April 5, 2012

Why is it ethical to eat meat?

The New York Times magazine is sponsoring an essay contest for readers to answer the question "Why is it ethical to eat meat?" "Why is it ethical to eat meat?"

 The essay must be 500 word or less and sent in by April 8th. No relative of mine has gotten published in the NY Times since in 1907 when great Uncle Edwin Paulson, stationed as a teacher for missionaries in China, wrote a long article about the Dalai Lama visiting China.

 My Essay:

 Dear Ethicist, As a moderate, I often make ethical decisions based on the middle ground between extremes. I believe that there is truth in each extreme, but as a practical matter, the middle ground seems to have more truth for more people.

 The severely conservative meat eating position is surely cannibalism. Eating your fellow man seems to have been frowned on by most cultures. Two exceptions arise: religious ritual manwiches; and gnawing starvation pains. In extremis et religiƍ we dine a la Donner, but not as a habit.

 Veganites eschew any and all animal products for ethical, environmental and health reasons. PEThics, as expounded by PETA, sententiously steers this herd. Asceticism of this degree is an effort too much for most.

A pragmatist will thus chose midway between eating each other and eating nothing that breathes. Not eating each other, for me extends to animals with my DNA inserted for xenotransplants. I think it swinish to eat the bacon while the boar’s heart is beating within. Meat, grilled rarely, is a delicious part of my own diet.

Omniscience, and Omnipotence is for God. Omnivorence is for man.

Margo is coming back!

Margo says she will be back from taking care of her Dad after his bypass surgery! She has been there with him since the beginning of March. He is back driving and doing quite well. She plans to be in Pine Island by the weekend and up at the cabin by Wednesday. So, I have to get the cabin ready for her.

 Today I took the electric water pump out of the garage and took it down below the cabin where I have a shelter for it. Since we are not here in the winter, we drain everything and dismantle it all. Normally it is pretty quick to get it all setup again. However, it appears I am getting forgetful in my old age. There are two plastic pipes coming up out of the ground to hook to the pump; one goes to the cabin and the other goes to the well. I don't have them marked, and normally remember which is which. Well, I couldn't remember this time! The two hoses each hook to the pump, one to the inlet on the pump and one to the outlet. Of course, I forgot which was which of those too!

 Anyway, I first hooked up both backwards and nothing happened but I could hear the faucet sucking air, so I ended up after a few hours of messing around, finally getting them all right and got water to the cabin and the hot water heater running all fine! This time I took a Sharpie marker and labeled everything and then drew a diagram on the wall of the building so next year, not matter how bad my mind is, it should be easy!

 While I was working on the pump, I checked out the spring that runs into the lake all year round. A few early marsh marigolds were blooming yellow with their green foliage making a nice contrast. The spring makes its own microclimate and keeps plants from freezing in the winter and gives them a quick start in the spring. Along the old River Road just off of Hwy 87 down the hill is a springy hillside too with some yellow blooms already there too mixed with bold green skunk cabbage leaves shooting up.

 Then I took a load of laundry out to the Cushing laundromat. Now it is haul my tools out of the cabin and back to the garage, vacuum it, straighten everything, dust a little, and clean all the wood chips and wood box so it looks really good.

 The funny thing is, after I go over everything and get it all cleaned and straightened out, the first thing Margo does is look around, head to town for some cleaning supplies and go over everything again. Guess there are different standards of neatness and cleanliness for different people.

 Checked the apple trees and some will have blooms this year, and some won't. You can see the buds forming now. Hopefully they won't bloom for a week or so, as we have frost predicted for a few nights yet. 

The last two mornings there was frost down on the flat by the lake, although not up the hillside where the cabin is. The cold air settles at the bottom of the hill. Walking down to the lake most calm evenings, you can feel the temperatures drop, even in the summer time.

 I had some work to do at the Luck Museum on the newsletter, so had a bagel and coffee at the Wren Cafe on Hwy 35 just north of Luck. The walls are covered with Gloria Adrian (of Cushing) paintings of sandhill cranes. There whole life history is beautifully done in large paintings. They cost $600 and up, so I just admired them. They really are worth a stop to see.

 I dug the garden by the cabin and took off a big load of rocks--just from 1/2 acre. I used them to make a fire ring down by the lakeshore. This year, ticks, mosquitoes, gnats, deerflies, bears, willing, we plan to watch the lake each evening rather than the TV. Of course, my wireless internet gets 2 bars reception down there, so we won't be totally stuck with just looking at the swans, loons, otters, ducks, geese, beaver, bald eagles, and Chuck taking a swim across the lake.

 For the first time in several years, I think we will get fishing licenses and catch some of the monster northerns in the lake (as Bryce says--they must still be there as nobody has ever caught one yet). Well, the vacuum is waiting.

Tuesday, April 3, 2012

Stories of the St Croix River Valley II

Today my latest book has been published. It will be on Amazon.com by next week. The cost is $10.00 plus postage. All profits go to the Sterling Eureka and Laketown Historical Society

Spring Flowers

A bloodroot at my cabin
A neighbor's apple tree

Indianhead Gem and Mineral Society Meeting

The first Monday night of each month at 7 pm, Luck Senior Citizens building in Luck, WI, is the Indianhead Gem and Mineral Society meetings. Some photos from the April meeting. Next month is the silent auction where members bring their agates, gems, jewelry, equipment, polished/sliced rocks, etc and sell them for the benefit of the club. It is open to the public and you can get wonderful deals for wonderful items!

Monday, April 2, 2012

Hanson Easter Egg Hunt 2012

Brother Marvin hosted the 2012 Easter Egg hunt and birthday party for his grandson Vincent Russ has lots of great nephews and nieces!
Russ brought 25 birdhouse gourds and all were turned into colorful houses for bluebirds, chickadees and tree swallows
Vincent is 6!

Sunday, April 1, 2012

Neila Beal Block obituary


My good friend Dan Beal's Sister passed away.   Dan lives on Bone Lake near Luck, WI.  

Neila Dorcas (Beal) Block 



Block, Neila Dorcas (Beal) May 4, 1929 - March 30, 2012 Neila exemplified vitality, humor and determination. She overcame polio, swam in the Aqua Follies, graduated from the University of Minnesota, moved to France and Germany working for the US Army. 

She met her future ex-husband performing in a play at Ft. Eustis, Virginia. Had three children and went on to ski the world, volunteer at an orphanage in Hanoi, ride rapids in Costa Rica, learn jewelry work in San Miguel, and live life on her terms. She died in Santa Fe, NM surrounded by loved ones. 

She leaves Lisa Block (and Robin) of NM, Brian Block (and Kathy) and her only grandchild Halle of Orlando, FL, and her daughter Heather of Lewes, DE as well as a large extended family in Minnesota. Her final words to her granddaughter were to "always have a good time and don't let anyone tell you what to do or that you can't do it ..."

 Donations may be made in her name to Compassion & Choices or any liberal cause.