St Croix River Road Ramblings

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Monday, October 8, 2012

Fall Colors

 The colors on the lake are leafing the trees and settling on the forest floor as fall progresses inexorably to winter bareness.

  A few trees, some of the oaks, have a different strategy of holding their green, to burgundy to brown all winter long and drop them in the spring.  Most things that happen in nature have a purpose and I have often wondered why these trees choose to hold onto their leaves throughout the winter--probably some advantage to their survival -- maybe related to fires or attracting wildlife (turkeys roost in them and fertilize the ground below?)
Saturday was interesting!  11-3 Stanley Selin, Carolyn Wedin and I were at the Frederic Museum to sell books.  We sold a few, however that was only a minor part of the day.  Another local author, Sam Jones wasn't able to make it as he was in the hospital.
    We visited intensively with many folks dropping in including Eddie Melquist and his daughter from Grantsburg (Eddie is in his mid-90s), a Wedin who was back visiting Wood River, where he was born, who came with his sister.  He works in Riad Saudi Arabia, hosts Leif Erickson and William Johnson, Ray and Myrna Lundquist of Rochester MN (who was in town to visit his sister who just found out she has inoperable cancer) and many more folks.  Stanley is recovering from a bout of shingles that pushed him into 30 lbs weight loss of a few months with the discomfort and pain.  The pain still comes back at times, but he did say he was back to his HS weight again.  Several bikers on the Gandy Dancer trail stopped by to use the restroom and to warm up from the cold wind and scattered snowflakces outside as they looked through the museum.
   I think we need a sign in Luck to route the bikers into the museum and library too--I think along with a group of Boy Scouts maybe a dozen trail folks stopped by at Frederic.  We might get them to stop by at Luck too.

   Saturday evening Buz Swerkstrom, Edward Emerson and I had a 2 hour program of reading at the Frederic Arts Center down by the lake.  A dozen or so local folks stopped by to listen.
   An old Atlas friend I got to know in college, Scott, came--hadn't seen him for 40 years or so.  Gov. Walker encouraged him to retire from his teaching/guidance counselor job and he moved into Frederic after having lived in SE WI for most of his career.  He looked just about the same, maybe a little more serious than I remember, but time has been good to him.

    The Saturday  program was each of us reading excerpts from our writing.  Ed was the most polished--he recited poetry and essays in a measured and dramatic voice--practiced and quite effective I would say. Buz read excerpts and had a few two person dialogues where he and Ed read parts --including Masterpiece Wrestling where a PBS like announcer interviewed a literate wrestler -- whimsical, erudite satire, I would say.
    I read some of my humorous fluff including "Sex Education on the Farm."   I think we knew most of the audience, and they seemed to enjoy our attempt to raise the cultural level of Frederic for a short time.  I sold a book and gave a couple to the Arts Center for their library.
   I parked my truck and trailer load of pumpkins and squash along hwy 87 up the hill from the cabin and sold $50 of stuff over the weekend.  I would have had more, but it appears someone is checking the cash jar more often than I am as even my $5 in ones I left for change was gone.  A neighbor told me that there was $30 in cash in it in the afternoon when they stopped by and bought some, but when I went to pick it up in the evening it was empty.  Hopefully the person who is redistributing my wealth is using it for rent or gas to to go work payments rather than drugs.  I choose not to let this bother me other than to reflect on it--if you do sweat these things then you would have to make steel money lockboxes and your mental health would suffer.  Luckily my own next gas tank fill does not depend on whether I sell enough pumpkins or not!
    The lake has been home to swans, geese and ducks nearly every day.  Evenings large flocks of geese come in, to leave again and spread over the local farm fields freshly harvested.  I walked over the corn fields at Mom's with brother Ev yesterday. Kernels of corn and an occasional ear missed leave a lot of food for wildlife to eat before it becomes buried in the winter snows.  Every day the geese, turkeys, sandhill cranes, deer and other wildlife is out on the fields -- some in the day, some in the evening and some at night adding to their winter fat supply.

   My own winter fat supply has been increasing too.  I had done quite well on a diet up to May when I got myasthenia gravis and started on high doses of prednisone.  Prednisone has side effects of increasing your appetite, decreasing your mental control, and allowing your body to more efficiently store fat.  Between that and being almost fully unable to do any excercise of anykind including walking for a few months, I have almost gained back all of the 12 lbs I worked so hard to get rid of since last December.  However, I am on a much lower dose of prednisone now, I can get out and walk around an do some things physical again, and my motivation is strong--my new pair of pants bought in May won't quite fit now in October--so I am getting back at it again.
 When I got the myasthenia gravis and was told it was an incurable disease and I was so limited in what I could do and even see, for a time I was pretty much of the attitude that life was probably not worth continuing--however between getting used to lowered functionality and improving quite a bit, I guess it is worthwhile hanging around a while longer so I have to get back to my diet!  I did have to alter it to drop most sugar things as the prednisone pushes one into diabetes otherwise, but I substituted fat (cheese, bacon, etc)--when I should have moved to fruits and veggies.  Oh well, as of today I probably will do better.

   With Margo getting cancer and having a year of treatments to go through (and she is doing very good so far), it will change our winter plans to go south--we will be in SE MN instead at our home there.  Margo and Scott are there already, and I will be there from Nov - March or something like that.  I prefer being up here as I have a lot of things I volunteer for or participate in, but with the internet a person can connect even at a distance.
    I have had many folks tell me they miss my River Road Ramblings column in the Inter-County Leader.   I usually tell them I retired having run out of things to write about. I had a weekly column there for 7 years and retired it as of the end of December 2011.

  The retirement was because the Leader changed polices for me; I was to quit pushing commercial events/books etc as part of the column; I could no longer have a local sponsor ad in the column either.  Both policies were to get more money for the Leader by having anything that looked like an ad be paid for.  When I did the column I asked for money, but the Leader told me the only way I could get money was to get my own sponsor --sell and ad that went with the column and I could get the money for that.

 I hadn't done it only sporadically over the 7 years, but as of 2012, I managed to get one for 6 months.  I made a deal--for running a small ad in the column, he would make a donation to the Luck Museum.  I liked it because I was a "paid" writer; I liked it because it brought in some money to the museum; and so I planned to do the 2012 year of columns quite happily.  However, the Leader changed it's mind and policy--no ad, no pushing commercial events (i.e. the River Road Ramble), and so I wrote a column explaining that and retired.  The Leader didn't print the retirement column.

The Leader believes that it can get enough writers who will write for free that they don't want to set a precedent of having non-staff writers get paid.  Of course, as they are a co-op with a board of directors, and membership in the co-op costs you $5 with an active subscription and they have an annual meeting coming soon, the shareholders could push changes to the policies.   I actually prefer the blog route as I can do photos, videos, unlimited posts and so on without having editors changing, chopping and turning "hell" to "heck." However, many of my most faithful readers don't do the internet and tell me they liked the mixture of history and BS I brought to them each week.
  For a detailed look at why the Leader and I parted see: