St Croix River Road Ramblings

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Thursday, January 31, 2013

Edward L Wilson (2/5/48-1/30/13)

A good friend of mine, Ed Wilson, of Cushing, WI. passed away earlier this week. I knew him from grade school, high school and as a neighbor over the years.  We had gotten back to being friends in the past few years as we both retired and had more time to visit. A few years ago, I helped him steer his way into treatment for cancer, that, for a couple of years went away.  This fall he started radiation for a brain tumor and completed that in December. But in January, he started having bleeding in the brain, and after gettting weaker, passed away.  He was single, and an interesting friend to have.

I talked to him in November, before coming to Pine Island for the winter.  He was enthused that he was going to be 65, Feb 5,2013, and he could get on Medicare, to help with his medical bills.  He was trying to figure out the supplemental insurance that went best with Medicare.  My advice was to stick to his current company as with his cancer as a pre-existing condition, it might be difficult to find another company to help.   Ed was 2 days short of getting into Medicare--he died on the 30th of January, with Medicare to start Feb 1.

Ed worked most of his life for the US Post Office in the Twin Cities.  He told me he worked in the background, sorting boxes, mail or something like that.   He never married, and retired early so had a few years of retirement to enjoy life.

Ed liked to tell me about traveling. He loved cars and his particular joy was to rent a new different model and drive it for a month or so as a try out.  He told me that he wished his health would be good again and he could take a long trip driving out west through the mountains and enjoying the scenery.

Ed stopped in at the Polk County fair and visited with Margo and I in the school house each year. He submitted a few of his photos each year to the competition, never winning first place and always puzzled by the photos that did win.  "Do you really think that photo is better than mine?" he  asked me several years in a row.  I commiserated as mine never one a prize either.

I hadn't really visited with Ed for many years since HS, other than to see him at Memorial Day at Wolf Creek, or the Spring Bash, or other community events.  Then our history society put on a Cushing Tigers baseball reunion some years ago.  Ed's father and uncles and probably grandfather were all Tigers.  Ed was a real fan.

As I remember in school, Ed had asthma, and so was limited in being able to be in sports.  He was a dead shot for free-throws and probably would have been an avid athlete had his breathing not been a problem.

Ed was thrifty and saved his money and lived inexpensively on a personal level.  He was quite an investor--not only in the stock market but in trading commodities. He told me that he had done quite well, until the 2008 crash when he lost quite a bit (he never defined what that meant).   It did not stop him from continuing to invest, but with the loss, and some medical bills, he gave up his apartment in the cities and moved to the family home in Cushing, where he could be seen walking across the street to check the grain markets at the Co-op, picking up the local newspaper to read the business news and visiting with the folks who were out and about in Cushing.  "With Social Security, a Post Office Pension, and when I get Medicare, I should be able to live comfortably even though I lost some of my retirement money in the crash."  I used to kid him a little about investing, but I think it lent a little excitement to his otherwise quiet life.

After his first round with cancer treatment, a brush that included a feeding tube and being very sick, he turned more seriously to Christianity.  He told me that he felt that those folks praying for him and his own relationship with God were important in getting through cancer and giving him comfort.  I think he tried to live an honest, decent and quiet life and succeeded very well.

After Christmas I got a card from him with a note wishing Margo and I better health in the coming year.  I had sent him my Christmas newsletter updating him on Margo's chemotherapy.  The note he added to the card thanked me for helping him during the early sessions of his own cancer treatmetnt (I drove him several times to the Fairview and went in with him to try to help understand what the doctor was saying--I worked 25 years at Mayo and could understand medical talk a little).  I sent back a note with an update on us.  When I read Ed's note, it seemed as he was thanking me one more time, just in case something happened to him before we were back up in March to catch up with each other.  

 It reminded me of the last time that Dad and his cousin Seldon visited--both in their late 80s. They lived many hours apart, so saw each other only at the family reunions each year.  They said good bye to each other, shaking hands and then looked each other in the eye for a time.  I watched and saw a deeper meaning.  Understanding they quite likely would not see each other again in this life, the last two cousins of their generation were saying goodbye one final time. They said nothing.   Years of being childhood cousins, raised in the same neighborhood, church, remembering their fathers who were brothers, then marrying, raising families, separated by distance and dimmed by age, the connection was still strong. Dad died before the next reunion, but he had said his good bye.

Our world shrinks as we lose those who we knew from childhood. For some reason, even though we haven't seen a school chum for decades, when we meet them  again, we connect in a way that we really never do with those we meet later in life.  My own life is diminished with the loss of my friend Ed.  His funeral is 2 pm this Monday at the Cushing Lutheran church -- if the weather is good, I hope to drive up. A funeral for an old friend like Ed is really just a reunion and a chance to recognize that he mattered to us.

   Edward L. Wilson Obituary Link

Edward (Eddie, Ed) Lloyd Wilson of Cushing, WI, died peacefully on Wednesday, January 30, 2013 after a courageous battle with cancer.

He was born in St. Croix Falls, WI to Lloyd and Marjorie (Sandstrom) Wilson.  He was baptized and confirmed at First Lutheran Church in Cushing.  He grew up there and attended Cushing Grade School.  He had an enjoyable childhood with many ball games played in the Wilson front yard.

Eddie graduated from St. Croix Falls High School in 1966.  He then began a 30 year career with the U.S. Post Office.  His last place of employment was at Metropolitan Airport.  Eddie had an apartment in St. Paul but came home to Cushing on weekends.

Some of his hobbies and interests were photography, traveling to the western states, renting cars, college sports, Corvettes and motorcycling.  Ed even made a trip to Sturgis.  His daily routine was coffee at Holiday, doing the word jumble in the daily paper and going to libraries to read.

Eddie was preceded in death by his parents, Lloyd and Marjorie.  He is survived by his sisters, Sandy (Dale) Olson, Karen (Jim) Berg and Meridee (Bill) Hable; nephews and nieces, Todd and Mike Olson, Greg and Kerry Berg, Jenny Hable and their families.

A Memorial Service will be held on Monday, February 4, 2013 at 2:00 p.m. at First Lutheran Church in Cushing, WI with Rev. Julie Brenden officiating.  One hour of visitation will precede this service.  Music will be provided by organist, Carol Medchill and quartet, 4 His Glory.

Online condolences may be left at  or  Please return to these websites for updated information or call Bruce Rowe at 715-472-2444.

Update on Margo

Margo, my spouse of 40 years, finished chemo for breast cancer on the 14th.  It was difficult with a couple of hospitalizations along the way.  Today we got results of scans that showed most of the tumors had disappeared except for the largest one that had shrunk to two small ones.   That was good news.

The surgeon set March 11th for removal of the left breast and lymph nodes--time enough for her to feel better.  Right now she is very tired, but her mouth sores are starting to go away and she is able to eat soft stuff OK.

During the chemo, tests, scans and so on, something happened that caused her left arm and hand to swell up -- lymphedema, it is called.  It has been a problem since September,  The last 3 days we spent going through evaluations on the arm and hand.  It appears she will start a daily ultraviolet, hand massage, and new wrapping protocol to bring the hand and arm to be better. It is swollen very tight skin.  As surgery will remove lymphnodes, the worry is that the swelling may get worse if not aggressively treated now.

Daily trips to treatment for the next month--will give me an opportunity to go to Rochester (we live in the country) and to do some serious walking exercise, and a chance to explore the huge medical library and read the latest medical books and magazines on our conditions.

Margo smiled the first time in a couple of weeks Tuesday, and today was again laughing a little.  When  she gets to the place where she brings out the vacuum to go over the spots I didn't quite do well enough, I will know she is feeling better!

Scott is suffering through a bad cold that we are hoping not to catch.  Margo's bone marrow has bounced back, so it is churning out the blood cells and platelets and bringing her immune system back to normal very quickly.  Mine is still low -- I have to keep it low with prednisone to stop MG, but I haven't gotten sick from anything, even though for the past 2 weeks we spent most days at the clinic with all the sick folks around so guess it is good enough.

Wednesday, January 23, 2013

Margo back home

Margo is back home tonight!   The blood transfusion of 2 units and some morphine based medication got rid of her headache and she is feeling much better.  Of course, there are always things to consider:
   1.  Does needing red blood cells hint at vampirism in the future?
   2.  Will she become hooked on morphine?
   3.  Will running two pints low on blood for several days have damaged her engine?
   4.  Will she catch up on 5 days of skipping out on doing dishes, cleaning, and household chores?
   5.  Will the insurance company cover her ambulance ride?
Stay tuned!

With Margo having chemo this winter, our usual trip to the far south to escape from the cold has been put off until next year.
Here Margo was sweeping out an ante-bellum mansion in Mississippi, to earn some money for grits and biscuits.  She is singing "Swing Low, Sweet Chariot..."

Tuesday, January 22, 2013

Margo in the Hospital

Update: Wednesday morning--Margo's headache is much better and she feels better too.  She had 2 units of blood transfused to bring up her red blood cell count and some strong pain killer (a morphine derivitive) and some miscellaneous other infusions and meds and oxygen.  It appears that the last chemo has temporarily stopped the bone marrow from producing red and white blood cells and that the 
short supply were contributing to a bad headache and overall fatigue and weakness. 

There is a possibility if she keeps improving this morning she will be back home this evening.  In the mean time, she has almost no resistance to infections or flu or other things that require the immune system and white blood cells, so we will be very careful to stay away from other people for a while. 

Margo, my spouse of 40 years is back at Mayo in the hospital after her final chemotherapy treatment. She has had a several day headache that kept getting worse. So, after time in the ER and testing it appears her white blood cell count is too low to be measured and her red blood cell count below critical too. So she will be getting a transfusion to replace the red cells. They tried several pain meds so far with no effect on her very very bad headache--so right now they are trying another one. They think maybe the low rbc count is causing the headaches. 

The oncologist says that some subset of patients get extreme headaches from this type of chemo doxorubicin/cyclophosphamide The first 3 times it went away after a few days, but this last time it has really been rough. 

Her chemo was 12 sessions of taxol/amg386 which went well, followed by 4 biweekly of the much harsher stuff--which has put her in the hospital twice now. No more scheduled, so when she recovers from this then surgery and radiation come next. 

It is hard to for her, as she has gone from a very lively and active person to barely able walk, eat or even sleep. However, the cancer tumors have almost disappeared, so we are hopeful that when she gets past this setback, things will be easier the rest of the way. 

Monday, January 21, 2013

Martin Luther King Day 2011

(In 2011, we were in the south and took an opportunity to tour a local museum set in a once segregated black only school    Tangipahoa African American Heritage Museum link)

When we travel, I like to have a purpose, something I want to learn about. This trip south, on the 150th anniversary of the beginning of the Civil War, I decided to try to find out if the Civil War did any good in solving the problems with slavery in the south. My rather weak recall of history is that although the slaves were freed, they were treated badly for the next 100 years, and only the Civil Rights laws and movements of the 1960s brought about real change, but things are fine now.

The first place we explored was Hammond, LA. This town has been in the news recently. Local Justice of the peace, Keith Bardwell, made the news in October 2009 for refusing to officiate at the wedding of an interracial couple. This town was the 1980s initial setting for the fictional town “Sparta” in the first season of “In the Heat of the Night.” In that TV show, black northern cop Virgil Tibbs (Howard Rollins) comes to work in a southern white town with police chief William Gillespie (Carrol O’Connor), exploring contemporary racism, modern policing, and other issues. I remember it as a good show.

Hammond is located in Tangipahoa Parish (Louisiana’s name for a county) east of Baton Rouge. It is mostly rural, crossed by freeways with a lot of urban mall sprawl. It has 70% white and 29% black people. Median income is about $30,000 with about 30% living under the poverty line. Total sales tax rate is 9%, split locally and state wide; property taxes on a $250,000 house were about $2,000; state income taxes are based on income level, 6% over $50,000. Louisiana is rated as a low tax state, but the ratings seem to represent a low income state where taxes are relatively high on lower income folks and relatively low on high income folks.

The week started with Martin Luther King Day, something taken seriously here where 30% of the folks are black. We chose to visit a local Black History museum. It was a very interesting, very professional and privately financed museum showing black folks history from their lives in Africa and the history of slavery from transport, sale, plantation life, Civil War, Reconstruction, Jim Crow, Civil Rights era ending with a display of current black leaders including President Obama.

We were led on the tour of the former blacks-only school by a teacher who had taught there named Adelle. She was 82 years old, strikingly handsome, with long black and white hair parted in the middle, flowing widely on each side. She spoke in very educated English; a school teacher’s precise enunciation, fluent, yet with passion. I started by saying “My great great grandfather gave his health to free slaves and his oldest son his life. One hundred and fifty years later, we are here to find out whether it was worth the effort.”

Adelle tells the rest. “After the war, there was a time that black folks did well—as long as northerners were in control, the Reconstruction. We had the vote, elected blacks to all levels of government and things were headed in the right direction. By 20 years after the war, the Federal government soldiers pulled out and local white folks took over again and proceeded to strip us of all of our rights. We lost our right to vote, lost our integrated public schools, and over the next 20 years, the whites took control of everything and made rules, down here they are called Jim Crow laws. They enforced everything with violence; the Ku Klux Klan rode around burning, shooting and terrorizing any black folks who spoke out.”

“They separated kids into separate schools. White folks paid taxes that went to white schools; black folks paid taxes for black schools. Blacks were poor and so our schools were poor. Black schools when I went to school in the 1930s ran only a few months a year, because we had to work in the fields with our parents to make money. “

“If a black man complained, he got lynched. There were hundreds of lynchings of black people down here. The whites ran around with sheets over their heads, the Kluxers (Ku Klux Klan) burning, shooting and scaring black folks who complained.”

“We had a few black colleges. I went to one for two years to get a teaching degree. Then, in 1952, I got a job teaching in a black elementary school. We got the old desks, books, and supplies from the white schools when they got new things. My salary, $51 per month, was half of the white teachers on the other side of town.”

“We did a good job with the children who did come to school, but many didn’t stay in school. Even with an education, black people couldn’t get a decent job down here—just in the black school or black hospital. Women worked as house servants; men as field hands and day laborers on plantations. You complain, you got fired.”

“We couldn’t stay in the white hotels, couldn’t eat in the white restaurants, had to sit in the back of the bus, couldn’t vote without getting in trouble. I got married and my husband didn’t dare look at a white man or woman straight on without worrying about getting arrested or a visit by the Kluxers. We sent our two daughters north for an education and they both work in good jobs, lawyer and business, but not around here. Still not possible down here for most black folks.”

“This building was the Mooney School, the local black school until 1968 when the school district was told by the court it had to integrate black and white. They had claimed that they had separate but equal schools, but they were not equal, not even close. They shut the school down here, because whites wouldn’t send their children to such a poorly built school. “

“Do you know that the local district is still under court orders because instead of really integrating, they have continued to play games with boundaries of districts that keep schools either white or black. Last March the court found they were still out of compliance and ordered more changes.”

“After the black school, this building, closed in 1968, few black teachers got jobs in the new supposedly integrated schools. I did, and what I remember most was the big boost in my salary! The schools really have never been integrated here; white folks with money moved their kids to private schools or new neighborhoods where new schools were again white. When the black schools closed, it was really hard for a black teacher or coach to get a job in the new schools—still is even with a court order that 1/3 must be black, never got near that. “

“You see this picture. ( She showed us posters of the 20 -30 black folks marching up main street in 1966.) Dr. King started us on non-violent marches to try to get our rights. That’s me. She pointed out a tall strong looking young woman marching in the front of a street following mounted police with angry looking white people lining the streets. I marched in those times. We got attacked many times by the whites along the side, throwing stones at us and sometimes punches. The white police pretended to try to protect us, but they were on the other side too. We registered to vote, and then politicians had to worry about our vote too!”

“It is certainly better now. There still is racism; white folks down here don’t give up their prejudices and privileges easily. But it is not out in the open like it used to be. They don’t lynch us anymore, we can vote now without being attacked. “

“I was so excited when Mr. Obama got elected president. I had always taught my students that if they worked hard, they could become president of the US, but inside none of us really believed it. We were trying to give the children a good education, and we did, in our black schools, but there just wasn’t opportunity for decent jobs down here“

“When Mr Obama got elected, I just knew I had to go to Washington DC to see it. I was 80, but I told my daughter I had to go! She tried to talk me out of it; but she hasn’t seen what it was like to be black in the south like I have—to be treated second class so much of your life that it just becomes part of you. I just had to go and be part of the biggest thing that ever happened to me in my whole life. She realized I was going to go what ever she said, so she took off work and we got to be in the huge crowd at the Capitol for inauguration day. We stood all day long in the huge crowd, so excited we didn’t even have to go to the bathroom. We milled around the area and managed to see President Obama as he got out of his car. It was so wonderful to see a black man president of the US. If I had died right then, it would have been worth all of the trouble and bother of 80 years of being black in the south to see this happen!”

“It is hard for me to see President Obama criticized. I think underneath a lot is really racism. It isn’t gone from here. It is much better, but, my how hard it has been to be black here for 82 years. I hope my grandchildren don’t have to see how people can have raw open hate for people just because of skin color. I think that is why some people are so vicious in attacking President Obama.“

“Religion has been a consolation for me. Whites wouldn’t let us worship in the same churches, so we have our own. I never could understand why, when we were all Christians, that white people thought making slaves out of us was right. Sometimes I think religious folks can be the worst when it comes to treating others decently.“

After the tour, Adelle and three other retired teachers who had taught in the segregated visited with us. I told them, “Up north, we don’t have discrimination in our churches.” Adelle said “It must be nice where women can be ministers or priests; gays are welcome and your preachers don’t rail against scientists and Muslims.”

Sunday, January 20, 2013

Panting Problems

Feeling pretty good today! My MG has been mostly under control for a few months, and I have been optimistic that I will have a good year not too badly bothered by MG. However, in the past 8 months I have been quite disappointed with myself for adding almost 20 lbs!

Before drooping my way into MG, I had been in a weight lost plan that over 6 months had dropped 15 lbs as part of a goal to get 25 lbs off.

And then along came prednisone ( Click for the soundtrack ) My neuro said "you will really have to watch your diet as prednisone increases the appetite and seems to make it easy to put on extra pounds." Boy, she was right.

Of course, it isn't all my fault. Margo went into chemo shortly after I started prednisone, and was told the opposite-- "you must eat high calorie foods--force yourself if you have to." So we bought lots of tempting food to help convince her to eat when she felt sick. It has worked for her--she only dropped a few pound so far (chemo done, surgery and radiation next). Having all the extra food around tempted me too much, and of course I had to set a good example by eating with her.

So, feeling terribly fat again only 8 months after having thinned down some, I have been beating myself up for not having enough will power to diet and exercise enough. MG was an excuse, but not really so much anymore as i can exercise everything but my willpower.

But, yesterday, I think I solved the problem! I went to town and bought a new pair of pants, one size bigger than the ones I was wearing. They are quite wonderful! They are even slightly loose, It appears I judge my weight by how tight my pants are around the waist. Now, with the bigger ones, I find that my breathing is easier (the tight pants were limiting the diaphram movement, I guess), and my mental attitude is great, not being reminded by tight pants all the time.

And, you know what-- there are still even bigger waist sizes on the shelf! So, life is again comfortable and the pressure to lose weight has been relieved!

Of course, this won't last as I have an appointment with my family doc in mid February (my annual physical) where I will surely be hassled greatly about my regression. I wonder if I can lose 20 lbs before seeing her? Gotta stop now, Margo wants a dish of ice cream, and as a good husband, I need to support her by having one too.

Cold Winter Sets in

Scott says that yesterday, the ski hill he works at along the Mississippi bluffs had its busiest day yet  in spite of winds that gusted to 50 mph here in SE MN.  This is the 3-day weekend for school students, so lots of kids are hitting the slopes.  Nowadays most of them do snow boards rather than skis.  Another local ski hill, Afton Alps, will likely be getting a refurbish, having been bought out by the Vail Resorts group that runs many of the big groups in Colorado including Vail, Keystone and Breckinridge.      

Margo is idling this week trying to recover from the last chemo of her 16 sessions.  Today she is mostly just tired, but in another day or two will likely be getting back some strength and heading to the basement where Scott and I are converting the photo darkroom to a plant starting room.  Already had sink, counters and shelves.   We picked up some electric heating rubber mats to put under the starter trays and got some geranium seeds and potting soil.   Should give her something interesting to work on during the next 3 months with surgery and radiation ahead.

This week is the Sterling Eureka and Laketown Historical Society Christmas Party -- Thursday noon at the Pizzeria in Dresser (no invitation nor reservation needed).   We may or  may not get there depending on the weather and how Margo is doing.  Marcy and Joan have a short program planned.  This is an attempt to have something interesting to do in the dog days of January (you know when it is so cold the dog just huddles in his blanket filled dog house, coming out only to melt a little snow).  

I have been trying to force myself to get back to working on the 75th anniversary book for the Sterling Old Settlers picnic.   It is hard to do, because it is a committee effort, and I know whatever I do will be endlessly mulled over, revised and changes have to be made.   I like the independence of doing my own books--don't even have to please the readers!  No matter what I come up with, there will be things missing, people left out, and people upset.  So, I have decided never to do any books in the future that require me to get any advice from anyone!  

My next door neighbor needed some help in taking down her Christmas lights and trees.  She is almost 2 years into a battle with cancer and not able to do much physically, but doesn't want to give up on her extensive yard decorations.   Neighbor Dennis and I carefully wound up 24 strings of lights and lots of other items last week when it was 42 degrees out--making the yard muddy and greasy footing.  Then we nailed a few planks to her brand new garage base to get ready for pouring a concrete floor sometime this spring when the temps again are above freezing for a week or so.  

Her husband is a Colonel in the military (MN Guard) who has been on active duty since the Kuwait invasion about 18 years ago.   He is currently stationed in TX, but our neighbor stays in their house here so she can go to Mayo for the special experimental treatments that are allowing her to stay alive.   She has one every 3 weeks and says that she gets 2 good weeks for each bad one--and has adjusted to that for now.  The couple are about 2 years away from retirement.   Their son was killed by a mentally ill man who came walking down the Virginia street carrying a gun.  The man shot himself next.  Shooting Link  We try to help out when we can. 

Margo and I were pining for our normal trip south to escape January in the north.  Last year it was my knee and this year Margo's chemo that kept us home. It looks nice outside with most of the snow gone, but this morning it was 1 below with windchill about minus 20--so not nearly as nice as yesterday when it got up to 40 before the wind picked up and cold moved in.  

We feed sunflower seeds to the birds and squirrels all winter.  We have lots of south windows with the feeders 30 feet away--enough to keep them from crashing into the glass most of the time.   So far only one fatality this winter--some kind of a sparrow. Sad to find the frozen body in front of the window.   We put decorations in the windows, but still a few birds crash into them each winter.  Since we have hundreds at the feeders that isn't too bad.  The biggest are pileated wood peckers, crows and pheasants.   The most colorful are the bluejays and cardinals. A pair of mourning doves have joined them for January. 

Sent Mom a color copy of this blog -- the 2012 postings-- the book that was automatically created by a program to turn the postings into a book.  The color version is expensive, so I also got some black and white ones that are 1/4 the cost ($10 vs 40).  I have them listed on under 2012 river road ramblings   Link to Russ' books at amazon   Mom, 91, does not do computers nor the internet, so was happy to learn what Margo and I were up to in 2012.   

Time for our afternoon nap now. 
Had to beg off going to the inauguration this year--health problems. Joe says we can come to his party in 2017 instead.  One of the perks from cashing in our IRA and contributing it to the campaign is a Christmas card and inaugural invitation ;-)

Thursday, January 17, 2013

Unsolved Murder--Iowa Relatives

A fascinating murder story can be found at Esther Alger Murder Link   

Esther Alger, wife of Lyman Alger was brutally murdered in SE Iowa in 1872.   No one was found guilty, however the story tells who may have done it. 

Lyman Alger's sister, Eleanor Alger Hancock was my great great great grandmother. Her daughter Abigail Hancock Beebe and husband Alanson beebe and my great grandmother Anna Beebe Hanson lived with this family in IA for a time in the mid 1860s about 6 years before the murder, but were in WI when the murder occurred!
   Margo and I were down there doing family history 10 years ago and visited the Alger farm and house where the murder occurred (no relatives living there anymore) and heard the story from the current owners.  

   an exerpt from the website story:  
" Around 7:00 p.m. on Wednesday, September 25, 1872, Lyman Alger left his home for a prayer meeting conducted by his son-in-law DeWitt Curtis at a school house a quarter-of-a mile away.
  Not wanting to leave Esther alone, the old man asked his 19-year-old grandson Lyman Judson “Jud” Curtis — the son of Marie Alger and DeWitt Curtis — to stay with his step-grandmother.
   No one is certain what happened after that. The only version ever told was from Jud Curtis.
  Not long after his grandfather left for the prayer meeting, Jud said he decided to return to his father’s house, leaving Esther Alger alone. He claimed that just as he was nearly home — 48 rods away — he heard a gunshot and rushed back towards the Alger place. As he ran towards the house, Jud stumbled over something.
  The rooms inside were empty; however, Jud said he could see by lamplight that there was blood on the floor.
  Jud said he ran back outside and then realized that what he earlier stumbled over was his step-grandmother Esther Alger, lying on the ground near the side of the house.

Monday, January 14, 2013

Margo has last chemo!

Today was the 16th and last of Margo's chemo for breast cancer.   She said good bye to the staff, got a nice send off including a pin to wear as a reward!  She had made many friends with the very nice folks in Mayo's 10th floor Gonda treatment area.

We talked to the doctor who says:
    In 2 weeks a series of scans and tests to see how much cancer is left
    At that time a visit with the surgeon to set the date and type of surgery (probably left breast removal with some lymph nodes).   Surgery is to be probably first half of February -- as soon as she is feeling somewhat recovered

   The 3-6 weeks after surgery, again when she is feeling up to it, but as soon as possible, she starts 4-7 weeks of daily radiation (5 or 6 days a week for 36 sessions or something like that).  The radiation is supposed to be easier on her and quite short daily sessions.

   Margo was very pleased to finish chemo!  The last set of 4 have been very hard on her. Friday - Monday of this week will be the worst if it is like the past 3 sessions, and then by Tuesday she will be feeling better and gradually improving after that.

Margo second from right with her mid-summer crown in Sweden


Midsummer Day -- Coming to Cushing this summer

June 29th 2013, the local Swedish club is having mid-summer day celebrations at the Cushing Community Center. I added a few photos from when Margo and I were visitors to Skee Sweden in 2003 for mid summer celebrations there with friends and relatives. It was quite wonderful! The Cushing celebration should be fun too!

Seven different wild flowers
woven into a wreath

to make a crown

dancing around the mid summer pole singing about little frogsSmå grodorna

Fresh strawberries and new potatoes are required for midsummer

Wednesday, January 9, 2013

Winter Visit to the Cabin

With the weather nice for a few days, and Margo recovering from her last chemo, and Scott taking a few days off from work, I decided to spend a few days at the cabin at Cushing.

Four beautiful brown and white country mice in the traps, and two tiny shrews--all frozen up in the cabin.  Four traps were still baited and not set off, so am keeping up!   A month ago the count was 5 mice and 1 shrew!   Seems to be an endless supply migrating into the cabin.

A few tracks on the lake from ice fishermen, but not very many.   So many other lakes are better for fishing that other than easy access, ours is ignored.   Never did catch many fish in it--so I suppose most of them are still waiting to be caught!  We used catch small northerns mostly.

Working at the Luck museum to get out the latest newsletter.  Should have it ready tomorrow.  Got to visit brother Ev at Alpha and pick up some Burnett Dairy cheese ends,  and stopped at neighbor Buz at Atlas for an update on his latest book--a novel somehow music related.   He is 3/4 done he says.  I help him with the cover design and getting it through the printing process.

The Polk Men's group met this afternoon at the Luck museum   We are an eclectic group of retired folks, mostly aging liberals who meet every 2 weeks for coffee, cookies and discussion.  Today was predictions for the future.   The predictions were more of the same in politics, and talk about the future of small towns, of schools, mixed with many stories, jokes, and reminiscences -- very rambling.  We got into a discussion on guns and gun control.  As many of us are hunters we had varied points of view.  The meeting ended with the jar of pickled herring and crackers were gone.

I am hanging around through Saturday.   Need to go to the Friday afternoon North West Wisconsin Regional Writers group at 1 pm at the coffee shop just west of Grantsburg on Hwy 70.  Our writing topic this week is "A Place to Write."   I am the treasurer so I want to be there to keep track of the book sales for our new anthology out last month    Link to Creative Reflections

The cabin has a wood stove so depending on whether I want to get up in the middle of the night and feed the fire, I can wake up warm or cold.  Drinking a lot of water before going to bed helps me remember to get up.
Didn't see any wild life at all at the cabin so far--not even any birds.

Chuck and Carol invited me over to Bone Lake for supper last night--very nice as I had just some microwave popcorn that I was planning to zap at the cabin for supper and breakfast.  They live in the deep woods where the snow comes and covers the ground and stays in the shade.   At the cabin, there a many open south slopes that melt off so it looks like a milder winter.  Chuck and I decided to do a February beginners maple syrup session at the Luck museum on the 4th Thursday night of February.  We have been doing this for a couple of years to get ourselves excited about tapping maples.   Normally we have a nice turnout and lots of maple syrup hobbiests  join us and we get to talk about our cookers, taps, sheds etc.
Not too far off!

Margo is feeling better this week and is very happy to have just one more chemo next Monday!  The chemo is on Monday, by Friday - Monday of that week she gets quite tired and sick, and then starts recovering so that by the next Monday (2 weeks later) she is ready for the next one.  The last one is the 16th in the series.   Then a few weeks off, tests and a talk with the surgeon, and when recovered from chemo, surgery and when recovered from that radiation.  She was diagnosed in June, started treatments at the beginning of August and should be all done by May or June.  Things are going well as far as the cancer going away.  

Monday, January 7, 2013

Farm Distribution Program -- Is it BS?

Spreading the profits--Link   -- The story

Spreading the profits   -- The Movie

Sunday, January 6, 2013

River Road Ramblings 2012 book

The next in the series of River Road Rambling books is on sale.   It is actually exactly what I have put on this blog in the past year other than the videos.   So, if you read the blog, you have the whole book available to you right here -- spread out in the blog form--free!

Some folks, including Mom, do not have a computer, nor the internet, so I made a book from the posts for people in desperate need for Ramblings.  They too can read the postings while seated at their favorite reading spot.  

 The book is available on at 
2012 River Road Ramblings

I used a program that automatically collected and formatted the book directly from the blog--so it reads like a dated diary--and the layout is reasonably good.  The margins are wider then I prefer, and the photos not quite so densely packed as I might do, but it is quite nice considering I didn't have to do much work!   The photos and text are all there.   

The program I used also has a book printing service that charges $135 for the 304 page book printed in color--much to expensive for me or my readers!!!!

I instead bought the pdf file the program created for $8 and then used it to make a black and white version of the book that sells for $10 (300 pages) plus postage, and am planning a color version which will sell for something like $40 (yes color is very expensive!).  The color version Color Version of 2012 River Road Ramblings Link  

 Blogging is a lot like keeping a journal, although in my case, I mix in some local history and photos.  Having the ability to bookify the blog, makes an interesting and easy way to become an author!  Just create a free blog, put some stuff on it and you are there!  

Summer Thoughts in Margo's Flowers

With winter settling in seriously, it is time to take a break and look at some summer flowers.   Margo likes flowers and decorates our yard at Pine Island with them.  Before we spent summers at the WI cabin, she tried something different each year.   This is 2002.
Along the road -- Petunias and perennials

Pond in the back -- an occasional wood duck and deer stop by

Coleus for the shade -- started in the green house

Shade bed where the trailer house was when we moved here 

Dad's old milk can cart 

Green house corner with a hanging geranium

Fishy Business at the Cabin

Written the Winter of 2010 -- at a winter visit to the lake cabin
The spring runs into the lake keeping a small open
area that attracts fish to the oxygenated water
and in the old days attracting fishermen too

The snow is crusty and deep enough so you lurch along onetime on the crust, next foot breaking a foot lower—too deep to drive the tractor through yet.  The spring is a fascinating little world of its own.  Water comes oozing out of the ground over a boggy 100 square feet and concentrates into a little stream and trickles 100 feet from the spring knoll down into the lake edge. 

The spring stays open and above freezing all winter, attracting all sorts of animals coming to take a drink. The turkey tracks mix with deer, fox, coyote, and some I don’t know—it is like an oasis in the Sahara

In the spring are green short plants growing, protected from freezing.  Where the stream enters the lake, a small open pond forms with thin ice beyond.  Fish, short on oxygen in the frozen lake, come to the open to seek out fresh oxygenated spring water to get a burst of life in the midst of a long cold deep ice winter.

I saw no dead fish in the lake edge opening.  Usually by this time of the year, if there is going to be a lake freeze out, the bottom of the shallow open area is strewn with small dead sunnies and crappies.  None this year at all.  Only minnows swimming in the open water.

For as long as the lake has been here and the spring bubbling year round, people have come to the open water to fish in winter’s harsh conditions. Native Americans taught the white settlers and their boys how to spear and snag fish with bone hooks and spearheads. 

When Dad and Mom bought the land in the early 1960s from Ernest and Edith Armstrong, we boys explored the lake and began fishing there.  The neighboring old timers, the Nelsons, Orrs, Williamsons, Beckstroms, Hoffmans, Borups and other settlers had fished there for generations.  George Williamson, who grew up a half mile away, told me that many family winter meals were of fish caught at the spring only hours earlier.

We first explored the spring in 1963.  We walked from the road across the lake to where a few men would be gathered around the open water.  The thin ice had been broken back until it was strong enough to stand on right up to the open water.  Just back they made their ice fishing holes in the stronger ice.  We always found them fishing in the shallow water with their short ice fishing poles, always with a bunch of fish thrown on the ice nearby.  Usually crappies, sunnies and a bass or northern. 

After visiting and getting no hint as to how they were catching the fish, we left.  “Wonder how they are catching the fish?  You see each fish has a red spot on it’s belly.  Must be snagging them somehow.  They got cardboards and blankets too.  I bet they lay the cardboard on the ice, put the blanket over their head and snag’em.”  

We determined to try it ourselves.  We tied treble hooks to heavy fish line and waited until one day no one was around one day after feeding the youngstock at the barn across the road. Walking to the open hole, we saw the flash of dozens of fish fleeing back under the ice.  We made our holes, laid down the cardboards, covered our heads and settled in to watch.

The water was shallow, no more than 18 inches deep.  Sunlight from the open water spilled back under our holes so we could see into the water almost like looking into an aquarium, the water having a light green/blue shade, but clear and cold.  After just a few minutes, schools of minnows swam through under our faces, just inches above the water, on their way to the open spring water.  Next came dozens of tiny panfish also heading out into the open area.  Gradually larger fish came along so that in about 10 minutes the spring open water was full of tiny to small fish, and back under our faces, some decent sized sunnies and crappies.  Eventually, we began to see a few smaller northern, and a bass or two show up.  Finally, some monster carp came sucking in big breaths of water and blowing it out it out agitating the water in front of their huge mouths. 

We brought out our hooks to test fishing.  We lowered the hook, tried to swing it to the side under a fish and then give a yank.  The hook just slid off the belly—no fish at all.  Finally we gave up and just watched the fascinating show of fish coming through right below our eyes.  When a puffing carp came directly under me, in an inspired moment, I lowered the treble hook right in front of him and he sucked it deeply into his mouth.  I yanked and pulled up a 15 pound carp, flopping him onto the ice.  It took about 15 minutes for things to calm underwater and another carp to show up.  We got three, all giants!

We thought carp were junk fish as did most of the neighbors.  My grandpa, Eugene Hanson, loved fish of any kind.  We gave them to him.  “I smoke them and they are delicious,” he told us.  “You brought enough to last weeks!”  (One fishing hippie to another—“They say carp are good smoked.  Tried it once, but couldn’t keep it lit.”)  

Later we found the old timers soldered hooks to coat hanger wire and snagged that way.  It was an easy way to get a few fish, but a hard way to get very many, as with each fish the pond took a long time to settle and the fish come back. 

I learned a crappie was different from the rest of the fish.  If you saw a nice crappie below you, all you had to do was lower your flattened bare hand edgewise into the water along side him like another fish, then touch his belly as lightly as you could and he would sort of tip sideways a little and float to the water surface.  You followed him up with your hand – all like it was happening in slow motion, and as he broke the surface you gently flipped him out of the hole onto the ice.  It didn’t disturb the other crappies below so you could get another pretty soon until your hand went totally numb.  Touch any other fish and they were gone in a flash chasing everything else off.  Crappies seemed to crave the human touch. 

I know snagging fish is illegal, as is spearing them.  I wonder if hand patting them into your skillet might be OK?  Anyway, I quit doing it 30 years or more ago.  However, I did break the ice back last week around the spring and drilled a hole to look below again to see what fish are still in the lake purely for scientific reasons.  I am sure that if a fat big crappie swims and stops under my nose, I won’t be tempted to dip my hand in the water and lovingly stroke him into dinner.

Friday, January 4, 2013

Geraniums by Margo

For many years up until we retired, Margo had a small business at Pine Island called Geraniums by Margo.  We built a small greenhouse type building 12x12 floor size, added a small propane gas heater, and, in February, Margo started a thousand or so geranium cuttings purchased from a grower in Owatonna, MN.   

When we retired, we spent the springs in Wisconsin making maple syrup instead.   The greenhouse is still there, but has not been used for many years.  The photos are from 2001.  

North side of green house is just an insulated garden
shed. South side is slanted ribbed clear plastic to let
in a lot of sunshine in the winter 

By April (2001), the geraniums are ready to sell

Russ stands in front of the starting shelves with lights and
heat pads underneath

Some begonias for the garden

And a few coleus for the shady entry to the house

Another spring project is to paint the birdhouse gourds from the garden

The 1947 WD Allis Chalmers with the snow bucket is
our Pine Island tractor. 
Winter of 2001 was very busy doing the sheetrock on our new house -- yes we were building it ourselves

Master bedroom upstairs (basement, main and upstairs levels).
To get lots of light we bought large insulated glass sheets
and built them into the walls.  The casings upstairs are
all jackpine from the woods along the St.Croix River Road.

2001 we still lived in the Candominium
adjacent to the new house. We moved in
in later in the summer.  The new house is almost
finished 12 years later ;-)