St Croix River Road Ramblings

Welcome to River Road Ramblings.

Sunday, May 25, 2014

Monarch Butterflies Aflutter

An old friend of mine, Pat Swerkstrom, who grew up in Atlas and I got to know as a  college student at River Falls back in the 60s likes Monarch Butterflies.  He and I have a small competition--who sees the first Monarch of the season.    I think I beat him for the second year running with my first two this afternoon!  (update:  he saw his first one the same afternoon as I did, and even better, he found a tiny milkweek plant with a monarch egg attached!).
Pat Swerkstrom photo
2014 first monarch
egg on milkweed

I report the arrival on the educational website  Journey North, setup to let students watch the seasonal changes occurring in nature.   All sorts of migrations are watched and reported online from whales to monarchs, as well as the growth of various plants (i.e. milkweed -- the plant monarchs lay eggs on, the caterpillars eat, and where the cocoons are made.  Website is :  Journey North  

With the arrival of the monarchs, I think everything that migrates here has made it!  Some local species are not out yet in abundance, but likely will be soon--especially the mosquito.  I had my first attack last night too. 

Morels are out there, but somewhat small yet so another week should make them prime, especially if we get some more rain.  The farmers are mostly catching up with the crops after a late start.   The fields on the farms here are soybeans on the clay and corn on the sand and planting finished yesterday here. 

The apple trees are just beginning to bloom.  It appears that there will be lots of blossoms.  I haven't seen many bees around yet, a few bumblers, but the Siberian and other wild crabs that are in full bloom seem to have very few bees on them so far.  Without bees, pollination and fruit is less certain.  

The strawberries are beginning to bloom and the rest of the gardens need to be planted.   However, with Margo spending her summer helping at her father's place, I think watermelons, peas, and pumpkins and squash are enough to bother with along with a couple of tomato plants. 

Merlin, Margo's dad, has been home for over a week now, and is gradually getting more independent.  He has some trouble reading, and his left leg tires after walking more quickly than he would like.  He turns 89 this month.  His goal is to be able to be independent again.  Right now, Margo and his medical people want 24 hour support.  

Margo plans to come back for two weeks beginning midweek.  She has a series of appointments at Mayo for physical and post-cancer checkups that will last a week and then spend a week here in Cushing before returning for another month or two.  Her father is trying out an assisted living center for the two weeks--another alternative long term if needed.   Margo says he is improving and she is optimistic that he will keep on getting better.  He can walk some without a walker, and get in and out of bed, to the bathroom and that pretty much on his own.  

Strawberries are blooming and the wild plum and crab apples

In the old days we picked the rocks off he field, now they run over them with a roller and push them back down into the ground!

My favorite ground cover--Creeping Charlie with Burdock for contrast.  Very hardy, makes a wonderful shady contrast to lawn grass.

A tiny morel just starting next to a quarter 

I think 2 pairs of geese have nested around the pond

The second mowing
Below--the narrow ravine between fields that was tightly grazed cow pasture until 25 years ago is lush with cover for wildlife to lurk there until nightfall and raid the soybean fields all summer!  Just over the edges are large fields, but down at the creek bottom is a whole different world--where you might see a dinosaur stalk out.

Friday, May 16, 2014

Farm memories

Took a stroll out to the back of the farm barns to see what might be salvaged.  If you grew up on a farm, you may be able to recognize some of the items. 

Base off of a cream separator?

IHC 46 Hay baler

Corn Picker #1 

A second 46 baler for parts

Corn elevator off a corn shredder?

Model T rear end?

Model T tin (brother Ev's Model T collection?)

Brother Ev's 1968 American Motors bought new

Another car owned by Ev -- 53 Ford?  Note how he wrapped the bumper around a tree!
Cultivator gang off of ???

Part of an IHC plow

One row mounted cultivator for B Allis Chalmers

Mounted mower for Super C Farmall

Thursday, May 15, 2014

Margo's dad back home!

At the end of March, Margo's father, Merlin had a stroke.  It was on his left side and interfered with his talking, left hand, walking and eyesight, and slowed him down a little in everything. 

This month he turns 89 years old.  Until the stroke he had been very active and vigorous, and although he had other health problems, they were under control with meds, stents and so on.  

Last fall, he got married to Kathy. Both had spouses that had passed away, and both needed someone to do things with.  Kathy is a younger woman, only 87.  They both grew up near Newburg, WI a few miles east of West Bend, --north of Milwaukee. 

Merlin was a soldier in World War II.  Until the stroke, he had been spending 2 or 3 days a week with other veterans providing the honor guard at funerals for other local veterans.  He was still almost the same size as he was in the military--a slim and vigorous looking and acting man.  

Margo went each day to the nursing home where he was in an intensive rehab program, learning to walk with a walker, use his left hand, regain clear speech and try to again become independent.  

One of the problems, loss of vision on the left side.  His eyes worked, but his brain does not see things on the left half of the usual view.  He can compensate by turning his head, but it has been difficult as, for him, anything on the left side did not really exist.  So walking down the hall in the rehab center, he bumped into things on the left.  

Merlin is not recovered enough to drive his car.  Although his left hand and arm are improving and his left leg allows him to walk for nearly 1/2 hour at a time, the vision limitation would make it extremely dangerous to drive.  He has accepted that and that he may not be able to do many things that he was able to do until the stroke. 

His memory seems to be fine.  He knows the day-to-day things that are planned or have happened.  His health otherwise seems to be good.  He has a new wife, Kathy, who will help out a great deal too, although she is not able to help him physically, so being able to use the bathroom, tub/shower, getting in and out of a car, and moving around the house and in the condo are something he has been working on extensively.  Mostly they are coming along OK. 

The rehab specialists said that he should continue to gain over the next year, and if there are no more strokes or other problems, probably get to be quite independent again. They think he should have 24-hour support for now.  That is where Margo comes in. 

The stroke was not without warning.  Merlin had a much milder stroke that he seemed to fully recover from about a month before the big one.  He was taking blood thinners, but either not enough or something else happened to cause the blood clot that closed off blood flow to the right side of his brain (which causes the left side of one's body to be affected).  

Margo tells me the grass was mowed yesterday at the large retirement condo, the apple trees are soon to bloom and everything down there in zone 5 growing season is ahead of up here.  They have had lots of rain this spring.  

Margo's father has his own condo and his wife a separate one down the hall.  They got married last fall, and were thinking about combining the two living quarters to one--maybe in a new place.  

Right now, that works out OK, as Margo is staying in Merlin's place and her brother, Larry, has added grab bars and tub seat and other things to make it easier for Merlin.  He can spend the day with Kathy and, at least for now, use his own condo for bathroom, tub, and Margo's help in some care that Kathy is not strong enough to help with.  

Margo has a few cancer followup checkups at Mayo early June and is coming back for a week or two for that.  She is doing fine, and gradually getting back to normal strength.  During the time she is back here, her father is going to try 2 weeks at a local assisted care facility -- meals and someone to help as much as needed.  It keeps Margo from having to worry and her dad says he can see what it is like too--as a possible future place to live someday. 

So, here on the farm, I am not alone this summer.  Scott, our adult son, has decided he too wants to live in Wisconsin--on the lake rather than down by Rochester, and has moved into the cabin for the summer.  He works winters at a ski hill, and generally takes the summers off.  He is helping clean out 70 years of accumulations on the farm making room for 30 years of accumulations down in SE MN.  Along the way we are being brutal with tossing things we don't need.  

   Only keeping one computer from the 1970s, one from the 1980s, etc.  Only keeping the best of the old radio collection (maybe a few of the less-than best).  The clothes that I would have to lose 40 lbs to fit into are going; all of my neckties except one (I had to dress formally at work), and for sure the leaded glass stained-glass-window stuff, the ronco pop-bottle-to-drinking cup glass cutter is out, and maybe even the salad shooter. 

Kathy and Merlin last fall at their wedding. 

Tuesday, May 13, 2014

Booth Brothers of Wolf Creek

George Booth (the stripes on the
photo are not prison stripes,
but artifacts of the scanning)
Each year at the Wolf Creek Cemetery along the St Croix River in NW Wisconsin, the Sterling Eureka and Laketown Historical Society selects a veteran buried in the cemetery to honor with more depth than just reading his or her name and putting a flag on the grave.   This year, at the urging of LeRoy Booth, of St Croix Falls, we chose George Booth.  It turns out that George was one of three brothers who served together in the Civil War, and all lived for at least some time in the Wolf Creek area.  George stayed in the area, but his brothers moved on to other places.   

 Lieutenant William Thomas Booth and his two brothers, Sergeant Sam Booth and Private George Booth, of the 2nd Wisconsin Volunteer Infantry, Company C, the "Grant County Greys." This photo was likely taken during May or June 1862 while the brigade was encamped near Fredericksburg VA; the original tintype belongs to Ernest W (Bill) Booth.

George Booth—buried in Wolf Creek Cemetery

    Death Of An Old Veteran
    George Booth, a veteran of the Civil War, died at the home of his daughter, Mrs. Frank Zace, Thursday, July 8, 1909, aged 79 years.
    He was born in Goshen, Litchfield Co., Conn., in 1830  He was married in 1853, came west and located at Galena, Ill.  He enlisted in Co. C. second Wisconsin Infantry and was mustered into service June 11, 1861.  He was badly wounded Sept. 17 1862 in the battle of Antietam and was discharged on account of wounds Jan. 17, 1863.  In January 1864, he reinlisted in Co. "F" seventy Wisc. volunteers and served in this regiment until the close of the war, taking part in the grand review of the army in Washington June 8, 1865 and was mustered out of the service July 2, 1865. 
    Two years ago (1907) he went to Minneapolis and underwent an operation, having the bullet removed from his hip that he received in the Battle of Antietam.  He was a charter member of Frank Jackie Post No. 65 G.A.R. and was highly esteemed by his old comrades and by all who knew him.
    The deceased, was the father of eleven children, grandfather to thirty-three and great grandfather to thirty-eight.  The funeral services were conducted Friday morning by Frank Jackie Post No. 65 G.A.R.  The remains, accompanied by his wife and daughter were taken to Wolf Creek, Wisconsin for interment.
    One by one the old boys of '60 and '61 are leaving us and in a very few years they will all have answered the roll call.  But the American people will never forget what they done for us and every year will strew their graves with beautiful flowers, the tokens of love, in appreciation of their valuable services.  As Abraham Lincoln said in his Gettysburg address, "The world will little note nor long remember what we say here, but it can never forget what they did here”  -- Standard Press newspaper obituary 

Booth Information
    Three Booth brothers and their families were in the Wolf Creek area of Polk County after the Civil War.
   In the 1887 Sterling Plat book:  George Booth, Farmer and Stock Raiser. Assessor of the Township. Justice of the Peace. Director of the School District. Post Office Wolf Creek.
    He Lived in Section 34. He owned 160 acres description:  NW 1/4 of Section 34 Township 36N Range 19W. This is about 1 mile north and 1 1/4 miles east of Wolf Creek. He homesteaded this piece of land and got it from the govt on 12/30/1876.  Currently it is the Lauritsen farm and before that the Roy Brenizer farm.
    His brother William also homesteaded land just south in Eureka township. BOOTH, WILLIAM      5/20/1873   035N - 019W  SW¼     Section 2  160 acres – This is south of Hwy G and south of the farm where Joan Swanson lives.  

Military and biographical summaries
Booth, George   Born: April 10, 1830 (CT) - Died: July 8, 1909 (WI)  Residence at time of enlistment: Potosi, Grant Co., WI  Enlisted: May 20, 1861 as a Private in the 2nd WI Infantry, Co. C. Discharged: January 17, 1863 (wounds)  Re-Enlisted: January 2, 1864 as a Private in the 7th WI Infantry, Co. F
Mustered Out: July 3, 1865   Wounded - September 17, 1862 at Antietam, MD
 Buried: Wolf Creek Cemetery - Wolf Creek, Polk Co., WI

Booth, Samuel
Born: 1831 - Died:1917 burial Sunset Cemetery, Quincy, Adams, Illinois, USA
Residence at time of enlistment: Potosi, Grant Co., WI
Enlisted: Company C, Wisconsin 2nd Infantry Regiment on 22 Apr 1861.Promoted to Full Corporal.Promoted to Full Sergeant. Mustered out on 28 Jun 1864. Wounded: August 28, 1862 at Gainesville, VA (Brawner's Farm)
    SAMUEL BOOTH Source: Illustrated Album of Biography of Pope and Stevens Counties, Minnesota (1888)  An ex-union soldier and a prominent farmer and stock-raiser, residing on section 4, Hoff Township was born in Goshen, Litchfield County, Connecticut and is a son of George and Martha (Nixson) Booth. His parents were both natives of Ireland, who had come to the United States in 1845 and settled at Philadelphia. They soon moved to Webster, Massachusetts.
    After this the family moved about considerably, and we find them, in quick succession, located for a short time in the following places: Tolland, Connecticut, Tariffville, Connecticut, then west to (Galena, Illinois two years later to Grant County, Wisconsin, and then to Blue Earth County, Minnesota, and from there back to Grant County, Wisconsin.
    The father died there in l871, and the mother died in Otter Tail County, Minnesota, April 1, 1888 latter being over ninety years of age at the time of her death.
    They raised quite a large family. When the war broke out four of the brothers enlisted in the Union Army, James, George, William and Samuel. James enlisted in 1863 in the Seventh Wisconsin infantry and served until 1865. George, William and Samuel enlisted in the Second Wisconsin Infantry, William and Samuel in 1861 and George in 1862. William resigned in the fall of l862 on account of disease contracted in the service, but re-enlisted in 1863 as a private in the Seventh Wisconsin Infantry. He was taken prisoner, and spent six months in the famous Libby prison. He participated in thirty-seven hard fought battles, and part of the time held commissions as lieutenant and adjutant. George served all through the war, and was mustered out as a private. Samuel, our subject, enlisted as a private, but soon rose to the rank of second sergeant. He participated in both battles of Bull Run. He was wounded in both, once seriously, and lay upon the battle ground for seven days. He was placed in the hospital at Nicetown, then near Philadelphia, now a part of the city. He was unfit for duty for about a year, and upon his recovery he again went to the front, serving until July 1864, when he was mustered out at Madison, Wisconsin and returned to Grant County Wisconsin. After this he moved about considerably and we find him shortly afterward in Pocahontas County, Iowa, then in the St. Croix River then in Tollen County, Connecticut, and finally to Morris, in Stevens County, Minnesota, where he took charge of the "Morris farm." In 1876 he came to Pope County and selected a pre-emption and tree claim 320 acres in all in Hoff Township.     This has since been his home and he has brought the place up to a high state of cultivation.
    Mr. Booth was married, April 16, 1865 at Rolfe, Iowa, to Miss Angenette Keeney a native of Connecticut and a daughter of Anson and Marilla Metcalf Keeney natives of the same state.
    The father was a machinist and is now deceased; while the mother is still living. They were the parents of three children Angenette, Mary, and Katie. Mrs. Booth, was educated in Iowa, attending the High School at Grinnell, for several years. Mr. and Mrs. Booth are the parents of seven children, as follows: Katie, Mary, Frank, Emma, Arthur, Maud and Minnie. All are single, and Mary is a school teacher. Mr. Booth is a prohibitionist in political matters, and he and his wife are members of the Congregational Church and exemplary citizens. He has always taken an active and prominent part in church and religious work, and while in Pocahontas County took a prominent part in all public matters. He is at present a deacon in the church to which he belongs.
    Mr. Booth's early life was passed at Tariffville, Connecticut, and for many years he was employed in the mills of Connecticut and Massachusetts. When the family first came west, Chicago was a mere village, and there were only twenty-eight miles of railway constructed west of that place. He lived at Galena, Illinois, and then in Grant County, Wisconsin, for a number of years, and then removed to Blue Earth County, Minnesota, as has already been stated. They were living there at the time of the famous "Inkpaduta Indian Outbreak" in 1857, and from there removed back to Grant County, Wisconsin.

William Thomas Booth   
Born: September 8, 1833 (CT) - Died: February 15, 1919 (WA)  Residence at time of enlistment: Potosi, Grant Co., WE.   Enlisted: April 23, 1861 as a Private in the 2nd WI Infantry, Co. C - Resigned: March 3, 1863 (disability) Promoted: February 17, 1862 to 1st Lieutenant in the 2nd WI Infantry, Co. C   Enlisted: January 2, 1864 as a Private in the 7th WI Infantry, Co. F Mustered Out: July 3, 1865    Promoted: December 14, 1864 to Sergeant Major of 7th WI Infantry -Field & Staff  WND & POW: July 21, 1862 at Bull Run, VA  Buried: Elma IOOF Cemetery - Elma, Grays Harbor Co., WA
    Along with his two older brothers, George and Samuel, William enlisted in Company C at Potosi, Wisconsin on April 23,1861 (3 days after marrying his bride, Louisa Daniels). He was 27 years old at the time (Sam was 29; George was 32). He was commissioned as a 2nd Lieutenant while both of his brothers enlisted as privates. William's higher rank was possibly due to previous military experience. His war records show that on August 5, 1848, at the age of 14, while living in Hartford Connecticut, he enlisted in the general services at New York, NY and was assigned to a company of "Music Boys" at Principal Depot, Fort Columbus, NY. Apparently his term of service lasted only a short time; he was "Discharged Oct 9/48 by Civil Authority Minority - A Recruit." I'm unclear on the circumstances of his discharge but it appears he was found to be under-age and released from service.
   During the first Battle of Bull Run on July 21, 1861, William was wounded by a musket ball in the calf of his left leg and taken prisoner. He spent the next six months in the Tobacco House prisons at Richmond. He had a rough time of it in prison; his pension application filed in 1879 states "while in prison had chronic diarrhea and Typhoid Fever, affected throat and lungs, piles, chronic rheumatism and wound by gunshot through left leg." He was paroled on January 26, 1862 and exchanged for Lieutenant Julian G. Moore of the 7th North Carolina Volunteers, and rejoined Company C on January 28. He was promoted to 1st Lieutenant on February 17, 1862. He remained with the 2nd Wisc. for the remainder of 1862, but in January of 1863 he resigned from the Company due to disability. The circumstances of his resignation are unknown; his pension records state "He was honorably discharged on tender of resignation Jan'y 3, 1863, on order from Head Qtrs, but papers on which discharge was based are not on file. No medical certificate on file."
    The other Booth brothers also saw their share of combat action. Sam was wounded during the fighting at Brawner's farm on August 28, 1862 although apparently not seriously enough to remove him from Company C, and George was wounded at Antietam on September 17, 1862. George was discharged due to his wounds on January 17, 1863. Sam remained with the 2nd was mustered out with the company on June 28, 1864; at the time of his discharge his rank was Sergeant.
    On January 3, 1864, William and George both re-enlisted as privates in the 7th Wisconsin Volunteer Infantry, Company F. (It appears there was some sort of recruiting drive in Potosi, as records show that 8 other Potosi men enlisted in the 7th during the first week of January 1864, and two others joined other regiments.) William was promoted to Sergeant Major and reassigned to Field & Staff command on December 14, 1864, while George served out the war as a private. Both brothers were with the 7th Wisconsin at the conclusion of the war and marched in the Grand Review in Washington.
    Following the Grand Review William returned to Potosi, but apparently did not remain there long. The family lived in Wolf Creek WI in 1869, and was living in Murfreesboro TN when William filed his pension application in 1879 (in spite of his long list of hardships suffered in prison, his pension application appears to have been denied!). In 1883 they moved to Joy, Minnesota, and in 1902 moved to Elma, Washington. Prior to the war William had worked as a fisherman along with his brothers, and after the war he worked as a farmer, miner, storekeeper, and census taker. William and Louisa were married for 58 years, until William's death in 1919 at the age of 85; they had 9 children. William is buried in the IOOF Cemetery in Elma, WA.
  Information taken from Internet article by Steve Wyrick, Concord, CA—Source Bill Booth

In the Standard Press microfilms at the St Croix Falls library 1890 issue there is a brief article saying that George Booth, son of George Booth of Wolf Creek was exonerated for shooting two outlaw brothers in his job as Marshal of Rush City while trying to arrest them.  One died immediately and the other lingered.
   Much more information on the Booth family can be found at where several folks have made extensive family trees.  

Join us Monday, May 26th, 11 am at the Wolf Creek Cemetery for a traditional Memorial Day program with lunch in the nearby historic Wolf Creek School after the services.  

Memorial Day is when remember the soldiers who fought for our country.  George Booth has been lying in the cemetery for 105 years. It is good for us to think about him and his fellow veterans at least one day each year.  Come and honor their service. 

Saturday, May 10, 2014

Rambling up the River Road

Yesterday, with the morning mist, took a drive that ended up on covering the River Road from St Croix Falls to Grantsburg.  Morning drives are the most fun--especially if you go very early or just after 8 am -- to miss the go-to-work traffic. 

Talked to Margo yesterday on the phone.  She has been in West Bend, WI for over a month now helping out with her father's therapy after his stroke about 6 weeks ago.  He is coming along, but is not independent enough to be without some physical help, and his wife, Kathy, who is 87 and not able to do any lifting, is not able to take care of him at home without help.  

Anyway, Margo says that possibly this week he may come back to the condo for a trial with her and Kathy helping him.  He can walk with a walker, and with guidance and steadying get in and out of bed, the bathroom and somewhat dress himself.  The stroke weakened his left side and especially annoying, wiped out the vision of everything on his left, so he has to be reminded to turn his head to see what is there or he bumps into it with the walker.  He will be 89 later this month. 

So, Margo plans to be down there the rest of May.  She has to come back for some doctor's appointments in the beginning of June, and so the plan is for Merlin to try an assisted care for about 2 weeks while she is gone (assuming he still needs help) and then for her to return for what may be the rest of the summer. 

In the meantime, Scott and I completed maple syrup season and are getting firewood cut and cleaning on the farm where a seemingly endless amount of junk fills the garages, sheds and barns, some left from the actual farming days, but too much really junk that was dumped by neighbors, relatives and strangers who wanted to store something left from a garage sale, an old mattress, junk furniture, non-functional electronics and so on. 

By sorting and cleaning things, we can pass some to the thrift stores, some to the recycling bins, some to garage sales, some to the neighbors, and some purely is garbage that no-one will take without having garbage pickup or a garbage dumpster. 

Now, I am way too frugal to spend $600 on a dumpster just to put in broken dishes, old toilets, broken panes of glass, old canned food, mattresses, etc, so thus the sorting and hauling.  

We got a used '99 Dodge Dakota pickup two weeks ago and with the trailer are loading things up for their final move off the farm.  The Frederic metal recycling place is pretty good at taking anything that has metal in it, even if it is mixed with wood or plastic (i.e. old microwave or freezer) -- and they don't charge, and often pay for it if the metal content is reasonable.  A tire on or with a rim is accepted free, for instance. 

This morning, the lawn shows signs that it will need mowing in spots already this week.  The cold temperatures so far and predicted this week have kept us from putting out the few hundred seedling flowers desperately overcrowding their planting flats in the sunroom. And, of course, I spend a lot of time with my volunteer activities so things slide without Margo here to help out. 

North from St Croix Falls up the River Road

Across from Riverside Auto it looks like the Wild River folks are planting trees on an old field

Neighbor Wilson farms some of the old sand fields north of Evergreen Av.  Whatever the amount of rain, the sand is firm and farmable.  

The spring-soaked hillside just north on the River Road off of Hwy 87 is always early with skunk cabbage and cowslips

At Spangler's landing, the river is high and flowing fast

Flooding the lowland at Nevers

This field had soybeans last year and so no stubble to stop the wind from blowing up a sandstorm.  In the 50s and 60s when the whole area a mile or so north of Evergreen was farmed, some windy days you barely could see to drive the river road due to blowing sand.  Now much is in trees, but a dry windy day and an open field can still blow badly.  The whole sand barrens is supposedly a set of sand dune ridges blown up after the St Croix drained leaving 20 feet of sand on top of 100 feet of clay lake bottom (according to a UW geology paper). 

The Grantsburg end of the trip was to the Northwest Wisconsin Regional Writers monthly meeting

Under this tilled up flower bed is the old goldfish pond we had on the farm when I was growing up.  By the time her grandchildren came along, Mom began to worry about one of them falling in and drowning, so filled it in for a flower bed.  The legends created by Marv, Ev and I are that the pond rim under the dirt contains all of our beautiful agates and Indian artifacts, still set in concrete. 
 Mom never worried about us drowning, just her grandchildren.

Late news:  An oriole and a hummingbird both showed up the first time today.  The purple martins are examining the bird house with the missing roof.  

Sap sucker and his wife are visiting the maple tree almost every 5 minutes all day long.  The sap is running a little making that side of the tree wet.   I wonder if this is where people first got the idea for tapping maples. 

Wednesday, May 7, 2014

Check Engine

For two months, the check engine light has been on continuously on the 99 Hyundai Accent, my round-around car that I use most of the time as it gets 35 miles per gallon consistently.  

I put in new plugs, changed the oil and filter, cleaned the air filter, and removed the cardboards in front of the radiator (that assist a weak thermostat in the winter).  That did nothing.  

Looking at the online info, found that my leaking muffler could trigger it, so a month ago had the flex joint replaced, expecting the check engine light to go off.  It didn't.  However, it starts fine, drives fine and has no noticeable problems.  I don't like to spend $50 getting a computer hooked up to see what it was complaining about, so figured if something really was wrong, I would notice it soon.  

Driving with the check light on is in many ways comforting.   It reminds me that the engine computer is working--sending me a message that it is there monitoring things for me.  A little like the call brother Marv made to Mom each morning to see how she was doing for the past few years.  When she didn't answer, he came up to find she had passed away while sleeping last October.  

This, my 67th year, marks the first year I haven't a mother to bring some flowers for Mother's day.  Mom died peacefully and at a good time as she was starting to have more physical difficulties getting around, but after all my life having her there to ask about the old days, to have Sunday dinner and to still tell me to put on my cap and eat more, it has been an adjustment.  Not a hard one, but one of those where I find myself planning to show Mom something, or see something at the store she might like, and then I remember that part of my life is over.  
Russ, Mom, Marv, Ev and Byron on the Farm
Yes, I did have brown hair at one time!  

Anyway, yesterday, heading to Grantsburg to pick up some lilies and spirea from my friend Walt, who was dividing his, the check engine light went off.  Didn't come on again.  

It has me worried.  Has the computer given up on me?  Does this signal the end is near?  It is like when I was a kid and my youngest brother Byron, 5 years younger, would pester me to do things he liked and I was too old to do.  It was annoying, but part of the duty of an older brother to respond and to teach him how to hammer or saw or whatever he wanted to do. 

So, if on the way to town tomorrow, the check engine light comes on, it will be fine with me. 

Trumpeter Swan  near the Grettum Flowage SW of Grantsburg

Transplanted peas started inside alternating with Winona Giant Strawberries.