JUNE 14 2009….NOT A GOOD DAY….

She is so tiny and frail lying there in her hospital bed.  She took a nasty fall in her apartment sometime between the afternoon of June 13 and the morning of June 14 and when she fell, she landed on the arm that holds her emergency "call bracelet"…the one that could have brought help sooner.  But in the trauma of the fall and the hours spent alone on the floor, no call for help could have been sent so the assisted living personnel found her when she did not check in with her "I am OK" call on Sunday morning.

Her nieces keep the vigil with her now and wonder at her spunkiness in spite of such obvious injuries…her face is bruised, swollen, it had been bloodied— but the ER staff cleaned her up; now she just bears the heavy bruises caused by the fall.  Her arms and chest and back are bruised, probably from struggling to get up.  She really cannot remember much about those hours after the fall.  That is probably a good thing….not to remember the details of such a trauma.  The Lord is good and gives Grace in all situations for those who trust Him and she trusts Him!!!!

Her daughter arrives after having just gone home the day before…..the surprise call came as she was leaving a Sunday morning church service and she hopped back in her car and returned to Fargo Moorhead immediately.  So now three younger women are with her as she lies in her hospital bed and talks and talks and talks.  She is "hyped up" in spite of losing sleep for hours and hours and not having any food.   The IV drip is taking care of the dehydration and the loss of other important elements like potassium.  She is still a strong woman in spite of the frail appearance.  Her spirit is undaunted also.   She very much wants a couple of oatmeal cookies and cup of really hot coffee!!!  Her niece orders it from the hospital food service and it arrives quickly.  She eats both cookies and spills a bit of the coffee on the bed clothes in her eagerness to have a sip of that good old "Norwegian Gasoline"

She is still so strong that there is no evidence of any broken bones.  She is a tough survivor, the last of her generation, the last of her family.   On June 14, 1933, she was 13 years old. Her oldest sister got marrried that day and the reception was at the home farm with a cake baked by their mother.  The bride wore a real wedding dress….a long satin one, close- fitting, cut on the bias stylish dress with a train and she had a bridal veil as well.  There were beautiful roses for the boquets too….this was highly unusual for the Depression Years; the wedding had even been at the country church where the family were members. Almsot no one had a church wedding in those days.     It was a happy day for a 13- year old youngest sister.

Five years later, she was almost 18 years old when her first niece was born; she lived with her oldest sister and her husband  then, while going to high school.  The new baby became her baby to play with and take care of.  She brought the 1-year old downtown a year later and gave her a taste of a frozen malt at Lakie’s Cafe and later, the 1- year old niece fell off the sled and was lying like an overturned turtle on the snowcovered road…but the baby was still smiling up at her when she realized she had fallen off and went back to put her on the sled again.  The two of them have laughed about that day over the many years both of them have grown older.

As the nieces and the daughter keep their vigil by the bedside, all of them remember her when she was young and strong and vigorous…..the oldest niece remembers her as a competent bookeeper at the small rural store near where she grew up. It is the place she met her future husband and the niece remembers those courting days too…the young man would come to pick up his Sweetheart and two nieces…one from the Twin Cities….would tickle his ribs while he was waiting for his Love to get ready.  The two little girls spent many days staying at "Grandma’s farm" in those bygone days.

All of the three younger women remember her as a strong and capable co-owner of another country store—this one in the lakes country where she and her husband worked 7 days a week, from dawn to dusk, serving the many "lakers" who depended on them for gas and groceries, for hardware, fishing tackle and even fishing boats,  lawn mowers, even appliances like stoves and refrigerators.  They remember when they retired and enjoyed good years at their lake home, bought after retiring.  Then her husband began to fail from Parkinson’s and they moved into town to be closer to help and medical facilities.   After his death his wife, still strong and active, lived in her home and cared for it and the big lawn and garden for many more years.  One of the nieces remembers a day in a January past when her Aunt led her on a merry chase on cross- country skis, overland, across frozen Big Cormorant Lake all the way to the village where the store used to be theirs.  She was in her early 70s then and she wore her niece out completely that day with the niece arriving at the village pub for a pre-planned lunch with another aunt…. with her hair wet and plastered to her head from the exertion of the cross country ski journey.  Her "young" aunt was not even puffing!

But now she is the fragile one.  Her move to an assisted living apartment was no surprise. At the age of almost 90 she simply was not "up to" living at home any longer and the time in the apartment has been a good one, just like all the other phases of her life.  Now however, she seems determined to move into the nursing home wing and have "everything done for me" but her daughter cautions her to "take one day at a time" and see how recovery and rehab turns out after this unfortunate fall.  She comes from hardy stock—-her mother and sisters lived to ripe old ages and were strong til nearly the end of life.  Her own aunt reached the age of 106 before she passed on to Eternity.  This little frail, bird-like lady in the bed is not as weak as she looks!

Life is a long series of many phases.  For those who live to advanced age as this tiny little Aunt has done…..many years go into the making of the life steps and stages.  Meeting each one with a good attitude and a strong spirit has been her specialty.  She is far from done with life yet and the 3 younger women are expecting to see her bounce back from this temporary setback.

She faced a lot of setbacks when her yet-young husband had to spend almost a year in a hospital facility in the mid-1950s after having a disease he had as a much younger man return when he was in his 50’s.  His wife ran the store, and dealt with everything that had to be dealt with that long year he had to be cared for in the special hospital in Northern Minnesota.  He recovered and came back to live another 40 good years with his wife and daughter and was able to work actively in their own home business in the lakes country. Toughness and perseverance is also one of her many "specialities".

No, the tiny frail lady is NOT done with life yet.  It will be interesting to see how she brings her zest for living and her postive attitude into yet another "life phase".

She is so tiny and fragile.  She is so bruised and badly banged up after taking a bad fall in her assisted living apartment.   She looks even more fragile as she lies in her hospital bed at the end of of very bad day and very bad night when she fell and banged her face and bruised her whole body in her laundry room.  None of us know how it happened and she does not know either.  We just know that she lay on the floor for hours before the staff at the assisted living did not get her usual morning message that she was "Ok" today and raced to check on her.  She had fallen and laid on the arm that held her emergency bracelet for calling for help.  She could not get at it.

So far, other than the bad bruises and swellings on her lips and cheeks, she is still a hardy nearly- nonegenarian.  Born in 1920, she was only 4 years old when her father died;  she was 13 years old when her oldest sister got married and the wedding reception was held at her home farm on June 14 of 1933.   She was a lively teenaged 17 when she lived with her oldest sister and her brother in law when the "niece" was born on  cold January day 71 years ago.  The niece has always called her "My Young Aunt" because she is only 17 years older than "the niece".   She took her 1 year old niece downtown the winter she was 1 year old and introduced her to a frozen malt at the old Lakie’s Cafe.  She accidentally bumped the year old niece off the sled on a winter outing in the same small town as Lakie’s and had to go back and get the tiny toddler who was lying like an upside-down turtle in her heavy woolen snowsuit and winter boots, but the baby was still smiling at her Aunt when she got picked up.

The Niece remembers the vitality and youth of her Aunt when her husband to be was courting her in the 1940’s.   Two nieces…..both of them born the same year…loved to tease the "boyfriend" and tickle him in his sensitive ribs when he came to call on his sweetheart in those courting days.   The Niece remembers her Aunt working in the small country store and how vivacious she was and how conversational she was with the customers who gathered at the old country store each evening for fellowship and fun and maybe a bottle of pop from the old ice filled cooler or a freshly dipped ice cream cone or a slice of summer sausage with some crackers from the barrel in front of the old counter. The young aunt was strong and capable and could carry tremendously heavy pails of milk every evening when the dairy cows were milked by hand in the old fenced in milking pasture.

The niece remembers how much fun it was to have her Aunt play cards and games at the old dining room table;  how exciting is was to get into the perfume bottles, lipstick tubes, powder containers (Cashmere Bouquet) and the Jergens lotion bottle that all sat on the wooden bureay upstairs in the one bedroom.  The Aunt let her nieces have bread dough to make their own loaves of bread even if the loaves were rather dirty from the grubby hands that had over-kneaded and over-worked them.

The niece remembers all the good times at another lakes country store where the aunt and uncle presided for so many decades and did such a good service to the "lakers" who came each summer to buy groceries, gas for cars and boats, fishing tackle, hardware, lawn mowers, washing machines, stoves—-whatever you needed the store owning couple who worked 7 days a week from dawn to dusk could get it for you.  There were cold bottles of pop in another old- fashioned ice filled cooler too…and had dipped ice cream cones for evening visitors who wanted to meet and visit in that store also.

Retirement is also remembered when the hard working couple finally could rest from their labors and enjoy their new lakeside home for many years before the husband became disabled by a neurological disease and they had to "move to town".

The niece remembers the many years of widowhood for her aunt.   And then not so long ago, the niece remembers having to help clear out her aunt’s home because it became too difficult to live alone in that big house and it was time to move on to an assisted living place.

Now as she gazes at the bruised face of her dearly loved "young aunt" the niece wonders what the future holds….will it be a good recovery and return to the apartment or will it be another step into a nursing care facility?   A life lived for nearly 90 years is full of joy and sorrow.   It is one step after another of living and working and resting and getting frailer and frailer as the days go by.  But when the person who has lived such a long life is the one who is optimistic and cheerful and absolutely convinced that "everything happens for a reason and it always turns out to be a good one" how can one question or have regrets???   You don’t.  You stay with the beloved Aunt and hold her hand and comfort her as best you can and you joke with her when she feels like joking. ( "what did the other guy look like after that awful fight you had"  ???)

Tommorow is another day and the hope is that it will not be quite as bad as today, June 14…the day her oldest sister got married 76 years ago.   Where does the time go?  She was young and vibrant just a few years ago wasn’t she?    

  Her spirit still is.


One of my sons introduced me to comedian/singer Tim Hawkins (not personally) who wrote and sings a song "These Are The Things You Don’t Say To Your Wife".

He showed it to me on YouTube and if you want to hear Hawkins sing it… go to to Youtube site and type in "Things you don’t say to your wife".  I thought it was hilarious but I have a strange sense of humor most of the time.

I found the lyrics to the song and am sharing them here. 

"Hey Honey,have you gained some weight on your rear end?   / That dress you wear reminds me of my old girlfriend;   / And where’d you get those shoes? I think they’re pretty lame/ Would you stop talking ’cause I’m trying to watch the game.

If you’re a man who wants to live a long and happy life……these are the things you don’t say to your wife!

I planned a hunting trip next week on your birthday;     I didn’t ask you ’cause I knew it’d be OK;    Go make some dinner while I watch this fishing show;   I taped it over our old wedding video.

If you’re a man who wants to live a long and happy life, these are the things you don’t say to your wife!

Your cooking is OK but not like Mother makes;    The diamond in the ring I bought you is a fake;    Your eyes look puffy, Dear, are you feeling ill?      Happy Anniversary!  I bought you a treadmill.

If you’re a man who wants to live a long and happy life, these are the things you don’t say to your wife.    

  If you’re a man who doesn’t want to get killed with a knife….these are the things you don’t say to your wife!


It seems like good advice to me with nearly 50 years of hindsight on what makes a marriage reasonably happy.


I know what you’re all thinking…..that THIS is the year without a summer.  But we have not made it to summer yet, at least officially if you go by the June 21 date.  It is still springtime but we just WISH it were summer, or at least a bit more summer-like.

There really was a "year without a summer".  It happened 193 years ago in the summer of 1816 and its history and the way it happened is most interesting.   In  1815, on a small island in what is today Indonesia, a volcanic mountain, Tambora, literally blew itself in half with a huge volcanic explosion that was heard all over that geographic area of the south Pacific.  The eruption was so powerful that it shot ash and gases as high as 140,000 feet into Earth’s atmosphere causing that volcanic material to be circulated around the globe many times in the stratosphere.  One immediate effect of this phenomenon was that sunsets in places like London, England, were spectacular, prolonged and a deep red color between June 28 and July 2 of 1815.  The twilight sky in many places in the world was a deep red/orange at the horizon and pink and purple above that.  These amazing sunsets were caused by the volcanic ash in the atmosphere.  A well known painting by Edvard Munch…"The Scream" was one result of another catastrophic volcanic explosion later in the century, when the volcano Krakatoa blew its top and sent the same sort of ash stream into the high stratosphere.  Violent red skies resulted for months after that eruption also, and Munch, who was already in a mentally and emotionally frail state of mind, painted his famous "Scream" with the background of the red skies over Norway, his homeland, in the summer of the Krakatoa eruption…1883.

But back to 1815-1816:  One year after Tambora erupted, the effects of the huge amount of volcanic material circling the globe took its toll on the summertime climate in many parts of the world, but most critically, in the northern hemisphere and the northern countries of that part of the globe.    There was snow and frost during June, July and August in the Northeastern United States and the crops in New England were mostly destroyed in the fields after they had come up.  The Maritime Provinces of Canada also suffered snowfalls and heavy frosts during that same period of time with similar loss of crops there.   In other parts of the globe, killer droughts destroyed plant life;  northern parts of China were similarly affected by extremely cold temperatures throughout the summer of 1816.  In Switzerland, the cold was so extreme that glaciers advanced in the summertime and caused damage in mountain villages.  Mary Wollenstone-Craft spent that cold summer in Switzerland with her husband, Percy Shelley the English poet, and due to being confined indoors by the cold, she began to create fantasy stories that became the foundation for her later successful book, "Frankenstein".   (Maybe without the "year without a summer" the literary world may never have known of the evil Doctor Frankenstein!)

The summer of 1816 was so bitterly cold that it led to a famous phrase being coined: "Eighteen hundred and froze to death!"      The following winter of 1816-17 was equally bitter with part of the harbor in New York City freezing so solidly that New Yorkers drove their horse-drawn carriages and sleighs across the frozen harbor to other burroughs. The canals in Holland also froze solid that same winter leading to yet another literary creation, "Hans Brinker And The Silver Skates".

Another result of the cold summer of 1816 was the beginning of the movement of people westward in the United States.  Many residents of the areas most affected by the cold and the 1816 crop failures decided to move to the Midwest and the Western areas of the country to start over in what they thought would be a much warmer place to live.

Another factor in the cold summer of 1816 was a phenomenon that is present this summer of 2009….there was then , and is, now, very little sunspot activity on the sun.  1816 was the "maximum" of the sun’s 11-year cycle which we are presently in this summer also.  There is very low sunspot activity now on the sun’s surface.  The  11- year cycle was supposed to end in 2009 but thus far there has been no increase in sunspot activity.  In 1816 sunspot activity was very low with only 35 sunspots compared to the normal number of 100 per year. The only thing missing for us in this cold summer recipe is a huge volcanic explosion somewhere on the planet and let’s hope it does not come to pass!

Just today, I read an account of trouble with summertime cold  in Canada’s Manitoba province (our neighbor to the north).  A June 9th, 2009 report in Reuters states that the Manitoba canola crop has been subjected to repeated frosts in the month of June and may be damaged to the point of having a much decreased  crop this summer.  There was a colored photo with the report that showed ice clinging to the stalks of canola grain in the fields in Manitoba.  The Reuters article was titled "Canada Frosts Most Widespread In Recent Memory". 

The summer of 2009 surely won’t be a repeat of the "Year Without A Summer" but some of us are beginning to wonder about it!  I doubt if anyone would be brave enough to jump into one of our many bodies of water  in lakes country at this date in June.  Even the fishermen have to bundle up when they launch their boats now.  When warmer weather arrives there will be great sighs of relief in many quarters.  Even Buffalogal, who despises high heat, humidity and biting insects that come along with that heat, will be relieved to have some warmer days…..soon, please!



Once again I have received an e mail from a cousin (a reliable person) that says that as of June, cell phone numbers will be made public and available to telemarketers and that every call made by these creeps will be charged to your cell phone.

Does anyone know if this is true or is it just another false warning?  I have had e mails like this before so I am suspicious.  But then one would not want to be caught with added billing if it were true.   What to do?


I am a feeder of orioles-come-lately.  I have seen many other people put out real slices of oranges plus a bowl of grape jelly and have also seen the beautiful orange and black orioles come to feast on their treat buffet.

Now I have an oriole buffet of my own and I am fascinated with watching the orioles eat MY orange slices and MY grape jelly.  It is wonderful to see them up so close thru a living room window which looks out on my deck dining spot.  I have only seen the brightly-plumaged males come to eat, though.  They must have their little mates trained to stay home and sit on the nest. ( they are probably barefoot too)      I wonder if the guy orioles ever bring them a bit of fresh orange or if they just eat it themselves.  I am starting to feel some female oriole womens’ lib feelings.

Last night when it was still light but just turning to twilight….MBF went out on the deck for a breath of fresh air and looked down at the former oriole diner closer to the ground.  He saw a very huge raccoon climbing up to eat the remains of the oranges and lick up the grape jelly.  He clapped his hands loudly and at a high rate of speed and said later that he did not know that a big fat raccoon could run so fast… back to the woods.

Today I moved the orange and jelly buffet table up to a corner of the deck and I have been watching the orioles fly in for some sweet treats all afternoon so far.  I am mesmerized by their lovely orange and black beauty.

I plan to take the oriole plates and cups inside tonight before twilight.  I am not at all interested in feeding big raccoons.


I enjoy reading Rodney Nelson’s columns which are published fairly regularly in the  FARM AND RANCH GUIDE which comes out every two weeks (I think).   Rodney’s columns are titled "Up Sims Creek".     I don’t always see the paper when it comes because it is cherished by My Best Friend and he often does not make it available outside his office room.  But I read his latest column "Late May-Early June, When North Dakota Is Perfect".

The column opens with the truth telling about our nasty winters and often nasty springs. But then he goes on:    "Open up your curtains and take a peek outside…sometimes a dose of miserable weather yields some beautiful results."                                 I suspect that Rodney, looking through HIS curtains, sees the hills and valleys of his ranch clothed in green grass and trees breaking into bud and green leaves.   He then makes a startling proposal:

"I wish North Dakota highways could be closed from May 25 to June 15 on years like this. Non North Dakotans could easily get the wrong impression  about this state if they happen to visit it now……We don’t have many people and not many problems that come with high populations.  This is why we should restrict travel in the state between May 25 to June 15; it is just too wonderful here then."     

In other words, we don’t want those out- of- staters to think North Dakota is so wonderful that they start moving in and making things crowded for those who know what North Dakota is really like in all seasons.  We think that Memorial Day weekend is the time to go camping so we go out and set up our campsites only to have it rain on us all weekend.  Rodney says he loves to see bicyclists come down I -94 in the summer heading west…especially when Montana air is heading for North Dakota and Minnesota at 50 miles per hour.  Says Rodney "I am often tempted to lean out my pickup window and yell at those bikers, "Hang in there Buddy, you only have 350 miles to go!"  He also wickedly reveals that he is secretly gladdened when he sees a California license plate making its way along Interstate 94 when a January blizzard is moving into the region.  I guess we Midwesterners and Westerners have a nasty streak in us when it comes to our weather and state when it is usually referred to as "that God-forsaken place".  Sometimes it is just a pure pleasure to see Californians or Floridians or any Sun-Belters getting a bit of come-uppance if they travel through ND and MN during January or February.

One of my past favorite columns from the Sage of Almont ND (who is also a well known "cowboy poet")  was the one he wrote about when he was the head usher in his small country church.  He suddenly decided on Sunday morning to have some fun by declaring to the church folks when they arrived, that the Ushers were seating the people that day.  He then proceeded to bring them to pews where they NEVER sat on other Sundays.  I do not know if it is only North Dakotans who do it, but most church-goers have their chosen place where they sit each and every Sunday.  Nelson threw a real monkey wrench into the Sunday seating pattern when he ushered everyone to unfamilar places all over the little country church and then enjoyed watching them squirm from not being in their places.  Church- goers are a lot like dairy cows who go into their stanchions automatically in a milking barn. We want to sit in our familar spot in church , also.   (Moo!)

Once a few years ago, my husband and I arrived a bit late for a funeral at the largest church in our small town.  We went to a back pew and motioned for the man sitting on the outside by the aisle to "slide over" so we could sit down.  He rose up and in an apologetic whisper told us  he "had to sit on the outside" of the pew. Later, he explained that he had an unreasonable fear of fire and wanted to be where he could most easily escape.

Well we all have our little pecadilloes, don’t we?  Even the Sage of Almont has his—he would love to keep the Outsiders from seeing the beauty of western North Dakota’s prairie oceans of green , green grass in late May and early June.


When bloggers get their ideas together, things happen! 

There is going to be an Areavoices’ Bloggers’ Picnic(potluck) on JUNE 23 (TUESDAY) at LINDENWOOD PARK IN FARGO  starting at 6 P.M.  We will secure one of the Lindenwood shelters for our meeting place….no specific one as of yet but others who are in on this planning will be posting regular notices about this Areavoices Bloggers’ picnic between now and June 23.

Far Side of Fifty, Far Guy, Peace Garden Mama, Prairie Woman and Buffalogal are in on these plans.  We think this will be an evening of fun and friendship as the Bloggers get together and share a picnic supper.

Bring a dish (main course, dessert, salad, etc) plus your own  plates, utensils, napkins and whatever you wish to drink.  I am thinking that one of us Plotters will bring along an electric coffee urn to brew some coffee plus cups that always seems to be a requisite at a picnic in this area! I also have the feeling that we plotters can bring along somethings that will serve as tablecloths for the picnic tables. 

Circle JUNE 23 on your calendar!   Plan to come to Lindenwood Park and share food and fellowship with other Areavoices Bloggers.     We, who have been planning this, are convinced that it will be an evening to remember where new friends will be met and appreciated.



It is not a warm morning in June by any stretch of the imagination.  I looked outside through a north window at about 7:25 a.m. to see if there was any sign of life out by the tents that had been pitched along our shelter belt last night.  The Dads and the Sons stayed up late into the night around a glowing campfire at "Camp Buffalo- Bluff".   But there was activity at that early hour (for not having gone to bed til well after midnight, I suspect).   I could see the bundled up troops crawling out of tents and making their way toward a fresh campfire built this morning and they needed its warmth today.  Breakfast was being readied.  Eggs were cooking in the one concession to modern day camping (our electric fry pan)….bacon was sizzling on a cast iron grill by the fire….juice was being poured into camp cups,  bread was being toasted (and smoked) on the hotdog grillers and a few leftover hot dogs were substituting for breakfast sausage. When I went out to check on the crew, I saw a lot of bleary-eyed boys sitting in the homemade yard swings that surround the fire pit.   One confessed to not having too many hours of sleep, due to being rather cold. (Three had shared two sleeping bags since one had not planned to stay but did anyway)

There was reason to hustle…..the paintball "weapons" were also being readied for a morning of combat in the woods.   I brought out the promised pot of hot coffee and we speculated about the pioneers in covered wagons a century or more ago….how did they make it across the Great Plains without coffee-makers like we have today?    A silly question—-they had their stonewear or enamel-ware or tin coffee makers that could be hung over the pioneer campfires til the water boiled and roughly ground coffee beans were dropped into the mix to brew a strong mix of hot "cowboy" coffee….grounds and all.  One of the boys suggested that they must have strained their coffee through their teeth and I thought about my Grandfather’s huge soup-strainer moustache and thought that would have been a pretty effective coffee strainer as well!

I was reminded by my youngest grandson that my intrusion into their overnight camp was treading on sacred "Man-cation" ground .  I took that to mean a combination of the words "man" and "vacation" so I poured up the coffee to the two who needed it and went back to the house to cook another pot for refills.

Prairie Woman suggested in her comment that this kind of camp out with Dads and Sons is a good prescription for good relaxation and good fun…or something to that effect.  I could not agree with her more.  They are having the time of their lives and they did it with little expenditure, little equipment, but much enjoyment and much fun shared between the "Boys"…all of them are Boys- At- Heart this morning has they run through the woods playing a Boy-Game that has been played many times before…maybe not with the modern paintball stuff but with toys or make-believe stick-toys.  "Boys will be Boys" is not just a trite saying….it is very true today and other days for any "Boys At Heart" where ever they are…in campgrounds or in fishing boats or in hunting camps or zooming over water on little ski-boats— or whatever they call them officially….personal water craft????

Anywhere the Boys Are…. they are having good fun today and all days when and where they get together.