Time Passages

Click here or on the web link for this week's program.Times passes for people. Time also passes for the things people
build, like buildings and towns. I recently found a couple of
websites that not only remind me of times passages but also document
it.

The first site is titled Ghosts of North Dakota and features two
hardcover books of the same name. “Ghosts” is a project to picture
and inventory abandoned towns in North Dakota. I see old buildings
when I take a trip through North Dakota and assume the building is an
old farmhouse. The truth is that I may be seeing the last structure
of a once-vital town. I found the site interesting in how many
different styles of buildings once made up the little towns. It seems
to me that new homes have a similar size and shape whereas the old
buildings and houses on this website reflect the personality or
culture of its builder. Anyway, it’s worth checking out and maybe
even ordering a book, the web address is ghostsofnorthdakota.com

Closer to home, but moving through time just as fast, is a Facebook
page titled Thief River Falls/Pennington County History. This is a
site that is frequently updated and fields questions of local
history. There has been a fair amount of investigation into various
subject matter to include the recent effort to honor Sergeant Donald
Meyers, a Thief River Falls Police officer who was killed February
17th, 1962. This site seems to take inspiration from current
buildings or events and give them perspective using the tools of
their own history. I particularly enjoy the entries which include a
picture of a location from years ago which is then paired with a
current picture of the same locale. What strikes me is the size of
buildings from the past; they were pretty small. People kept their
homes to a size which was easy to heat and businesses kept smaller
inventories and needed fewer square feet to repair the much smaller
machinery. People from past times did not consume as much as we do
and what they did need they often-times created themselves. Retail
became stronger with time and the commercial buildings reflect the
change. All that stuff purchased at retail had to go somewhere and
the houses reflect that change.

Bud Johnson recently allowed me to cut a few logs from an old barn
on his property. The barn was built by my grandfather sometime in the
1930′s and I have those popple logs sitting in the shop. They mean a
lot to me but it is hard to explain their importance. I think people
delve into history as a way to understand their own lives by
understanding those who lived here first. It is a good, logical way
to gain personal understanding but it is also gives something more.
To look at the pictures of structures and read their stories it
allows you to let go of yourself and imagine yourself in those times.
Home-made doors, corner steps that fan as they lead from a building,
those circular marks that show evidence of hand-hewn timbers deliver
a rush of knowledge through the strength of emotion. To understand
history is to understand the people who lived it.

Rural Reflections Radio

Rural Reflections RadioHere is this week’s Rural Reflections Radio program, Seventies Kid

Seventies Kid

Click here or on the web link for this week's program.People my age have entered their nostalgic years. The minor events
from our youth have now become milestones and items we consumed
with little consideration are now personal icons. I have decided after much self-evaluation that the decade from January 1, 1970 to
New Year’s Eve, 1979 was my favorite. I am a seventies’ kid.

I don’t want to live in the seventies, I like my modern conveniences.
The internet is a superior way to communicate than party-line
telephones or the mail, I prefer fuel injection to carburetors and
electronic ignition wins hands-down over points. A few weeks ago, I
advised that people shouldn’t hate as it was a time-consuming emotion
however I do HATE something from the seventies-polyester. Polyester
clothes are cold in the winter and hot in the summer. I even walk
stiff when encased in polyester. The seventies should have been
about cotton.

I like cars from the seventies, I wouldn’t want one for a daily
driver but I have a nostalgic love for them. Seventies cars had more
styling than today’s vehicles as they didn’t have the constraints
under which today’s car design labors. Seventies cars had a lot more
steel in them and could use all of that steel to make massive hoods,
hunch-shouldered quarter-panels and chunky wheel-skirts. I would
compare a seventies car designer to his/her contemporary in the same
way I would compare a painter who has an unlimited amount of paint to
one who only has a little. Larger vehicles meant larger interiors and
back seats that were roughly the same size as the living-room couch,
which meant not only more comfort but a boost to the furtherance of
increasing humanity’s numbers.

Seventies music- man don’t even get me started. Seals and Crofts,
Bread, the Allman Brothers, Waylon and Willie, Suzi Quattro, Chicago,
Johnny Cash, Neil Sedaka, Fleetwood Mac, Elton John, Linda Ronstadt,
Kansas, Meatloaf-did I miss any? Your list would be different than
mine but I bet there’d be an emotion or specific event tied to each
song. I remember sitting in front of the old Viking Post Office
listening to Meatloaf with Derrick Gabrielson while Neil Sedaka
reminds me of school nights doing my homework. The music of Kansas
triggers memories of loading hay bales on an elevator bound for the
barn loft. The best radio on the farm was mounted to the Allis
Chalmers tractor which was the one we used to pull the bale wagon so
you could always listen to music while you worked. I remember how
Johnny Cash’ “A boy named Sue” really got my hair growin’ while the
music of Waylon and Willie made me want to smoke cigarettes and go to
Carpenters Corner although I was too young for such endeavors.

I ride bike now for exercise but I rode bike in the seventies for
peace of mind. I grew up in a tiny home and if you wanted a little
time to yourself, a bicycle was a good way to find it. I rode a gold
20 inch bike with a banana-seat until I got brother Steve’s larger
green model. When I finally purchased a ten-speed bike, I truly inherited my
piece of the American road. I once rode from Viking to Newfolden,
played baseball then cycled my way back. I thought nothing of the
effort however today I might find my peace more efficiently and with
a bit less work. I saw every piece of gravel and tar within a 3 mile
radius of Viking from the seat of my bike and left the problems and
questions of a young man in those same ditches.

You pick your friends but not your family; maybe it is the same way
with the decade that defines you. I prefer the here and now but would
love to bring a few of the icons which helped form me along for the
rest of the ride. Big cars, big music and big bicycles-they’re all I
need. Oh yeah, no polyester either-absolutely NO polyester.

Rural Reflections was spammed

Rural Reflections was shut down last Friday by accident by the Area Voices spam blocker. I am back up and running and will get my column out asap. Sorry for any inconvenience.

Grant Nelson

Rural Reflections Radio

Rural Reflections RadioHere is this week’s Rural Reflections Radio program, Letter to Dave

Letter to Dave

Dear Dave,

I’d complain about the weather but I have a fairly intense cold so I
don’t think I can spare the effort to moan about more heaven-sent
thundersnow. I know you got the first taste of the big storm that
ended up here as you folks in Carrington, North Dakota always see the
weather about six hours prior to its arrival here in Minnesota.

I told you about the portable cattle shade structures I recently
built. These structures are made from 2×2 steel tube that basically
forms the skeleton of a small building. I had the foresight not to
install the shade cloth on top of the structure itself and that was
good because we received about 18 inches of snow. The shade fabric is
tough but I think that much heavy, wet snow would have ripped this
expensive, plastic burlap.

Dave, in the movie “the Christmas Story,” young Ralphie becomes part
of the “Little Orphan Annie Secret Society” club. He is overwhelmed
at the benefits of such club participation. I now belong to two clubs
which are not about membership or benefits but are kind of fun. The
first club is “the Boss” club and was earned a few years ago when I
purchased a snow plow of the same name. I always say that I climb
“Macho Mountain” every time I latch that beautiful red mass of metal
to the front of my truck. I guess membership does have its benefits
though as I got a hat. No purchase is ever complete until you get a
hat. My second membership is in the “Kit-Kat” club. The Kit Kat clock
is that iconic clock which is shaped like a cat and has eyes and a
tail that move with the passage of time. This is a club for those who
have purchased, or received as a gift in my case, a Kit Kat wall
clock. I think I got some stickers for this membership however the
clock itself is so cool and makes me feel good whenever I make time
to check the time.

Farming has been at a stand-still for me, Dave. I sold the cattle
last fall but will soon purchase more for the pasture season. I have
spent much of my winter in the shop creating stuff. I got pretty into
building wooden storage boxes this year and it reminded me so much of
my passion for bird houses as a youngster. Our brother, Darrel,
thought my bird house obsession may have been a precursor to deeper
mental problems however I just like to build. I got my welder’s card
and endorsement from Steiger Technical College after Bryan Steiger
let me build my shade structures one week-end and this skill-set
should allow me a new medium in which to obsessively create. I think
a mild steel bird house would be cold however it would be durable; I
‘ll have to pass that one on to the R & D team.

Tell everyone hell0, your little bro’

Rural Reflections Radio

Rural Reflections RadioHere is this week’s Rural Reflections Radio program, Wear Sunscreen

Wear Sunscreen

Click here or on the web link for this week's program.Baz Luhrman produced a spoken-word song based on a 1997 Chicago
Tribune column written to high school graduates. The song was
commonly referred to as “Wear Sunscreen.” The song inspired me to
write a list of good habits for my niece, Kara, as she meets her
post-graduation future. I considered that I might just as well have
several eighteen year-olds disregard my advice as just one
so I will publish this letter as my column for all to read.

1. Don’t hate people; it wastes energy and brain capacity. It also
puts the person you hate in charge of what you choose to think. Spend
your time and intelligence to improve your life. Do not waste
these precious personal assets to change the minds of those whose
thoughts are shallow and based on their own ego. Matthew 7:6 says
“do not throw your pearls before swine” and your greatest pearls are your intelligence and
your time. If you feel bad about not offering advice please remember
that most people do not want real advice but wish for magical
answers that require little of their own effort. The answer to almost
all problems is that you must at first work hard and then later work
even harder.

2. If you have a conflict with someone and it is an argument worth
fighting, then make the argument. They will respect you for it later.
If they don’t respect you for it then they are unworthy of your time.
It isn’t winning or losing that matters in the decision to battle, it
is the courage to defend your ideals.

3. Keep your own counsel unless you trust and admire a mentor who has
a proven track record. Friends will often give you bad advice when you
share plans to take a path divergent from the one you share. They are
not being cruel, they just want you in their lives and they fear a
life without you-forgive them.

4. Exercise now, and later. I gained 55 pounds about 14 years ago and
have spent the last seven years to lose 45 of those pounds.
Meanwhile, my joints carried all that extra weight and who knows what
damage I could have caused myself. It would have been so much easier
to maintain my health. Many of the worst human diseases are induced by humans and
their own poor eating and exercise habits. If you start now, good
habits will grow into great habits over time and
leave you more life to do good things.

5. Save money now, and later. The sooner you begin to save money, the
longer it has to grow through the miracle (a bit overstated) of compounding interest. The habit of
saving will spread into other facets of your life and you will even
see life differently. It is well-worth the effort.

6. Time is short. I am forty-eight and have plans made as a young
person which I may not have time to complete. Make sure you tell
those you love that you love them on a regular
basis as they will need this information and reassurance should your
time run out and die unexpectedly. Spend your time like it was precious gold but
don’t be afraid to invest it without fear when you determine it makes
sense. Be productive with your time; accomplishment is the track left
in the snow of the person who toils with focus and works to completion.

7. Don’t be afraid to try something and fail; you learn almost nothing
from success. Failure can be hard on your ego but it helps you learn.
When you select a college or job, don’t be afraid to pursue your
passion instead of money. Trial and error is the formula to find a
worthwhile way to spend your time or get paid for your time. I would
rather quickly travel the wrong path, than to sit paralyzed in
confusion-too scared to make a move. You have to earn knowledge in
life and that knowledge is often times paid for in failure.

8. Don’t join clubs or organizations unless you truly believe in their
mission. Henry David Thoreau said “beware of any enterprise that
requires new clothes.” I would say the same thing of any enterprise
that requires I belong to a new club or organization. I see this in
people who run for public office as they join many
clubs or church to gain votes. Join any group or club because of what
you have to offer, not what the group or club offers you.

9. Avoid the emotional vampire-these are the
people who find conspiracy in every act, dark meaning in the mood of
a friend and joy in others sorrow. These people thrive on drama
and are always unhappy. Do not throw them a lifesaver and do not jump
in to save them; they do not want to be saved, they want you to drown
with them.

10. If I can tell you nothing else please remember this list of
priorities: God, spouse, boss. If you please God, you have eternal
life. If you please your spouse, you have human love. If you please
your boss, you have a job. I have structured my life this way and it
has served me well. You are an adult now with the freedom to form you
own life’s course however I believe this is an excellent starting
point.
Have a nice summer and wear…. your seat-belt.

 

Rural Reflections Radio

Rural Reflections RadioHere is this week’s Rural Reflections Radio program, Just Words

Just words

It’s not very often that I am shocked by the actions of people. Good
or bad, humans have tremendous capacity and that is something I have
come to accept. Recently, I was a little shocked and kind of scared.

Students at a local college decided to begin a campaign to remove the
word “retarded” from our vocabulary because of its stigma and
potential to hurt others. They began by writing the word on paper and
tearing it up. I believe this was done with good intentions however
the attack on a word and not the thinking behind the word seemed
simplistic, naïve and potentially dangerous.

Totalitarian governments have learned that the way to control people
is to control communication and media, freedom can only exist where
there is freedom of speech. Freedom is the antithesis of
totalitarianism and freedom of speech is the antidote to this evil
form of government. I could mention Stalin or Hitler and their use of
the media and movies to sway public opinion however you probably know
of their abuse of free speech. The book “1984” was written by George
Orwell, and inspired by the crushing restraints imposed by the
government of the country of Burma (present-day Myanmar.) This was a
fictitious account of what would happen to speech (among other
freedoms) in a totalitarian government. A government that controls
its people would need to control the people’s language. This control
would include control of newspapers, television and most importantly,
words. Control of words would mean they have the right to change the
meaning of words, hyphenate two unrelated words as a tool to confuse
their meaning and even abolish or remove words.

I don’t know whether these students came up with the idea to destroy
a word from study of history or if this mob rule tactic is innate to
human beings. I say “mob rule” because although it is probably
impossible at this time to make a word illegal, if enough people come
together and let everyone else know they will chastise you for use of
a word then the mob’s intimidation becomes rule. Many of our current
laws started with tradition which became the norm, which became mores
and then became law. To make certain words illegal seems like a
greater immoral act than could ever benefit society. I fear what
happens when people find that abolishing words is a pretty effective
way to control people; what will people do next? Will the names of
humans with opposite opinion be next? Aren’t these the same tactics
that terrorists (both foreign and local) use to inspire acts of hate
against those who profess a different faith or politic?

I think to change what people think may require the hard work of
education. However, to abolish their hurtful words opens up a
destructive toolbox which an entity with less noble goals may use to
control populations and inspire hurtful actions. An act against words
is an act against freedom of speech and that is an act that cannot be
tolerated by a free society.