Letter to Dave

barnDear Dave,
There is straw on top of the drain field, Dave. That is a phrase that would sound like a clever code phrase with the exception that it is such a universal action when you live in the country. I never covered the drain field at all until the year when there was no snow to insulate our system from the cold. Now, I cannot stop. I am addicted to an earned security which may already exist without my effort, Dave. Anyway, I used insulating blankets to cover the drain field the last few years but returned to straw bales this season. I always had to stake the insulating blankets down or they would blow away in the lightest of wind. Straw makes spring clean-up more difficult but I plan to use the grapple bucket on my Brutus to complete the work.

100_0007Twitch still lives, Dave. Twitch is one of a set of diabetic cats for whom Lisa and I serve. Twitch’s diabetes has presented a lot of challenge and we have whisked Twitch to Red Lake Falls Veterinary Service on several emergency trips. I have resigned myself to digging his grave several times but he is doing really well right now. This fact means nothing as neither Lisa nor I can predict what we will wake up as we approach the cat feeding area. Lloyd Noreen once told me that he chased a bull on foot for hours and that the bull finally decided that Lloyd was (in his own words) “too dumb to give up” and finally acquiesced and went back into the corral. I feel like we have to approach Twitch and his diabetes in that same way; just too dumb to give up.
Cattle prices are down, Dave; I feel for anyone who feeds out cattle. Feeder cattle prices are about the same right now as fat cattle prices were a year ago. I really enjoyed our second year of custom grazing, Dave and having no cattle during the winter as a treat. No waterers or tractors to worry about leaves me time to worry about other things like diabetic cats.

Burley the steer

Here is Burley, the most easy-going steer I’ve ever met.

I’ve joked with Lisa that without cattle here during the winter, we are pretty much just city people living in the country. Country people are always different than most in that as long as the house is warm and the vehicles run, we are happy. We don’t stare out the window at our neighbors and wait for them to slip up so we can report them to the authorities. Unless we own a good set of binoculars, or a telescope- that makes a difference.
It is Thanksgiving this week, Dave. I guess I should announce for what I am thankful. I am thankful for my wife as she joins me as we absorb the side to side motion of life. I am thankful for social media as it has allowed me to be closer to family and friends who do not live within the 23 mile radius of our home and therefore exist outside the comfort of my travel zone. I am also thankful for you, Dave, and our Sunday night talks. They mean an awful lot. Tell the wife and kinder and the kinders’ spouses Happy Thanksgiving.
Your little bro’

Rural Reflections Radio

Rural Reflections RadioHere is this week’s Rural Reflections Radio programLisa’s Procedure

Lisa’s Procedure

barn(..and yes, I did get permission from my wife to write this)

With increasing age comes greater respect, increased personal reverence and a distinguished place in your community-also greater medical invasiveness. Lisa and I are now both in the fifty-plus group which opens us to an increasingly expansive world of medical tests. It is a Munchausen Syndrome paradise.

Lisa went in for such a procedure just this past week. Most of these procedures begin by removing food from your diet prior to the event and replacing the food with laxatives, Jell-O and Gatorade. I think there’s an implied standard of internal cleanliness involved in this process. The patient truly hopes whichever doctor is at the other end of the probe is duly impressed with how detailed and clean is the passage in question.

I had one of these procedures after my brother was diagnosed with Esophageal Cancer. I make humor about these tests however their importance can mean the difference between life and death. Early detection is so important, particularly when it comes to your digestive system. A lot of these cancers take time to develop and if you catch them early the rate of treatment success is high.

Lisa worked out the logistics of her trip to the doctor. I had to work that day but was able to take a little time to bring our subject to the clinic and transport her home. You have to be driven home after these procedures as you are anesthetized for the process and will not be right in your head afterwards. I insisted on driving myself home after my own procedure but Lisa used her ability to reason with dumb people to counter my wishes. Thank goodness she did this; I remember little of the trip home.

I sat in the waiting room and watched the big television which lets you know who is in pre-op, who’s in post-op and which procedure is in process. It’s a little like watching the board at a horse track and I considered a system which could work a little pari-mutuel betting into the mix based on which patient would finish first. I shared the space with two very nice ladies and we had a great conversation about country music.

I went back to sit with Lisa after her procedure was complete. Lisa’s procedure results were already documented along with pictures to illustrate each point of the report. The pictures were so clear that I considered asking for ping-pong pictures to share with friends but Lisa trumped me and suggested we use the pictures instead for Christmas cards. This was an idea that faded away at the same speed as did the anesthesia.

Lisa had not eaten for some time and was otherwise internally empty. It was time, Post-Operative Peanut Butter and Toast! Has anything ever tasted as good post-op peanut butter? A little can of fruit juice with a straw, toast with peanut butter on a little plate? Lisa beamed as she had her first food since her internal fashion shoot.

Our doctor came in a said all was well. We were relieved however I had already reviewed the pictures and report so he was only confirming what I had already discovered using the knowledge I had gained during the first responder course I attended in 1992. The doctor told us that things had turned out so well that Lisa would not have to return for ten years. Lisa decided it had been such a good experience that she insisted on a yearly return. She doesn’t get to vacation much.

Rural Reflections Radio

Rural Reflections RadioHere is this week’s Rural Reflections Radio program,Bad Birthday

Bad Birthday

barnI recently turned 50. It was a bad birthday.

Okay, first off-my birthday was excellent. I will tell you about the
“bad” portion in a little bit. My sister, Deb, had made it into a
birthday week. She brought me coffee Monday morning, pumpkin cake
Tuesday and then resumed gifting me when I got back to work on
Friday. Debbie even brought breakfast pizza for everyone Friday
morning. Just prior to Deb’s arrival, Lisa and Jeanette had delivered
red velvet
cupcakes. It was a great day.

I did not want a big get-together for my 50th birthday. I had to work
the week-end so I could not stay up late and I really like small
gatherings. It doesn’t get much smaller than Lisa, me and three cats.
I got some birthday phone calls that night and Lisa and I just
enjoyed each other’s company. About seven that night, Lisa gave me
her birthday gift.

As a young man, I wanted a watch. Mom and Dad had an old watch that
didn’t work so they brought it to Elroy Jensen for repair. I waited
and waited for that watch and eventually drove my parents’ nuts with
my persistence. I eventually received the watch and the maturity that
comes with displaying a timepiece on one’s wrist. The best part of
this watch was the band I eventually attached the watch to and
affixed to my wrist. The watchband was leather and was very wide; so
wide that it needed two buckles. It reminded me of the tough guys I
saw on television. It was the mark of a truly “bad” dude.

You must know where I am going with this by now. Lisa gave me a watch
Friday night for my fiftieth birthday. It has a huge, simple face
consisting of an hour, minute and second hand. This chunk of time
perched upon a wide, leather band. It is so wide that it needs three
buckles to close it. When I wear it, it appears that I have escaped
from a gladiator
camp or perhaps am preparing for a really heavy bench press. It is so
cool. It is so bad.

Just this afternoon, someone noticed my watch. This watch is not shy
and I wouldn’t want it to be retiring. It is a watch that doesn’t
cover its’ mouth when laughing nor does it beg the pardon of any
earthly king. It is the kind of watch and band combination that says
“I’ll be your huckleberry.” It has found a good place on my wrist.

My birthday was excellent. It went just as I wished it to go, only
better. I woke-up happy and went to bed happy. It was a better than
most and it is an understatement to label it as good.
Thanks to Lisa and her good choice of a gift for her man’s fiftieth
birthday, it was bad. My birthday was so good that It was a “bad.”

Rural Reflections Radio

Rural Reflections RadioHere is this week’s Rural Reflections Radio program, A night at the Sundance<

A night at the Sundance

barnChris Borgen told me about the Sundance Dining Room. Actually he explained the Sundance and its food with the fervor of a religious convert. My idea of the Sundance dining room
included childhood memories of the old Sunday buffet. Chris’ tales of food at the Sundance sounded like something more than an endless buffet, he seemed to describe the work of a sculptor or a craftsman.

There’s a group of us born from an interest in exercise. Working out
is where it started but our friendship grew beyond water bottles and
work-out mats. Katie Walrath has coached us through dozens of
work-outs and even a pretty nice bicycle tour of town. Melissa Borgen
is married to Chris and has attended many of these gym sessions
which are fueled by boy band music and hot dog water. Margaret is a bud just home from Wisconsin for Halloween, which was awesome. We met Sadie and husband Darren just that night and there was one more guest but the table was too long for introductions. Lisa and I rounded out the group.
Friday night, this cast met in concert with the food and on-tap brews
at the Sundance Dining room.

First off, the Sundance dining room has had some worked done to
remove the bi-level floors, which makes it more accessible. The
atmosphere includes some televisions but it is not like a sports bar;
it’s more like fine dining that understands your team is playing that

Robin waited on us; that seems like such an understatement to
describe what she does. The specials are hand-written out that day
and Robin describes each one in such loving detail that our end of
the table fell silent. She explained the specials to the west end of our table and once again we all hung on each careful detail. It’s obvious that Robin not only believes in Nathan’s work, she loves it.

You probably haven’t met many people like Nathan. Nathan builds the food. He starts
with fresh ingredients then builds flavor into each creation through the cooking
process, flavor combinations or spice. It is a creative process that
few observe however you can witness his work through taste. I always say my words are my
children; it is obvious that Nathan’s food creations are his.

Okay now, don’t be intimidated. The Sundance dining room is a casual
place which includes a children’s menu. If you get a chance, order a
“Bennet” from the kid’s menu. You’ll recognize the food but the
flavors will be deeper, more interesting and more satisfying than
just the regular deep-fried whatever. I eat fast but actually found
myself taking my time when I ate my Vietnamese meatball sandwich. The
baguette was so crusty that the crunching noise escaped my mouth through my
Eustachian tube up to my ear and amplified out the side of my head-it
was so awesome. Chris ate deconstructed Eggs Benedict that put the egg and beef front and center and left the bread on the bottom. The flavor depended on the main ingredients which were not covered by sauce. I found myself staring as Chris lifted each chunk from the plate to his mouth which was kind of weird on my part. Sorry, Chris.
Before and after eating, we had a few drinks. The Sundance has Surly Furious and Stella Artois on tap so I was covered. It was such a nice night but I am 50 now and need my sleep so we were home pretty early. We would have had fun with this group no matter what happened however the Sundance blended our friendship with food and drinks into a perfect night.

Rural Reflections Radio

Rural Reflections RadioThis week’s Rural Reflections Radio program is titled Joey and Rory

Please remember, there is a prayer vigil for Joey and Rory Thursday evening at 8 PM Central time.

Joey and Rory

I don’t fawn over celebrities; their notoriety seems to be in wildly disproportionate to their relevance. I do have one pair of well-known folks who, to me, are very relevant.

I began watching Rfd-TV several years ago. One of the shows I really enjoy is the Joey and Rory show. Joey and Rory Feek met at a country music talent competition in 2002 and eventually married. I suspect the draw between them was a shared morality and faith in God. Their music is not strictly religious although it often speaks of faith, loyalty and simplicity. I like their music because it reminds me to cherish those simple things in life that cost nothing yet add incredible value to life. They speak of their love but not in the rude or crass way that is so popular in other forms of music.

Joey Feek got sick a little bit ago. She was diagnosed with cancer and she and Rory shared her fight with their fans. There was an outpouring of love and support like you’d expect and I think everyone expected Joey to get well. Last week, Rory Feek announced that he and Joey had received very bad news on the progress of her cancer which had progressed despite ongoing treatment. They cancelled any further treatments and Rory took Joey home.
I know what you are thinking, I thought it too. He took her home to die. Rory Feek must have sensed that feeling and wrote that they were not home for Joey to die. They were home because it was the best place for them to live. We all have a short time on this earth but this truth is even more acute for Joey and Rory and they don’t want to waste a minute. They are living by loving one another and loving their family.

This story made me think, my time is short too. I hope to live long but even a good, long life isn’t a lot of time. I can’t say what is important in life but I can think of few things that are consistently satisfying. These are experiences that stick in my memory long after they are complete and typically cost little. They are so sustaining.

I can’t tell what experiences will sustain you. I do believe you can live a life that will allow you to decide what truly satisfies you. Eliminate that which does not sustain you and the good stuff will reveal itself. Focusing on possessions, status and ego are three things that blur the focus of anyone seeking a better life. Cut-out everything that doesn’t look like a good life and what you have left will be-good.

Joey and Rory Feek are at home now. No one knows the future but they are preparing for a marriage shorter than many but a love that is everlasting and sustaining. I think they can teach us about what it truly means to live by their example. To take the gifts that most of us are given throughout life and make it a priority to appreciate them. To think about these gifts, to ponder how they have changed your life and to develop the gift until it shines. Maybe that is the difference between living life and waiting to die.
(this is my favorite Joey and Rory video)

Rural Reflections Radio

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