Category Archives: General

Anything square thing that does not fit in the round hole.

December So Far

Downy Female

Basically, the only thing interesting on this gloomy, warmish December day is my nearly falling on my keister, due to a surprising amount of ice build up on the railroad track, while walking the dog. Of course he chose that moment in time to lunge ahead and enhance my flailing about. I quickly looked around to see if anybody had observed my antics, as this was the main intersection of our small town, and got several smiles from cars going by, one guffaw from the guy staring out the bank window and a singular thumbs up from the old dude in the city pickup across the street. That’s the thing about being new in a very small town, do something stupid and it will be talked about by just about everyone, there’s not that many of them to begin with, and people will know you in no time.

Hairy Male

Part of the fun of living large in a small town is getting invited to a thank you for volunteering/Christmas party at the Senior Living Center, better known as South Grove. The wife and I did some mandatory volunteer work there, the first week we hit town. Mostly it was helping the wife’s Mom, who lives at South Grove, with the annual cookie sale. That wasn’t too bad, we got fed lunch and all the cookies we could handle. The not so happy part came after that and, well, that’s a story for another time. Anyway, since we volunteered so good, we got told to show up at 6pm to get fed, appreciated and entertained.

The dining room, where the event was held, was pretty full of people when we got there and I did not get to choose my seating, a fact the I would come to very much regret as the evening wore on. The food wasn’t bad and we met new people and chatted with them, having to explain, briefly but concisely, what led us to Grove City, long story, and which house did we buy again? It is collectively known as the Dean Smith house and/or the place with the cow painted on the garage door.

Downy Male

About the time we were starting to repeat ourselves, the entertainment showed up and proceeded to take about a decade and a half of our very valuable time, singing every lame, old, obscure song they could remember to do. Small town entertainment at its most Minnesotan. About 3/4’s of the way through, I must have looked somewhat discontent as the lead singer was belting out Feliz Navidad, badly. He suddenly stopped the song and informed the audience that, yes, he couldn’t speak or even sing in Spanish, but by the look on my face, he could tell I was bilingual, fluent in South of the border speak, and it was making him nervous. I have always loved being the butt of jokes and this time was no different. People for the next 10 minutes would crane their necks to get a look at the Mexican that was sitting next to my wife. It was about this time, not sitting next to an exit looked to be a unfortunate oversight on my part. Next up was Harry Belafonte’s Banana boat song and so on. It eventually came to an end, like glaciers eventually do, but I still have the song, Fine Time To Leave Me Lucille, waking me up in the in the middle of the night and intruding into my happy thoughts at odd times of the day and I’m not real happy about that.

A plague of Sparrows

On the house versus us front, we finally have the cat smell, which started off at toxic levels, eradicated. I was not sure that day would ever come. I also have the living room floor sanded to the point where we put down an old victorian floral rug that fits the room perfectly. And more importantly, we have all the leaks, washing machine valve, kitchen sink, upstairs toilet, and upstairs shower, fixed. Finally, no more dripping. I can’t quite imagine how the rental people were able to pay the water bill from all the rapid dripping that was going on. The only thing I couldn’t fix myself was the boiler going out the first week we lived here, on a Saturday night, naturally. This not being our first rodeo with that kinda thing, we had a plan B in our back pocket and lived in warmth until the boiler fix it guy showed up on Monday morning. The best part is he showed me how to fix the thing, under the “teach a man to fish” clause, and basically worked himself out of a job.

We were feeling so good as to how things were going, that we invited the wife’s mother over tohave lunch with us and watch the Vikings lose, which they did. Just like old times. The best part is Mom in law brought rhubarb pie, under the “a good guest always brings a gift to the party” clause. Sweet Pea just loves Grandma and spent the majority of the time leaning on her and being a general nuisance, which is pretty much his job description.

All in all the transition from Kansas to Minnesota has not been too bad. But, it hasn’t gone below zero yet, like I remember the first weeks of December did, back in the old days. The wife has already informed me that she’s not gonna drive if there is snow on the highway. We’ll see how long that lasts when she runs out of frozen yogurt. Hard time’s a comin’.

Small Towning it

I put a bird feeder up, and made sure that I could see it from my seat at the dining room table, just like the setup I had in our Kansas house. It’s the little things that make a home, don’t cha know. It took about a whole 10 minutes before a Nuthatch showed up and it’s been Chickadee and Nuthatch central ever since. My intention with the bird feeder was to provide an alternate lunch for a certain Downy Woodpecker that’s been rat ta tap tapping on my house. Today Woody finally shows up but really couldn’t puzzle out how to get food out of the feeder. Pecking everywhere on the clear plastic tube, but never in the opening where the seed was. I stood at the window shouting at him “No you idiot! Quit pecking at the clear part, look for the hole, you moron!”

I wasn’t the only one watching this spectacle. The neighborhood Finches were hanging around, with their beaks agape, marveling at a bird that couldn’t find food at a feeder. Picture Helen Keller stuck on a sneeze guard, groping around for the buffet. Finches have notoriously short attention spans and after a full minute of watching this, swooped in, kicking Downey Dunce right off the feeder, who promptly went back to chewing on my house.

Small town living, they said, would be “different” than living in the remote wilds of Kansas. Since we had a stone house in Kansas and couldn’t see our neighbors, if a stupid woodpecker tried pecking at our stones, I don’t think I would have heard it, ‘cause our walls were 2 feet thick. But if I did, I’d dust him right off the house with my kitchen 12 gauge. Not saying I don’t have that same 12 gauge installed in our kitchen here, but the Grove Citians (we live in Grove City, pop 637) frown on that kind of thing in the frozen and civilized North. Comes under the Minnesota Nice rules, which ironically is another dang reason why we can’t have nice things.
All of which has got me singing “All I want for Christmas is a pellet gun, a pellet gun, a pellet gun. All I want for Christmas is something silent and sneaky, so I can wish a retarded woodpecker a Merry Christmas.” Yeah, I was reaching on that last verse, but I’ve always been a function over form kinda guy.

New Zip Code

Yeah, I know, it’s been awhile. Being without internet has certain drawbacks to one’s life style. Oh, who am I kidding, it just plain sucks. You’re left with reading the local papers and watching TV for drawing clues as to how far off into the rhubarb our society has gone. The good news is I still have most of my hair. I had the Mrs cut it short so I couldn’t yank it out while screeching at the boob tube. The bad news is the “Smart” TV has threatened to sue for hostile work place conditions. Such is entertainment in the frozen north.

Yup, we made it to Minnesota in one, slightly bedraggled piece. And a very big thanks to Paul and Julie Sutton and Bill and Carla Barnard for helping to load up a 26 foot U-Haul that got stuffed to the gills with all of our things. Some of the boxes that came out of the back of the shop had been patiently waiting to be unpacked since 1998. I figure they’d waited this long, another couple of months should be no big deal. Just imagine their (the inanimate contents of the boxes) surprise when they find out 19 years have gone by and, what do you know, we’re still in Minnesota, about 7 miles from where they got packed up originally. Probably another hostile workplace in the making. Take a number, buddy and the line starts behind the TV.

So, what have we been doing and where did we land? Let’s answer the second question first. The wife’s mother lives in the little tiny town Grove City, MN. She also has a sister and her husband that live there. And housing is quite affordable in little tiny towns of Minnesota, compared to big, sophisticated places, like say Litchfield. Grove City’s population is 635 and Litchfield’s is around 6648. And Litchfield has grocery stores and modern things like that, hence housing is so much more pricey. So the Mrs told me we are going to live in Grove City. I asked were the grocery store was. She said Litchfield, which is 7 miles to the East. Hmm. As I was starting to give her my frowny face look, she popped up with Grove City has a bar AND a liquor store. Well then, let’s start unpacking.

And that brings up where we are staying. The other day, our insurance guy asked us where we were sleeping or were we just homeless. Sarcasm up here, is as natural as breathing. So, I told him he pretty much nailed it, we are mostly homeless, but insured. If you read the fine print, you’ll find that we are staying with the wife’s sister, for which we are very grateful. Technically, we are homeless until Nov 2nd, when our nephew sells us a house that is currently a rental. Yes, our nephew lives around here too. I figure all the family together has a sizable percentage of the population for this little town. Plus all the people that we know and knew from 20 years ago. The trite little saying of “you can never go home again” might be true, but you can get pretty dang close, if you ask me.

Our soon to be new house was built in the Craftsman style, around 1910 or so. I’ve been told it’s in good condition and still has all the built-ins and woodworking that these houses are known for. 3 bedrooms, 1 bath upstairs and plumbing in the basement for another bathroom. New roof, new boiler, new windows, new block foundation. It also sports 2 one-stall garages and a large yard. One of the big got to haves in Minnesota is living close or on lake. This place has lake side access and a beautiful view of Chicken Lake, so check that one off the list. I honestly have not seen anything but the outside of this house, but my wife assures me I will love it. This is starting to feel like an HGTV segment of let’s buy a house you haven’t seen and, did I mention I ended up selling most of my woodworking tools cause I couldn’t fit them in the moving truck. Do much more with much less, will be the name of the show.

Well, that brings you up to date, without delving into the gnarly details and you’ll have to excuse me, it’s time to yell at the TV again. I just about consider it an aerobic exercise with all the shouting and wild gesturing I end up doing.